Couple questions on hard drive channels and raid

Hello, I am setting up my home build. 940amd with a sata (all drives are sata) 250WD KS hard drive for o.s. and a Samsung 1 tb backup drive. In addition to this I am setting up a raid of four 320gb wd blue caviar drives. This is all in xp. I need a raid even though I am a home user - don't ask - or you can if you want! Anyway. I am installing only the first operating system drive and will install the other drives after xp is setup. Question. The drive for the o.s. seems to show up in the bios on a channel different then the cable connected on the board. Does this happen often? Gigabyte board. Am I high and this never happens? Is this a problem? Should the operating system drive be on channel 0? Does the raid of four drives need to be on consecutive channels? Should I setup the raid in xp (if this is possible) even though my board and hardware supports it? I am implying in this last sentence that it is hardware driven if I am thinking right. Can I setup the raid with my gigabyte cd rom later.... I am talking about how windows xp when loading will ask my for drivers. I have no floppy disk drive and my gigabyte manual says I will need one to create a raid but I thought I read that someone can do this easily in xp. However I don't want it (xp created raid) to compromise my performance. This is for a high data read situation not i/o. Will be raid 0 which I will backup manually with the tarrabyte drive as the files will not change often. I am installing xp now believing that if the disk needs to be on channel 0 it will not matter if it is already loaded and I can just move the cable to a different port. Please focus on the raid setup if you could in the answer but of course any help is appreciated.
If you need the info. 6 sata on motherboard not card.

These are alot of questions and yes... I regret not having it built. But I am in it and am going to finish it. And learn a little.
Anyone care to give a detailed answer to help my ignorance while they sip their morning coffee? Thanks.

11 answers Last reply
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  1. First organize everything in paragraphs, put numbers to your questions to receive numbered answers and improve the grammar...Its so confusing..What's your mobo BTW?
  2. Sorry about the grammar... stayed up all night.


    1. Can you raid a hard drive on channel 0 and 3 and 4 and 6? Or do they have to be on channels that are sequential... 1,2,3,4.

    I will read up more on this... I am too ignorant to know the right questions to ask.
  3. So you'll end up with one WD 250 GB bootable drive with Windows XP on it, a 4-disk (WD 320 GB blue) RAID0 array used mainly for reading data, and a Samsung 1TB backup drive. But to start you will only mount the boot drive and install to there, then add other drives later.

    1. First important question: how many SATA ports does your mobo have, and how are they controlled? Would help if you post the mobo model so we can look at these details. Reason I ask is that, ideally, your boot C: drive should be on the SATA0 channel, and the four RAID0 drives should all be on the same controller. Many mobo's have RAID provided by the on-board chipset, but with limits on how many SATA ports. For example, if your board has 4 SATA ports controlled by the main chipset, plus 2 or 4 more SATA ports controlled by another extra chip, you could have a problem. Putting the boot drive on SATA0 port leaves only 3 more SATA ports on that controller for use in a 4-drive RAID array. Unless your main chipset controller has 5 or more SATA ports, that won't work. Of course, if the extra controller has at least 4 SATA ports on it and it supports RAID0, then you could do what you plan that way.

    2. Let's suppose for now that the port count is OK and you can do what you want. You are right to install the OS with only one drive actually installed in the machine. Yes, it normally should be connected to the SATA0 port. Sometimes the wording on the screen can make this confusing. The problem starts with the fact that Windows XP has drivers built in for IDE drives so it can handle them for installation purposes, but it does NOT have built-in drivers for native SATA drives or AHCI mode drives, or RAID. The way Windows itself handles that is to allow you to install the required drivers very early in the Install process - you are offered an option and can choose to install them, but only from a floppy disk! Like you, many don't have that ability. So the mobo makers have provided a nice alternative. Within the BIOS where you set options for disks, for each SATA port you can choose how the port is handled. One good option is IDE Emulation - the BIOS takes over the port and makes it behave exactly like a standard IDE port, so Windows is happy and everything just goes on as planned. But when this option is chosen, often in other BIOS screens you will see that SATA disk as an IDE or as a SCSI disk. Ignore that, and just go ahead and install to your SATA (pretending to be IDE) disk.

    3. Once you have XP installed and running, you next want to add four disks for a RAID0 array. They all will need to be hooked up to one controller. Your choices are to use the built-in RAID controller functions of your mobo's chipset (provided there are enough ports), to buy and install a separate RAID controller card for the PCI bus, or to use Windows' RAID system. Obviously the Windows system is simply software-implemented. Most add-on RAID cards, especially the higher-quality (and price) ones will do much or all of the job in their hardware. The system built into the mobo chipset is largely software-based (software is in the BIOS chip itself). Some will tell you hardware-based is the best because it's faster and loads the CPU less, which is important for busy servers. For your case, probably the software-based systems are adequate.

    4. The more important questions come from recovery from trouble. There are few standard ways of controlling a RAID array, so every manufacturer has their own way. When failure occurs and you have to change components in the controller side, it's a potential problem. For that reason, some people prefer to use Windows' software system, because it has little dependence on the hardware and we all have faith that Microsoft will maintain backwards compatibility in their RAID implementations. Others choose the add-on hardware card route, arguing that they can simply buy a new add-on card made by the same manufacturer and get it all working perfectly that way. If you choose the built-in mobo RAID system you don't quite have that security because a new mobo with a different chipset maker involved almost certainly will not be able to handle your old disks full of data. There is, however, one important EXCEPTION to that "rule of thumb". I built a system a few years ago using an ABIT mobo that had an nVivia chipset (northbridge and southbridge) including RAID functions. The nVidia company website specifically claimed that they always use the same software algorithms for their built-in RAID and hence any system using their chipset will always handle disks originally written using an earlier nVidia chipset. I set up a RAID1 array on that machine. Last moth I had occasion to check this out - the mobo died, so I searched out and bought a new mobo with features i needed, including an nVidia chipset. Installed and plugged in everything, and Wham! it booted and ran just perfectly, using the RAID1 array disks made on the old system! So that's one example of a way you can protect yourself from hardware failure of the controller section of a RAID array.

    When you install a RAID array or whatever type AFTER the OS already is installed on a separate boot disk, you will have to install drivers for it in Windows. However, they do NOT have to be loaded from a floppy drive. Remember to install the right drivers. For example, if you choose to use the mobo's built-in RAID system, follow the instructions that came with your mobo, and don't install drivers for other systems. Subsequently these drivers always will be loaded from the OS boot disk as Windows loads, so that the RAID array can be used. You just can't BOOT from a RAID array installed this way, but that suits your plan just fine.

    5. Do NOT attempt to install to a SATA disk on one port, then move it to another. At minimum you'd have to re-adjust BIOS settings for which is the boot drive; I don't know if it would also have trouble finding this moved drive because of Registry settings. You should not have to do this, anyway.

    6. You say, "6 SATA on motherboard, not card". MAYBE this means you have six SATA ports all from one controller built into the mobo chipset, which would be no problem. But maybe it means you have 4 on the main chipset, and another 2 from a second separate controller chip. In that case we have the problem of Point #1 above - not enough ports for all your plans. You MIGHT be able to arrange to connect your boot drive to the second controller's port0, install XP to that drive, and set the BIOS to use it as the boot drive. But to do that you WILL have to be able to install a driver for it from floppy disk as an early part of the OS Install. Either borrow or buy a floppy drive for this. That would leave all four SATA ports on the mobo chipset's controller available for the RAID0 array. If this is the route you choose, read all the mobo manual's info carefully. And watch out for driver details. Usually a system like this spends a lot of manual time on how to get the second controller chip to handle two RAID disks connected to its two ports, but it is not clear on how to use those ports as just plain NON-RAID disks. But you should be able to do that.
  4. found a great article to help me on this. Thanks
  5. Aha! With your mobo model posted, I can see that it has AMD chipsets and the southbridge provides ALL of the SATA ports on one controller, and a total of 6 of them. However, in the manual on page 48 I see that it separates the first four SATA ports as a group, and the other two as a second group.

    Now that I think about it, I am not used to seeing a RAID0 array done with FOUR drives. Maybe you meant you planned on creating TWO RAID0 arrays of two drives each. Now that would be easy. You put the WD 250 on the SATA0 port and install XP to it. By default, your mobo BIOS says it will use IDE Emulation. Then you hook up your 1 TB Samsung to SATA1 and set it up as a data drive you will use later for backups. Then you install two WD 320's on SATA2 and 3 and set them up as one RAID0 array. Finally you hook up the last two WD 320's on SATA4 and 5 and set them up as another RAID0 array.

    Does that work for you? Or, did you plan on using all 4 320's in one RAID0 array somehow?
  6. Thanks paper doc for going to the effort to read the manual. Awesome. I don't know what is going on.... I have now only two hard drives out of six that are working. I loaded my trusty wd 250gb ks with windows... had it booting all was well. Then I started to move my cables around and power supply cables to the different drives... trying to get the cables neater and better and more sensibly arranged. I only have two drives that will even run now. NOT EVEN SPIN and yes I have switched cables and ports and its the drives or the motherboard refusing to recognize four out of the six! How is it possible that I could lose 4 out of six drives!!! They are not showing in the bios. They will not spin up. Yes power cables are secure... all cables are. The xp disk is not booting. I had the power turned off at the button on the front of the computer... the power cable was in the power supply and the power supply was on but the computer was off. Did I screw something up? Is the motherboard going to reset itself... did it think the drives were bad and refuses to boot them because i switched the cables? ANYONE HELP?
  7. Well paper doc... I saw your answer late.... don't move your cables around after installation.... I can't imagine that i hurt the drives.... the problem is I bought xp home not xp pro... home is not capable of dynamic drives....that was a mistake... did not know. HMmmmmm what to do ... reflash the bios? Take the battery out so it will reset?
  8. Right now its back to getting the os drive recognized.... I will never move a cable again ever....
  9. Well, I have decided to xp pro 64bit but will check on compatible software. Consider this thread closed. I may flash the bios but if this doesn't work I will take it somewhere to get built.
  10. I don't understand why you are concerned about dynamic drives - they do not appear to be needed for your system.

    So, back up a bit. I'll need a bit of detail about your ultimate plan. We'll aim to get the system running in stages:

    (A) Reset the BIOS to clear confusion, then get it running with only ONE drive, the 250 GB one that has XP Home installed.

    (B) Add in the 1 TB backup drive, get it working OK.

    (C) Add in one pair of 320's and set up a RAID0 array with them.

    (D) Add in the last pair of 320's, set up their RAID0.

    Key question: how do you plan to use 4 320 GB drives in RAID0? Do you plan to have two separate RAID0 arrays, per my July 10 post? Or, do you have a way to make one RAID0 array using all four drives (this, I'm sure, would require that all four be on the same SATA controller). Clearing this up will help set exactly which drive should be connected to which port as we proceed through the setup sequence.

    Second question: how are you planning to set up the RAID0 array? Will you use the RAID0 controls built into your mobo chipset? Or, are you planning a different strategy?
  11. Paperdoc, hey man sorry I left this thread when you were being so cool to give me such detailed help. I was looking all over the internet for answers. It turned out that I had made the error of unplugging and plugging in my sata cables and stickied (static) a few of the drives. My unlearned stupidity. Replaced them. I set up an xp pro system with dynamic drives that worked well. Unfortunately xp pro's audio system is not up to snuff so I am going with vista as it is solid now and I have a free upgrade to 7. Like an idiot I bought the premium version because I thought that that would obviously have dynamic drives but you have to have the ultimate. So I may be investigating onboard raid again.... without causing you alot of trouble... can you tell me if you think that the SB750 amd chipset would give me raid 0 times as fast as my software raid... it was rocking. By the way. I would like to Raid 0 3-4 320gb blues together. Is this possible on this board. I think it is so I guess the question is the speed as I hear with my fast processor the software will do better than the semi-controller on the motherboard. What do you think? Again sorry about losing track... I was going nuts.
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