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Vertex 3 Striping on ASUS P5N-T Deluxe

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February 1, 2012 5:45:00 PM

Hi everyone,

I am willing to connect four OCZ Vertex 3 60 GB SSDs in RAID O(striped) mode to an ASUS P5N-T Deluxe nForce 780i SLI motherboard which has an nVidia MediaShield Raid controller. This is going to be a bootable hardware raid prior to OS installation, not a software raid. The motherboard has SATA 2 interface so I will not be reaching SATA 3 speeds that's for sure. As far as I know this motherboard does not have AHCI support(please correct me if I am wrong).

I wonder what I will be losing with the lack of AHCI.

More importantly, it is told that striping those drives will disable their TRIM command. However, it is also told that by logging off from OS and relieving the drives will let them to run garbage collection and that will basically be the same as TRIM. I wonder if this is true and how long/how frequently should I let them run garbage collection.

Also, people are generally speaking of Marvell and Intel SATA controllers and I don't know if I may have issues with those drives with nVidia controller. It'll be great to hear from a member that has tried to connect Vertexes to that sort of motherboard.

Finally, could you suggest any tips to get the maximum performance when using these drives in striped mode with that motherboard with Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit(rather than the ASUS U3S6 controller because I am afraid it might disturb the two GTX 480s). For instance, do you approve disabling prefetch, superfetch etc.

Thank you...
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February 1, 2012 6:20:33 PM

ser7ach said:
I wonder what I will be losing with the lack of AHCI.


AHCI is a subset of RAID. So while you are in RAID your drives will have all the features of AHCI.

More importantly, it is told that striping those drives will disable their TRIM command. However, it is also told that by logging off from OS and relieving the drives will let them to run garbage collection and that will basically be the same as TRIM. I wonder if this is true and how long/how frequently should I let them run garbage collection. said:
More importantly, it is told that striping those drives will disable their TRIM command. However, it is also told that by logging off from OS and relieving the drives will let them to run garbage collection and that will basically be the same as TRIM. I wonder if this is true and how long/how frequently should I let them run garbage collection.


Yes, that is true. How long/frequently is different for each person depending on how they use their pc.
I have 2 Vertex 2s in RAID-0 and I log off once or twice a week. Either before I go to sleep or before I leave to go to work.

Finally, could you suggest any tips to get the maximum performance when using these drives in striped mode with that motherboard with Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit(rather than the ASUS U3S6 controller because I am afraid it might disturb the two GTX 480s). For instance, do you approve disabling prefetch, superfetch etc. said:
Finally, could you suggest any tips to get the maximum performance when using these drives in striped mode with that motherboard with Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit(rather than the ASUS U3S6 controller because I am afraid it might disturb the two GTX 480s). For instance, do you approve disabling prefetch, superfetch etc.


I used to do all of that and a lot more when I first got my SSDs.
Now the only thing I do is run WEI (Windows Experience Index) which detects the SSDs and automatically disables Windows Defrag. I also right-click on the drive letter of my SSD array, select properties, and un-check the box that says "Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties".

I didn’t notice any real-world benefits from doing the dozen tips & tweaks so now I just do two.
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February 1, 2012 6:33:38 PM

Don't forget to have a backup plan. All of your data will be lost and unrecoverable if you have a single drive failure in your RAID array.

Also make sure all 4 drives are on the latest firmware version 2.15.
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February 2, 2012 2:48:04 PM

Thank you very much for your helpful comments. There is also the SSD Tweaker but I think it is just something that collects all the tweaks in one application, nothing more. Still, any comments about running Vertex 3s in RAID 0 with an 'nVidia RAID controller' will be appreciated.

Let me ask a noob question this time if I may.

I know that after connecting the SSDs, I need to enable RAID in the BIOS than create the RAID 0 array on which Windows 7 will be installed. In the motherboard's documentation it tells me to enter nVidia Raid Utility by pressing F10 during POST where I'll be creating the RAID array. (Well, here comes the silly part)

Am I going to be able to enter the nVidia Raid utility before installing any drivers?

Is it pre-installed in the BIOS?

It is told that the RAID driver disk must be created only for Windows XP. Windows 7 is told to have built-in drivers. But I mean the RAID array must be ready before the Win 7 installation right? And I don't think there is an nVidia Raid Utility application built-into Windows 7 Ultimate CD.

What is the SATAIDE Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL and SATARAID Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL for in the nForce Driver package(v15.58-latest) from the nVidia site for that nForce 780i SLI motherboard? Are these for only post OS installation?

And do I need the SATAIDE Driver anyway eventhough all the drives will be in RAID?
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February 2, 2012 4:22:39 PM

ser7ach said:
Am I going to be able to enter the nVidia Raid utility before installing any drivers?


Yes. You don’t begin installing drivers until you begin installing Windows 7.

Is it pre-installed in the BIOS? said:
Is it pre-installed in the BIOS?


No. No drivers are pre-installed in BIOS.

But I mean the RAID array must be ready before the Win 7 installation right? said:
But I mean the RAID array must be ready before the Win 7 installation right?


Correct.

What is the SATAIDE Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL and SATARAID Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL for in the nForce Driver package(v15.58-latest) from the nVidia site for that nForce 780i SLI motherboard? Are these for only post OS installation? said:
What is the SATAIDE Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL and SATARAID Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL for in the nForce Driver package(v15.58-latest) from the nVidia site for that nForce 780i SLI motherboard? Are these for only post OS installation?


Correct. You install the drivers from the CD that came with your motherboard after you install Windows 7.

And do I need the SATAIDE Driver anyway eventhough all the drives will be in RAID? said:
And do I need the SATAIDE Driver anyway eventhough all the drives will be in RAID?


No.
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February 3, 2012 10:52:10 AM

Thank you for your reply Dereck47.

So the nVidia Raid utility is not a driver but somehow located in the motherboard that is ready to run right?

Some authorized person from nVidia said that SSDs do not go well with that nVidia Raid controller. She said in RAID that would be even worse and suggested me to use Microsoft drivers in the operating system. Well, that means just not installing that SATARAID Driver in the nForce Driver package right? So I will be using the Microsoft driver.
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February 3, 2012 12:35:09 PM

ser7ach said:
So the nVidia Raid utility is not a driver but somehow located in the motherboard that is ready to run right?


Correct. nVidia RAID Utility is just the name Asus calls its RAID BIOS.
Just press F10 during POST to enter it (page 5-37 of your motherboard manual).


Some authorized person from nVidia said that SSDs do not go well with that nVidia Raid controller. She said in RAID that would be even worse and suggested me to use Microsoft drivers in the operating system. Well, that means just not installing that SATARAID Driver in the nForce Driver package right? So I will be using the Microsoft driver. said:
Some authorized person from nVidia said that SSDs do not go well with that nVidia Raid controller. She said in RAID that would be even worse and suggested me to use Microsoft drivers in the operating system. Well, that means just not installing that SATARAID Driver in the nForce Driver package right? So I will be using the Microsoft driver.


In that case don't install any IDE, AHCI, or RAID drivers from the CD that came with your motherboard.
Just stick with the default drivers that Windows will install during installation.
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February 3, 2012 3:38:21 PM

Thank you for the valuable information.

I trust to that authorized person but I think it is best to give it a shot and install nVidia drivers and have a performance benchmark, then do it with the Windows drivers and have a comparison. What do you think Dereck47?

And what sort of program do you suggest for benchmarking?
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February 3, 2012 3:59:57 PM

Advertised speeds for OCZ drives are with ATTO & AS-SSD benchmark software.

Advertised 3Gb/s speeds with ATTO are "up to" 280 MB/s Read and 260 MB/s Write.
Advertised speeds with AS-SSD are for 6Gb/s ports only, so I don’t know what you should expect using that benchmark with your RAID array.

So using ATTO the maximum Read speed from your 4 drive RAID-0 array would be 1,120 MB/s. The maximum Write speed would be 1,040 MB/s.

Benchmark with ATTO first using Windows default drivers.
If your Read and Write speeds are greater than 90% of 1,120 & 1,040 then there’s really no reason to install your motherboard drivers for comparison.
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February 3, 2012 11:59:44 PM

Alright, that sounds great. So just to make this driver issue perfectly clear:

In the latest nVidia nForce 780i chipset driver package there are these drivers:

•Ethernet Driver (v73.20) WHQL
•Network Management Tools (v73.16) "Sedona"
•SATAIDE Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL
•SATARAID Driver (v11.1.0.43) WHQL
•RAIDTOOL Application (v11.1.0.43)
•SMBUS Driver (v4.74) WHQL
•SMU Driver (v1.71) WHQL

I will be installing all but the SATAIDE Driver(because you said there is no need as the drives will be in RAID) and the SATARAID Driver(because we will use the Windows 7's RAID drivers). Am I correct or are there others to avoid because they are related to RAID?

Oh, and some other authorized person(from Level 2 Tech Support group this time. They said that they escalated my case to their Level 2 Tech Support group :) ) told me those:

"NForce chipsets are not a good match with SSD. The results in poor compatibility and speed with SSD's. Traditional HDD's works best.

NVIDIA does not support AHCI with these chipsets.
NVIDIA does not support TRIM for SSD's
NVIDIA does not test SSD's with Nforce chipsets.

If you must use SSD's do Not use NVIDIA SATA/IDE drivers. Only use Microsoft in the box drivers. "

So, the controller supports RAID but not ACHI? I was ok but get confused there again.
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February 4, 2012 12:58:09 AM

ser7ach said:
I will be installing all but the SATAIDE Driver(because you said there is no need as the drives will be in RAID) and the SATARAID Driver(because we will use the Windows 7's RAID drivers). Am I correct or are there others to avoid because they are related to RAID?


Correct

So, the controller supports RAID but not ACHI? I was ok but get confused there again. said:
So, the controller supports RAID but not ACHI? I was ok but get confused there again.


Sorry, I assumed (incorrectly) that the nVidia chipset supported AHCI. Most chipsets that support RAID also support AHCI.
That's why I stated that any drives in RAID mode that are not part of an array would fall back to AHCI mode.

So any drives that you attach to the remaining 2 ports are going to be in IDE mode, not AHCI.
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February 4, 2012 2:02:27 AM

So will the lack of AHCI matter that much? Does it help SSDs perform better?

Actually, I think i need AHCI when updating the firmwares of the drives because they say it is possible only in AHCI mode. In fact, I was thinking of updating the firmwares(one by one perhaps) using the OCZ's toolbox while the SSDs are connected as secondary drives in Windows 7. That is, OS is currently installed to that system. However, the systems storage is two SATA HDDs in RAID 0 now. So acording to what you said last, any SATA device I connect next will be in IDE mode.

So just for the firmware updates, is there a way to run an SSD in AHCI mode in Windows 7 that is connected as a secondary drive? Or is it only the hardware capability of the controller? If so I will only be able to update the drives in some other system right?
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February 4, 2012 3:13:20 AM

SSDs will work in IDE mode, but slower. They need to be in AHCI mode or part of a RAID array for optimum performance.

Unfortunately the only way for you to update the drives is in another system as secondary drives.
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February 4, 2012 2:31:03 PM

Ok, so since I'll run them in RAID 0, I won't be needing also ACHI for better performance.

Lastly Dereck47, how do you know when to run the garbage collection, do you feel the read/write performance drop and do it accordingly, or is there an estimation based on how many hours a day you use the system, what purpose do you use the system for(gaming, programming etc.), what sort of files you have in the drive, how frequently you install programs?

I'll use this system mainly for gaming and web, also some programming. Any suggestions on how frequently I should run the garbage collection? Same as you(once or twice a week)?

And how do you know that garbage collection is finished? Do you have the storage drive activity led attached and check that? And how long should it take for 4x60 GB SSDs(with a Core 2 Quad 2.66 Ghz, if that matters)?
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February 4, 2012 4:09:53 PM

I have 2 Vertex 2 60GB in RAID-0. I download & delete lots of video & music files so I run GC more frequently.

If you're not deleting lots of files with large file sizes then you don't need to run GC that often. The purpose of TRIM & GC is to recover deleted blocks of old/invalid data so that it can be rewritten with valid data.

You'll have 4 Vertex 3 in RAID-0; I don't think you'll feel any performance drops :D  .
You'll probably only need to run GC once every other week (if that often) :)  .

The only time you need to run GC often is right after your system build.
You'll be installing Windows Service Packs and Windows updates, Productivity software (MS Office, etc.), Security software (Anti-virus, etc.), Entertainment software (iTunes, etc.), Utility software (WinZip, etc.), Programming software, Gaming software, etc., etc.

When you've got your pc fully installed and updated I would then run GC before I went to sleep for the next 3 nights.

On my system I can tell when GC starts when my storage drive activity led begins to flash after I log off. It normally starts flashing 5-15 minutes after logging off.

I don't monitor how long it takes to run. I just log off before I go to sleep or before I leave to go to work.
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February 5, 2012 10:30:18 AM

Oh, these are good news :) 

So, that drive activity led actually works with SSDs as well, eventhough it is often called the IDE/HDD led.
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February 5, 2012 2:33:33 PM

Yep, it's pretty strange/cool (until you get used to it) watching it flash and not hearing any sound except your system fans. :) 
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February 11, 2012 10:33:55 PM

Best answer selected by ser7ach.
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February 11, 2012 11:35:59 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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