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Motherboard that supports booting from larger than 2.0TB raid...

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March 11, 2010 5:12:09 PM

Hi all,

Last time I checked, CMOS bios limited you so that you can't *boot* from a drive larger than 2TB. It appeared that the only way around this was to use EFI bios - which (last time I checked) was available on Apple and some server motherboards.

I have 3 1.5tb drives, and would really love to set them up in a 3TB RAID5 and boot from it. However, I need to find a motherboard that would support such an operation. My guess is I need a board that has EFI bios, has RAID support for 0/1/5 (my preference), and supports GPT booting.

Does anyone know of someone that makes such a motherboard? Preferably for a Core i7 or i5 setup?

Thanks!
a b V Motherboard
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March 11, 2010 5:44:57 PM

You can still set up the 3TB RAID5 on the southbridge RAID controller but rather than dedicating the entire 3TB as a bootable partition, why not create multiple partitions and boot from from a smaller partition?

Not for nothing, but a 3TB RAID5 bootable array is overkill for a windows machine. You'd be better off getting a smaller dedicated drive just for the OS and then creating your 3TB array just for storage. RAID5 is no substitute for regular back-ups and images of important data and information. RAID5 is also not the best choice for an OS either.
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March 12, 2010 5:33:19 PM

chunkymonster said:
You can still set up the 3TB RAID5 on the southbridge RAID controller but rather than dedicating the entire 3TB as a bootable partition, why not create multiple partitions and boot from from a smaller partition?

Not for nothing, but a 3TB RAID5 bootable array is overkill for a windows machine. You'd be better off getting a smaller dedicated drive just for the OS and then creating your 3TB array just for storage. RAID5 is no substitute for regular back-ups and images of important data and information. RAID5 is also not the best choice for an OS either.


While I agree with you - I have gotten tired of this game. I don't want separate drive partitions. You won't win any perf gain splitting into two partitions as they're the same drive, and I don't want to futz with multiple drive letters. I shouldn't HAVE to.

I used to play this game with separate drive partitions, or small boot drives/etc - but now I just find it's stupid geekery. I just want to get my work done and be done - not remember how big my C: drive with windows on it is, and hope that not too much stuff gets installed to my windows/system32 directory later on as all programs do and run out of space. It's dumb and I'm over doing that anymore.


I do know southbridge will build a data partition at 3.0TB, I did it. But you can't boot from it.

So the question is still out there - what motherboard can I buy supports EFI booting from a >2TB partition?
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a b V Motherboard
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March 13, 2010 3:10:44 PM

mattropolis said:
So the question is still out there - what motherboard can I buy supports EFI booting from a >2TB partition?
I get where you are coming from. Messing around with multiple drive letters and such can be daunting. But just keep in mind that having multiple partitions on a large drive, especially a specific partition for the OS and others for data and back-ups is a best practice recommended by most (if not all) enthusiasts and IT folks alike.

So, with that said, in order to boot a machine with a 2TB+ partition or drive you need either 64bit Vista or 64bit Windows 7 plus (as you've noted) a motherboard that supports UEFI. As far as I know, there are some Intel and MSI motherboards that have UEFI support.

Here's a list of MSI mobos that supports UEFI

And from a quick search, these are the Intel motherboards that support UEFI; DQ35JO, DQ35MP, DP35DP, DG33TL, DG33BU, DG33FB.

From what I can tell, most mobos with UEFI support are Skt775 with either the P35 or P45 chipset. I have not found/seen any Skt 1336 or Skt 1156 (X58, P55) mobos with UEFI support...yet...

The best way to tell if a particular mobo supports UEFI is to go to the manufacturers website and research which/what boards they make with a UEFI BIOS release.

My guess would be that BIOS developers (AMI, Pheonix, etc) will start making UEFI BIOS releases when 2.5TB drives become mainstream. And, with the SSD's being the latest/greatest trend in storage, that may be a while.

Good luck!
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a b V Motherboard
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March 13, 2010 4:41:56 PM

chunkymonster said:
You can still set up the 3TB RAID5 on the southbridge RAID controller but rather than dedicating the entire 3TB as a bootable partition, why not create multiple partitions and boot from from a smaller partition?
The problem is that you can't create partitions beyond 2TB with an MBR-style partition table, so the extra 1TB would be unusable. If you're going to use all 3TB, you need to use a GUID partition table and thence you need a boot loader that understands it.

I'm not aware of any GUID-compatible boot loaders that will work with a non-EFI BIOS, but if someone knows of one out there then by all means please share...
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March 15, 2010 9:40:58 PM

Thanks chunkymonster.

I have a separate 1.5tb drive as a backup, and the 3.0tb drive is in a raid 5. I've even had drives die, but just hotswapped and went on.

To sminlal, you can certainly create partitions over 2.0TB and use them just fine in Vista 64. I created a 3.0TB partition, formatted it, and copied data to and from it without issue and saw the full 3.0tb's. Only problem is that it didn't show up as bootable.

I have a DP35DP motherboard in there now, and use Vista64 - but the thing I see is when I set the 3.0tb partition up, the raid controller's bios report doesn't list it as bootable. I can create it as a data drive and use it just fine, but haven't found the voodoo to get it bootable.

Sounds like I might need to look for some advanced bios settings for enabling UEFI booting? Other flags I might need to look for like disabling GUID partitions?
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a b V Motherboard
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March 15, 2010 10:47:28 PM

Vista and Windows 7 work perfectly fine with GUID partitions, and so you can use them to create file systems as large as you want.

But the boot loader that gets installed with a GUID partition assumes the existence of an EFI-compatible BIOS. I don't see any reason in theory why you couldn't have a boot loader that understands a GUID partition table yet still uses the older-style BIOS calls to do the initial program load - but since the older-style BIOS calls themselves only support access up to the 2TB limit, the boot partition would still have to be entirely within the 1st 2TB of the disk EVEN if it did use GPT partition tables.

There really isn't any way around this - if you want to boot from a partition larger than 2TB, you NEED to use GPT partitions AND an EFI-compatible BIOS. You need to either buy a motherboard that uses such a BIOS, or find a BIOS update for an existing motherboard that supports it. If you're using a hardware RAID controller then it will probably have to be EFI compatible too.

But I wouldn't hold my breath for BIOS updates for hardware that didn't market itself as EFI-compatible in the first place.
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a b V Motherboard
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March 15, 2010 10:57:01 PM

Follow-up: I went to the Intel web site to have a look at the DP35DP motherboard. The motherboard manual doesn't mention anything about EFI, but the release history file for the latest BIOS release at:

http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&...

...does mention fixes for EFI booting. So it looks like at least this version of the BIOS does support EFI, although with no information in the manual how you'd enable it is a bit of a mystery.

If you don't already have the latest BIOS version I suppose the first thing to try would be to load it up and see what options you can find in it.
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March 16, 2010 11:20:03 PM

Just talked with Intel customer support - apparently it's the raid controller on the DP35DP won't support booting from partitions/drives larger than 2.0tb. The motherboard does support EFI booting and GUID partitions, but the raid controller appears to be the limiting factor to the boot size.

Straight from the horses mouth I guess...
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a b V Motherboard
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March 17, 2010 1:09:23 AM

mattropolis said:
Just talked with Intel customer support - apparently it's the raid controller on the DP35DP won't support booting from partitions/drives larger than 2.0tb. The motherboard does support EFI booting and GUID partitions, but the raid controller appears to be the limiting factor to the boot size.

Straight from the horses mouth I guess...


Hmmm, bummer...interesting that it's a RAID controller limit though...

Until this thread I really didn't give much thought to booting into a partition over 2TB and have to admit with the plethora and price of 1TB+ drives these days I'm surprised more BIOS developers are not including EFI support on consumer motherboards.
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March 17, 2010 4:32:49 PM

I'm actually shocked myself. I bought this DP35DP motherboard over 2 years ago because it had EFI support. I see the option to enable EFI and GUID booting - and they both work - on drives smaller than 2TB. But then what's the point of EFI booting if it's got the same limitations on CMOS?

2TB drives are now just over $100, which means mainstream. Right now, my bootable redundancy+striping story is only to put two 2.0TB drives together in a RAID 0+1 configuration instead of the 3 1.5TB's in a RAID5. Real bummer I'm wasting a whole *terabyte* if I went that direction.

I'm SO SO SO SICK of these drive limitations. I've been in the business since the MFM/RLL days in DOS - and if it's not the file systems, it's the interfaces, or the fact it was an 8-bit IBM XT without the addressing capability. Now here we are again. I swear that I have spent more of my life working AROUND my drive hardware then having it work for me. Anyone else getting tired of this?
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a b V Motherboard
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March 17, 2010 10:20:35 PM

mattropolis said:
I'm SO SO SO SICK of these drive limitations. ... Anyone else getting tired of this?

It has been annoying. The good news is that now with everything going to 64-bit pointers and block numbers the limits are going WAY up and are unlikely to be an issue in our lifetimes. For example, GPT partitions handle logical block numbers of up to 16EXABlocks(= 16000 PETABlocks, or 16,000,000TERABlocks). And since each block holds at least 512 bytes, that basically gets us up to disks that hold well over a ZETAByte and more of storage! A ZETAByte drive could hold as much data as a BILLION TERAByte drives.

I've always been impressed by the designers of NTFS - when it was created over 20 years ago the designers elected to use 64-bit pointers and sizes and so NTFS has never had to be updated in order to deal with larger drives. Compare that to all of the versions of FAT that we've gone through in the same time period!
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