One of the primary reasons why I selected the ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP motherboard for my recent 2 computer builds was for its RAID5 capability provided by the Intel ICH8R Controller. I wanted to learn more about the capabilities of this controller and the Intel Matrix Storage Console interface. My Nighthawk project provided me with that opportunity.
My original test plan with Nighthawk was to install Windows XP MCE 2005 on one physical drive, Windows Vista Ultimate x64 on a second physical drive, and the "Longhorn" Server beta on a 3rd physical drive.
I currently only have 2 physical drives installed with the ICH8R Controller set to "Enhanced/RAID" although I was not using both drives in a RAID configuration.
I highly recommend that if you have the Intel ICH8R Controller on your motherboard, set it initially to RAID in BIOS even if you are not planning on using RAID now.
It will make it much, much easier for you to migrate to RAID technology if you later change your mind.
Those who have been reading and following my Blog know that I have completed installing Windows XP MCE 2005 on the 1st physical disk drive. I was not using the 2nd disk drive since I was reserving that for my Windows Vista Ultimate x64 installation as soon as Nvidia releases a Vista driver for the Nvidia 8800GTS graphics card.
As I researched and learned more about the ICH8R Controller and the Intel Matrix Storage Console, I became fascinated with 2 of its many capabilities:
- The ability to migrate disks from a non-RAID to RAID set-up, and
- its "Matrix" capabilities.
I decided to explore these 2 capabilities while waiting for Nighthawk to settle at its new overclocked speed. This is the new disk configuration I decided to implement:
- Utilize both disk drives in a RAID0 configuration and migrate the existing Windows XP MCE 2005 installation.
- Create 2 RAID0 Volumes in this RAID0 Array of 2 physical drives, the first volume containing Windows XP MCE 2005 and the second volume reserved for Windows Vista Ultimate x64.
The incredible Intel ICH8R Controller and Intel Matrix Storage Console made this reconfiguration very easy.
I started the Intel(R) Matrix Storage Console (Version 220.127.116.112) in Windows XP MCE 2005, selected the "Advanced Mode" view and "Create RAID Volume from Existing Hard Drive" action.
Volume Name: Nighthawk_XP_MCE
Raid Level: RAID 0
Strip Size: 128 KB (default)
The Console then prompted me to "Select Source Hard Drive" with the following note:
The data on the hard drive you select will be preserved and migrated across a new RAID volume.
I selected the 1st physical drive containing Windows XP MCE 2005 and I was prompted to "Select Member Hard Drive(s)" with the following warning:
Once the new RAID volume is created, it will span the source hard drive as well as 1 to 3 member hard drive(s).
WARNING: Existing data on the selected hard drive(s) will be permanently deleted. Back up all important data before continuing.
I selected the empty 2nd drive and I was prompted to "Specify Volume Size" as follows (I highlighted my inputs below):
Maximum Volume Size (GB): 931.5
Minimum Volume Size (GB): 470.4
Percentage of Available Space: 50 (initially set to 100)
Volume Size (GB): 470.4 (initially set to 931.5)
The following notes were displayed to assist you in specifying the volume size (highlighting is mine):
The minimum requested size for the RAID volume is determined by the size of the source hard drive. If you create a volume that uses less than 100% of the hard drive space, you may create a second RAID volume to use the remaining space.
Volume migration can take up to two hours depending on the size of the hard drive being used.
You may continue to use other applications during this time.
I started the migration without any hesitation at 5:28 PM and it estimated that the migration would take 3 hours and 30 minutes. During the migration, I continued browsing the Web while watching TV on Media Center on Nighthawk. The Windows Task Manager (Performance Tab) and Everest Ultimate were also running so I could monitor system performance. The migration barely used the CPU.
I am using two 500 GB disk drives and the estimate was not even close like other Windows estimates of disk operations. The migration completed at 9:55PM or 4 hours and 27 minutes later.
I restarted the system since the migration status window informed me that:
Migration is in progress. When migration is complete, you will need to reboot your system to use the entire volume capacity.
The main advantage of RAID0 is performance and this is already well documented. The main disadvantage is that risk of data loss increases since a failure on either disk drive will result in data loss.
That's how easy it was to migrate from a non-RAID to RAID set-up with the Intel ICH8R Controller and Intel Matrix Storage Console!
My objective today is to create the 2nd RAID Volume for Windows Vista Ultimate x64 installation. I'm still debating on whether to use RAID0 or RAID1 for the second RAID Volume. You will know my decision in my post tomorrow.