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Raptors in RAID0 - Some Advice

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March 23, 2007 11:35:25 AM

First of all, hello.

I've come to the forums as I'm in need of some advice. I am running two 74GB Raptors (16mb cache) on a Gigabyte DS4 (rev 1.0)

I only recently bought the second Raptor and judging by some other threads on Raptors - I could have made a smarter purchase for performance - but I'm happy enough.

I'm very much new to RAID and so it took me a while to get used to settings things up - but eventually I did get round to setting up a 138GB array on the Intel chip sets.

Windows XP would boot up in one left to right movement of the loading bar and I thought I was in for some amazing performance...

That was until I started to install some applications - games to begin with. I tried installing Rainbow Six: Vegas which I bought from new as well - it took longer than I thought it would to install, but as I hadn't installed it before I just let it be.

When it installed, I tried to launch it - and the loading screen just stays on. Whether it is actually doing anything or not, I don't know, but I've waited on it and nothing has come of it.

So I thought I'd install another game instead and I went for Call of Duty 2 this time. To cut a long story short, it installed slower than the computer next door. Which is a Pentium 4, 2.8Ghz, 1GB DDR Ram and IDE 80GB.

When installing these games, Windows became unresponsive and slow at times.

So I'm at a loss as to what to do. The bios settings for the RAID configuration are by the book and I've contacted Gigabyte support, to confirm as much.

The Raptors themselves are unusually quiet. The two Raptors in RAID are very quiet - and if I was to have a guess, I would say that neither of them have been in 'full spin cycle' since being in RAID and that they're running slower than they should be - especially given how two Raptors are somehow quieter than one...

Would appreciate any help at all - I'm a bit disappointed after being so optimistic about high speeds and performance - but that's computers I guess.

Spec -

Windows XP PRO SP2
Gigabyte DS4
E6600 @ 2.4 Stock
ATI X1900XT CrossFire 512mb
Creative Soundblaster X-FI Music
4GB GeIL 800Mhz RAM

74GB Raptor (16mb)
--------------------------------RAID
74GB Raptor (16mb)

320GB WD (16mb)

More about : raptors raid0 advice

a b G Storage
March 23, 2007 12:37:41 PM

You did set them up in RAID 0, correct?
Are you running your XP installation on this set?
If so, how long did it take you reinstall windows, did it seem to go fast and smooth?
March 23, 2007 1:01:21 PM

I believe I set them up correctly - but I suppose I'm needing confirmation of that by posting.

I am indeed running Windows XP on this set and installation took at most 15-20 minutes. The quickest Window installs and boot ups I've ever seen,which has puzzled me as to why I'm not getting matching performance whilst logged on and using apps.

Edit -

Also forgot to mention that I ran a HD Tune test on the drives and got the following results:

Minimum: 82.6mb/sec
Maximum: 105.8mb/sec
Average: 99.4mb/sec

Access time: 8.2ms
Burst rate: 107.0mb/sec
CPU Usage: 5.8%
Related resources
March 23, 2007 1:15:10 PM

Actually, it sounds more to me like a CD-ROM issue. Keep in mind that no matter how fast your hard drives are, your CD-ROM is the bottleneck.

A 52x CD-ROM transfers data at about 8MB/sec. You hard drive array is capable of writing at over 40MB/sec. Even a single-drive can write at about 30MB/s.

If the game hangs, it's probably Secu-ROM (or whatever anti-piracy) hanging, looking for the secure sector.

Try a no-cd patch for your game and see how it runs. You can also run HD Tach to test how fast the array is. You should see an average read of at least 100MB/s, and probably in the range of 120MB/s. Also install the Intel drivers from within windows (Not just the ones you used in F6 setup). Those will tell you if something's wrong with the drive, since the Intel ICH supports S.M.A.R.T.

- Edit -

Your performance looks about right for 2 74 GB Raptors; maybe a little on the low side.
March 23, 2007 1:19:29 PM

What kind of CD-ROM is it? Is it new, or a hand-me-down from your old computer?
March 23, 2007 1:36:29 PM

Thanks for your help, Whizzard.

I have two new drives in the rig, which were bought at time of build:

Sony CRX320EE CD/RW/DVD Combi Drive (52-32-52 I think)
Samsung SH-S182D 18x18 DVD+/-RW Re-Writer

I will try the no-cd patch and see how it goes. But surely the installation of just the files of the game, should be just as quick as (if not quicker) than installing on one Raptor?

It's just that the speed at which the games are installing - was the first thing to make me question whether I've set it up right or not.
March 23, 2007 2:15:18 PM

The hard drives won't force your Optical Drives to move more quickly. The installation of games from cd is always bottlenecked by the CD/DVD-ROM/RAM drives. if what you did was you copied all the files to your hard drive than installed, and then did the same on another computer with inferior hard drives, then yeah, you would notice a difference. Try decompressing some files, and see if they do it more quickly. Your hdtach also looks a little slow. What is your stripe size? I have an evega 680i board, which forces the bottleneck at 120 mb/s, I have two raptors in raid0 as well, but one difference is that my hard drives are constantly at the 120 mb/s limit, which means in reality, on a good southbridge or raid card, it would be higher.
March 23, 2007 2:20:28 PM

128 stripe.

I didn't think or mean that two drives in RAID would make the opticals move faster, what I meant was that from optical to a single drive was quicker than it currently is before I got the second Raptor.

So if the opticals are the same and the hard drives have got nothing but 'faster' - then what is the cause for the slowness of the install. That's what I was getting at more so than anything else.
March 23, 2007 2:24:09 PM

I misunderstood, my apologies.

Anyway, the best stripe size for raid0 seems to be 32 kb. I am on 64 kb right now. And by seems to be, I mean that is what I've read.
March 23, 2007 2:36:54 PM

No worries, mate.

What is the difference between all the stripes? I just read that most people were using 128 kb, so I decided to go with that.
March 23, 2007 3:40:55 PM

edit -

damn double posts
March 23, 2007 5:38:05 PM

You won't see a huge difference in performance with stripe sizes on your desktop. General rule of thumb is the bigger stripe size, the better, since it utilizes the cache better (It's somewhat compllicated).

Intel recommends 128 for RAID 0 arrays, so that seems in-line.

There are a few things that could be going on, and what you want to do is to start elimiating possibilities.

The first thing you want to do is eliminate your raptors as malfunctioning. Since your install only took 15-20 minutes, it's very possible that your raptors are working fine, since the install is random-I/O heavy, and that's where raptors excel. That's one reason I tend to think it's not the drives.

It could still be a bus, IRQ, bandwidth problem, but again, we want to start with the process of elimination.

You never want to trust a benchmark from a single program. I recommend HD Tach and Diskbench; both are free, small, and easy to use (IO Meter is the best, but it's temperamental and not user-friendly).

You shoud be acheiving ~120MB/sec average reads on your raptors in RAID 0, give or take. 100 MB/sec isn't bad, and it's not really indicitive of a problem. Your seek time seems on-par.

Try unhooking a CD-ROM (and only run one at a time), and make sure your jumper settings are correct on the CD-ROMs (Most new computers come with Cable-Select cables, and a lot of CD-ROMs ship set to master). Again, seeing as how your games are hanging on start, but everything else seems to work OK, my money is on the CD-ROM(s) or the IDE controller.
March 23, 2007 7:46:07 PM

I re-installed the RAID0 array once again and it seems to have fixed the problems I was having.

I think my expections of RAID0 speed in installations were a bit far fetched - but I'm very new to the whole thing and that's alright. The system is now booting up a tiny bit slower (three XP Loading bars as opposed to one) but the whole system is far more responsive - I can install games (quickly this time) and not have the mouse and tab windows drag about in a 'horrible 0.1mb onboard graphics' way.

So I'm hopeful it's been done right this time (even though I did nothing different the last time). I was thankful for the 2 or so hours that Microsoft kept me at the computer saying my hardware configuration was wrong - before disconnecting things and putting them back in the same way - and having it work...But that's okay.

For now things seem fine. I won't get too excited incase something does go wrong - in which case I'll probably be back asking more questions - but thanks very much for your help and suggestions, Whizzard.
March 23, 2007 8:07:33 PM

I'm glad to hear your problem is now resolved :) 

Happy to help.
!