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nForce2 & IDE RAID

Last response: in Motherboards
April 17, 2003 11:27:00 PM

I've been considering buying a new mobo. I probably want an nForce2 based board. I currently have an IDE RAID array which I would like to take with me. I like its performance...

Anyone got any suggestions for the best way to get a RAID array going on an nForce2 based board, given my existing IDE RAID?

I think these are the options......

A) Re-use my existing IDE drives.

A1) I could buy an nForce2 board that supports IDE RAID. The only one I can see that does this is the Chaintech 7NJS. It's slightly, but not hugely, expensive.

A2) Attach my IDE drives to a SATA RAID controller. ABIT and ASUS appear to offer "convertion kits". I'm going to need two of these and, presumably, extra data and power cables. What's the hit on performance?

A3) Buy a PCI IDE RAID card. Ok.... this adds to the expense but I would guess that a crumb of comfort is that this may give better performance than most built-in IDE RAID controllers.

B) Forget about my IDE drives....

Buy two SATA drives. I think this is a non-starter due to cost.... and any lurking issues about the maturity of the technology.

C) Abandon RAID altogether. Connect my IDE drives to the IDE controller.

Anyone been down any of these routes? Any help or suggestions greatly appreciated.

More about : nforce2 ide raid

April 17, 2003 11:52:41 PM

MSI K7N2G-ILSR also has on board IDE RAID controller and its performance is better than Chaintech. I think the price would be about the same as Chaintech but you got more features, especially SoundStorm if you don't have a decent soundcard.

You never know how stupid you are until you have done something stupid enough for you to realize it.
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April 18, 2003 12:42:53 PM

thanks for this.... the MSI and Chaintech boards both use a Promise 20376 controller. Can't find any info about this on the Promise website but the MSI K7N2G manual does describe it. It's a hybrid controller that can support both SATA and IDE RAID. But the IDE RAID is supported by using one cable only (one IDE connector on the mobo connected to two HDDs). Does anyone know what impact this has on performance?

Having looked at the MSI website, another option is the K7N2 Delta-ILSR which uses the SPP rather than the IGP i.e. no built-in graphics... so it might be cheaper. Can't seem to find much info about this boards availability though.... Anyone got a clue about this?

Thanks again for any help.
April 18, 2003 1:14:09 PM

I've just upgraded myself from a AsusA7V133 with raid to an Nforce2 A7N8X.

The raid on this new board is limited to just the use of SATA so I'm really missing the performance as I've had to run my drives on the IDE ports. The only benefit I've found is that I'm now able to run the drives with write cache enabled and placing my swapfile on the second drive helps but my read performance has taken a large hit in a lot of apps.

I decided against getting SATA-IDE converters as from what I've read, they give a performance hit. Also the single Raid IDE port offered on some boards won't help much as having both drives on the same ribbon only allows one of them to read or write at any one time.

As I only purchased my maxtor plus 9's recently, I'm not willing to spend out for more so I'm going to invest in a controller card instead - at least this will allow me raid anywhere no matter what board I'm using. Pretty handy too if my current board goes the way of the pair and I have to use a different board to keep going.

If you're going to be renewing your drives sometime this year I'd go with a board with a decent SATA IC like the Silicon Image 3112 or wait a bit until SATA is incorporated in the the next soon to be released NForce chipset.

If however, you're happy with your current drives then I'd recommend getting a PCI Raid card

<b>Vorsprung durch Dontwerk</b>.....<i>as they say at VIA</i>
April 18, 2003 3:20:41 PM

Ok.... connecting two drives to a RAID controller using a single cable doesn't sounf that sensible. Doesn't sound like an array, in fact. Maybe it should be called RID ? :-)

wrt converters.... in AnandTech's review of the WD Raptor SATA drive, almost as an aside, they try to look at the performance hit from the Abit Serillel converter. The test isn't exhaustive, but they conclude that there is little in the way of a performance hit when using this converter to get an existing parallel IDE drive connected to a seriel ATA controller.
April 20, 2003 12:11:43 PM

Interesting read that, If I could find a pair of adapters that were cheaper than a raid card I'd now be tempted to choose that option instead.

<b>Vorsprung durch Dontwerk</b>.....<i>as they say at VIA</i>
April 20, 2003 1:07:42 PM

A1) I could buy an nForce2 board that supports IDE RAID. The only one I can see that does this is the Chaintech 7NJS.

- You'll need 1 converter in order to do IDE RAID with the 7NJS. One drive connected to the SATA controller by converter and the other connected to the Single channel IDE RAID connector.

- I should also note that the 7NJS does not feature the nVidia APU (Excellent Audio).
April 22, 2003 6:44:52 PM

thanks to all for the discussion :-)

I think I will go with a "standard" nForce2 board (i.e. one that doesn't try and support an IDE RAID array without converters), buy appropriate adaptors, trust to the AnandTech article, attach my existing IDE disks to the SATA RAID controller using the two converters, and keep my fingers crossed...

My current disks and RAID controller (built into my Abit KT7A) benchmarks at about 35MB/s (from my memory) using Sisoft Sandra. I will happily post results here from using the converters when I put this thing together...

Anyone want to suggest a better/different set of benchmarks? I can't remember exactly what Sandra measures :-)))

April 22, 2003 9:58:02 PM

clarko, you mentioned an MSI K7N2 Delta-ILSR, i cannot even find that on their main site, could you perhaps show us what information you have on that? That would probably be exactly what im looking for, and in the price range of $100-$105 i would assume.

April 23, 2003 5:37:27 PM

Hmm, i must admit i found it after searching google, the american site dosnt list it in its products, i figured it would be there, guess not heh.

Anyways, what raid array are you using? I am looking to do basicaly the same thing.. I am still very undecided, $85 sounds good for a fast and cheap board, since i dont do any real overclocking yet, but then again, i have heard of so many issues with MSI boards and ram configurations as of late. I do want something that is stable, we all do. Im not sure if i am going to just suck it up and spend $35 more on a different board, or what exactly. I think i will wait about a week and decide after i have weighed them all.

May 2, 2003 1:19:01 AM

i finally went for an Abit NFS-7, it includes one converter and since Abit make them, i just bought another from them.

With the converters running, my original disks, attached to the new motherboard SATA controller, give exactly the same SANDRA disk benchmark as before. No performance hit by this measure.

Hope this is useful.