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Hard Drive question

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May 10, 2010 10:42:39 PM

Hi all, noob here I apologize but please help me out. So I just put together a new computer, and everything is working fine. However, I installed two hard drives but only one of them is showing up. Now, the only explanation I can think of is that somehow they got roped into a raid 0 configuration. I know, sounds strange, but when I right click on c:, both drives show up there under properties, but not under 'my computer'. I am using the Gigabyte x58a-ud3r motherboard, which has some sort of raid chip that they call xhd, which is actually raid as far as I can tell. So maybe it automatically put these two drives in raid without me knowing.

Here is my system:

i7 930
caviar black 6 gb/sec (installed into the marvell sata controller slots, or the sata slots 6 and 7 on the mobo)
gigabyte x58a-ud3r
g. skill trident 2000 mhz ram (2x3= 6 gb)

thanks!

More about : hard drive question

a c 127 G Storage
May 10, 2010 10:46:35 PM

Install your HDDs to your faster 3Gbps controller instead. 6Gbps for HDDs is marketing only.

If you do not want RAID, enter your BIOS and set the SATA controller mode to AHCI. Then connect both disks to your onboard chipset-powered SATA ports, instead of your 6Gbps marvell controller. Then install Windows on one HDD and you should be able to format and partition the other after installation. Then you're running 2 bare disks without RAID.
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a b G Storage
May 11, 2010 12:45:03 AM

I'm much more familiar with ASUS motherboards,
but yours also has the Intel ICH10R I/O controller hub,
which is very standard.

And, your motherboard also has the Marvell SE9128 SATA/6G controller.

Typically, if you want to run that Marvell controller
in AHCI or RAID modes, you'll need to pre-load a
device driver for it. And, of course, check the BIOS
default for that controller.

For the ICH10R, it supports native "IDE" mode
normally as a BIOS default (check the manual);
and, both AHCI and RAID modes must be set
in the BIOS -AND- the respective device driver
pre-loaded when installing the OS.

In all RAID modes, Intel's Option ROM must
be enabled and invoked during first startup,
in order that the required data structures
can be written to each component HDD.

So, my guess, without reading your motherboard manual,
is that you wired your 6G Western Digital HDDs to the
Marvell ports, but you didn't initialize that controller
correctly i.e. in the BIOS and by installing the required
device driver.

Now, onto your motherboard Manual:

It appears that port GSATA3_6 and GSATA3_7
are the only 6G SATA ports on that motherboard,
and from experience I can tell you that both must
be controlled by the Marvell SE9128, because
ICH10R does NOT currently support SATA/6G.

The chipset block diagram in that Manual
also says the same thing: x1 PCI-Express lane
for the SE9128 (GEN2 @ 500 MB/second).

The SE9128 also supports RAID 0 and RAID 1:

"Refer to Chapter 5, 'Configuring SATA Hard Drive(s),' for instructions on configuring a RAID array."

In your manual, go to the section with heading:

"5-1-3 Configuring Marvell 9128 SATA Controller"


DO NOT MISS THIS NEXT STEP,
which must be done BEFORE you begin installing the OS:

"Now, you may proceed to create the SATA driver diskette (for AHCI mode)
and the installation of the SATA driver and operating system."


MRFS
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a b G Storage
May 11, 2010 12:56:08 AM

> 6Gbps for HDDs is marketing only.

Not exactly: rotating HDDs can still benefit from SATA/6G interfaces
if their integrated controllers run at 6G, particularly in "burst mode"
i.e. when READs or WRITEs do not require platter access and
can be done to/from the HDD's hardware cache.


If you've got "caviar black 6 gb/sec" and you don't want them
in a RAID array, for best performance wire them to the 6G Marvell ports
and follow the directions above -and- in your motherboard manual.

If you want to get a little fancy, you could add an SSD,
install your OS to that SSD, and after configuring those
2 x Caviar Blacks to AHCI mode, you could really speed
things up by enabling an OS software RAID.

We did this recently with the $20 ASUS PCIE GEN2 SATA6G
controller, with 2 x 1 TB Caviar Blacks:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Ya ya! I hear a lot of people say that RAID 0 provides
no security: well, for me it's a wash: if one of the two
disks fails, yes you lose all the data on that RAID 0: BUT,
that's also true if the same data set is on a single HDD.

So, there is really no difference. And, I also argue that
a RAID 0 will, over time, use each disk 50% as much
as doing the same workload on a single spindle.

We use several RAID 0 arrays, and we just replace
a failed drive (which rarely happens because we
power all our systems with UPS backup batteries
and cool them properly).


MRFS
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a c 127 G Storage
May 11, 2010 7:02:53 AM

First of all, thumbs up for your great posts MRFS! Your posts are always detailed and very helpful.

MRFS said:
> 6Gbps for HDDs is marketing only.

Not exactly: rotating HDDs can still benefit from SATA/6G interfaces
if their integrated controllers run at 6G, particularly in "burst mode"
i.e. when READs or WRITEs do not require platter access and
can be done to/from the HDD's hardware cache.

True, though i would argue the times you can read at 600MB/s from a 32/64MB buffercache that only partially can be used to hold cached data, is fairly limited in realistic circumstances. One additional benefit is less "propagation delay" - or time that it takes to send the signal through the cable. Thus, latencies are slightly reduced, which can benefit blocking I/O read performance.

Still, the speed gain will be close to a few percent, and that's in pale contrast to the speed benefits when looking at SSDs. That makes them still very poor system disks by comparison, and more suitable to be used as mass data storage medium. In that context, the sequential read/write speeds are all that matters, and the effect of SATA 6Gbps is close to non-existent there.

So the short story of this argument is "SATA 6Gbps for HDDs is marketing only". It's definitely true that HDD makers know the technical importance of this is far less substantial than the marketing value it yields. After all, HDD makers need to do something with all the reports about SSDs blowing HDDs away. SATA 6Gbps seems like a good opportunity for HDD makers to make some good cash. Actively promote 6Gbps for HDDs and advertise it throughout all marketing and retail layers. Same with cache size; more implies better. It all distracts from the real performance factors: data density, revolutions per minute (rpm) and controller firmware intelligence. However, improving these three is quite difficult. It's alot easier to just double the cache DRAM chip size and sell it for 10 dollars more; quick easy money. Consumers love numbers, consumers love bigger numbers. More is better, more means it gets sold. Basically, i think. :p 

But meanwhile, the HDD makers know they are fighting a losing battle. Once SSDs mature and fall in price a bit more in 2011 with 25nm NAND, the HDD makers will be forced to focus more and more on big drives for mass-storage, rather than on harddrives functioning as system drives. That function appears to be given to the SSD instead; though it will take much longer before SSDs are really mainstream. By that time, the NAND chips may even be integrated on the motherboard instead; sold to big OEMs.

Quote:
If you've got "caviar black 6 gb/sec" and you don't want them
in a RAID array, for best performance wire them to the 6G Marvell ports
and follow the directions above -and- in your motherboard manual.

I concur, however the reports i read (sorry don't have URL) indicate the Marvell 6Gbps RAID-drivers deliver less performance than Intel 3Gbps RAID-drivers; i believe this was tested with the SATA 6Gbps Crucial C300 RealSSD with Micron controller. Not sure if the same story counts for HDDs, but as i know JMicron's drivers are pure crap, it's perfectly possible the 3Gbps Intel controller would be faster than the Marvell 6Gbps controller in RAID-mode.

However, when used in AHCI-mode without RAID, i presume there would be no performance issues as no RAID driver gets used.
So in that case the Marvell 6Gbps controller would indeed be a better choice.

Quote:
Ya ya! I hear a lot of people say that RAID 0 provides
no security: well, for me it's a wash: if one of the two
disks fails, yes you lose all the data on that RAID 0: BUT,
that's also true if the same data set is on a single HDD.


I think so as well. People begin talking about RAID0 being unsafe, but never talk about this being using bare disks without a proper backup. RAID0 itself doesn't (have to) make anything less reliable or prone to error, but using multiple disks will. As long as you get a good protection, being either a full backup, or something fancy like ZFS with snapshots, you'll likely never loose data. However, i think one first has to loose valuable data before he or she becomes fully aware of the importance of safe data storage and the importance of maintaining backups.
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May 11, 2010 3:30:07 PM

woah, thank you so much for the awesome replies! O.k., so after looking at these posts here, and also after doing a performance test with everest, I am pretty sure that the problem is setting up the HD correctly in Bios, and not having it in RAID by accident.

I have read that for most uses, the performance benefit of RAID is not used by most applications, and I have also read that for music production (the use of this computer) you do not need more than a standard 7200 rpm drive. The real bottlenecks for this are cpu (for plugins such as reverb) and ram (for sample playback and loading) which is why I went for snazzy ram and cpu. I can hardly wait till the software catches up with the hardware, and begins to utilize 6 cores :) 

I understand that the 6 gb/s interface is really not needed as these drives do not even come close to maxing out a 3 gbs connection. Really the reason I got them was because of the nice big cache size, and they were on sale at micro center for ~100 each. They were the best HD I could find that would fit my budget/needs. I will definitely upgrade to ssd in a couple of years once the prices come down to earth a little bit, as I need three storage drives for my computer (one for windows and cubase, one for samples, one for vst/vsti).

Anyways, you guys are awesome, I will try to leave them on the Marvell controller as MRFS suggests, and to configure the BIOS correctly. Sorry again for my noobishness, but the instructions in the manual are a bit confusing, and I read somewhere that SATA automatically detects devices. I figured I could just plug them in and go. Looking back, I think that they meant 'you do not have to worry about jumper settings', rather than 'you do not have to configure BIOS.
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May 11, 2010 9:49:09 PM

o.K., I have installed both hard drives, and both are working :) 

Thanks again guys!

now on to case mods :bounce: 
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May 11, 2010 9:50:45 PM

Best answer selected by Alanone.
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a b G Storage
May 14, 2010 2:13:33 AM

> I read somewhere that SATA automatically detects devices.
> I figured I could just plug them in and go.


That is generally true of the main SATA ports integrated
on modern PCI-Express motherboards, but ONLY when
the corresponding BIOS setting defaults to "IDE"
or "Standard IDE" (or words to that effect).

Intel's ICH10R needs additional driver support in order
to support both AHCI and RAID modes. If the BIOS
setting defaults to "IDE", then yes one should be able
to plug modern SATA devices in and go.

Depending on the implementation chosen by a
motherboard's manufacturer, additional I/O controllers
may or may not support "IDE" mode without installing
the corresponding device driver.

As a general rule, one should always read the
motherboard manual first, then look at any Support CD
that comes with that motherboard, to determine
AHEAD OF TIME if any additional I/O controller(s)
will need or require installation of a separate device
driver.

And, the motherboard manual SHOULD describe
the options and files on such a Support CD.

When in doubt, just ASSUME that those extra
controllers will need device drivers -AND- of course,
now you understand that Intel's I/O Controller Hubs
always need drivers installed for both AHCI and
RAID modes -AND- RAID mode also requires an
initialization session with the Option ROM that
comes with such a motherboard.

Of course, if one intends to install an OS to a
secondary controller e.g. Marvell, then the
device driver will need to be ready e.g. on a
floppy disk or thumb drive, so that the driver can
be pre-loaded during the OS installation task.


Problems almost always arise when the BIOS setting
is either AHCI or RAID, but no device driver(s)
have been installed to support those modes
for the controller ports that are cabled to storage
devices.


I hope this helps: thanks for the vote of confidence :) 


MRFS
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