Problems with Intel Matrix Storage configuration setup

I have the current configuration:

Windows XP Professional (On Volume 0)
Intel Desktop Board DG965WH (with ICH8)

Volume 0:
Raid 1: 2 x Western Digital 400 GB SATA (RE)

Non-Raid: 1 x Western Digital WD360GD Raptor S-ATA

My problem is that I wish to connect the Raptor disk to the system so it’s available in the OS, but I’ve been unsuccessful at this.
I have a feeling I have to install another Raptor disk so I can get a valid Raid volume of two disks to manage this, I’m not 100% sure about this though. Any ideas on what I can do to get this working or does Intel only support 1 Raid volume?

My intention with this setup is to create a file server, where I’ll have the Raptor taking care of the whole OS + applications or just the OS paging file (I’m not sure what is best), so that the two disks in Volume 0 will act as file storage for a version control system.

I find it a bit strange that it’s not just straight forward to add a separate non-raid disk to the system when you are running Raid, so I’m grateful for any information that can help me out on this issue.
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  1. The Intel Matrix Storage controller puts all 4 SATA ports in the same mode. If you have RAID mode turned on in the BIOS (exposing the Matrix Storage Manager utility during POST), then all 4 SATA ports are in RAID mode.

    In RAID mode, only 2 volumes can be created, and they must be some form of RAID (0, 1, 5, or 10). Individual drives are no longer recognized.

    To use RAID on the Intel Matrix controller and another individual drive, the individual drive must be on a different SATA controller. If your motherboard has another SATA controller (like a Silicon Image), use that, otherwise you'll need a PCI/PCIe SATA controller card.

    If your intention is to use the Raptor as the boot drive and the other 2 400GB hard drives just as storage (i.e. you're going to boot off the Raptor), and the 400GB drives will be in RAID-1, then my recommendation would be as follows:

    1. Back up all data.
    2. Change the Intel ICH8 back to SATA/AHCI mode.
    3. Plug in Raptor and both 400GB drives.
    4. Install Windows on Raptor, use F6 to install SATA driver during installation.
    5. After Windows is up and running, create a RAID-1 dynamic disk volume using Windows Disk Management on the 2 400GB drives.

    The processor overhead to use Windows software RAID-1 is minimal, and this obviates the need for an additional controller card.

    If you want the more reliable and monitorable setup of hardware RAID, then consider an inexpensive RAID card. Most lower-end RAID cards do RAID-1 just fine -- no need for high-end processing power. Of course, if you anticipate moving to a RAID level in the future that requires a lot more processing power (like RAID-5), then getting a good card now would be a good investment. Especially since the Intel Matrix RAID is host-based and can't do a decent RAID-5 implementation anyway. Plus, a higher-end RAID card would give you some features like online RAID expansion, hot spares, etc. that the Intel controller doesn't support.
  2. Thank you for answering my question, this helped me a lot :D
    I’m a bit unsure about one thing though, as I’m not sure I understood the part you said about the Raid volumes.
    Would it be possible for example to buy another Raptor like the one I already have and have the following setup with the Intel Raid Matrix;
    Volume 0:
    Raid 0: HD A + HD B (Where A and B are the Raptors)
    Volume 1:
    Raid 1: HD C + HD D (Where C and D are the 400GB disks)

    Or do you mean that the Intel Raid Matrix makes all disks act as one drive, only allowing different raid configurations that span all disks as one unit when in raid mode?

    BTW I’m not sure if it is of any importance but the ICH8 chip allows my Mother Board to have as many as 6 SATA ports from the same controller, does this affect your explanation in any way?
  3. I looked throughout the Intel site for information, but what I came up with was kind of scarce.

    The way I understand it, 2 RAID logical disks can be created (either from 2 drives, using part of each physical disk as part of a different logical disk, or from more than 2 drives, using parts from all physical disks or individually from individual physical disks).

    So, the answer to your question is yes, you can do physical disks 2x 74GB Raptors = logical disk A as RAID-0 (148GB), and physical disks 2x 400GB WD = logical disk B as RAID-1 (400GB). Any RAID controller that can accept 4 physical disks can do this.

    The Maxtrix storage controller can do one better. Using only the 2x 400GB physical disks, for example, you can do this:

    2x 50GB of space on each 400GB disk = logical disk A as RAID-0 (100GB).
    2x remaining 350GB of space on each 400GB disk = logical disk B as RAID-1 (350GB).

    In other words, the Matrix controller's secret sauce is that it can split the physical space on physical disks and assign it to different logical disks.

    I couldn't find it specifically, but it appears that all 6 SATA ports on your motherboard are all members of the ICH8R, and therefore all operate in the same mode, just like the 4-port ICH6R and ICH7R.
  4. Thank you for helping clearing this up to me :)

    I’m now ordering a second Raptor for the system.

    I decided to dig into the specifications myself a bit too since Intel’s general info about this subject seemed a bit vague. As you pointed out both the Raid and AHCI mode will set all of the 6 SATA ports from the controller into the same chosen mode.
    I’ve tried to double check and see if there really is a limitation as you suggested of 2 raid volumes, but as far as I can tell I think they mean that you’re only able to have maximum 2 raid volumes on the same set of disks, which I hope means that you can have more than 2 raid volumes (6 SATA ports means 6 possible volumes in a tripple Raid 1 + 0 setup).
    If this is possible I’ll put up the following configuration that I hope will give a secure and fast system.

    2 x 36GB Raptors
    Volume 0
    Raid 0: 16GB (For temporary files, page file etc.)
    Volume 1
    Raid 1: 28GB (For system files, software etc.)

    2 x 400GB
    Volume 2
    Raid 1: 400GB (For file storage)

    The Intel Matrix storage system allows there to be added 1 or 2 more disks to Volume 2 at runtime and at the same time convert it to a Raid 5 volume, meaning I’ll be able to get as much as 1200GB in that volume if necessary.

    If however it is right as you suggested that there is only a limitation of 2 volumes I think I’ll set up the following configuration.

    2 x 400GB
    Volume 0
    Raid 1:
    Partion 1 30GB (For system files, software etc.)
    Partion 2 370GB (For file storage)

    2 x 36GB Raptors
    Volume 1
    Raid 0: 72GB (For temporary files, page file etc.)

    Anyway thanks a lot for the help, and if you want I’ll post the results of what I managed to do when the second Raptor arrives :D
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