Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

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I have a new Asus P5E - X38/ICH9R + Intel ROM.

It has Matrix Storage manager built in, and accessible during boot.

I created the RAID5 array there (3 WD1600YS) and loaded Vista with no

Do I need to install Intel Matrix Storage Manager on Vista as well?
I'm guessing the Application layer in Vista is the only way to see
what the damned thing is up to (rebuilding parity or whatever), but
doesn't actually enhance operations.

I have put it there on a prior install. It didn't seem to do much
except show a pretty tree view. Is it necessary or does it improve
perfomance some how?

I chose RAID 5, but now I'm wondering if that was a mistake. I know
that it's write performance is not as good as R0, but read performance
should be pretty close, yes?

My thinking is that RAID 5 is an excellent choice for a lazy bum
developer / image manipulator that doesn't want to be anal about back
up, but needs/ like high speed read access.

I could get one more drive for raid 0+1, but I'm not sure how much
that brings to the party.  Bear in mind this is and all-hardware RAID
5, running on disks with 16mb caches.

The system is well backed by a USB talking UPS. I haven't enable write
back cacheing or advanced operations yet in the driver properties, but
I have no qualms about it.

You can push my buttons here. I will install Vista one more time, if I
read a compelling reason to change. Why not? I've done it about a
thousand times already (c:

Any thoughts appreciated,


Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

On Thu, 01 Nov 2007 14:53:01 -0000, stockDrover

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Yes that is a very good idea.  Otherwise how are you going
to have indications of raid array state or work with it to
rebuild a failure (besides the generally less attractive
bios setup)?

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You should treat the array as one drive, only doing
single-drive related things with OS tools and using the RAID
manager for all considerations below a concept of it being a
single volume the OS uses... if that makes sense... use the

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No performance benefit and it shouldn't be doing much when
all is well, but consider the bloat of Vista and all the
other things running, it is just good to have the monitoring
of the array as that's part of the whole benefit to having
the array right?  If a drive fails you don't want to be
waiting till your system eventually reboots to be alerted?

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RAID5 has calculation overhead, but redundancy.  It is not
as fast as RAID0 but more importantly you don't lose all
data if any one drive fails like you would with RAID0, and
not so much space lost as with RAID1.  RAID5 is a good
compromise for those with 3 drives they can devote to it.

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It does seem a good option for this scenario except backups
are still important as this is online storage and still
susceptible to (AC or PSU failure induced) power surges as
well as logical system errors, viri/malware/etc, user

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IMO, it seems a bit excessive to have 4 drives in a client
system, and you didn't mention which drives you're using...
at some point the specific model of drive would have to be
considered, and/or what expense is worthwhile for further
gain.   However, yes 4 drives 0+1 is typically going to be
faster, in some cases RAID5 has minimal performance benefit.

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You're asking about performance but then using Vista.  Just
something to ponder.

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One good reason to use a RAID1 instead of RAID5 is that
since you're using a motherboard integral raid controller,
you will need nearly identical Intel raid controller again
if the motherboard were to fail.    IF this is not a
problem, you could also consider why Intel's version is
called Maxtix, that it has a few more tricks up it's sleeve
like taking a couple drives and making two volumes across
the pair of drives, one as a RAID0 and one as a RAID1 (but
it's not a RAID 0+1).

The RAID0 should have more performance than a RAID5 then the
RAID0 remains for the data needing redundancy more than
performance... but it depends on how diligent the user is,
whether that data makes it onto the RAID1 volume-area, if it
is more important to have no burden, thoughtless use then I
suggest staying with RAID5 or if performance is really that
important, then go with the 0+1.  Can it do a 6 drive 1+0?
Just keep adding drives till there's no room left in the
case then you KNOW you're done.  ;-)

On the other hand if the budget is large and the data
valuable, I would think about using a discrete RAID card
instead of the motherboard RAID.  Much more convenient to be
able to pull an array plus card and use it elsewhere.

Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

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Many thanks for  the thoughtful response. You pretty much confirmed my
suspicions and gave me some new ones (c:

The drives I'm using are rather ordinary WD1600YS, about $60 each. Not
a big deal. I started out looking at 10,000 RPM Raptors until I
noticed they were SATA 1.5. At three times the cost, for half the
storage, and no fault tolerance, the benefits were just not apparent.

eg. a single 150g 10000 rpm sata 1.5 =$180
vs three 160g 7200 RPM SATA 3.0 = $180
These drives have bigger  caches, and life expectancy. In raid 0 I
expect a pair of them will blow the doors off a single raptor.

I am very intrigued by your suggestion to mix modes and volumes. I
must admit to being slightly chagrined for not having experimented

I appreciate your comments about the independent card, but have other
reasons for not going that route.

Thankd for your inputs

Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

On Thu, 01 Nov 2007 19:50:14 -0000, stockDrover

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??  What's wrong with using SATA150 drives?  They cost more
because they're substantially faster.

Fault tolerance will come the same as with any other drives
you'd use, that you have more than 1 in a RAID0 or 5 array.

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Life span/failure is a crapshoot, any drive can go when
brand new but certainly the RAID1 or 5 will be a large step
in mitigating the problem.

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Actually I would suggest using either two drives in RAID1,
three in RAID5, or two in RAID1 plus 1 WD Raptor, or two in
RAID0 and two in RAID1.  LOL, there are lots of options.

Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager


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Correction - I didn't mean "SATA150" drives are
substantially faster, I mean the Raptors.

Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

stockDrover wrote:
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... snip ...
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Read the URLs in my sig.  Then get Linux (Ubuntu is good).


Posted via a free Usenet account from

Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

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Hi stockdrover,

Your post got me to thinking (a dangerous thing for my computer and
data).  I have been running a beta version of Windows and after the last
install forgot to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager in the OS.

I have the OS on a striped RAID 0 volume.  I downloaded the latest
version of the Storage Manager from

You might want to check there for the latest version.

I installed it and simulated a drive failure by unplugging the data cable
to one of my SATA drives (don't try this at home - I am a highly trained
professional, err rather a beta tester aka high risk taker) and not
surprisingly the system locked up when trying to access Explorer.  The
storage manager did not tell me that one drive was missing from the
array.  This behaviour may be different on a mirrored volume OS install.

So, no benefit there for me having the Storage Manager installed.

I rebooted the computer and noticed that the BIOS RAID screen showed RAID
0 as failed and RAID 1 as degraded.  I entered the BIOS RAID
configuration screen and there were no options there for me to 'fix' the
volume errors.

I then continued to load Windows and got a balloon notification that one
of the RAID volumes had errors.  First I did a backup of my important
data and then I started the Intel Matrix Storage Manager. It took a while
for me to figure out how to 'fix' the arrays.  I eventually figured out
that I could Right Click on the hard drive that had an 'X' next to it and
Left Click 'mark as normal'.  I knew there had been no data lost (I was
doing reads only) so this option should be safe.  The missing drive and
RAID 0 volume was marked as normal and the RAID 1 volume started the
rebuild process.  And that is the major advantage as far as I can
determine to having the Intel Matrix Storage Manager installed in your
version of Vista.

I need to backtrack for a moment and explain what happens to your system
when the RAID manager thinks that there is an error and you *don't* have
the Intel Matrix Storage Manager installed in Windows.  Anytime you have
an abnormal shutdown and disk activity is occurring a subsequent restart
of the RAID array will likely result in a rebuild of the RAID 1 mirrored
array.  While this process is going on, Windows will take about 15
minutes to start.  In Vista, when it finally did start, the Aero
interface was missing.  For my 158 GB RAID 1 array, the rebuild process
takes a full hour to complete.

I made the mistake of shutting down the computer during the restart after
a BSOD.  The next time I started the computer the dreaded mirrored RAID
rebuild process started.

With the Storage Manager installed you can initiate this rebuild process
from within the storage manager and *not* automatically during Windows
startup.  This alone is an excellent reason to install the Storage

The storage manager has good information about your drives and RAID
arrays.  The storage manager also allows you to create a RAID array and a
RAID array from an existing drive.

So, yes, I would highly recommend that you install the Storage Manager in
Vista because sooner or later your system will not shut down normally.  
When that happens you don't want to wait for the array rebuild process to
grind on and on and on before you can start using your computer.

Oh yes - one more thing.  When I loaded the latest version of the Intel
Matrix Storage Manager, Windows told me that I had 3 days to activate due
to a hardware change.  There was no hardware change, but the good news is
that the activation from within Windows worked without having to make the
annoying activation call to Microsoft.

Alan "Pecos" Norton

Re: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

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<snip excellent discussion of IMSM>

I have already (re-)loaded IMSM on my machine. What  prompted  my
question in the first place was my experience when I uninstalled it.
New machine; lots of experimentation...It *did* uninstall, but the
messages it threw up were so scary I lost all faith in my array, so I
started over...

Quoted text here. Click to load it thinks you had  other causes for the reactivation. I've
loaded that exact software 5-6 times and it never devalidated an
existing activation.

Thanks for your help


Resolved: Raid 5 - Matrix Storage Manager

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The answer is YES. As Kony and Pecos both explained (thanks) IMSM
gives you a window into the status of the RAID Array and what exactly
is happening there.

More importantly, and certainly less obvious is that with close
inspection of your array, IMSM provides certain controls, but only on
the right click context menu.

In my case, for RAID 5, the most important feature was the ability to
activate write back caching. With a raid array, you cannot do this
from the device mangler as you normally would. It offers, and you can
do it, but it doesn't actually happen.

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With write caching enabled, the performance of my RAID 5 array is
amazing. Write  speeds are *very* fast (swallowing network data at the
limits of my supplying network ), reading is positively, amazingly,
blindingly fast.

For the cost of one 150gb Raptor (sata 1.5), I got three 160gb SATA
3.0 drives with 16mb caches, NCQ, Hot pluggable, 5 year warranty-
million hour mtbf drives, that in RAID 5 give me 310GB fault tolerant
disk system. I didn't have to suffer the waste in heat or $$$ of RAID
0+1, or it's 33% higher risk of component failure.



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