Intel Matrix Storage RAID1 rebuild issues

I have a custom server which has 2x500Gb SATA attached to an Intel ICH9R controller.  Intel storage manager s/w is installed.
First, SATA port 0 reported an error in POST, then a little while later the drive failed.  It continued to run with the RAID volume degraded.  Then SATA port 1 started reporting an error in POST, but the system was still booting and running okay.
Replaced drive on port 0, and used storage manager to rebuild the drive.  Didn't take very long - about 2 hours and all seemed normal.  Installed updates and rebooted okay.
After another reboot, the machine got to a mouse pointer on a black screen, then rebooted itself.  Last known good was no use.  Disconnected disk on port 1 (impending failure) and got the same result.  Disconnected disk on port 0 (newly added) and it booted, but now with SMART error as well as POST error reported on the remaining disk on port 1.
Doing another backup now!
Not at all sure of next steps.  It seems I have
- an older disk on port 1 possibly about to fail but which boots,
- a new one on port 0 which doesn't boot!
Advice appreciated.
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SimonShawAsked:
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rindiCommented:
Get new disks, disable the builtin fake-raid, then restore your system from your backup to the first HD. After that setup your OS's software RAID for RAID 1 with the other disk. Software RAID is much more reliable than fake-raid controllers, and you don't need enterprise class disks for that. Also, you could move the array to other hardware provided your OS isn't OEM easily.
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SimonShawAuthor Commented:
Well, that's all very radical, but I am hoping first to make the current array bootable and redundant, rather than restore the backup or make controller hardware changes.  Are you saying that in your opinion there is no way to do that?
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rindiCommented:
There might be ways, I don't know those controllers well enough. But in my opinion you are using crap hardware and should either get a real controller, or use OS integrated software raid, otherwise you risk loosing your data. There is no point in using the raid of fake-raid controllers, it doesn't increase redundancy at all, on the contrary...
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SimonShawAuthor Commented:
Okay - you have a lot of points, so you do know plenty of stuff.  But this "fake" (i.e. software) RAID controller did keep the system running when one disk failed, so it has not been completely pointless.
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rindiCommented:
OS builtin RAID does that too, but it usually doesn't fail when rebuilding like fake-raid controllers often do. In my point of view those controllers are a complete waste of time and money (although being integrated they don't cost much).
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Simonshaw - Rindi is right.  The fakeraid controller inevitably leads to what you experience.  Not only that, but windows software raid will be significantly FASTER.  Why? Because it does load balancing on reads.   It gets the data from both drives independently.  The fakeraid doesn't do that.

Your wonderful fakeraid kept things going ... up to the point where it didn't, and now it destroyed your data.

I'm a professional RAID storage architect.  I write RAID diagnostics, firmware, configurators and such for a living, and have 20+ years experience.  Take my word for it.   Take Rindi's word for it.
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SimonShawAuthor Commented:
Follow-up comment in attempting to pursue this recommended approach...

I intend to set the RAID controller to plan SATA mode (rather than RAID mode), in the hope that it will then boot okay from SATA port 0 which has the bootable drive attached as an ordinary volume.
I then intend to convert this disk to a dynamic volume, and create a mirror using Windows (this is SBS 2008 by the way), having prepared the new disk attached to SATA port 1.

Any warnings or caveats about doing this?
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rindiCommented:
I don't think there is anything. Just always make sure there is a valid backup.
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SimonShawAuthor Commented:
In case anyone is interested in the outcome...
I tried to use Windows Server 2008 mirroring, only to discover that it won't allow me to create a mirror - apparently because I have two slightly different Seagate 500Gb SATA disks - new one has 4k physical sectors, the original one 512b.  This is fairly well documented, I now discover!
Also failed to replicate the working disk using third-party tools (R-drive image).  Maybe this is what stopped the original (fake)RAID rebuilding process from creating a bootable disk?  Who knows.
Anyway, I have ordered two older-style disks with same model number as the original disk (ST3500418AS) hoping for better luck with the MS Windows software RAID1...
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