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which to use? Promise controller OR Southbridge controller? Aleady up and running.

Posted on 2005-04-09
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I have an asus p4p800e deluxe mobo with Intel 3.0GHz cpu and 2 Maxtor 200GB S-ATA HD's. I am so confused on which one to use. :(

There are 2 sets of SATA plugs (SATA1,SATA2) (SATA_RAID1,SATA_RAID2). I am already using the Promise Controller hooked up to the 2 SATA_RAID connectors running WinXP SP1 then updated to SP2, everything thing is running o.k. as far as I can tell.

What difference is there (if any) between the two, who is "better" or "faster"? Can I switch the connectors?, and if so what would I have to do so I don't lose my loaded OS?

A local shop in town told me that the southbridge chipset raid is different than the Promise raid and he recommended I set up under the Promise setup so I can stripe the hd's for performance reasons as I have done. Doesn't the Southbridge have the same capability??
Can anybody give me a little more clarity on this subject???

Right now I am leaving it alone, it is working (if it ain't broke, don't fix it)

The rest of my rig as follows: 2GB Kingston ddr400 pc3200 ram, Sony dvd burner (dru-720a), Sony dvd-rom 16x, Sony cd-burner (52x/32x/52x), Sony cd-rom 40x/52x, BFG GeForce 5700 OC (not LE OC version, I have the faster core clock speed of 465MHz), am using OB sound and ethernet. Other than that, what a SWEET rig!
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Question by:TONYNINER
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Watzman earned 1000 total points
ID: 13744374

Raid is a system for using multiple hard disk drives to appear as a single drive.  This can be used in two ways:  In one way, the objective is speed, and both drives are used simultaneously, so that (well, in theory but not in practice) two 80 gigabyte drives with 10 millisecond access times become a single 160 gig drive with a 5 millisecond access time.  However, file storage is non-standard, and for any given file, some parts of it may end up existing on one drive while other parts of the same file are on the other drive.  If you lose either drive, you lose everything.  Another option, instead of giving speed, gives security, reliability and redundancy:  Everything is stored on both drives (mirroring), so if a drive fails, or even if it's power is turned off an it is removed from the comptuer while the computer is running, your system keeps on running and you don't lose anything.  It's possible, with larger arrays (4 or more drives) and a suitable controller, to do BOTH of these and get a fast, fail-safe drive.

The raid controllers on most motherboards are based on the "Promise" controllers, however in many cases quite a few modes, options and features that are present in the separate Promise controllers are missing from the implementations (and the firmware) that is used on motherboards.

I have tried using the onboard RAID on some of the Asus motherboards and, frankly, I was completely underwhelmed.  I went for the "speed" option, yet I saw no difference at all in any of the things that I was doing, and it introduced a lot of complexity and issues into the system, with no clearly obvious beneift.

Some implementations of the Promise chips on motherboards allow them to be also used as just two additional "normal" IDE channels, while others are "RAID only".  There is wide variation in what you can and can't do, and in some cases, modes of operation that are not officially supported are fully available with "hacked" firmware.

Personally, I'd just ignore the Raid ports and use the standard IDE ports.  Very large, fast and good but also very standard IDE drives are cheap.  A few weeks ago, Best Buy had 160 gig Western Digital "JB" drives (7200 rpm, 8 meg cache) for $29.00, and next week OfficeMax is going to have the 200 gig Wester Digital "JB" drive for $79.  I've also been able to get two 250 gig "JB" drives for $79 when they were on sale.  To me, this makes the most sense, but everyone's use of their computer is a little bit different.
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by:rindi
rindi earned 1000 total points
ID: 13744487
The southbridge probably doesn't do raid. For normal use this would be the connectors you'd want to use. With the promise you can do raid, which is what you would want for redundancy (raid 1).

Since the system is already setup I'd leave it as it is, although you can always try connecting the disk to the southbridge connection, it might even work without further intervention, just try it.
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by:kode99
ID: 13745195
The board is a Intel 865 chipset which has the RAID capability build directly into it with the ICH5R chipset meaning that it does not use the PCI bus so it is not affected by any limitations or traffic on the PCI bus.  Sometimes called on-chip RAID.  It does RAID 0 and RAID 1 - so striping or mirroring only for SATA drives.

The Promise RAID is a 'onboard' meaning it is just incorporated into the motherboard but it is connected to the PCI bus just like a add on card would be.  The Promise RAID supports the same as the Intel ICH5R plus it does 0+1 - mirrored stripes and it also provides RAID for the old IDE ports.

The ICH5R is faster than the promise raid primarily due to the more direct connection it has with the chipset.  Would it be very noticable?  Probably not,  without actually benchmarking you may not even be able to tell at all.  Both the ICH5R and the Promise are similar types of RAID - assited or accelerated RAID.  This just means they use the main processor to do some of the work unlike a true hardware RAID card.  So neither has an advantage there.

You cannot just swap the drives from one RAID controller to the other.  This is actually a bit of a problem with all built in RAID since in a few years if the motherboard fails you may not be able to get a matching unit to connect the raided disks to.  In general you need the exact model of RAID card in order to be able to swap RAID drives,  in some cases a card in the same series may also work - depends on the manufacturer.

  'I can stripe the hd's for performance reasons as I have done'

This sounds like you are using them with only RAID 0 which is something I do not recommend.  As allready mentioned if either drives develops a problem you could find all your data and OS is toasted. Just be aware that this does increase the risk for data loss and good backups are needed.

If you do deciede to do some benchmark testing I would suggest you compare RAID 1 to the RAID 0 setup and see if it is really worth the risk to run RAID 0.

You may also want to look at RAID 0+1 but I suspect this may only be an option with parallel IDE drives if you can only connect 2 SATA drives to the Promise ports.  0+1 would compensate for the danger of a RAID 0 failure.




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by:originalbiffmalibu
ID: 13745752
All accurate representations of RAID here.  It comes down to what you're looking for.  Do you want speed or redundancy?  Is your data important.  I have the same board and for normal use (best speed and redundancy) use the RAID ports and set up RAID1.  Using SATA or IDE instead of SCSI, you will no notice the speed difference using RAID0, 1 or no RAID.  I currently have dual 160GB SATA drives in RAID1 and my computer works as quickly as any I've used.  This allows your data to be safe with no loss of speed.
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by:rindi
ID: 13745930
I don't think he's using any raid, as I understood there is only 1 disk connected.
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by:marco_peereboom
ID: 13771387
What I hear is that the Promise Controller is usually faster than the ICH5 from Intel. It doesn't differ much, but still. No, it doesn't matter if you use RAID or not. The Promise controller should do things faster. With that said, you can use RAID on the Promise and not on the ICH5 (you would need a ICH5R chipset for that, but if you'd have that, there would be no use for the Promise controller anymore).

And one very wide open door to kick in: The manufacturer has setup the machine using the Promise controller. They probably have a reason for that. AND DO NOT FIX ANYTHING..........well, you know.
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by:marco_peereboom
ID: 13771469
And what to do to NOT lose the OS? Don't change a thing.
XP works with Hardware ID's. They tend to go difficult on you when you change something on your hardware. And since the ATA controller is a major thing to change, those Hardware ID's will probably go berserk if you'd change them.

Also performance will degrade a lot. Changing things like that is only recommended in a fresh reinstall. And in your case not even then, since the Promise is (to my knowledge) faster than the Intel ICH5R (I've seen you have ICH5R onboard).
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by:originalbiffmalibu
ID: 14083242
I responded with available options so that we could make a solid judgement for him instead of random recommendations and never heard back to solidify an answer.  He never made another comment so I guess it would be the administrator/moderator's recommendation for an answer.
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by:marco_peereboom
ID: 14083961
Again?
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