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Dissapointing Letter From 3ware

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April 13, 2007 9:34:20 AM

I received a rather dissapointing e-mail from 3ware. Here are some exerpts from the corresspondence.

Question: Is the 9650SE compatible with the Asus Striker Extreme motherboard?

Answer: Our QA Group has been in a training class all week so I haven't heard back from them yet. However, I've spoken to a few other technically savvy folks here and they all had the same to say about motherboards that are more geared towards gamming. That they do not support the hardware link to the RAID controller necessary to promote error free operation. You're more inclined to see issues like the BIOS not posting or drives being dropped from the array. To ensure compatibility, you might want to choose from the motherboard compatibility list on our website.

Can someone suggest a true hardware RAID controller other than 3ware?

Windows Vista Premium
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OC
Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2X1GB DDR2-800
Western Digital 150GB Raptor X
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series
Dell E207WFP & Samsung SyncMaster 213T
Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR
Thermaltake Kandalf LCS VD4000WBS (no leaks)
Pioneer DVR-212D DVD/CD Writer
APC Back-UPS XS 1000
Various trick lighting and LEDs
April 13, 2007 11:21:02 PM

Not sure why you think this is a disappointing response in that they seemed to have answered your question. Did you check their compatibility list? Not saying you should buy 3ware it just seems they gave you some useful info.
April 16, 2007 2:22:55 AM

I'm sorry, I didn't give you my full question. I originally asked if the compatibility list had been updated recently since the list was dated November 2006 in the hopes that my motherboard would be compatible with 3ware products. Now I have to find another motherboard if I want to use 3ware RAID controllers or find a RAID card from another manufacturer. I ain't changing motherboards, so I will either use software RAID or go with a manufacturer other than 3ware.

Windows Vista Premium
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OC
Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2X1GB DDR2-800
Western Digital 150GB Raptor X
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series
Dell E207WFP & Samsung SyncMaster 213T
Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR
Thermaltake Kandalf LCS VD4000WBS (no leaks)
Pioneer DVR-212D DVD/CD Writer
APC Back-UPS XS 1000
Various trick lighting and LEDs
April 16, 2007 11:04:22 AM

Well they didn't answer that question. Given I don't use a RAID configuration, someone else will have to point you in the right direction
April 17, 2007 1:17:01 AM

I have seen manufacturers list at the time of release the products they have tested compatibility with, but it rarely gets updated, don't hold your breath...

Practicality then must take over, and if the product relies on a PCI standard, then mobos with same standard should work fine also with it...
April 17, 2007 2:33:41 AM

Long time no see..!

My XBX2 isn't on the 9650SE's compatibility list either but it works fine for my needs.

Let's talk scenarios:

You buy a mid-range to high-end RAID controller (3ware's or someone else's) and stick it on a consumer -class motherboard (versus a workstation class or server class motherboard). Not remarkably, it's not on the controller's compatibility list. Most likely it works fine and if it's not running at 100% of its potential, you may never even know for sure. If for some reason it doesn't work or causes issues, your only support option is to return the hardware and perhaps eat a re-stocking fee, unless you're smart and don't mention what motherboard it's on.

You buy a run of the mill piece of shi, er, I mean consumer -grade hardware RAID controller, sorry. Since it's consumer grade controller there's probably no such thing as a compatibility list. Most likely it works. If it doesn't, get ready for the finger-pointing between the motherboard manufacturer and the controller manufacturer.

RichPLS writes "Practicality then must take over, and if the product relies on a PCI standard, then mobos with same standard should work fine also with it..." This is correct but leads me to offer you the hypothetical Q:, "What's the difference between the various classes of motherboard?"

A: Bandwidth.

A good RAID controller could saturate the PCI bus of a lesser motherboard. Good workstation and server -class boards have multiple PCI buses and elaborate bridge schemes to handle the demand of high-bandwidth devices like RAID controllers and fiber HBAs, without cheating other resources like gigabit NICs, etc.

In some cases a very demanding PCI (or PCI-X or PCIe) device could bring a system to its knees, either because of an outright lack of sufficient system bandwidth or because of interrupt arbitration routines that simply were not tuned for that kind of demand.

It's easy to put together a home-made computer but it's not necessarily so easy to determine what compromises are acceptable, and you don't always know until you try. And acceptability can be subjective.

Don't take this the wrong way, but if you're willing to even consider software RAID as an alternative to an advanced hardware controller then you definitely need to educate yourself more. If you don't want to risk a mid-range controller then stick with the Asus' on-board RAID options or ditch the RAID idea altogether.

-Brad
April 17, 2007 3:00:42 AM

I think I'm going to risk it :D  I'm going to get the 4 port 9650SE for true hardware raid. If it doesn't work, I'll return it to my local computer hobby store (I'll make sure to keep the packaging as intact as possible). In the mean time, I just picked up a second 10k WD HDD and I'm going to experiment with Asus' on board RAID. Oh, and by the way, I'm getting the battery back-up module. I think that's a good idea.

Windows Vista Premium
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (no OC)
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OC
Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2X1GB DDR2-800
Western Digital 150GB Raptor x2
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series
Dell E207WFP & Samsung SyncMaster 213T
Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR
Silverstone Temjin TJ07 with window
Pioneer DVR-212D DVD/CD Writer
APC Back-UPS XS 1000
Various trick lighting and LEDs
April 17, 2007 4:10:30 AM

You should have fun... let us know how it turns out.
April 19, 2007 4:05:56 PM

I going to order the 3ware 8 port 9650SE with the battery back-up module today. Until then, I finally figured out how to set up a RAID 0 array using the on-board RAID controller of my mainboard. 2 WD Raptors in a RAID 0 array yields ~140 MB/second read speed and random access of 8.6ms. Sweet! I'm using HD Tach to benchmark my drives. Can someone endorse this program or is there something better out there?

Windows Vista Premium 32bit
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 @ 2.70GHz
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OC
Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2X1GB DDR2-800
Western Digital 150GB Raptor x2 RAID 0 (OS & Data)
Seagate Cheetah 18GB 15k (Swap)
IBM Ultrastar 40GB 15k (Backup)
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series
Dell E207WFP & Samsung SyncMaster 213T
Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR
Zalman CNPS9700 NT CPU cooler
Silverstone Temjim TJ07 with window
Pioneer DVR-212D DVD/CD Writer
APC Back-UPS XS 1000
Various trick lighting and LEDs
April 25, 2007 2:54:59 AM

The 9650SE arrived today with the BBU. I wish I had better news to report, but I'm here with a question. Somehow I've managed to format and install Vista on one RAID 0 array and format the second RAID 0 array. I just winged it, so to speak. Now I get this common error message when booting the system, "DISK BOOT FAILURE, INSERT SYSTEM DISK AND PRESS ENTER". System and RAID controller BIOS are both set to default settings. I'll keep beavering away at this in the background hoping to find a solutiion.

Vista 32bit
Core 2 Duo E6600
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX
Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2X1GB DDR2-800
3ware 9650SE-4LPML RAID Controller
Western Digital 150GB Raptor x2 RAID 0 - OS
Western Digital 150GB Raptor x2 RAID 0 - Data
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series
Dell E207WFP & Samsung SyncMaster 213T
Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR
Zalman CNPS9700 NT CPU cooler
Silverstone Temjim TJ07 with window
April 25, 2007 4:06:34 AM

That link is way over my head. The only debugging tools I have are a flyswatter and a can of Raid. Hmmm that gives me an idea... Anyway, I'm going to reinstall Windows. I'll be back.

Vista 32bit
Core 2 Duo E6600
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX
Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400 2X1GB DDR2-800
3ware 9650SE-4LPML RAID Controller
Western Digital 150GB Raptor x2 RAID 0 - OS
Western Digital 150GB Raptor x2 RAID 0 - Data
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series
Dell E207WFP & Samsung SyncMaster 213T
Asus Striker Extreme Motherboard
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 1KW-SR
Zalman CNPS9700 NT
Silverstone Temjim TJ07
April 25, 2007 4:20:25 AM

I inserted the OS disc into the optical drive to reinstall Windows and now Windows loads up normally. Very strange...
April 25, 2008 5:47:53 PM

I'm trying to make sure I post the answer to this problem when I come across it. The problem is that the Striker Extreme reverses the boot order that's reported by the RAID card. If you flip the RAID volume order in the 9650 SE's configuration utility (accessed by hitting Ctrl-I at startup), then you should be able to boot successfully.
!