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Crucial M4 SSDs /RR60 / Raid Stripes and headaches


vinylfreak
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This post is actually a continuation of an older post here...http://homeserversho...ew/page__st__60 that started to get a little off topic of the original, so I decided to give it its own post. If you read the last part of page 4 of the older post it will bring you up to speed to where I am at now.

 

Just a brief recap.......my old HTPC build OS consisted of two Crucial M4 64gb Sata III drives in a Raid 0 Stripe. The original Atto test results for that Stripe are below.

 

Cdrivewritecacheingoff.jpg

 

On Cyber Monday NewEgg had a Shell Shocker price of 69.00 for the Highpoint RR 640 Sata III Raid Card.

 

P1020467.jpg

 

I purchased it with the intent of buying two more Crucial M4 64gb Sata III drives and adding them to the two I already own. I thought Wow! looking at the performance of what the 2 drive array gave me, 4 drives Striped should be Awesome!.......So I bought two more Crucial M4 Sata III drives.

P1020465.jpg

 

So I proceeded to configure the 4 Crucial drives in a Raid 0 Stripe on the Highpoint 640 RR card. The Atto results are listed below.

 

4M4sRaid0quedepth10.jpg

 

These really weren't the results I had expected or really wanted. While I was glad to see that the Write speeds almost double, I had also expected the Read speeds to Increase. Instead Reads speeds dropped significantly. The other downside was that at post the Rocket Raid boot screen would hang and scan for the array adding almost 8 to 10 seconds to my boot times. This also was very disappointing. I decided to go ahead and run this setup for a couple days just to see if it got any better. Things actually got worse. On about the third day I started getting the piercing alarm going off from Raid card telling me my array had failed! I would reboot and then the problem would go away for awhile. A couple hours later the alarm would go off and the array would fail again. I finally looked at the Event log from the Highpoint management software to see what was going on. The results are posted below.

 

crucialstripefail.jpg

 

Great! Now it says I have a Bad drive! This was just getting better and better.

The drive that was flagged as bad as was actually one of the older drives so I thought well, maybe its possible.

So I went to Crucials website to arrange for an RMA on the drive.

Then I noticed there was a Firmware update issued on 1-13-12 describing the exact Smart error that my drive was displaying.

 

firmwarenotice.jpg

 

So I decided to update the firmware on all four Crucial drives before I did any thing else. Of course the firmware update process from Crucial was not as seemless as I would have liked it to be. My Motherboard has 7 Sata ports on it..4 Sata III and 3 Sata II ports.

In Crucial s Firmware update guide it clearly states that in order for the FW update to work the SSDs must be plugged into ports 0-3. You boot off of a CD you create to update the FW.

 

guide.jpg

 

Of Course....after much hair-pulling and aggravation the Only two Sata ports that would work were ports 5&6 on my Sata III Marvell port that I was specifically told not to use based on the Crucial Guide. O_o

Life goes on and I was able to get the Crucial M4 drives updated to the 3.09 FW.

 

At this point and time I decided that I did not want to deal with the Ultra long boot times created by the Highpoint Rocket Raid 640 bios screen, and I also wasn't happy with the slow down with the Read speeds the RR card was giving me , even though the Write speeds increased.

 

So.................................... with All Four of my Crucial M4 SSDs now running with the updated 3.09 FW I decided to create two separate Raid 0 stripes with two each of the Crucial M4 drives using the on-board Sata ports on my Z68 Motherboard. I did look into what it would take to tweak the Highpoint 640 RR card, to get it to boot quicker. After much research, I stumble upon this customer review of the card on NewEgg. It included some very convoluted instructions on how to Edit the bios of the RR640 card so that it would boot faster. When I discovered that it wasn't even a FW update! just a mod of the current FW.... I didn't even pursue it any further. This is just a Total Fail on Highpoints part on sending out a part to market that wasn't fully baked!! To think that the general public would jump through all these hoops is Totally Ludicrous!!! Buyer Beware!! not all Highpoint parts are created equal!

 

RRFIRMWAREUPDATEINSTRUCTIONS.jpg

 

 

Knowing that I was abandoning the Highpoint 640 option, I choose several alternatives... the first 2 drive Raid 0 stripe I connected to the Sata III port on my MB that was controlled by the Intel Rapid Storage Driver. The results posted below pretty much reflect my original OS drive array I had set up on the Old config.

 

M4stripeque4.jpg

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Continuation of previous post......

 

 

Next I took the two other Crucial M4 drives and put them into an Icy Dock enclosure and configured them into a Raid 0 and hooked them up to my Marvell 6gb Sata port. The results are listed below.

 

P1000760.jpg

icydockraid.jpg

 

 

 

Needless to say the results with the Icy Dock enclosure absolutely suck considering they were two Sata III SSDs in Raid 0. That option was scrapped.

 

I then moved on to configuring a Raid 0 stripe consisting of two of the Crucial M4 Sata III drives hooked up to my MB Sata II ports controled by the Intel Rapid Storage Driver.

These results were very surprising!! to me.

They are listed below.

 

 

intelsata2mbraidm4s.jpg

 

 

 

While the Read speeds were just a little better than half of the Sata III port speed results, the Write speeds were actually a litlle better than the Sata III results..

I was happy with those results and ended up going with the Two Raid 0 stripe setup. One array on Sata III and one on Sata II.

 

Posted below are side by side comparisons of the performance of the Sata II arrays and the Sata III arrays.

Keep in mine both of these arrays are created with Crucial M4 64gb Sata III drives.

The only difference is one is connected by Sata II and one by Sata III.

Sata II Raid 0 is on the left and the Sata III Raid 0 is on the right. I included both Atto and Crystal Disk Mark data.

 

 

M4Raid0SataIItoSataIIIcomparison.jpg

 

 

M4Raid0SataIItoSataIIIcomparisonattotest.jpg

 

The Sata III Raid 0 Stripe became my OS drive and the Sata II Raid 0 Stripe will hold Photoshop Elements, Lightroom 4 and Photomatix 4 software for right now.

I also installed a Sata III Caviar Black 1TB drive for my Recorded TV. This is hooked up to the Sata III (Marvell) port. Speed results are posted below for comparison.

 

WD1TBCaviarBlackSataIII.jpg

 

Once again it was quite the Learning experience for me.

Hopefully this gave some additional insight to Raid arrays being configured in different ways with different hardware.

 

Sorry about the overly long forum post, but there was a

lot going on here.

I'm sure there are things I left out... so if you have questions... ask away and we all can fine tune this a little more.

Right now ....after reliving all this anguish , I really could use a Drink! Thanks! for following along. ;-)

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Lots of evident frustration there, and good work.

 

At risk of sounding like a Highpoint fanboy, the steps you listed above to speed up BIOS are simply setting the INT13 to disabled in the card's BIOS. You can do that very easily when you flash the card just choose to disable INT13. You do not have to ensure there are no arrays; no editing of the file is required. The steps listed above are a very over-complicated way to do this. I mean I can tell you how to sharpen a pencil by starting with an atom-splitter, but that doesn't mean it *has* to be that complicated.

 

This is no different than any add-in hard drive card, whether RAID or simply SATA or even older IDE cards. They are designed to be bootable (usually) so they have to do a drive search on the separate ports just like the onboard ports do. If you know you aren't booting off it, disable INT13 and you get improved boot times and no conflicts with onboard RAID booting.

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Lots of evident frustration there, and good work.

 

At risk of sounding like a Highpoint fanboy, the steps you listed above to speed up BIOS are simply setting the INT13 to disabled in the card's BIOS. You can do that very easily when you flash the card just choose to disable INT13. You do not have to ensure there are no arrays; no editing of the file is required. The steps listed above are a very over-complicated way to do this. I mean I can tell you how to sharpen a pencil by starting with an atom-splitter, but that doesn't mean it *has* to be that complicated.

 

This is no different than any add-in hard drive card, whether RAID or simply SATA or even older IDE cards. They are designed to be bootable (usually) so they have to do a drive search on the separate ports just like the onboard ports do. If you know you aren't booting off it, disable INT13 and you get improved boot times and no conflicts with onboard RAID booting.

 

Thanks for the comments.

 

I actually am sort of a HighPoint fan-boy myself. It actually was the great experience with the 2680 card in my WHS 2011 box that prompted me to purchase the 640 RR.

If you can push me in the direction of an easier way to disable INT 13 on the 640 than what I found I'm all ears. ;-)

That being said, my whole purpose for buying the 640 was so that I could Stripe 4 Sata III SSDs to use as my OS drive. If disabling INT 13 stops me from booting from the card I am back at square one. =(

 

Thanks for the additional info on Raid cards in general. I always learn so much coming to these Forums. While the frustrations can some times be painful, I also no that, that is part of the learning process. No Pain.....No Gain..... ;-)

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Sadly I've posted on disabling it multiple times in these forums here and here among others but never went into detail. Its no different than flashing the BIOS for the card; just load the BIOS onto and highpoint's flash executable onto a bootable USB or CD and there are a couple options upon getting to the flash program. One of them is to enable or disable INT13.

 

If you're feeling especially lucky you can even flash it through Windows. I did; with a 5 drive array enabled but YMMV.

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I have flashed all my cards at least once through windows with not issues as well. The performance you where getting off the RR seems to be more inline with what I would expect using the M4. The drive is rated at 500/95 over a SATA 3. The write performance is right where it needs to be. Hard to say why the reads are down but I have never gotten more than 265 from the M4. Since the the RR does not use caching, the 780 is a bit low but not really that far off for that drive. Since that is going into x4 PCI slot, there maybe some interaction depending on which slot you used and the fact it is a x4 may play a part. The 2710 would operate at x8 and would technically offer better performance.

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Sadly I've posted on disabling it multiple times in these forums here and here among others but never went into detail. Its no different than flashing the BIOS for the card; just load the BIOS onto and highpoint's flash executable onto a bootable USB or CD and there are a couple options upon getting to the flash program. One of them is to enable or disable INT13.

 

If you're feeling especially lucky you can even flash it through Windows. I did; with a 5 drive array enabled but YMMV.

 

Thanks for the additional info on the bios flashing process!!

 

Just to clarify, with INT 13 disabled, you could not boot an OS off of that array??

 

 

I have flashed all my cards at least once through windows with not issues as well. The performance you where getting off the RR seems to be more inline with what I would expect using the M4. The drive is rated at 500/95 over a SATA 3. The write performance is right where it needs to be. Hard to say why the reads are down but I have never gotten more than 265 from the M4. Since the the RR does not use caching, the 780 is a bit low but not really that far off for that drive. Since that is going into x4 PCI slot, there maybe some interaction depending on which slot you used and the fact it is a x4 may play a part. The 2710 would operate at x8 and would technically offer better performance.

 

Thanks for the additional info and insight Doc!

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Just to clarify, with INT 13 disabled, you could not boot an OS off of that array??

 

 

Technically, I believe you can boot up to a 7.8 GB (1024 cylinder) disk but I'm going to assume that is not what you are looking for. :) However I'm basing that off of my old (now defunct and in computer years prehistoric) MCSE learnin'. The last time I worried about it was working with SCSI add in cards around the Win2K server days but I believe that is still the case.

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Just to clarify, with INT 13 disabled, you could not boot an OS off of that array??

 

Yes, with INT 13 disabled on the RR card, it would no longer be a bootable device. I hear your frustration about INT 13. Having to flash the BIOS in order to disable INT 13 is just insane IMHO. At the very, very least, it should be changeable via a jumper or DIP switch on the card. There could also be an option presented during POST to allow you to enable/disable INT 13 on this bootup.

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Yes, with INT 13 disabled on the RR card, it would no longer be a bootable device. I hear your frustration about INT 13. Having to flash the BIOS in order to disable INT 13 is just insane IMHO. At the very, very least, it should be changeable via a jumper or DIP switch on the card. There could also be an option presented during POST to allow you to enable/disable INT 13 on this bootup.

 

How many of your motherboards allow you to disable INT13 via a DIP or jumper?

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