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Raptor Upgrade to RAID, Controller Questions

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August 2, 2008 4:18:27 PM

Hello. I basically have 2 questions. One involving the install of windows on the new RAID, and the other involving adding 2 more SATA ports and by what means to do so.


Preface:
I currently have 1 WD Raptor 150GB with all my OS and installed programs on it.

I also have 4 Spinpoint F1's in a RAID 5 for storage.

Mobo is Asus Striker Extreme 680i with 6-SATA II ports.


Question Part 1:
I just got another Raptor 150 and want to put it in a RAID 0 with the other one. I know there is a process for installing windows on a RAID array involving a floppy at install for the RAID drivers. But I don't have an FDD and don't want to re-install everything.

Is there a way to just backup my HDD (I have True Image) and restore it after the RAID is built? Would that be a good Idea or should I just bite the bullet and reinstall everything?


Question Part 2:
I also have 2 DVD burners to install, and am short 2 SATA ports to plug them into.

So total I have 8 SATA devices to plug in and only 6 spots to do so.

Should I plug all the HDD's(current RAID 5 and the new RAID 0) into the mobo and then the 2 burners into an expansion card? OR should I plug the 2 burners and the RAID 5 into the mobo and then the new RAID 0 into the expansion? Will my on board RAID controller even be able to do 2 separate RAID arrays at the same time(5 and 0)?

Question 2b:
What type of expansion should I get? I have found 100's of PCIe to SATA port cards in various flavors but they all seem to be x1, and to me it does not make since to plug a 3Gbs SATA device into a 2.5Gbs PCIe x1 port. I have also found a few IDE to SATA cards but have my doubts about using something like that.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.

PS. My main goal is to get the best performance out of the Raptors.
August 3, 2008 11:51:39 PM

Nothing uh? Maybe I need to make my post shorter.
August 4, 2008 4:18:33 AM

Well i read it all hehe and thats good for me

Q1. You have 2 choices, buy a floppy drive and come to terms with that fact that sometime in this day and age you still require one. OR 2, slipstream the dos driver for your RAID controller into your XP disk, this will load the drivers when your XP CD boots up and should detect the RAID controller and any drives on it. The only thing i know of that would make this easier is a program called Nlite.

Q2. Depends on your funding and any further expansion you may need. Your RAID5 is going to need to stay on the motherboard otherwise you can kiss your array goodbye as no expansion card will detect it properly. A simple cheap 2xSATA port would be good for your burners (make sure it allows bootables and detect ODD's i know some dont.) 3rd, you have a bita cash and get a decent hardware controller and put your 2 raptors on it that also allows you to add other arrays to it later (ie you get 4 or 8 port card which you can do multiple arrays on).

Q2b. As stated above, for the RAID-0 id get a decent controller (PCI-e interface as well) for the ODD's id get a cheapy cause it wont matter. Im not exactly sure on how the whole bandwidth thing works but considering most manufacturers dont start using a 4x interface until you get to 8 or 16 ports and the fact that you CANNOT get anywhere near 3 gigabit outa a hard drive anyways theres no issue there.
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August 6, 2008 6:12:19 AM

Thanks for the reply.

I think what I'll do is get a controller for the Raptors, and plug the burners into the mobo with the RAID 5.

What should I look for in a controller for the RAID 0? and about how much will i need to spend, $50-$100?

Also, when I formatted the RAID 5 I used the disk management in the control panel. I recently read a post saying you should use some command line partition in order to align it to the stripe boundary, or something like that. Do you know anything about this?
August 6, 2008 5:17:00 PM

OK a few things, you can get a USB floppy drive to solve the floppy issue. You need to make sure its one of the ones that in the microsoft Txtsetup.sif file. If its not or your not sure what that means look here.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/916196/

There is also a workaround

http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/server/sb/CS-...


For moving you OS to a different volume on a different controller (or from a single drive to an array check out Joes link

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/196922-32-switching-s...

As far as how to expand that depends on how much money you want to spend. If it were me I would get an 8 port controller and put all of your drives on it and put the optical on the motherboard. This is of course the first option and would cost the most money. You could also go with a simple 2 port add in card and put the optical drives on it.

You dont need to worry about the PCIe port only being x1, A x1 PCIe port does 250MB a second each direction. Forget about the 300MB per second spec on the drive it is virtually meaningless except for reads out of cache. Currently only SAS drives and maybe some SSD drives exceed the spec or 150MB per second so even your 2 Raptors in RAID 0 will not really be bottle necked by PCIex1. I would be far more worried about the quality of the controller (at the low end) being the bottle neck. This is why I would put the optical drive there.
August 6, 2008 5:24:54 PM

Stripe Size ---- I will give you some very basic info

The larger the stripe size the faster you can copy files larger than the size of the stripe. If you move files smaller than the stripe size it gets really slow.

If you will only have large files (music, movies, high res pictures) make a large stripe size.

If you will have all kinds of files (small documents, text files, in addition to large files) and you will be moving lots of them then create a stripe size accordingly.
August 6, 2008 6:06:07 PM

Hey, thanks for the reply.

Yea, I learned all about stripe size when I set up the raid 5. I believe I used 64. I thought about using a larger one cuz I mostly use it for storage of movies and back ups but I was unsure so someone told me you cant go wrong with 64. A lot of the stuff I have is broken into small(14mb) rar files as well so I believe the smaller stripe is the way to go.

I am not going to rebuild the RAID 5 anytime soon, that would involve borrowing my friends 1tb external and a lot of time. So for now it's staying on the mobo.

I need a RAID controller for just the RAID 0 raptors. What should I look for?
August 6, 2008 6:31:35 PM

There are lots of choices to RAID the 2 Raptors but most controllers that would give you a good experience with 2 Raptors will not be cheap. I would use this one for RAID 0, 1, 10 as first choice.

http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/products/Controllers/Hardw...

And possibly this one as second choice.

9650SE-2LP http://www.3ware.com/products/serial_ata2-9650.asp

Of course there are lots of others but the main thing is to get one with a processor on it. If you dont it will be very slow and offer very poor performance. If you only want to spend $100 or less on a controller then buy a super low end one and hang the optical drives on it.



August 6, 2008 8:26:11 PM

rozar said:
There are lots of choices to RAID the 2 Raptors but most controllers that would give you a good experience with 2 Raptors will not be cheap. I would use this one for RAID 0, 1, 10 as first choice.

http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/products/Controllers/Hardw...

And possibly this one as second choice.

9650SE-2LP http://www.3ware.com/products/serial_ata2-9650.asp

Of course there are lots of others but the main thing is to get one with a processor on it. If you dont it will be very slow and offer very poor performance. If you only want to spend $100 or less on a controller then buy a super low end one and hang the optical drives on it.


okay, so your saying my mobo controller would be better than a $100 range controller card? I will have the RAID 5 and the RAID 0 both on the motherboard then. I'm not even sure that will work.

August 6, 2008 9:49:04 PM

I see no reason why a 2 drive RAID 0 array and a 4 drive RAID 5 array would not work on the motherboard controller. And Yes I would rather have my RAID 0 on the motherboard then on a 3rd party controller with no processor on it.
August 6, 2008 10:19:05 PM

^ i agree with Razor there, basically the same as i said in my Q2b answer.
August 6, 2008 10:22:20 PM

Okay, thanks a lot guys. Maybe some day I'll get an expensive card for them but I just spent a bunch of money on the 2nd raptor, a new sound card, and headphones.

Any old card will do good for the DVD drives right?
August 7, 2008 1:14:01 AM

If you get a simple add-on card with no raid yes... but i have seen some that one detect anything but hard drives...
August 7, 2008 12:10:29 PM

Just keep in mind that if you do go the simple card route and put the optical drives on it, you may or may not need "F6" drivers for that card too when you load an OS. If you did need "F6" drivers that would mean Windows does not have a built in driver for that controller and would not see it (or the optical drives) when it tries to load. For example it would blue screen in XP right after the "Starting windows now screen" and before the screen where you "hit F8 to agree". No big deal, just load a second driver for the 3rd party controller after you add in the one for the onboard controller.
August 7, 2008 7:42:30 PM

rozar said:
Just keep in mind that if you do go the simple card route and put the optical drives on it, you may or may not need "F6" drivers for that card too when you load an OS. If you did need "F6" drivers that would mean Windows does not have a built in driver for that controller and would not see it (or the optical drives) when it tries to load. For example it would blue screen in XP right after the "Starting windows now screen" and before the screen where you "hit F8 to agree". No big deal, just load a second driver for the 3rd party controller after you add in the one for the onboard controller.


Okay, here is my plan. Please see if you can poke any holes in it.

  • I have backed up all my important docs, games, apps, ect.

  • Ordering an IDE FDD
  • Ordering a cheap PCIe card for dvd drives
  • Going to put my RAID drivers and the drivers for the PCIe card for the burners on a floppy disk

  • Install FDD
  • Install card for dvd drives, plug the drives into it
  • And 2nd raptor to the mobo controller(windows is installed on 1st raptor now)

  • Put floppy in FDD
  • Put Win XP CD in one of the dvd drives(on the new controller).

  • Boot computer

  • Load RAID bios and build array with the 2 raptors

  • Win XP install should come up
  • F6 install of RAID drivers and PCIe card if needed

  • Format RAID 0--Install windows

  • Install nforce and forceware drivers first followed by what ever els I need(monitor, keyboard, mouse, ect)

  • Reinstall games and apps

  • Done.

    Only thing that bugs me is, if I need drivers for the PCIe card that the burners are on, how do I load the Win XP CD?

    PS, Is there a chance I will lose my RAID 5 doing this? I will not be removing or moving any of the drives pluged into to the mobo for that array.

    PPS. I think I might be better off to slipstream my windows install, I googled it and found several guides but am unsure. Can you recommend any good guides? Would it be a good idea to add SP3 while I'm at it?

    August 7, 2008 8:32:48 PM

    Ordering an IDE FDD

    I think you mean normal FDD that pluggs into a Floppy header right?

    Only thing that bugs me is, if I need drivers for the PCIe card that the burners are on, how do I load the Win XP CD?

    No it will boot because the bios on the motherboard will see the optical drive (your controller will have init 13). The transation to the Windows OS occurs between "setup is starting windows now, hit enter to continue" and "hit f8 to agree with terms". Its at that point that it iwll stop if you dont use the driver.

    Yes I strongly suggest loading with SP3 already slipstreamed in. You can use nlite to do it.

    http://www.nliteos.com/

    Its easy to use and will do much more than just slipstream a service pack if you want to play with it.
    August 7, 2008 8:56:55 PM

    rozar said:
    Ordering an IDE FDD

    I think you mean normal FDD that pluggs into a Floppy header right?

    Only thing that bugs me is, if I need drivers for the PCIe card that the burners are on, how do I load the Win XP CD?

    No it will boot because the bios on the motherboard will see the optical drive (your controller will have init 13). The transation to the Windows OS occurs between "setup is starting windows now, hit enter to continue" and "hit f8 to agree with terms". Its at that point that it iwll stop if you dont use the driver.

    Yes I strongly suggest loading with SP3 already slipstreamed in. You can use nlite to do it.

    http://www.nliteos.com/

    Its easy to use and will do much more than just slipstream a service pack if you want to play with it.


    Excellent, thank you once again. And yes. I meant just a normal FDD.
    !