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Any advantages in newer Intel Southbridge for SSD and/or RAID

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January 28, 2010 6:56:25 AM

I currently have an Intel MoBo...975X with ICH7R. I also have another machine with a P35/ICH9R. I am considering getting a P45/ICH10R MB for a few reasons..none of which are critical. The main driving factor, in addition to additional SATA ports on the board, is the hope that ICH10R is going to be faster for my new SSD and for doing some RAID setups (0 and possibly 1+0). Can anyone tell me if I'm going to see significant performance gains from this move? I have two CPU's E8400 and E6600. I wasn't planning on upgrading to the new series as I don't do any gaming or intense app work...so the system is usually fine for what I want to do. I mainly would like faster HDD I/O (On the OS drive) and faster sequential read/writes on the RAID volumes.

I looked for benchmark comparisons of the various Intel southbridges...but didn't find any. I'm going to cross post this over at the Intel forums as well.

Thanks for your help?
January 28, 2010 9:55:50 AM

With one disk configuration it won't make much deference, even compared to ICH7R.
You will have some gains in raid 0/5 with. I manage 2 squeeze nice speed's from x4 1tb blacks in Raid 5. And it more stable than ICH7R as well, and I can swap disks on fly with no problems...
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a b V Motherboard
January 28, 2010 11:21:55 AM

No, but a newer option ROM BIOS for the Intel storage controller can be critical. Older Intel option ROMs have issues with SSD.
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January 28, 2010 11:34:00 AM

arkadi said:
With one disk configuration it won't make much deference, even compared to ICH7R.
You will have some gains in raid 0/5 with. I manage 2 squeeze nice speed's from x4 1tb blacks in Raid 5. And it more stable than ICH7R as well, and I can swap disks on fly with no problems...



So, with SSD I may not see much better results unless I'm doing RAID0? I was pondering doing a x4 RAID with 500GB disks, just for the experience. However the day to day curiosity would probably be in relation to RAID0 green drives for data/video storage in my HTPC.

I did find this article http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-p45-chipset,1... but it is dated. Would have been nice to see something done in the past year, especially with the SATA moving on the Nehalem architecture.

This article is more recent, http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ich10r-sb750-780a,2... ..but the comparison is between different southbridges, not between intel's implementations. When people are building $5000 dream machines, I can understand the allure of the PCIe SATA controller cards, but with decent ones starting in the $400s...it seems a bit silly for the standard $1000-$1200 new machine build. With that budget you can get a machine that has most of its components in the top 10% of performance....except for Disk I/O. With 6GB/s and SSDs coming out...it seems like Intel (or an international conspiracy) still want to keep the diehard bottleneck of the system still pointing heavily to the disks for us "home users".

Thanks for confirming improved RAID, hopefully someone else can speak up on SSD performance between the chipsets?
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January 28, 2010 11:46:43 AM

tcsenter said:
No, but a newer option ROM BIOS for the Intel storage controller can be critical. Older Intel option ROMs have issues with SSD.



Hmm...how much older? As luck would have it, the P35 I have is the IP 35Pro from the now defunct aBit. MSI is still around, but I doubt we'll see new BIOS for the 975X Platinum PowerUp :o 

My "target board" and one of the few available that fits my needs (8 SATA ports)...ok...lets call it "wants"..is the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Guess when you make a top performing board...you stick around for awhile even when everyone is jumping on the Core i bandwagon.

I'm sure I have the latest BIOS on both boards...I guess I just need to benchmark and see how I compare.

The Passmark score on my SSD was 1093...but I know that SSD's have them rethinking storage benchmarks.


I'm testing now using a benchmark I found over in the OCZ Technology Forum, as that is what my first SSD ending up being. http://alex-is.de/PHP/fusion/downloads.php?cat_id=4


Thanks for the BIOS reminder.

I'm still lamenting the lack of southbridge benchmarks... or maybe I just haven't found the right Google search term.
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a b V Motherboard
January 29, 2010 9:05:39 AM

I believe the minimum Option ROM (Matrix Storage ACHI/RAID) needed for best compatibility with SSD is v 8.7.0.1007.
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January 29, 2010 4:16:08 PM

tcsenter said:
I believe the minimum Option ROM (Matrix Storage ACHI/RAID) needed for best compatibility with SSD is v 8.7.0.1007.


So observe when the machine is booting and that should tell me what ROM level I am currently using on my Matrix? Can I view that anywhere in windows? Is it possible to flash the ROM on the Matrix RAID...or are those pretty much rare cases like HDD flashes?
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a b V Motherboard
January 30, 2010 12:49:13 AM

BIOS v7.9 for the MSI board contains v5.6.2.1002 (really old).

BIOS 17 for the ABIT IP35 Pro contains v7.5.0.1017.

It might be possible to find modded BIOS for either board that brings an updated option ROM. I'm pretty sure I've seen talk of modded BIOS being available for the ABIT IP35 Pro. MSI might even do it if you contact technical support and politely request it (or inquire about it on MSI Forums).

I could also do the mod but can't guarantee anything because I don't have either board to test.
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January 30, 2010 1:24:01 AM

tcsenter said:
BIOS v7.9 for the MSI board contains v5.6.2.1002 (really old).

BIOS 17 for the ABIT IP35 Pro contains v7.5.0.1017.

It might be possible to find modded BIOS for either board that brings an updated option ROM. I'm pretty sure I've seen talk of modded BIOS being available for the ABIT IP35 Pro. MSI might even do it if you contact technical support and politely request it (or inquire about it on MSI Forums).

I could also do the mod but can't guarantee anything because I don't have either board to test.


So I found this page at Intel: http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-020657... which confirms that the ROM versions are v5.x for my 975X board. However, none of the ICH10R option ROM versions are listed on the page. I have the 16 BIOS running, the last non-beta ABIT released. Next time I reboot, I'll check the option BIOS version. I guess the Intel Rapid Storage Technology tool only reports the ROM version when in RAID mode. (Just a guess).

Man, I hate it when Intel renames stuff and then you have to look all over the place for it.

My new board is a "gigabyte ga-ep45-ud3p" but as its not here yet...have no idea of the ROM version. This wasn't the board I was planning to put the SSD on, but it is for the HTPC, where I'm planning to put the major RAID arrays.

I think there are a few modded BIOS for the IP35 Pro...it was quite a popular board. I'll take a look around, but first I'll test my mid-range SSD on the newer P45 board to see if there is really much a difference.

One last question, which I realized I meant to research some time ago but forgot about.

These Intel boards allow you to place the southbridge in IDE, RAID, or AHCI mode. I've always left them in AHCI mode, and switched to RAID only when I've wanted to build/modify an array. (I didn't have access to the ctrl-I option unless I did this) Since I've never done RAID5 or RAID1+0...only 0 and 1...I've never had windows running while the southbridge is set to RAID. (I've always had access to the volumes in windows, usually the Intel Matrix storage software would install the latest driver version and then require a reboot) I have also never installed an OS on a RAID array. Is there any advantage to installing and running windows while the southbridge is set to RAID? I'm guessing that I might see more control options while in the windows Intel matrix software, but since I'm not hotswapping or running with HA concerns...but would I actually see any performance increase? I never bothered to do the F6 during windows setup, b/c I misunderstood 2 things. 1st..I was under the impression that we only needed to worry about it when Windows was installed on a RAID array. I did not realize that if other disks were on the same controller as the OS disk, I wouldn't be able to set the other volumes as RAID. 2nd...I thought AHCI was bette than RAID...so I always installed windows with the controller set to AHCI.

I'm going to try and switch my windows over to RAID, doing the "move disk to another controller" hack. But if it doesn't work, I can always install windows again. It was on the to-do list with the new SSD ad nw MB anyways.

Thank you so much tcsenter, you've been very helpful and informative.

Edit: Can confirm that ROM version info is readable in the Intel utility once it is in RAID mode. Tool looks a bit different now (I thought it was mostly useless before) and I can see how it would be handy for doing RAID stuff in windows and rebuilding RAID5 or RAID1+0 w/o exiting windows.

Found this article here which suggests that speed may not be that much better: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/244556-30-warning-ins..., but if they weren't on a new enough ROM, they might not have gotten the benefits.

I'm still looking for the actual ROM version on the latest BIOS (FD) for the rev 1.6 board. Kinda moot point since is in the back of some UPS trailer near memphis waiting for weather to clear (and hopefully still get here on Monday :) 

I'm surprised more info isn't out there on the ICH versions and how much SSD might (or might not) be negatively affected. On the one hand, the SSD manufactures could benefit from this kind of feedback and pushing on BIOS teams to implement updates on thesignificant number of boards out there still running ICH7*-ICH9*. On the other, folks might not buy SSDs if they knew they wouldn't get nearly as much results on their particular southbridge..
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February 1, 2010 11:58:10 AM

Best answer selected by mgholley.
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