Intel Rapid Storage Technology

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Diagram of an Intel RST setup

Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) is a driver SATA AHCI and a firmware-based RAID solution built into a wide range of Intel chipsets. Currently also is installed as a driver for Intel Optane temporary storage units.

It contains two operation modes that do not follow the SATA standard, it follows two Intel specific modes. The name modes and the application that contains them have been renamed since the first version. Until 2010 it contains AHCI and Matrix RAID modes. The first mode is the Intel driver SATA normal and the latter mode is a fake RAID.[1] Up to version 4 it is included on Intel Application Accelerator RAID Edition,[2] between versions 5 and 8.9 it is included on Intel Matrix Storage Manager (IMSM), since version 9 it is included on Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) preferring the driver modes to be named RST AHCI and RST AHCI RAID instead of Matrix RAID. The latter is also known as RST RAID mode, since it is the mode that Intel recommends to use, even if you are not working with a RAID configuration. The purpose of the program, after installing the drivers, is to configure the operation in this mode.

Both modes work with SATA drives. The boot mode choice, with one mode or the other, is chosen in modern BIOS/UEFI after driver installation.[3] Once one or the other driver is installed, it is not possible for the Windows operating system to boot again with the BIOS/UEFI set to RAID/IDE, producing BSOD in case of trying.[4]

As of 2020, it includes a RAID system capable of RAID levels 0, 1, 5, and 10, a block level SSD caching accelerator ("Smart Response Technology") with support for write-back and write-through modes for speed or data protection of any disk or RAID array, and support for intelligent caching, speedy recovery from certain issues, and for PCI Express based drives. Intel RST came in two variants, RST for desktops, and RSTe for enterprise scenarios, although for many chipsets, the user could choose as both variants will operate correctly.[5] VROC was a part of Intel RSTe. The SATA RAID portion of the product family was called Intel RSTe and the NVMe* RAID portion was called Intel VROC. However, starting in Q1 2019, with the launch of Intel VROC 6.0, the Intel RSTe name was removed, and all RAID solutions in this product family were branded as Intel VROC. The SATA functionality remains, but is now branded as Intel VROC (SATA RAID). Intel RSTe is no longer a referenced product by Intel. The name may still appear in some legacy products, but all new references will solely use the Intel VROC nomenclature.[6][7]).

Intel RST is provided by a combination of firmware, chipset and CPU capabilities, and software. As such, the chipset, the firmware included in the BIOS, and the software installed by the user, must be compatible versions. Online forums and communities exist which compare the benefits of different versions of these, advise as to best compatibility for specified hardware, and modify existing firmware and software to allow optimal combinations or updates beyond those provided by the hardware manufacturers.[8]

Like all RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), Intel RST 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 (except RAID 0), and/or to increase the speed at which data is written to and/or read from a disk. Intel RST RAID does not provide new RAID levels. It allows different areas (e.g. partitions or logical volumes) on the same disk to be assigned to different RAID devices, unlike some other RAID controllers. Intel recommends to put any critical applications and data on a RAID 1, 5, or 10 volume, with redundancy to protect against data loss. The RAID 0 volume in Matrix RAID provides fast access to large files where data loss is not a critical issue but speed is; examples include video editing, swap files, and files that are backed up. Intel Matrix RAID, Intel Rapid RAID, and Intel Smart Response Technology are together described as Intel Rapid Storage Technology.[9]

Operating system support[edit]

"Rapid Storage Technology" (RST), including creation of RAID volumes, works under Windows 7 and newer versions of Microsoft Windows. The older "Intel Matrix RAID" is supported under Microsoft Windows XP.

Linux supports Matrix RAID and Rapid Storage Technology (RST) through device mapper, with dmraid tool, for RAID 0, 1 and 10. And Linux MD RAID, with mdadm tool, for RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5. 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.[10]

FreeBSD and MidnightBSD support Intel Matrix RAID using the "ataraid" driver, managed through the atacontrol command.[11][12] However, with older versions[when?] of FreeBSD there were critical reliability issues which include array device renaming when a disk in an array is replaced,[13] an array being considered healthy if the machine reboot/crashes during an array rebuild,[14] and kernel panics when a disk is lost or is removed from the bus.[15][16] Some of these problems, when experienced in combination, could result in the loss of an entire array (even in the case of RAID 1).

VMware ESXi 4 does not support any RAID function nor Intel Matrix RAID based on Intel ICHxR controllers.[17]

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[edit]

The Intel Matrix Storage Manager (IMSM) option ROM is a part of Matrix RAID that has to be used in the BIOS to create new RAID arrays.[18] As of 2014 Intel uses "Rapid Storage Technology" -"Option Rom"- on its new chipsets, dropping the "Matrix" name.[19][20] An Intel document notes that Intel Matrix Storage Manager storage changed to Intel Rapid Storage Technology beginning with version 9.5.[21]

There have been several driver versions:

Version Release date Notes
v3.x.x 2003 First version for SATA drives. Versions 1 & 2 are for IDE drives without AHCI & RAID modes.
v3.5.0
v4.x.x Latest version in which MATRIX RAID mode is included on the named application Intel Application Accelerator RAID Edition.
v5.x.x Since this version the MATRIX RAID mode is included on the named application Intel Matrix Storage Manager, up to version 8.9.
v5.5.0 2005 Last version to support ICH5R.
v6.x.x
v6.0.0 2006 Included on P965 chipsets with ICH8R southbridge.
v7.x.s 2007
v8.0.0 2008 Standard on Intel X58-based motherboards.
v8.x.x 2008
v8.9.0 2009 latest version with WIN XP support, data loss risk: no S.M.A.R.T.support for newer HDD/SSD
v9.5.0 The product name was changed from "Intel(R) Matrix Storage Manager" to "Intel(R) Rapid Storage Technology"
v9.6.0 2010
v10.1.0 2011 Last version to support ICH8R
v10.5.0 2011 Standard on Intel Z68-based motherboards.

This version is the first to support RAID arrays made of HDDs with over 2.2 TB.[22]

v10.6.0 June 2011
v10.8.0 November 2011 Last version to officially support ICH9R.(Supermicro X7SPA-L)
v11.0.0 February 2012
v11.2.0 June 2012 [23] 11.2 which offers TRIM support on RAID 0 compatible with Windows 7 on Intel 7 series chipsets (earlier chipsets are officially orphaned by Intel).But you can mod RST or MSM oROM to support "TRIM on RAID 0" on ICH8R and up.
v11.6.0 September 2012 [24]
v11.7.0 November 2012
v11.7.4.1001 March 2013 Last version to support ICH7R and ICH7M, ICH9M, ICH10R and ICH10D
v12.x.x.x 2013
v12.7.0.1910 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.
v12.7.0.1936 July 2013 This version is installed on some Intel C226 Chipset-based motherboards (e.g. Asus P9D WS).
v12.8.0.1016 August 2013 Windows Boot Problem when using Windows 8.1 & 10 use 13.1 and up, no solution for PCH 6 as of October 2015.
v12.9.0.1001 December 2013
v12.9.4.1000 July 2014 Last version to support PCH 5, PCH 6 and mobile PCH 7 series[25]
v13.1.0.2030 August 2013 This version is designed for the new 8 series chipset. This can be injected into a X79 chipset with modification.
v13.1.0.1058 May 2014 Works with ICH10R in RAID mode on Windows Server 2019. Recommended for PCH 7 desktop[25]
v13.x.x.x 2014
v13.2.8.1002 July 2015 Recommended for PCH 8, 9 and 100 series[25]
v13.6.0.1002 December 2014 Last generic version to support desktop PCH 7 series
v14.x.x.x 2015
v14.8.18.1066 September 2017 Recommended for Intel X99 systems[25]
v14.10.0.1016 February 2016 Last version to support PCH 8 & 9 series
v15.x.x.x 2016
v15.9.8.1050 July 2020 Last version to support Windows 8.1 and earlier. Last version to support Smart Response cache acceleration with a SATA SSD.[26] Recommended for PCH 100/200 series in AHCI mode[25]
v16.0.2.1086 February 2018 First generic version to support Skylake CPUs
v16.5.1.1030 February 2018 First generic version to support the 300 series chipsets
v16.8.3.1003 July 2019
v17.5.2.1024 August 2019 Improved Optane support
v17.7.0.1006 September 2019
v18.6.1.1016 September 2021

Since release 11.2.0.0000, TRIM commands can be read by Windows RAID drivers made for 7 series chipsets. There is no RAID mode TRIM support on drivers for older chipsets.[27]

Intel states that RST support was added for the X79 chipset in RST version 11.6.0.0000 and after.[28]

On some 6 series chipsets there is a modification for the ROM in the BIOS, which will allow TRIM support on the 6 series chipset.[29]

For the X79 chipset, certain motherboard manufacturers have added both RAID ROMs 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 when RAID is enabled. This workaround was needed before RST-E driver version 3.8 was shipped which passed through TRIM commands to a RAID array without modifications to the RST-E ROM. There is no support for TRIM in the RST-E version of the ROM when RAID is enabled and the RST-E driver version is less than 3.8.[30] It is possible to add an RST ROM to the BIOS to enable TRIM passthrough in RAID mode by using the RST ROM and driver.[29]

The newest Option ROM version is a 13 series ROM, this ROM will not be used by motherboard manufacturers for the X79 chipset BIOS, and it can be injected into a BIOS to use on the X79 with modded code, for those MFG's who have added a ROM switch, this is where the MFG has added both RST and RSTe to the RAID option of a BIOS, but there needs to be a code added for TRIM commands to be sent, when you inject the RST and replace the RSTe with RST option ROM in X79 boards that do not contain the ROM switch, TRIM can be dysfunctional.

There are modded RST 13 series Option ROMs (legacy) available at certain BIOS modding sites that have been made functional for use in the X79 chipsets.

When booting in a BIOS environment (legacy) and some / EFI, the RST option ROM is used. When booting in a true UEFI environment the Option ROM is not used as a SataDriver with the RST version takes over. In BIOS mode the legacy/BIOS booting is under CSMCORE. In true UEFI mode the RST is controlled under SataDriver in BIOS.

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 12.5.0.1066 RST driver, which cause TRIM commands not to pass through the RAID driver to the drives. TRIM is disabled using this driver.

Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (Intel RSTe)[edit]

Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (Intel RSTe)[31] provides performance and reliability for supported systems equipped with Serial ATA (SATA) devices, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) devices, and/or solid state drives (SSDs) to enable an optimal enterprise storage solution. The main difference between RST and RSTe is that the RST is used for desktop systems and the RSTe is mostly used for server systems.[32][clarification needed] RST supports regular SATA controllers from desktop systems.

If the BIOS of the motherboard has RSTe feature then the user cannot install Intel Rapid Storage Technology software (error message: This platform is not supported). The user has to install RSTe software.

There have been several Option ROM versions:

Version Release date Notes
v4.3.0.1010 2014 This version is installed on some Intel C236 Chipset-based motherboards (e.g. Asus P10S WS)

In 2019, Intel announced that the RTSe branding would be replaced, with RSTe consolidated into Intel's VROC (Virtual RAID on CPU) product line.[6]

Intel VROC (Virtual RAID on CPU)[edit]

Intel VROC is a part of Intel RSTe. This was mostly designed with NVMe SSD's in mind and it is directly attached to the Intel Xeon Scalable processors. For the full functionality it uses a newer Intel technology called Intel VMD (Intel Volume Management Device).
Intel VROC is a technology from the Intel Xeon Scalable processors series and is used to provide hot-plug, surprise-removal, and LED management of NVMe SSD's for server usage. For client PC's Intel RST is still the advised software package to use.[33]
Intel VMD is targeted for Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems.

Criticism on Intel RST technology[edit]

The software created by Intel to manage the RAID configuration is under par.

E.g. when using a RAID 1 configuration, Windows shall show a temporary message when one of the disk are down, however if this is not noticed (because the user is not at the computer), the user might not notice the disk failure in time.

Furthermore the Intel RST software does not consistently log status changes (repair/rebuilds) in the Windows Eventlog, making it difficult for 3rd party monitoring software to warn users when the RAID status changes and the data might be in jeopardy.

Other strange decision Intel has made, is to remove the e-mail warning from the latest version (v19.x) of the software. On earlier versions (18.x) the e-mail warning can be configured, but lacks the modern fields like password and SSL/TLS authentication to be used with modern e-mail providers like Gmail, Microsoft's Outlook and e-mail accounts from other providers.

Also when field tested (with an older mail server *without authentication*), no warnings were e-mailed. This e-mail service was also inconsistent because the disk degradation was not e-mailed, but consequently the finished rebuild of the RAID was e-mailed, without the user ever being warned the computer was rebuilding the RAID drive.

Intel also used to have a command line software (CLI) for their RST RAID, which one could use to request the status of the RAID drives, however this software was deprecated.

The conclusion might be made that Intel is deliberately undermining the reliability of the RAID, by crippling the methods to warn the user before data is lost.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.abmx.com/blog/difference-hardware-software-fakeraid
  2. ^ http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c00212955.pdf
  3. ^ https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000005789/technologies.html
  4. ^ http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-015988.htm
  5. ^ win-raid forum is a website that provides guidance as to whether specific chipsets perform better with RST or RTS(e), if a choice exists and both will work.
  6. ^ a b Intel® VROC vs. Previous Intel® RSTe: Name Change Explained - Intel article
  7. ^ "Product Specifications".
  8. ^ https://www.win-raid.com
  9. ^ "Getting Started", Intel Rapid Storage Technology 11.5.0.12.07 Help, Intel
  10. ^ "Linux support for Intel RAID controller hubs". Intel website. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  11. ^ "ataraid -- ATA software RAID support". FreeBSD manual. February 17, 2006. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  12. ^ Soren Schmidt (February 21, 2009). "ATA device driver control program". FreeBSD manual. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  13. ^ "kern/121899: [ar] [patch] Drive detached from Intel Matrix RAID and returned comes up as entirely new ataraid". Freebsd.org. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  14. ^ "kern/102210: [ar] [patch] reboot system makes rebuilding array ready (ICH7)". Freebsd.org. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  15. ^ "kern/102211: [ar] [patch] detach raid member and reboot will cause panic (ICH7)". Freebsd.org. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  16. ^ "kern/108924: [ar] Panics when Intel MatrixRAID RAID1 is degraded". Freebsd.org. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  17. ^ "RAID-5 ON VMWARE ESXI | VMware Communities". Communities.vmware.com. 26 November 2009. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  18. ^ "Intel Matrix Storage Technology". Nmso.mdg.ca. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  19. ^ Allyn Malventano (2011-05-11). "Intel Smart Response Technology: SSD Caching on Z68 Tested | Boot Option ROM / Boot Performance". Pcper.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  20. ^ "Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST)—System requirements". Intel.com. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  21. ^ "Supported Intel Chipsets and Controller Hubs". Intel.com. 2016-02-05. Retrieved 2016-03-01. The product name was changed from Intel Matrix Storage Manager to Intel RST beginning with version 9.5
  22. ^ "RAID array with 3TB disks". Communities.intel.com. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  23. ^ "The file that you are trying to". Downloadmirror.intel.com. Archived from the original on 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  24. ^ "The file that you are trying to". Downloadmirror.intel.com. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  25. ^ a b c d e "Which are the "best" Intel AHCI/RAID drivers?". Win-Raid Forum. 2013-05-08. Retrieved 2022-12-27.
  26. ^ ""Intel® Rapid Storage Technology (Intel® RST) User Interface and Driver"". intel.com. Retrieved 2021-05-03.
  27. ^ Doug Crowthers (17 August 2012). "TRIM Command Confirmed With RAID 0 on Intel 7 Series". Tomshardware.com. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  28. ^ "The file that you are trying to". Downloadmirror.intel.com. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  29. ^ a b "[veraltet] AHCI/RAID ROM modules for BIOS modding - already extracted". Win-lite.de. 2007-02-11. Archived from the original on 2013-08-30. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  30. ^ "Intel RST/RSTe Drivers (Latest: V19.2.1.1006 WHQL/V8.0.0.2752)". 27 April 2013.
  31. ^ "Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise (Intel RSTe)". Intel. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  32. ^ "Intel Rapid Storage Technology enterprise: Product Brief". Intel. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  33. ^ https://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents/technology-briefs/client-raid-and-dc-raid-solutions-technology-brief.pdf[bare URL PDF]

External links[edit]