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Intel: ICH10R Southbridge On The X58 Express Chipset

Southbridge Battle: 780a, ICH10 and SB750, Compared
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The ICH10 chipset is probably the most popular southbridge, as it is part of all current Intel chipsets and hence can be found on a plethora of motherboards and Intel-powered computers. The ICH10R is the most fully-featured version available, which also supports RAID 5.

Intel was one of the first to support SATA/300 with NCQ through an AHCI controller back on its ICH8 southbridge. However, only the RAID and Digital Office (DO) models actually support AHCI and RAID 5—the more mainstream models do not. In this context, it is hard to understand why Intel decided to pair its modern G41 business-class chipset with the outdated ICH7 southbridge, because this old part does not support AHCI at all.

Intel’s RAID management software is called Matrix Storage Manager, and it supports several different RAID types, including the matrix mode. This lets you deploy multiple RAID arrays across the same set of hard drives. For a simple example, you could use two hard drives and utilize 50% of each drive’s capacity to create a RAID 0 stripe set. This would be the perfect place to install your operating system, as it provides best performance. The remaining 50% of each drive could be used to install a RAID 1, so data in that volume would be mirrored on both drives. If a drive fails, you would lose the operating system array and partition, but your data would still be available on the remaining RAID 1 volume.

Asus Rampage II Gene: X58 with ICH10R

Asus’s MicroATX Rampage II Gene motherboard is a very compact enthusiast solution for Core i7 processors based on the X58/ICH10R chipset combo. Asus crammed a slew of features on this unit, including an additional storage controller by JMicron, the JMB363. Through it, ASUS delivers an UltraATA/133 port for two devices, one internal SATA/300 port, and an eSATA port, which can be accessed through the motherboard’s I/O shield.

The shield also offers six USB 2.0 ports, audio jacks, Gigabit Ethernet networking, FireWire 1394a, and a CMOS clear switch. The latter is helpful for recovering from unsuccessful overclocking attempts that render the system unbootable. Enthusiast features abound, including SupremeFX audio and powerful voltage regulator circuits for the CPU and other key components facilitate extreme overclocking.

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  • 19 Hide
    lonewarder , August 11, 2009 7:05 AM
    Please get that Gate.com pop-up ad window OUT OF MY FACE!!!! Every damned article has that freaking thing immediately jumping down in my way from page two on and I'm sick of it. I'll be reading Fudzilla first if you keep this crap up.
  • 11 Hide
    gkay09 , August 11, 2009 7:08 AM
    Why there are not many reviews about the nvidia chipset mobos for AMD ???
    It would be nice if TOM gives full reviews of those boards too...Many people show the desire to go SLI with AMD but are unwilling because of the problems and issues that are floating around the net about them...So it would help them much...
Other Comments
  • -1 Hide
    Netherwind , August 11, 2009 6:34 AM
    First! But anyway, it's nice to know that the Intel southbridge still stands up as a competitor to the LSI card, meaning I don't need to drop a ton of money on a raid controller for a desktop raid setup.. I just ordered 2 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F1's and plan to Raid 0 them. It's not exactly 'high performance' but it's high enough performing for the needs of the normal desktop user.
  • 19 Hide
    lonewarder , August 11, 2009 7:05 AM
    Please get that Gate.com pop-up ad window OUT OF MY FACE!!!! Every damned article has that freaking thing immediately jumping down in my way from page two on and I'm sick of it. I'll be reading Fudzilla first if you keep this crap up.
  • 11 Hide
    gkay09 , August 11, 2009 7:08 AM
    Why there are not many reviews about the nvidia chipset mobos for AMD ???
    It would be nice if TOM gives full reviews of those boards too...Many people show the desire to go SLI with AMD but are unwilling because of the problems and issues that are floating around the net about them...So it would help them much...
  • 0 Hide
    amnotanoobie , August 11, 2009 7:28 AM
    Interesting article, though I may not setup a RAID 5 on such a board (due to financial constraints), at least I have a reference when choosing a board to do a RAID 1 or 0.
  • 2 Hide
    dangerous_23 , August 11, 2009 8:09 AM
    at last, i've always wanted to see this comparison! well done intel!

    what do the transfer diagrams look like? can these raid controllers flatten out the transfer diagrams of conventional drives i.e. make max and min read about the same?
  • 6 Hide
    goose man , August 11, 2009 8:44 AM
    What I do not understand is why bother with the degraded writing performance.

    When you build a RAID array, you expect that array run normally most of the time, don't you ?

    My RAID 5 server, in last 3 years, only 1 time has one disk failed, and only took 1 day to rebuild the array and run normal again.
    1 day out of 3 years (> 1000 days) means less than 1 per mil of its life time it has to run in degraded write. And the quality of HD is much improved since 3 years ago (when I bought my HD to build my array)

    Let's be conservative, let's say when you build a RAID 5, you expect it failed twice a year (very bad expectation), to rebuild it still take less than two days, mean less than 1% of time per year.

    I will choose solution that has more performance that run more than 99% of time (i.e. ICH10 on RAID5) over one that has more performance that run less than 1% of its time (i.e MegaRAID on RAID 5) any day. ^__^

    So if degrade write performance only contribute less than 1%, why bother ?
  • 3 Hide
    haplo602 , August 11, 2009 9:06 AM
    how about a software raid in the mix ? like the linux implementation, just to compare is the chipsets have any benefit compared to a fully software colution ? you did throw in a HW card so a SW solution should complete the picture ...
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 9:20 AM
    1000 microseconds = 1 milisecond
    The access time is between 110 mircoseconds and 360 microseconds, so between 0.11 ms and 0.36 ms
  • 4 Hide
    dirtmountain , August 11, 2009 9:29 AM
    Since Schmid and Roos refuse to post any retail prices for anything, the LSI’s MegaRAID SAS9260-8i is $600.
    http://www.wwpi.com/storage/storage/7415-lsi-debuts-next-generation-6-gbs-sas-raid-controller-cards-
  • -2 Hide
    cangelini , August 11, 2009 9:40 AM
    adrianbalan1000 microseconds = 1 milisecondThe access time is between 110 mircoseconds and 360 microseconds, so between 0.11 ms and 0.36 ms


    Corrected on page 10. Thanks Adrian.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 11:06 AM
    Good article but really strange choice of hardware. Surely the people who want these results are people looking to use SSD's in servers as well as the very small enthusiast community?
    In which case why havent Nvidia based server boards for Opterons or Intel based servers been submitted?
    Also raid 0 is great for a theory but realistically raid 10 is the most used raid solution, especially with solid state drives. It would have been good to have an update with this configuration.
    Hope you do a follow up article.
  • -1 Hide
    MartenKL , August 11, 2009 11:07 AM
    All of a sudden "Intel seems to have optimized its ICH10R for RAID 1+0"
    On page "Benchmark Results: I/O Performance"
    Nowhere else do I see any mention of 1+0 benchmarks nor any graphs.

    Does Nvidia and AMD solutions mean you have to have a working OS installed first? The descripcion of the raid setup tools is a bit unclear.

    To me the conclusion should be don't spend $600 on a new bottleneck for your raid performance. Who cares about degraded performance? No one in their right mind keeps a system running on degraded performance as you use your raid to secure important data you are not willing to risk it being destroyed by a second drive failure.

    Also too little focus is spent on the processor difference. Todays multicore cpus lend them self very well to these integrated solutions and processor overhead is almost a non-issue. Lastly, is it possible intel has some advantage as the SSDs are intel? $600 for LSI's card with the not included battery backup option as the only selling point, is better invested in a UPS for the entire system.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 11:43 AM
    there is a big oops in the charts on the i/o section
    amd sb750 raid5 is exactly the same as intels ich 10r raid0 in every chart
  • -1 Hide
    qwertymac93 , August 11, 2009 11:46 AM
    um, you put one too many zeros on one of the access time charts. amd sb750 is listed as 600, i think it should be 60...
  • 0 Hide
    midnightgun , August 11, 2009 12:30 PM
    Should probably note that raid 5 is not supported on all 6 of the intel chipset ports (only the first 4).

    I'm still living with that error.
  • 0 Hide
    bk420 , August 11, 2009 12:53 PM
    I'm curious if the INTEL SSD are a case for the Intel chipset to have an advantage? I don't know, but they should have used another brand like Corsair or WD for this test. The LSI card I guess very expensive and out of reach for most home sever builds as are the Intel SSD's. It was a good article though seems like a lot of work! Good job TH!
  • -1 Hide
    Pei-chen , August 11, 2009 1:17 PM
    I moved from JMicron Raid on a Gigabyte board to an Intel ICH7R Asus board for the same reason Tom’s pointed out. My Raid 0 setup with two 7200.10 drives tops out around 120mb/sec read while the Intel let me have 140mb/sec. I have since replaced the 7200.10 with 7200.11 1.5TB and have 200mb/sec read speed from the Intel chipset. Equivalent offer from AMD and Nvidia 3 years ago couldn’t push more than 120mb/sec like the JMicron.
  • 1 Hide
    altoidman85 , August 11, 2009 2:44 PM
    "Please get that Gate.com pop-up ad window OUT OF MY FACE!!!!" I agree lonewarder. I have been reading toms for years now and frankly the ads are getting really annoying. I know they have to pay their bills too but how about keeping them less obtrusive.

    Good article tho. I was curious as to how ich10 stacked up against the offerings from amd and nvidia.
  • 3 Hide
    TidalWaveOne , August 11, 2009 3:08 PM
    lonewarderPlease get that Gate.com pop-up ad window OUT OF MY FACE!!!! Every damned article has that freaking thing immediately jumping down in my way from page two on and I'm sick of it. I'll be reading Fudzilla first if you keep this crap up.


    I don't see it... use Firefox with AdBlock add-on.
  • -1 Hide
    nemi_PC , August 11, 2009 3:47 PM
    would have been great to see what a Windows software managed raid 5 performance is like on any of the platforms as a reference point.
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