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Thread: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?




  1. #1
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    Default Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Greetings!

    I have a GA-EP45-UD3P (rev. 1.6) motherboard and two Samsung F3 1TB HDs which I want to configure in RAID 0 with Windows 7 64.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Of course the manual does not speak to Windows 7 but the instructions for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place>Vista</st1:place>, as well as the instructions for XP, talk about installing the “SATA controller driver during the OS installation.” The procedure, so it says, involves copying some small files from the driver disk to a floppy, or in the case of <st1:place>VISTA</st1:place> to a USB flash drive. Really the procedure for VISTA sounds a lot like the F6 method in XP The thing is, the files that the motherboard manual directs to get off the driver disk are the same for VISTA as for XP and that didn’t really make sense to me.
    <o:p></o:p>
    I went to the Gigabyte website, drivers section, for my motherboard and while there is a similarly sized file (.3 MB) for XP (they call it a preinstall driver) there is nothing like this listed for <st1:place>VISTA</st1:place>, let alone Windows 7
    <o:p></o:p>
    I have looked around the web a bit and a couple of articles have suggested that, for Windows 7, a driver does need to be installed during the initial OS install by clicking “repair your computer” and then the ”load drivers” button. Unfortunately, these articles are not too clear about which driver, or drivers, to install. I mean, are they talking about the little .3 MB file which does not seem to be offered for Windows 7, or the big 13.1 MB driver file, or both?
    <o:p></o:p>
    Certainly someone here has done a clean install of Windows 7 with a RAID 0, preferably with my motherboard, or at least with the Intel ICH10R, and what driver, if any, did you install during the OS install? What procedure should I follow?
    <o:p></o:p>
    By the way, I am familiar with the pre OS install BIOS prep that includes setting RAID mode under Integrated Peripherals and configuring the RAID array using the <Ctrl-I> RAID configuration utility. I just need to know how to proceed during the Windows 7 installation.
    <o:p></o:p>
    This leads to my next question.
    <o:p></o:p>
    While in the RAID configuration utility, one of the choices that must be made is the strip size. There are many choices with the largest being 128kb and the smallest being 4kb The first thing I thought was smaller must be better so as to conserve disk space. (Like I really need to worry about disk space with 2TB available.) Then I noticed that the default size is the larger, so I wondered if there was a reason for this. Again, an internet search didn’t help much as opinions are all over the map so what do you folks recommend for a strip size, and if you have the time why do you feel this is the best size?
    <o:p></o:p>
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Could W7 already include drivers for ICH10R?
    Look ICH10R drivers from Intel's website.
    Small file: driver, large file: Intel Storage Matrix application. Probably.

    Stripe-size is what is "striped over the disks" in rAID0 and RAID5. If size is 4 kB, then one takes 4 kB, writes 2 kB on first disk and 2 kB to second. Take next 4 kB and repeat. If size of one file is 4 kB, it gets divided neatly to disks.

    If size of file is 128 kB, then it would need 32 stripes of 4 kB. 32 * 2 kB writes or reads. It is probably more efficient if the disks can read/write larger continuous segments than 2 kB.

    However, when you do write a 4 kB file to 128 kB striped disk, you write to one disk only. so small single files are not striped over the disks. You do not lose disk-space, because each file-system block will be used (eventually, by other files).

    Statistically, most files are large. Hence the default stripe-size. A mail-server might handle tiny files, but I would never put mails on rAID0 anyway.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Could W7 already include drivers for ICH10R?
    Well that’s the $64,000 question, and I wish I knew the answer. As I said above, in my internet searching I found some that seemed to say that their RAID worked fine after installing Windows 7 normally but for some it did not. In the case of a couple of those who did not they said they fixed the problem by installing a driver using the “repair your computer” and then the ”load drivers” choices while doing the Windows 7 install.

    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p>
    Look ICH10R drivers from Intel's website.
    For some reason I always have a lot of trouble finding what I want at the Intel site, but after digging around for a while this is what I found:<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I can’t manage to post a link that goes directly to the page I wish to display but this link goes to the Intel download page. From there if you enter Windows 7 RAID in the search downloads box, then click on Chipsets from the Products box, Desktop Chipsets from the Select a product line box, Intel 4 Series Chipset from the Select a product name box, and Windows 7 64 bit from the Select an Operating System box you will be left with only two entries in the area below. Sorry to make this so complicated but I just can’t seem to get it to link directly to this page.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    The second entry on the list is the Intel Matrix Storage Manager <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:date Year="2009" Day="17" Month="7">7/17/2009</st1:date> v. 8.9.0.1023 and it is listed as a driver. Under OS it lists Windows 7 64 bit among others.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    The first entry on the list is the 64 bit Floppy Configuration Utility <st1:date Year="2009" Day="17" Month="7">7/17/2009</st1:date> v. 8.9.0.1023 and it is listed as a utility. Under OS it, too, lists Windows 7 64 bit among others, however when you click on this link and go to the download page, there is this statement: <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    “The file below contains the 64-bit version of the Intel® Matrix Storage Manager Floppy Configuration Utility. This utility will create a floppy disk containing the RAID driver files for installation on a 64-bit operating system. This floppy can be used to pre-install the Intel Matrix Storage Manager driver during the F6 portion of Windows* setup. The F6 installation method is not required for Microsoft Windows Vista* or Microsoft Windows 7*.”<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    So do I need it, or not? The page where you find this file says it is for Windows 7 but the page where it is downloaded says it is not needed for Windows 7, or, at least it says “the F6 installation method is not needed for Windows 7." I don’t even know if an ‘F6 method' exists for Windows 7. Those who claim to have installed a ‘driver’ (whichever driver I am still not sure) during their initial OS install made no mention of an F6 method, but instead, in both cases, made mention of a “repair your computer” and then a ”load drivers” option during the initial install. But, again, some seem to have had success getting a RAID working without installing anything during the initial OS install.<o:p></o:p>

    Small file: driver, large file: Intel Storage Matrix application. Probably.
    Well, Yeah, I guess so, except, for what it is worth, on the Intel site, the small file, the “64 bit Floppy Configuration Utility” is referred to as a utility, or tool, while the large file, the “Intel Matrix Storage Manager” is referred to as a driver.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I guess, when my copy of Windows 7 gets here, I could just try to install it without attempting to add in anything during the OS install and then see if the RAID seems to be working, and if not I could try a new install where I try to add in the 64 bit Floppy Configuration Utility and/or the Intel Matrix Storage Manager during the OS but really I’d rather just know I was doing it right the first time.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I feel certain that some of the folks on this forum have done a Windows 7 install with a RAID configuration. Could some of you please share how you did it and what the results were?<o:p></o:p>

    Statistically, most files are large. Hence the default stripe-size. A mail-server might handle tiny files, but I would never put mails on rAID0 anyway.
    So it sounds like you are saying that I will get better performance, in general, with the larger strip size although performance might actually suffer a bit if lots of tiny files are involved? Ok, that sounds reasonable. I guess I will go with the default size then. <o:p></o:p>
    </o:p>

  4. #4

    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    the Windows 7 allready has the drivers needed for raid

    You dont not need to install drivers during windows install
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Strip sizes OMGosh did you know that if you pick any other size other then 4kb that MS will change it to 4kb even though you told your raid controller something else? MS trumps all

    in regards to stripe size I've done several test from 4 to 16, 32 to 128 in a raid 0 using an old Abit motherboard using XP pro, and came across an interesting article.
    MS uses 4kb even though you told the raid controller to use ____kb, MS trumps controller. A work around go something like this. you'll need an extra HD and have to do a few extra steps, but the results are fantastic.

    1) install win7 on a spare HD, does not matter what size, speed or kind of HD it's only temporary, so no drivers, no nothing.

    2) install your two Samsung F3 1TB HDs 0 w/o windows7

    3) once you have finish doing that go to administrative tools, computer management, disk management, and highlight the raid volume and format the raid and set the strip size to you're liking. when the format is done turn off the machine.

    4) remove the single hd that win7 is installed, and config the bios to boot from your raid0, and install win 7 from there, but do not format the raid0 (if you do MS will use the default stripe size of 4kb) just install the os from there. Now you will have 2 matching stripe sizes

    so what's the best size, well, good question. I went with 16k some will argue that 64 or 128 is better, does it really matter? the performance between 16, 64, 128 is very little, but having a matched stripe size does.
    If you don't believe me just use the HD tach and see the difference.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chef View Post
    Strip sizes OMGosh did you know that if you pick any other size other then 4kb that MS will change it to 4kb even though you told your raid controller something else? MS trumps all

    in regards to stripe size I've done several test from 4 to 16, 32 to 128 in a raid 0 using an old Abit motherboard using XP pro, and came across an interesting article.
    MS uses 4kb even though you told the raid controller to use ____kb, MS trumps controller. A work around go something like this. you'll need an extra HD and have to do a few extra steps, but the results are fantastic.

    1) install win7 on a spare HD, does not matter what size, speed or kind of HD it's only temporary, so no drivers, no nothing.

    2) install your two Samsung F3 1TB HDs 0 w/o windows7

    3) once you have finish doing that go to administrative tools, computer management, disk management, and highlight the raid volume and format the raid and set the strip size to you're liking. when the format is done turn off the machine.

    4) remove the single hd that win7 is installed, and config the bios to boot from your raid0, and install win 7 from there, but do not format the raid0 (if you do MS will use the default stripe size of 4kb) just install the os from there. Now you will have 2 matching stripe sizes

    so what's the best size, well, good question. I went with 16k some will argue that 64 or 128 is better, does it really matter? the performance between 16, 64, 128 is very little, but having a matched stripe size does.
    If you don't believe me just use the HD tach and see the difference.

    You're getting stripe size and cluster size mixed up. These days I dont think there is much benifet from messing with the cluster size for desktop systems. Also, if you create the partition manually I dont know if it will be correctly aligned on the disk (RAID partitions need to be aligned on the disk to perform optimally).
    Last edited by R3alsp33dy0ne; 02-25-2010 at 02:16 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    No one mention partition, so I'll leave that one alone.
    My main point is.. If you want the best performance out of your raid you'll want matching stripe size "Your raid controller and your OS" Like I mention in the last post.
    If you don't believe me just use the HD tach and see the difference.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chef View Post
    No one mention partition, so I'll leave that one alone.
    My main point is.. If you want the best performance out of your raid you'll want matching stripe size "Your raid controller and your OS" Like I mention in the last post.
    Stripe size and cluster size are two different things. The OS has no way of knowing, nor does it care, what your stripe size is.

    Also, It's not always benificial to have cluster size and stripe size the same. For example, I use a stripe size of 128Kb since I have quite a few large files on my drive along with the smaller files that run the OS. It is completely impractical (and in most cases impossible) to use a cluster size of 128kb. Especially for the OS drive. The largest commonly available cluster size is 64kb and this should be used ONLY if the drive is used for large files such as audio or video with no smaller files at all.

    In most cases, for regular desktop systems, it is best to use the default cluster size of the OS (4kb for NTFS). If the cluster size is too small it will slow down files transfers and increase CPU usage. If the cluster size is to large you will end up losing alot of your HDD to slack space.

    As a side note, HDtach is not very accurate at measuring real world performance of HDD's. You will get much more meaningful results from ATTO or IOMeter.

    In terms of the OP's question about stripe size, it is always being debated. The general consensus these days seems to be a stripe size of 32kb - 128kb depending on the amount of large and small files on the drive.

    Sorry for the rant. Hope some of this info helps.
    Last edited by R3alsp33dy0ne; 02-25-2010 at 11:01 PM. Reason: spelling
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Quote Originally Posted by R3alsp33dy0ne View Post
    Stripe size and cluster size are two different things. The OS has no way of knowing, nor does it care, what your stripe size is.
    To be pedantic, in case of fakeRAID and pure software RAID the software driver does know, but that does not change the fact that the stripe-size of a RAID array is entirely separate from the cluster-size of the filesystem(s), and both differ from the physical cluster size of the underlying drives. (With latest WD HDD, all SSD, and probably some USB flash too, the physical clusters, and data alignment do require serious thought.)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Proper RAID driver(s) for a W7 install plus the best strip size?

    Stripe size and cluster size are two different things. The OS has no way of knowing, nor does it care, what your stripe size is.
    By default, windows uses a 4kb stripe size

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