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Intel RAID Technology - The BIOS Optimization Guide

Intel RAID Technology – The BIOS Optimization Guide

Intel RAID Technology

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review

The Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature controls the RAID function of the Intel SATA controller.

When enabled, the SATA controller enables its RAID features when the computer boots up. You can then press Ctrl-I, when prompted at the boot screen, to access the RAID setup utility.

When disabled, the SATA controller disables its RAID functions when the computer boots up.

If you would like to make use of the SATA controller’s RAID features, you should enable this BIOS feature. But please note that enabling this feature requires you to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

If you do not intend to use the RAID features, it’s recommended that you disable this BIOS feature. This allows you to use the native Windows SATA driver. You won’t need to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

Please note that changing the Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature after installing the operating system may cause a boot failure. You may be required to reinstall the operating system.

 

Details

Intel introduced their unique Matrix Storage Technology with the Intel 82801 (ICH6R) series of I/O controller hubs. Also known as Matrix RAID Technology, it combines the performance benefits of RAID 0 and the data protection of RAID 1 using just two hard disk drives.

For more information on the Intel Matrix Storage Technology, please refer to our Intel Matrix RAID Guide.

The Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature controls the RAID function of the Intel SATA controller.

When enabled, the SATA controller enables its RAID features when the computer boots up. You can then press Ctrl-I, when prompted at the boot screen, to access the RAID setup utility.

When disabled, the SATA controller disables its RAID functions when the computer boots up.

If you would like to make use of the SATA controller’s RAID features, you should enable this BIOS feature. But please note that enabling this feature requires you to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

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When you load the Windows installation routine, the following message will appear on screen :

Press F6 if you have to install a third-party SCSI or RAID driver.

At this point, press the F6 key and insert the drive containing the Intel Matrix Storage Manager. Once it is loaded, the Windows installation will proceed as usual.

If you do not intend to use the RAID features, it’s recommended that you disable this BIOS feature. This allows you to use the native Windows SATA driver. You won’t need to load the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the Windows installation routine.

Please note that changing the Intel RAID Technology BIOS feature after installing the operating system may cause a boot failure. You may be required to reinstall the operating system.

 

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5 Reasons To Only Use NAS-Optimised Drives In Your NAS

Network-attached storage (NAS) drives provide fast and secure storage for backup files, or a central repository of shared files that everyone can access. As NAS drives are available 24/7, they offer the convenience of on-call access to data with minimal power consumption. That is why they are now a necessity in many businesses and even homes.

When NAS systems first became popular, they were built around normal desktop drives which were not designed for 24/7 operation. This led to poor performance and reliability. To address this, Western Digital developed the WD Red family of NAS hard disk drives.

Let us show you why you must use NAS-optimised drives like the WD Red drives for your NAS systems, instead of regular hard disk drives.

 

Reason #1 : Tougher, Cooler & Quieter

Desktop drives are designed to run as solitary drives, so they do not need much protection against vibration. Neither do they need to be particularly quiet or cool. When installed in a NAS enclosure, the vibration and heat from multiple drives running in close proximity greatly reduce their reliability and lifespan, while testing your tolerance for noise.

WD Red drives are designed to run cooler and vibrate less. They also come with technologies that offer better protection against vibration, like 3D Active Balance Plus. That’s why you can pack up to 8 WD Red drives (or 16 WD Red Pro drives) in a NAS enclosure without worrying about killing them… or your eardrums!

 

Reason #2 : 24/7 Reliability

Desktop drives are also not designed to run 24/7. WD Red drives, on the other hand, are specifically designed for the “always-on” environment of a NAS enclosure.

Just how reliable are WD Red drives? The latest WD Red drives that feature the NASware 3.0 firmware are rated for a MTBF (mean time before failure) of 1 million hours. If you buy 8 of these drives and run them 24/7, you will likely see a single drive fail only after 14 years of non-stop operation.

That’s why Western Digital backs up their WD Red drives with a 3-year warranty. Their higher-end WD Red Pro drives (which support up to 16 drives in a single NAS enclosure) come with a 5-year warranty.

 

Reason #3 : Optimised For NAS

The performance requirements for network storage is vastly different from that of a desktop computer. Desktop drives will see a rough 50-50 mix of read and write operations over time, and their firmware are designed to support simultaneous read and write operations.

NAS drives, however, will experience far more reads than writes. After all, when you share files (family holiday photos, for example), they are written once but read many times after that. That is why WD Red drives are optimised for a mix of 80% reads and 20% writes.

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Reason #4 : Testing, Testing, Testing

WD Red drives are extensively tested with most, if not all, of the NAS systems in the world. WD Red drives also undergo more extensive reliability tests than regular desktop drives. All these tests not only ensure compatibility out-of-the-box, they also ensure the drives run reliably in the more demanding NAS environment.

 

Reason #5 : RAID-Optimised

Regular desktop drives are not designed to be used as RAID drives, and lack the RAID error recovery control called TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery). TLER is designed to increase the reliability and stability of the RAID array. WD Red drives, on the other hand, support TLER because they are designed to be configured as RAID drives.

 

WD Red Drives

In July 2012, Western Digital revealed the world’s first NAS-optimised hard disk drive designed to run 24/7 – the 3 TB WD Red (WD30EFRX). Since then, they have released many new WD Red drives to meet the high demand for NAS-optimised storage :

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Irrespective of which brand you choose to use, understand this – you must use NAS-optimised hard disk drives in your NAS. Your data depends on it!

 

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SATA Mode – BIOS Optimization Guide

SATA Mode

Common Options : RAID, SATA or AHCI, IDE

 

Quick Review

The SATA Mode BIOS feature is similar to the SATA Operation Mode BIOS feature, but with different options available. It controls the SATA controller’s operating mode.

When set to SATA or AHCI, the SATA controller enables its AHCI functionality. However, its RAID functions will be disabled and you won’t be able to access the RAID setup utility at boot time. You can find more information on AHCI in the SATA AHCI Mode BIOS feature.

When set to RAID, the SATA controller enables both its RAID and AHCI functions. You will be allowed to access the RAID setup utility at boot time.

When set to IDE, the SATA controller disables its RAID and AHCI functions and runs in the IDE emulation mode. You won’t have access to the RAID setup utility.

If you intend to create or use a RAID array, you should set this BIOS feature to RAID. The BIOS will load the RAID setup utility which you can access at boot time.

If you do not wish to create or use a RAID array but would like to make use of the SATA controller’s AHCI features, you should set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI. This skips the loading of the SATA controller’s RAID functions, which speeds up the boot process.

Even if you do not intend to use a RAID array, it is recommended that you set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI, even if you do not intend to use features like hot-plugging. This is because switching from the IDE emulation mode to AHCI mode is often problematic.

On the other hand, the IDE mode allows for maximum compatibility with older hardware. Even with the proper SATA driver installed, it is possible for a system to crash while installing or booting up an operating system. Disabling this BIOS in such cases will normally resolve the issue.

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Details

The SATA Mode BIOS feature is similar to the SATA Operation Mode BIOS feature, but with different options available. It controls the SATA controller’s operating mode. There are three available modes – IDE, SATA or AHCI and RAID.

When set to SATA or AHCI, the SATA controller enables its AHCI functionality. However, its RAID functions will be disabled and you won’t be able to access the RAID setup utility at boot time. You can find more information on AHCI in the SATA AHCI Mode BIOS feature.

When set to RAID, the SATA controller enables both its RAID and AHCI functions. You will be allowed to access the RAID setup utility at boot time.

When set to IDE, the SATA controller disables its RAID and AHCI functions and runs in the IDE emulation mode. You won’t have access to the RAID setup utility.

If you intend to create or use a RAID array, you should set this BIOS feature to RAID. The BIOS will load the RAID setup utility which you can access at boot time.

If you do not wish to create or use a RAID array but would like to make use of the SATA controller’s AHCI features, you should set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI. This skips the loading of the SATA controller’s RAID functions, which speeds up the boot process.

Please note that both RAID and SATA/AHCI modes require you to load the SATA controller driver during the Microsoft Windows XP installation routine. When you load the Windows XP installation routine, the following message will appear on screen :

Press F6 if you have to install a third-party SCSI or RAID driver.

At this point, press the F6 key and insert the floppy disk containing the motherboard’s SATA controller driver. Once the driver is loaded, the Microsoft Windows XP installation will proceed as usual. This step is not required if the SATA controller is set to SATA or AHCI and the operating system has native support for AHCI.

Even if you do not intend to use a RAID array, it is recommended that you set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI, even if you do not intend to use features like hot-plugging. This is because switching from the IDE emulation mode to AHCI mode is often problematic. For example, switching from IDE mode to AHCI after installing Microsoft Windows 7 in IDE mode will result in a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD).

On the other hand, the IDE mode allows for maximum compatibility with older hardware. Even with the proper SATA driver installed, it is possible for a system to crash while installing or booting up an operating system. Disabling this BIOS in such cases will normally resolve the issue.

 

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If you like our work, you can help support our work by visiting our sponsors, participate in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donate to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!