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ASUS P8Z68 (Z68) RAID Issue (SSD on OS, HDD's as Media Volumes) NO SRT

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December 19, 2011 1:23:36 PM

Hello,

I have recently purchased the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe Motherboard and am having some issues with the set up. My previous computer had a striped 2-disk RAID array (RAID0) as the OS drive and Programs and a separate 2-disk Mirror array (RAID1) backed up the data. I have all my data backed up on separate external drives at the moment.

I have built the machine firstly with a brand new 128GB OCZ Agility SSD drive, which I want to use 100% for the OS and programs. I want to use a striped array for Media, with it backed up a 2 piece mirror (as above)
I installed Windows 7 cleanly onto the SSD installed in one of the Intel SATA ports, my CD/DVD was in the second of these ports. Installation went fine, I imported my settings from previous windows via Windows Easy Transfer, and computer ran fine. After a few days doing various Windows Update, Loading AV software and installing all my programs, I attempted to install the first of the two raid arrays (my intention is to use all four 3GB/s INTEL SATA ports) and leave the MARVELL ports unused.

After plugging in and creating the 1st array in the Intel (CTRL-I) RAID manager as a Mirror configuration (the other striped drive(s) are still in old PC at the moment) I have had a catastrophic error, the system will no longer boot, the BIOS is constantly trying to prioritise the boot order so that the new MIRROR array is first, I get a no boot disk detected error. After spotting this problem and re-ordering the boot sequence so:

Boot Sequence
1) OCZ HDD/SSD
2) CD/DVD ROM
3) MIRROR ARRAY (or I have also tried “DISABLED)

In either of these combinations I get a Windows failed to start and attempt Windows Repair messages, Windows informs me it cannot fix the error. I unplug the array, and try booting from just the OCZ agility, I have the same problem (I have not moved the SATA ports)

I have now moved the CD/DVD ROM to one of the SATA 3 ports in case that was causing the issue (it is only SATA 3) (Can you confirm/refute whether this is likely?) and have formatted the SSD and reinstalled the OS (windows 7) on the OCZ Agility, This time I ensured RAID was enabled in the BIOS before installing Windows 7 (but no other drives were present during the install)

If I try and install with all the drives plugged in, the BIOS keeps forcing/leaning/defaulting to install the OS on the mechanical HDD’s, I suspect this may be to do with Intel SRT. I don’t want to use SRT, I just want all programs and OS on the SSD and the mechanical drives (all 3GB/s) separate.

At the moment the PC is running fine with just the OCZ Agility plugged in. I intend to swop the CD/DVD ROM back to the second Intel 6gb/s port and install all 4 HDD’s to the 4x SATA 3 ports, again I will ignore the Marvell ports. If this is not possible I understand I can use the Marvell 6GB ports, and I will put one of my arrays onto this.

What is the best configuration for the devices plugged into the board, in order for me not to get the problem again?

1xSSD as OS Drive (6gb/s)
1xCD/DVD ROM (3gb/s)
2x WD Caviar 600GB (as 1.2TB STRIPE in RAID0)
2x WD Caviar 2TB (as 2TB MIRROR in RAID1)

No other devices.

Please help, I have trawled around the forums a bit and suspect I may be onto something with the SRT (to use an SSD as a cache) causing the problem.
December 20, 2011 1:47:51 AM

This has gone a bit unanswered and I think I'll move it to storage. More RAID experts there.

I have seen a few very similar posts lately though.
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December 20, 2011 1:48:23 AM

This topic has been moved from the section Systems to section Storage by Proximon
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December 21, 2011 2:10:16 PM

I have resolved this, will answer now, just trying to find it
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December 21, 2011 2:47:33 PM

Right Guys I have resolved this, a small, but easy mistake to make and a slightly unusual set up is the problem. Props to Dereck47 for his hand in the resolution.

1) The MOBO BIOS needs to be set to RAID BEFORE you install the OS, you cannot set it to RAID afterwards. (This is obvious achilles heel #1) the only solution is to re-install Windows
2) The controller will assume you are trying to use the SSD as a cache if you plug a single disk, or a single disk and a (planned) array into your SATA ports
3) If you install Windows on the SSD straight away and then change it to RAID or add disks and make them RAID you will get a blue screen crash.
--NB I'm not 100% sure whether this applies to the MARVELL controller but definately to the Intel one
4) You CANNOT on this board set each SATA port individually between RAID and AHCI, if RAID is enabled it's enabled on all the ports. (this is obvious achillies heel #2)

NB: This applies for the Intel Controller (CTRL+I during POST, and NOT the MARVELL one)

How to do it: For SSD OS Disc and SEPERATE RAID HDD Array of your choice (0,1,5,10)
1) Fit ALL mechanical disks and SSD drive into situ and work out your cable layout
2) Plug the SSD disc on the 1st 6G port and your CD drive on the second 6G port. (Use your mech HDD drives on the 4 remaining SATA 3gb/s ports, Don't plug them in yet though!!)
2) Boot into BIOS and select RAID mode for all the Intel ports (it will be AHCI by default so change to RAID)
3) Reboot, you will see the RAID screen in POST but you should only see the SSD listed..good, if not back up and start again.
4) Install Windows and do all the updates/service packs
5) Go to the Intel site and download the latest drivers and a neat app http://downloadcenter.intel.com/De [...] 2&lang=eng
6) Reboot, check again in your BIOS that RAID is enabled
7) Turn off and plug in your planned RAID array disks, I find it easier to do it one array at a time, so I have 2 arrays on 4 disks, so I plug 2 drives in first
8) Reboot, Press CTRL-I during POST to get into the RAID controller
9) Assemble your array in the controller, selecting the drives.
10) Reboot into BIOS, double check your boot sequence (SSD first)
11) Boot to windows, initialize and format the drive in Disk Management

For SSD disk caching (where the SSD speeds up a single disk or an array) NEW INSTALL
1) Plug SSD in 6Gb slot and your HDD in either the other 6G slot or a 3Gb slot (note only super fast spinning HDD's will benefit from the 6G slot, most will not, since the bottleneck is the spin speed and not the transfer speed)
2a) Plug in your mech drive onto port of your choice (single disk)
2bi) Plug your array into corresponding slots (array)
3a) Boot up and enable RAID in BIOS (both)
3b) Reboot and construct your array by pressing CTRL+I during POST (array only, see more detail above)
4) Reboot and install the OS, being sure to select the mechanical HDD or your newly built array as the install volume (Windows Installer will recognis the array as one disk), you WILL NOT be able to utilize to SSD space for storage, it is used as cache for the single disk or array
5) Follow usual OS installation process and updates and then download this: http://downloadcenter.intel.com/De [...] 2&lang=eng
6) NOTE: This application "learns" which files need accessing quicker, so the first time you use something it will be accessing the mech disk and not the SSD, so slow(er) first time, faster after that.

Adding an SSD to an existing set up as a cache:
I haven't done this myself, but I'm pretty clear.
1) Download http://downloadcenter.intel.com/De [...] 2&lang=eng
2) Update Windows and make sure you have latest BIOS etc
3) Plug in SSD
4) In the RAID Controller (CTRL-I) if you had RAID enabled you can select "acceleration" OR
4b) Reboot into windows and use the Intel tool above and select "acceleration" it will prompt you to select the SSD.
NOTE: you may have to initialise the SSD first before it is detected by Windows, do this in Disk Management.

Hope this helps anyone having the same or similar issue, the thing that foxed me was the lack of individual SATA port control. Good luck!






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December 21, 2011 2:58:03 PM

Oh, I should also say, think carefully about what ports you use, you can build another 2 disc array or have 2 x single disks on the MARVELL controller but it will not support a CD/DVD ATAPI ROM.

If you have an array set up you cannot move the SATA ports around later, so if you plan on having a storage array at 3gb/s then keep the two 6G's slots free for future new arrays. The Intel ports are noticable faster than the MARVELL ones
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January 17, 2012 11:23:15 PM

I too wish to install OS on SSD & have a seperate raid 1 mirror (2xhdd) for storage.
If I follow your suggestion above "How to do it: For SSD OS Disc and SEPERATE RAID HDD Array of your choice (0,1,5,10) " will the SSD be left without AHCI benefits?
How do I get AHCI for SSD and Raid 1 for HDDs?

Thnx. :pt1cable: 
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January 17, 2012 11:26:14 PM

The link "neat app http://downloadcenter.intel.com/De" doesnt work.
When do I install latest Intel RST?
Want all on Intel sata ports (SSD pn 6gb/s ports & Raid1 mirrored HDDs on 3gb/s ports).

I have a ASUS P8P67 Evo by the way, with latest BIOS.
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January 24, 2012 10:24:10 AM

Hello JdotH,

Sorry for the delayed repy, I've been away skiing :-)

You will "lose" the benefits of Intel's AHCI when you select RAID, however, the benefits of the (older) RAID tech outstrip the speed benefits of AHCI, just because you have chucked your cash at extra physical discs. You can only have one mode or the other across all the ports on my MOBO, which is very similar to yours.

When setting up , I would configure your mirrored/stripe array in the Intel RAID utility in the BIOS...press CTRL+I when booting.

Install the Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) app AFTER you have configured in the BIOs/RAID Utility.
The link is here:
http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&...

This gives you a neat GUI that lets you configure your RAID disks in Windows (instead of BIOS) so you can use it to create, build and maintain arrays afterwards...you could if you want use this instead of the BIOS utility to create the array.

Hope this helps

Rich
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!