Single-Drive RAID JBOD Array?

I recently decided to upgrade my system, and would like to get a motherboard capable of supporting 8 hard drives. The ASUS A8N-SLI Premium seemed to fit the bill, as it has 8 SATA connections. However, upon further review, these connections fall into two groups - 4 connections are for normal SATA drive use, and the other 4 connections are only able to be used for RAID purposes.

What I would ultimately like to do is hook up 8 hard drives without making any use of RAID. The first set of 4 can be hooked up with no problem and no RAIDing required, but the second set of 4 will be an issue. The only solution that I have been able to come up with is to set up this second set of 4 hard drives as FOUR independent RAID JBOD arrays, which will give me what I want (basically negate the RAID effect while fullfilling the RAID requirement of these motherboard connections).

However, I have looked around and can't find any confirmation that I can even set up FOUR single-drive RAID JBOD arrays (or even one single-drive RAID JBOD array, for that matter). Does anyone know if the configuration I'm describing is possible to set up?
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  1. absolutely it is possible, but you shuold call the mb manufacturer to make sure that is supported. Mainly what you need to confirm is that it supports multiple arrays- obviously 4 in yuor case. Worse case there are several low cost 8 port non RAID SATA cards out there - SIIG, Promise, etc.
  2. Thanks for the reply - I will try to give ASUS a call about the multiple arrays. Just to be clear, you are certain that it is possible to create a single-drive RAID JBOD array?

    Thanks again for your help.
  3. Since you don't have the motherboard yet, download the manual (pdf file). In the bios section it SHOULD say that you have the option of turning off RAID. This will make the extra 4 SATA ports work just like the first 4.
    Asus USA:
    http://usa.asus.com/
  4. Newf,
    I have looked through the manual and it is very ambiguous about enabling/being able to disable the RAID controllers.

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    bbyby,
    I did end up calling ASUS tech. support to see what they'd say, and it turns out that the RAID controller only supports a single RAID array, so having 4 is out of the question. He also mentioned that it would never be possible to set up a single-drive RAID JBOD array. Whether this is true or not, I don't really know.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    CONCLUSION:
    I guess my best bet at this point is to pick up a cheaper motherboard from ASUS (I'm thinking A8N-E Socket 939) along with a PCI SATA controller card. Let me know if you have any other thoughts.

    Thanks again for your help, guys!
  5. Quote:
    I did end up calling ASUS tech. support to see what they'd say, and it turns out that the RAID controller only supports a single RAID array, so having 4 is out of the question. He also mentioned that it would never be possible to set up a single-drive RAID JBOD array. Whether this is true or not, I don't really know.

    Maybe we have an issue with semantics, or I'm just plain ignorant. I've never heard of a single-drive RAID JBOD array. JBOD means "just a bunch of drives". If you disable RAID in Bios but do not disable the 4 SATA ports the RAID uses, you end up with JBOD. You should then have 8 available SATA ports, each of which will use at least one drive letter (depending on partitioning). I wonder if the Asus tech was also confused on the semantics. What I think you want is simply "just a bunch of drives" set up C:, F:, G:, H:, I:, J:, K:, L:. This should be easy... :)
  6. Newf,

    There seems to be some confusion here. To my understanding, JBOD is considered an unofficial RAID level, which combines multiple physical hard drives into a single logical drive which Windows will see as a single drive (Wikipedia JBOD definition). This single logical drive will have a capacity equal to the sum of the capacities of all of the physical drives in the array, and are combined as "Just a Bunch Of Drives" (as opposed to data striping, mirroring, or other RAID configs).

    To me, this means that RAID would still have to be enabled in the BIOS, as JBOD is one of the 'RAID' settings listed in the BIOS. Therefore, I would be able to have a single RAID JBOD array consisting of up to 4 drives, but they would appear as one huge drive in Windows, which is quite annoying, as I will never know which physical drive any of my files are actually being stored on.

    Someone please correct me if I'm understanding this incorrectly.
  7. Yup, you are absolutely right... :oops:
    So when I see JBOD as an option/alternative to RAID, its actually another form of using the RAID controller. I didn't know that.
    However, this should mean that if you disable the RAID that you end up where you want to be. Why would a cheaper mobo give you more options? This has got to work.
  8. Disabling the RAID was the first thing I looked into - however, while the first set of 4 SATA connectors on the motherboard work normally (i.e. RAID can be enabled, but is disabled by default), the second set of 4 SATA connectors on the motherboard are meant for RAID arrays and only for RAID arrays, and the RAID can not be disabled for these connectors.

    The reason I say a cheaper motherboard would work is this: the only reason I was looking at the higher-end ASUS A8N-SLI Premium board in the first place is because it has the 8 SATA connections (which at the time, I thought I could use). Since I won't be able to use all 8 of these connections in the way I want to, I can pick up a motherboard with only 4 SATA connections and just get an internal PCI SATA controller card, which will provide me with another 4 SATA connections for my additional drives.
  9. Looking at the mobo on the Asus website, it shows 4 SATA + 2 IDE controlled through the nF4 chipset with RAID options. In addition there are 4 more SATA controlled through a Silicon Image chip with their own RAID options. RAID options are features, not requirements. You can turn them off and use the ports individually. Honest! I've never seen it otherwise. :)
  10. Hah - we seem to be posting on top of each other at this point!

    Anyway, I see what you're saying, but the ASUS tech gave me a different story - I can try to call again tomorrow and see if someone else will give me a different answer, but according to the tech i talked to, the Silicon Image SATA connectors are RAID only.
  11. Quote:
    ... the second set of 4 SATA connectors on the motherboard are meant for RAID arrays and only for RAID arrays, and the RAID can not be disabled for these connectors.
    I don't get it. The Silicon Image chipset control will be a part of your Bios settings. This sounds more like a Microsoft bug than a real feature. Where does it tell you it's ONLY for RAID?

    Quote:
    ...I can pick up a motherboard with only 4 SATA connections and just get an internal PCI SATA controller card, which will provide me with another 4 SATA connections for my additional drives.
    Yes, this is absolutely true. Seem silly to have to do this though. That extra chip is giving you a direct connect for those ports. I think MPJesse uses one of these boards. He should know for sure. I'll try to get ahold of him.
  12. Nowhere in the manual does it explicitly state that the Silicon Image SATA connectors are only for RAID - it was the ASUS tech who told me that.

    Thanks a million for helping me look into this - if you get ahold of him and get any more info, please let me know!
  13. Quote:
    Nowhere in the manual does it explicitly state that the Silicon Image SATA connectors are only for RAID - it was the ASUS tech who told me that.
    That makes me feel much better! :D
  14. I should have read your original question a little better. In theory, you CAN set up a single drive RAID 0. This is technically different than a single drive RAID JBOD- which is actually probably an oxymoron. When I said you should contact the m/b manufacturer it was to make sure you could have multiple arrays so then you could set up 4 single drive RAID 0 arrays (not 4 jbods). In effect, once you did that you would end up with a JBOD (just a bunch of drives). Since you cant have multiple arrays, your solution is best- go get a cheaper mb and spend the leftover on an 8 port SATA card. www.nerdny.com has the 8 port promise non RAID card at a pretty good price (sataII150sx8 i think is the model). or get the highpoint, but I have not heard great things about it.
  15. I have this mobo, so I can speak to it to a certain degree. I use the nVidia RAID controller in RAID 0 so I've never tried to hook up 8 drives. However, if you disable the RAID controller in the BIOS I believe you are in effect disabling all the BLACK (nVidia) SATA ports.

    As for the Silicon Image controller (red SATA ports), the only option is to use JBOD for all 4 drives. JBOD would combine the capacity of all 4 drives into 1 big logical drive. The bad thing about that is if you lose just one drive you lose the data across all the drives. JBOD isn't the greatest solution, but if you don't care too much about your data it's great. Personally I use JBOD on the Silicon Image controller across 2 250GB SATA drives. I just download TV episodes, movies, etc to it. Don't really care if I lose 'em. For backup I use an external USB drive.

    Like someone suggested earlier, try finding an SLI board that doesn't have RAID (though this might be hard). Otherwise use the PATA ports.

    Sorry.

    -mpjesse
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