The Raid Migration Adventure

... To Nvidia nForce 590 MCP

Source Platform Target Controller Successful Migration Possible? Port Change Possible? Plug & Play Migrate with Windows Repair Installation Rollback if Failed
Nvidia nForce3 Nvidia nForce 590 yes yes - yes -
Promise FastTrak 378 Nvidia nForce 590 no - - - yes
VIA VT8237 Nvidia nForce 590 no yes - - yes
Intel ICH6R Nvidia nForce 590 no - - - yes

Our migration efforts to the nForce 590 weren’t very successful unless we used an nForce 3 source system. Using the Promise controller, an Intel or a VIA source system, the existing RAID arrays weren’t even recognized; the system reported only empty hard drives. This is rather dangerous if you’re working with more drives, as you could confuse the RAID drives with other drives that might indeed be empty, and destroy your RAID array accidentally. The VIA controller’s RAID array was detected as a broken RAID 5 array by the nForce 590 MCP.


Migrating RAID arrays from one controller to another one is possible under only limited circumstances, due to the different implementations of RAID and hence different RAID signatures from controllers. We found that it is possible to migrate RAID arrays within controllers from the same manufacturer; for example, we were able to migrate any RAID array built on an Intel ICH5, ICH6, ICH7 or ICH8 controller to the ICH9. Going from the ICH8 to ICH9 didn’t require any effort at all, as the storage units seem to operate identically. Going from nForce3 to nForce 590 was also smooth, as was the transition from the Promise controller to the ATI/AMD 690 chipset and the SB600 Southbridge, as they are based on the same controller logic Compare Prices on RAID Controllers.

Even where successful, all migration procedures required a Windows XP repair installation, which is triggered by booting from the installation CD and selecting "Repair" instead of "Fresh install" at the time you choose the target partition. Luckily, it is always possible to stop the migration efforts and move a RAID array back to its initial controller without losing data.

So far, so good. But the tests for this article extended over more than a week, which shouldn’t be the case considering that even on-board RAID controllers have become very mighty. Multiple RAID modes and even multiple RAID installations on the same set of hard disks are easy to configure for up to six drives. Nvidia’s software will tell you if a drive fails, and it even tells you right under Windows which one to replace. But none of the controllers, whether the AMD SB600, Intel’s ICH9 or Nvidia’s nForce 5/6 MCP, can reliably discover an existing RAID array, let alone import one.

This clearly is an area that requires improvement, although we realize that it’s not easy: the actual implementation of RAID arrays is different across various manufacturers, as there is no specification. According to information we received from companies such as CBL Data Recovery and Kroll Ontrack, the RAID controller manufacturers aren’t cooperative when it comes to their RAID implementations.

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  • gothamite
    Great article, but does anyone know if an ICH7R -> ICH10R migration is possible? I am replacing an ASUS P5WDH Deluxe which died with a new board containing the ICH10R chipset and hope that I can just plug my old drives into the new board without losing the data. I accept I might need to use the XP repair thingy.
  • Passarinhuu
    My old ICH6R motherboard stopped working and I got a new ICH9R Asus P5K Pro to replace it. When I plugged the old disks I tried to boot winxp and I got to the loading screen but then got a BSOD.
    I was already expecting that and tryed to run a repair install. The problem is, even when i correctly load my RAID drivers provided by the mb maker, winxp install doesn't detect the disks. If I set the SATA mode to AHCI in the BIOS winxp can detect them but the repair doesn't allow me to boot windows.

    What am I doing wrong and how can i fix it?
  • gothamite
    OK - I got my Asus P5Q Deluxe with Intel ICH10R and successfully migrated my 4 drive RAID set from the P5W-DH Deluxe's ICH9R. The only thing is one of the drives shows as off-line (i.e. not part of the RAID set).
  • Anonymous
    Just a note on your Intel chipset migration... I've moved systems from ICH8R to ICH9R (and 10R) controllers without needing to run a Windows Repair installation. All you need to do is ensure that you're running the most up to date chipset drivers BEFORE the migration.

    Windows will start up, install the new chipset drivers, and tell you it needs to reboot to complete the driver installation. Reboot again, and you're ready to go.

    I've done this with RAID0 and RAID1 arrays, moving from ASUS P5B Deluxe (ICH8R) boards to all of the following: ASUS Maximus Formula (ICH9R), P5K Premium (ICH9R), and P5Q Pro (ICH10R).
  • Bodhammer
    Great Article!

    So, I want to go from an 875P Chipset in RAID 1 to a X58 Chipset sticking with XP for now.

    Can it be done?
  • Bodhammer
    Great Article -

    Can I go from a 875P to an X58 motherboard?
  • momatik
    Great stuff !

    I put 2 drives from a nforce3 250 and conected them to a nforce4.
    Used a XP-CD with the enforce4 drives embedded.
    But i only see 1 partition !?
    What am i doing wrong ?
    Tryed several stripe sizes.

    Thanks for help :)
  • ddd_81
    Is it duable to migrate RAID 0 from Intel to AMD without dataloss:
    ICH8R -> SB710
  • ddd_81
    Is it duable to migrate RAID 0 from Intel to AMD without dataloss:
    ICH8R -> SB710