12 Replies Latest reply on Oct 22, 2014 7:55 AM by libove

    Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself

    libove

      On several occasions now, I have enabled the write-back cache, only to find that later it is disabled again.

       

      This is on Windows Server 2012 on a Dell Precision T3400 system with a RAID 5 array, using Intel RST software and driver both v11.6.0.1030. (This is the latest version I could find which will actually work on this motherboard which uses the ICH9R chipset, as Intel has so helpfully removed support for this older chipset from the newer versions of the RST software).

       

      Before anyone asks, yes, this computer is plugged in to a UPS.

       

      Why does RST keep disabling the write-back cache on this array?

       

      thanks,

      Jay

        • 1. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
          Fernando

          Jay Libove schrieb:

          On several occasions now, I have enabled the write-back cache, only to find that later it is disabled again.

          Are you sure, that you have enabled the Write Cache of the RAID drive within the "Disks"section of the Device Manager?

          Jay Libove schrieb:

          This is on Windows Server 2012 on a Dell Precision T3400 system with a RAID 5 array, using Intel RST software and driver both v11.6.0.1030. (This is the latest version I could find which will actually work on this motherboard which uses the ICH9R chipset, as Intel has so helpfully removed support for this older chipset from the newer versions of the RST software).

          What lets you think, that the Intel RST(e) drivers v11.6.0.1030 do support the Intel ICH9R SATA Controller of your system and newer RST(e) driver versions do not? Have you tested it?

          According to the associated INF files the Intel ICH9R SATA Controllers are not supported by any Intel RST driver from v11.0 up, if the Intel SATA Controller has been set to AHCI mode, but should be fully supported by all actual Intel RAID drivers (even v12.8.0.1016), if the HDDs/SSDs are running in RAID mode.

          The last Intel RST driver, which fully supports Intel ICH9R SATA Controllers in AHCI and RAID mode, is v10.8.0.1003.

          • 2. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
            libove

            Fernando asked:

            >Are you sure, that you have enabled the Write Cache of the RAID drive within the "Disks"section of the Device Manager?


            Yes, see screenshot.

            intel1.jpg

             

            However, I must point out that this is AFTER I (again) enabled write-back caching in the IAStorUI by clicking on the RAID5 volume, selecting the Advanced dropdown in the left pane, and enabling it. I don't know what the Device Manager showed about write-back caching on the RAID5 volume prior to my (re-)enabling write-back caching in IAStorUI.

             

             

            Fernando further asked:

            >What lets you think, that the Intel RST(e) drivers v11.6.0.1030 do support the Intel ICH9R SATA Controller of your system and newer RST(e) driver versions do not? Have you tested it?

            According to the associated INF files the Intel ICH9R SATA Controllers are not supported by any Intel RST driver from v11.0 up, if the Intel SATA Controller has been set to AHCI mode, but should befully supported by all actual Intel RAID drivers (even v12.8.0.1016), if the HDDs/SSDs are running in RAID mode.

            The last Intel RST driver, which fully supports Intel ICH9R SATA Controllers in AHCI and RAID mode, is v10.8.0.1003.

             

             

            I think this because I wasted days trying versions of the Intel drivers, plus more time trying to get a coherent answer from Intel tech support. Ultimately, the answer I got from Intel was "we don't support ICH9R in IAStorUI anymore", and the answer I got from both searching forums and testing myself was that the 11.6.0.1030 software and drivers DO support the ICH9R on Windows 2012.  So, yes, I have tested extensively, searched and shared on forums, and come to the same conclusion as have others who have this older ICH9R hardware and want to use it on Windows Server 2012.

             

            The newer v12 DRIVERS as you say yes seem to recognize the hardware, but with a driver newer than this 11.6 the IAStorUI cannot see that there are any RAID volumes created nor any drives which the IAStorUI might make into a RAID volume.

             

            I'd prefer to see answers from someone who has direct experience with the unusual combination which Intel have forced on us, who have modern O/S and slightly older hardware, about what could be causing the write-back cache to disable itself in the IAStorUI interface.

             

            thank you.

            • 3. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
              Fernando

              Jay Libove schrieb:

               

              However, I must point out that this is AFTER I (again) enabled write-back caching in the IAStorUI by clicking on the RAID5 volume, selecting the Advanced dropdown in the left pane, and enabling it. I don't know what the Device Manager showed about write-back caching on the RAID5 volume prior to my (re-)enabling write-back caching in IAStorUI.

              If you are not sure about that, I recommend to re-enable Write-Back Caching from within the RST Console and to look what happens after having done that.

              Jay Libove schrieb:

               

              I think this because I wasted days trying versions of the Intel drivers, plus more time trying to get a coherent answer from Intel tech support. Ultimately, the answer I got from Intel was "we don't support ICH9R in IAStorUI anymore", and the answer I got from both searching forums and testing myself was that the 11.6.0.1030 software and drivers DO support the ICH9R on Windows 2012.

              Actual Intel AHCI/RAID drivers are not the best choice for users with an Intel ICH9R SATA Controller. As I already have written, none of the Intel RST drivers from the v11 or v12 Series were designed for ICH9R Southbridges and do fully support them.

              That is why I recommend to use the RST driver v10.8.0.1003 or any other of the "conventional" RST drivers, which work without the additional SCSI filter driver named iaStorF.sys.

              • 4. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                libove

                Jay Libove schrieb:

                However, I must point out that this is AFTER I (again) enabled write-back caching in the IAStorUI by clicking on the RAID5 volume, selecting the Advanced dropdown in the left pane, and enabling it. I don't know what the Device Manager showed about write-back caching on the RAID5 volume prior to my (re-)enabling write-back caching in IAStorUI.

                If you are not sure about that, I recommend to re-enable Write-Back Caching from within the RST Console and to look what happens after having done that.

                I apologize if my use of IAStoreUI vs RST Console was confusing. Yes, that's what I already did - having found that the write-back cache was showing disabled again in the Intel RAID console (call it RST or IASTorUI as we will, the Intel-supplied GUI for managing the ICH9R RAID array), I re-enabled write-back caching in the Intel GUI. Then I took the screen shot in the Windows Device Manager.

                 

                What I don't know is what the Windows Device Manager showed, after I noticed that the Intel GUI was showing write-back caching disabled, and before I re-enabled write-back caching in the Intel GUI.

                 

                 

                Regarding again the versions of the software, though I don't recall the details right now, I believe that in order to get the Intel GUI to install on Windows Server 2012 is was necessary to use the version 11. Version 10 either would not install at all, or would not recognize the RAID devices, on Windows Server 2012.

                 

                Intel really backed its users into a corner by deprecating the ICH9R chipset so quickly. Yes, 5+ years is a "lifetime" in computer hardware ... but NOT for server-class equipment (and the ICH9R is for low-end servers). Such things should receive support, including new (server) operating systems, for a decade or more.

                • 5. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                  joe_intel

                  This issue is mostly related to the operating system configuration.

                   

                  It is a good suggestion to check the "Enable write caching on the disk" and "Turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing on the device" option on Policies tab in the RAID volume properties (Device Manager > Disk Drives).

                   

                  You may also refer to the following thread:

                  http://communities.intel.com/thread/12381

                  • 6. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                    libove

                    I have turned on write caching and turned off write cache buffer flushing in the Windows properties for the RAID device. And I have reviewed the other thread before.

                    It seems that something turns off the write caching and write cache buffer flushing options for the RAID device every time the system is rebooted.

                    Any ideas what would be doing that/ how to get those options to stick?

                    thanks,

                    Jay

                    • 7. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                      Fernando

                      Jay Libove schrieb:

                       

                      It seems that something turns off the write caching and write cache buffer flushing options for the RAID device every time the system is rebooted.

                      Any ideas what would be doing that/ how to get those options to stick?

                      Since I have an Intel RAID system since several years with different hardware and driver configurations and never have realized such problem, here is my idea:

                      Have you installed any third party "System Optimizer" like the TuneUp Utilities?

                      • 8. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                        libove

                        Hi Fernando,

                        No, I have no tune up nor other optimization utilities. This is on a quite new and conservatively configured Windows Server 2012.

                        -Jay

                        • 9. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                          Fernando

                          Jay Libove schrieb:

                           

                          This is on a quite new and conservatively configured Windows Server 2012.

                          Maybe it is the OS itself, which changes the Write-Back Caching setting automaticly at reboot. A Server Operating System is optimized regarding stability and not regarding benchmark results.

                          • 10. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                            libove

                            Servers are about stability, yes; but also about adequate performance. Turning on write caching is not about benchmark results, nor is it necessarily bad for stability; it just requires balancing with reliable uninterruptable power. So, no, I can't imagine that Microsoft would make Windows Server 2012 automatically turn off a write caching feature at every reboot. It has to be a bad interaction between the O/S and the Intel RAID driver.

                             

                            How can we try to figure it out?

                             

                            thanks,

                            Jay

                            • 12. Re: Intel Rapid Storage Technology write-back cache keeps disabling itself
                              libove

                              Somehow I missed when Oodog made this post a year ago, and having returned to the frustration with this issue today I found my own thread on this forum through a Google search, and followed this new (to me) reply. Thank you, Oodog!

                               

                              In summary:

                              Microsoft, in its INFINITE wisdom, decided that Domain Controllers may not have write-back cache enabled, because if the user did it wrong (did not have adequate Uninterruptable Power Supplies, and even failing that control, did not have adequate backups) then it might cause Active Directory corruption. (Of course, the fact that individual businesses may have a different perspective did not figure strongly in Microsoft's paternalism). Thus, DCs automatically turn off write-back caching at boot time.

                               

                              The fix, as referenced in the article Oodog pointed us to, for those of us willing to live dangerously (or to have adequate UPS and backups), is to:

                              1. get the old (Windows XP/2000 days) DSKCACHE.EXE tool, which is still available as a free ask-for hotfix from Microsoft (at Obtain the Dskcache.exe tool to configure the "Power Protected" Write Cache option - click the Hotfix Download Available link, expand the list of possible downloads "Show hotfixes for all platforms and languages (2)", and select the x86 version of the tool), store the dskcache.exe somewhere known e.g. c:\bin\dskcache.exe, and then

                              2. set up a .BAT file e.g.

                               

                              C:> TYPE C:\BIN\ENABLE-WRITEBACK-CACHE.BAT

                              c:\bin\dskcache.exe +w +p C:

                               

                              3. which is called at boot time by Local Group Policy under Computer Configuration/Windows Settings/Scripts Startup (see Assign computer startup scripts: Group Policy)  - just Add a Startup script c:\bin\enable-writeback-cache.bat

                              1 of 1 people found this helpful