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Overview: Migration Options

Opting for RAID Level Migration
By
RAID Migration Intel P965/ICH8-R Nvidia nForce 680i SLI
Single hard drive to RAID 0 Yes No
Single hard drive to RAID 0+1 Yes No
RAID 1 to RAID 0 Yes Yes
RAID 0 to RAID 0+1 No Yes
RAID 0 to RAID 5 No Yes
RAID 10 to RAID 5 Yes Yes
RAID 5 to RAID 0 No Yes
RAID 5 to RAID 0+1 No Yes
RAID 5 to RAID 5 (add drive) No Yes

Basically, Nvidia’s chipset enables you to perform any migration that is technically possible in order to have sufficient storage capacity to host existing data, as long as the migration has the requisite capacity. It is also possible to transform a RAID 5 with three hard drives into a RAID 5 with four hard drives. We only didn’t succeed in converting a single hard drive into a RAID array. However, Intel is able to do that. Besides, the ICH8-R can operate two different RAID arrays on one set of drives (Matrix RAID), which Nvidia does not offer.

Test Setups

System Hardware
Socket 775 Processor Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (Conroe 65 nm, 2.93 GHz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
Motherboard III Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6
Chipset : Intel 965P, BIOS : F9
Motherboard EVGA nForce 680i SLI 775 Motherboard
Chipset : Nvidia nForce 680i SLI, BIOS : P24
Components
RAM 2x 1024 MB DDR2-8000 (CL 4.0-4-4-12)
Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3 XMS6403v1.1
Graphics Card HIS X1900XTX IceQ3
GPU : ATI Radeon X1900XTX (650 MHz)
RAM : 512 MB GDDR3 (1550 MHz)
Hard Drive I 4x 150 GB 10.000 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA/150
Western Digital WD1500ADFD
Hard Drive I 4x 36 GB 10.000 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA/150
Western Digital WD360GD
DVD-ROM Gigabyte GO-D1600C (16x)
Software
Graphics Driver ATI Catalyst Suite 7.2
Intel Platform Driver Chipset Installation Utility 8.1.1.1010
Nvidia Platform Driver Forceware 9.53
DirectX Version : 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
OS Windows XP Professional, Build 2600 SP2

Conclusion

RAID-conscious users have a wide range of possibilities to setup, administer or modify RAID arrays - either with Intel’s t P965 and ICH8-R or with Nvidia’s nForce 680i SLI. If you go with Nvidia, you have to assign drives to be used in RAID arrays by using BIOS commands. Intel allows users to configure the drives with Windows.

At the beginning of the year, Intel showed clearly higher RAID performance in our tests. However, Nvidia is able to keep up when it comes to flexibility. Nivida’s migration options from one RAID array to another are by far better than the Intel chipset options. Managing the options is also much easier. On the other hand, Intel offers two unique features : You can migrate a single hard drive into a RAID array, and you can operate two different RAID arrays on the same two hard drives (Matrix RAID).

Finally, we found that Intel’s chipset offers more efficient RAID configurations, while Nvidia’s device has extensive migration options. However, there is no such thing as the perfect product that combines all options and possibilities. Only a device that would combine Intel and Nvidia’s best features would offer total flexibility for RAID storage. We hope Intel will take this to heart as it designs its next chipset generation ICH9.

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