Intel Matrix RAID
Matrix RAID first appeared in the ICH6R "southbridge" chip. Intel uses an 'R' at the end of the southbridge's name – ICH9R instead of ICH9 – to indicate when a southbridge contains their Matrix RAID technology and no other upgrades. Complicating the matter is that instead of "R," a "DO," "DH," etc. has indicated a southbridge that combined RAID with non-RAID-related upgrades to the southbridge. Note that newer chipsets which don't use a separate southbridge might also use Intel RST without explicit extensions like "R" within the chipset name, an example for this is the Intel PCH C200 chipset series. Like all RAID, Intel Matrix RAID employs two or more physical hard disks which the operating system will treat as a single disk, in order to increase redundancy which avoids data loss (as all RAID levels except RAID 0 do), and/or to increase the speed at which data is written to and/or read from a disk.
Intel Matrix RAID is not a new RAID level. One of the features that Intel Matrix RAID has, which many other RAID implementations lack, is that different areas (e.g. partitions or logical volumes) on the same disk can be assigned to different RAID devices. The ICH10R supports Standard RAID levels RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, and RAID 5.
Intel recommends to put any critical applications and data on a RAID 1, 5, or 10 volume. The thinking being that protection from losing the user's personal data and the OS and program configuration settings is more important than having the pure performance (speed) increase of RAID 0. On the other hand, the RAID 0 volume in Matrix RAID is recommended mostly for working with large files, such as videos during editing, and for non-critical files where fast storage will increase performance (swap files, for example, or read-only files that are backed-up on a separate PC).
Operating system support
Linux supports Matrix RAID through device mapper (DM-RAID) for RAID 0, 1 and 10, and MD-RAID for RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5. DM-RAID does not provide a graphical utility to configure the arrays or notify the user of disk errors/failures, and will not activate the Intel Matrix RAID on many motherboards (due to incompatibilities). Set up of the RAID volumes must be done by using the ROM option in the Matrix Storage Manager, then further configuration can be done in DM-RAID or MD-RAID.
FreeBSD and MidnightBSD support Intel Matrix RAID using the ataraid driver, managed through the atacontrol command. However, with older versions[when?] of FreeBSD there are critical reliability issues which include array device renaming when a disk in an array is replaced, an array being considered healthy if the machine reboot/crashes during an array rebuild, and kernel panics when a disk is lost or is removed from the bus. Some of these problems, when experienced in combination, could result in the loss of an entire array (even in the case of RAID 1).
Microsoft Windows has full support for Intel Matrix RAID, including creation of RAID volumes.
VMware ESXi 4 does not support any RAID function nor Intel Matrix RAID based on Intel ICHxR controllers.
PGPDisk does not support Intel Matrix RAID based on Intel ICHxR, and does not support standalone drives if the "RAID" mode is enabled on the motherboard.
Matrix Storage Manager option ROM
Intel's Matrix Storage Manager option ROM is a part of Matrix RAID that has to be used in the BIOS to create new RAID arrays. Intel uses "Rapid Storage Technology" -"Option Rom"- on its newest chipsets, dropping the Matrix name. Intel's support NOTE states (Intel Rapid Storage Technology (formerly Intel Matrix RAID) showing how the Matrix storage changed to RST (Rapid Storage Technology).
There are several versions available:
|v6.0.0||2006||Included on P965 chipsets with ICH8R southbridge|
|v8.0.0||2008||Standard on Intel X58 based motherboards.|
|v10.1.0||2011||Last version to support ICH8|
|v10.5.0||2011||Standard on Intel Z68 based motherboards.|
|v11.2.0||June 2012|| 11.2 which offers TRIM support on RAID 0 compatible with MS Windows 7 OS on Intel 7 series chipsets (earlier chipsets NOT supported).|
|v11.7.0||November 2012||Last version to support ICH10/x58 in AHCI Mode|
|v22.214.171.1240||June 2013||This option ROM version is the last version for the X79 chipset, Intel has updated to a 13 series, but no function on X79.|
|v126.96.36.1990||August 2013||This version is designed for the new 8 series chipset, this can not be injected into a X79 chipset.|
Since release 11.2.0.0000, TRIM commands can be read by the RAID controller in 7 series chipsets. There is no TRIM support in older chipsets.
The newest release of Rapid Storage Technology Driver is 188.8.131.522 beta non-WHQL, Rapid Storage software storage system download 184.108.40.2063. The newest RAID Option ROM contained in the BIOS is 220.127.116.110 (non-WHQL), of which all can be found at Station Drivers.
Intel states that RST support has been added for the X79 chipset in RST version 11.6.0.0000 and after. Contained in the RST Production Version Release Notes, contained here.
On some 6 series chipsets there is a Modification which will add a modded ROM to the BIOS which will allow TRIM support on the 6 series chipset, contained here.
For the X79 chipset, certain Motherboard MFG's have added both RAID ROM's in the BIOS, the RST and RST-E ROM. X79 is the Enterprise version, called RST-E. With the RST ROM added to the BIOS, this allows TRIM function to pass through the controller and TRIM SSD drives. As there is no support for TRIM with the RST-E version of the ROM. If the motherboard manufacturer has not added the RST ROM to your BIOS, you can mod the BIOS with a modified ROM for the X79, that only contains the RST-E ROM.
The newest Option ROM version is a 13 series ROM, this ROM will not be used by motherboard MFG's for the X79 chipset BIOS, and it can't be injected into a BIOS to use on the X79 as a manual inject as the code in the ROM is not compatible. If Intel modifies the 13 series to work on the X79, a correction will be posted here.
The Intel RAID ROM is the firmware in the motherboard BIOS that is used to create the RAID array.
NOTE: The RST drivers can be used for RAID and also on a single drive as it contains an AHCI driver. There is a BUG in the version 18.104.22.1686 RST driver, which cause TRIM commands NOT to pass through the controller to the drives. TRIM is disabled using this driver.
- Ben Freeman (May 7, 2004). "Storage Basics: Choosing a RAID Controller". Enterprise Storage Forum.com.
- "Intel Matrix Storage Technology". Intel website. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Getting Started", Intel Rapid Storage Technology 22.214.171.124.07 Help, Intel
- "Linux support for Intel RAID controller hubs". Intel website. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "ataraid -- ATA software RAID support". FreeBSD manual. February 17, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- Soren Schmidt (February 21, 2009). "ATA device driver control program". FreeBSD manual. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
- "Intel Rapid Storage Technology". Support download website. Retrieved November 5, 2011.