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Assemble a software RAID from a flash drive?

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May 12, 2011 12:27:21 AM

I know Windows 7 doesn't support RAID 5 or bootable software RAID volumes, but I know Linux does, and I was wondering:
Could a USB flash drive be configured with the appropriate files from the Linux kernel to assemble a RAID 5 when you boot from it, then boot into Windows 7 from that?
a c 209 $ Windows 7
a c 415 G Storage
May 12, 2011 5:54:22 AM

If you're talking about running a Windows emulator within Linux then it would probably work - otherwise no.

If you have a motherboard with one of the Intel ICHxxR chipsets then you can configure RAID at the BIOS level and boot Windows from it - that seems to be how most end users are implementing RAID on their systems.
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May 12, 2011 6:03:28 AM

My board has an ICH10R chipset, and the manufacturer (Gigabyte) has a download for RAID software (that doesn't work), but there's no RAID option anywhere in the BIOS, and the word around the web is that the board (GA-EP43-UD3L) doesn't support RAID.

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall that a lot of cheap RAID cards use microcode that they hand to the CPU rather than doing the processing onboard. Is there any chance of doing the same thing with a bootable USB stick?
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
a c 415 G Storage
May 12, 2011 6:35:26 AM

The motherboard chipsets only support RAID on SATA ports, not on USB ports AFAIK.

RAID that depends on the motherboard chipsets or that depends on special drivers loaded into Windows is often called "firmware RAID" or sometimes "fake RAID". The important thing that it can do that purely software RAID can't is to boot Windows from a RAID set. It can do this because the chipsets contain BIOS code that has enough smarts to handle reads from the RAID set until the OS drivers get loaded and can take over.

That's all a function of the chipsets and their associated BIOS, and since they don't support RAID on USB then you're out of luck in that department.
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May 12, 2011 6:41:50 AM

Sorry for not being clear, but what I'm trying to do is make a RAID 5 out of 5 10k RPM SATA drives I have. Since the board and OS don't want to do that, I thought there might be a chance of initializing that RAID from a small USB stick.

As I said, neither the board nor the OS wants to let me configure that array on said drives. Any ideas?
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a b G Storage
May 12, 2011 2:18:31 PM

rowanator0 said:
My board has an ICH10R chipset, and the manufacturer (Gigabyte) has a download for RAID software (that doesn't work), but there's no RAID option anywhere in the BIOS, and the word around the web is that the board (GA-EP43-UD3L) doesn't support RAID.
Correction, the Gigabyte GA-EP43-UD3L does not have the ICH10R chipset (R designating that the chipset supports RAID) it has the ICH10 (no R designation) southbridge; it's plainly stated on the Gigabyte website for that motherboard.

That is the reason you can not configure RAID on the motherboard. RTFM!

The only way you can get RAID is using a separate controller card.
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May 12, 2011 2:27:27 PM

That's interesting--Windows reads it as an ICH10R. However, according to both the manual and the fact that I can't set up a RAID, it doesn't have the capability.

Thanks for pointing that out--you're the first person to explain the difference.
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a c 209 $ Windows 7
a c 415 G Storage
May 12, 2011 3:40:42 PM

rowanator0 said:
Sorry for not being clear, but what I'm trying to do is make a RAID 5 out of 5 10k RPM SATA drives I have. Since the board and OS don't want to do that, I thought there might be a chance of initializing that RAID from a small USB stick.
I'm sure that it would be possible in theory to do what you're asking - boot from the USB flash drive where the program that it boots loads the OS from a RAID set into memory and then passes control to it the same way the motherboard's own BIOS would. But I don't know of nobody who's actually done it.
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May 19, 2011 12:17:24 AM

Best answer selected by rowanator0.
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