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RAID 1: Is ICH5R or PCI card better?

This is a discussion on RAID 1: Is ICH5R or PCI card better? within the Hard Drive Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hello all ... this is my first post, but I've already found a ton of useful information on this site,


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Old 02-02-2008, 05:17 PM   #1
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Hello all ... this is my first post, but I've already found a ton of useful information on this site, and want to say thanks for all of that.

I'm about to implement a new RAID 1 setup (my first time), and despite a ton of research can't decide if i'm better off going with the ICH5R chip on my mobo, or using a PCI card with built-in RAID. That's my main question. Specifics are below:

My hardware setup: Asus P4P800 Deluxe motherboard; 2GB Kingston RAM; 2x 500GB SATA Seagate drives (for the RAID; plus another 250GB SATA drive for storage); Rosewill RC-212 PCI SATA/IDE Controller Card (supports RAID 1, 0, etc.; Chipset: VIA 6421; card details here) Windows XP Pro SP2 (fresh install).

Before I go further, I found several references to what looks like a very helpful post by Clintfan, called "Asus P4P800-P4C800 Series: Installing RAID on Intel ICH5R" and the link is "https://www.techsupportforum.com/showthread.php?t=12119" but whenever I try to pull up the page I get a message that I don't have permission to access the page. I've PMed Clintfan and asked for help of the admins, but haven't heard anything. Can anyone tell me how I can access that article?

Anyhow, it seems there are pros and cons to each setup. I'll briefly list those for each as I've uncovered via my research (let me know if I'm wrong on any):

PCI card (Chipset: VIA 6421):
- Dedicated RAID controller (so uses fewer CPU cycles)
- Could be slower, as 32-bit PCI is limited to 133MB/s on the entire bus
- But, I've also read that HDs seldom get even close to the max speed (I'd be limited to 1.5 Gbps anyway with this mobo)
- RAID setup could be used with a different OS on a different drive or partition later, since it's not software based (possibly helpful when I upgrade to Vista someday, although I might just start from scratch then anyway).

ICH5R chip on mobo:
- Seems to be a hybrid software/hardware setup, at least for RAID 1, by what I've found.
- So, it might use up more CPU cycles than the PCI card (a lot more? or not enough to matter much?)
- Should, at least theoretically, be faster than the PCI setup, since it's not limited by the PCI bus speed (but how much faster in practice?)

I haven't been able to find any info on whether one setup is more reliable than the other, so any info there would be appreciated.

Also, would both setups have some sort of error reporting mechanism, if either of the drives were to run into problems?

This may be one of those questions without a definite answer. But I may just not have enough info to know. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance :-)
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Old 02-03-2008, 11:08 AM   #2
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after a lot more digging, i finally found a copy of clintfan's original article "Asus P4P800-P4C800 Series: Installing RAID on Intel ICH5R" here

I'm still mystified as to why I can't open the original post (and I've read all of the rules, so I don't think I'm missing anything obvious), and would very much like to read the follow-up comments. So, if anyone can tell me how to get at that post, I'd really appreciate it.

Anyhow, that article has some additional info that seems to indicate the ICH5R setup would be a better way to go:

"Intel ICH5R RAID is more generally preferable for an OS install, than RAID on add-on controllers such as Promise 2037x, SiliconImage 3112, or SiS180. This is because the RAID ports on the ICH5R do not reside on the PCI bus, but the other controllers do. The PCI bus on these mobos has a throughput limit of no more than about 120MB/s, while the limit of ICH5Rís CPU pipeline appears to be twice that. More importantly, by placing OS traffic onto PCI, you limit the available bandwidth for other PCI devices, such as Firewire, LAN, or add-on expansion cards. This can result in dropped frames and other performance problems."

Any other thoughts on the matter would still be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-03-2008, 08:10 PM   #3
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I think that article pretty much sums up the answer that you need. Personally, I would choose the ICH5R on the mobo for the simple fact that it frees up a PCI port and less clutter inside your computer. The PCI port is rather limiting in its transfer rate anyway, so unless your mobo has PCI-e ports and you buy yourself a PCI-e SATA controller, I would stick with the ICH5R.

Mind you, I'm having issues of a different sort with a PCI-e SATA controller so I should just shut up... :(
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Old 02-04-2008, 07:24 PM   #4
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thanks for the help, t_funke. i'm going to go with the ICH5R chip; keep your fingers crossed for me and good luck with your PCI-e woes :)
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