12 Replies Latest reply on Aug 4, 2014 2:11 PM by sylvia_intel

    Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?

    Odel888

      I got this new Z87-Pro MB from Asus with an i7-4770K and had the same results with a H87M-E board.

       

      My problem is the Intel RAID controller turned my insanely fast computer into a very slow to react machine.

       

      I use an SSD as primary HD to boot and I wanted to create a RAID 1 for storage with 2 WD Black 2TB HDs.

      All HDs are plugged in the Sata ports of the same Intel RAID controller in RAID mode, but I can create an array with only the 2 HDs and leave the SSD to boot. I have to put the SSD on the controller in RAID mode since there is only one Intel controller on the board, but it doesn't seem to affect the speed of the SSD at all when benchmarking it.

       

      If I use a Western Digital 2TB Hard Disk and the Intel controller is in RAID mode, boot time slows down by about 13 seconds and waking up from sleep takes 17 seconds instead of about 4 seconds.

       

      I don't even have to put the HDs in the array. Just plugging them makes my BIOS screen show up after 24 seconds before handing off to the OS instead of showing the screen much sooner (this is when not in UEFI because of course when I tested with UEFI, BIOS handoff was faster even if still much slower when a 2TB disk is plugged).

       

      If I remove the HD or use a 1TB Western Digital Black, the delay is much shorter. This is normal since the 1TB is ready much faster than the 2TB ones.

       

      I know that WD 2TB and higher Black HDs have a long time to ready, but I don't understand why Intel controller has to slow everything down and keep me locked for 17 seconds before I am able to resume for sleep. This is totally unacceptable in today's world of "instant on" that my desktop takes 17 seconds to resume when my laptop takes not even a second. Why can't I use these disks as data disks without having all the computer so tied to them that it can't resume operation before they are completely ready ? They are not even boot disks and are not even formatted! Could the computer just boot or resume while it starts to spin?

       

      If I use the SSD only, boot time is less than 10 seconds with UEFI (without the fast startup hibernate file gimmick of Windows 8.1) and resume is less than 4 seconds too (I don't know exactly because my monitor takes a few seconds to come back).

      If I still use the same setup (1 or 2 2TB Hds) but using AHCI instead of the controller being in RAID mode, then boot time is 13 seconds faster and waking up from sleep is less than 4 seconds.

       

      So it is really plugging one or two of these 2TB HDs when the controller is in RAID mode even if the disk is not used nor configured or even if I configure everything and initialize the array that slows everything down.

      The effect is much less important with the 1TB HD.

      I reproduced it with any of the 4 2TB I have. Some are FAEX and others FZEX models, it doesn't make a difference. Plugging any of them creates the problem.

      But if I use AHCI, the controller never waits as much, 13 seconds less in fact!

      It is not a driver problem because I can see the handoff of the BIOS to the OS clearly by looking at the BIOS screen appearing only after 24 seconds when the HDs are plugged. Also, I don't understand why even if it needed to detect the drives for longer, it would resume from sleep in 13 seconds more time too and only if the controller is in RAID mode.

       

      I tried all possible combinations of software too for the resume from sleep problem (with or without Intel Rst).

       

      Any light on this issue? Intel, you should consider that today's computers are instant on when designing your next RAID controller. I fear it is something that can't be fixed and unfortunately my dream computer turned into a nightmare slow turtle and I will have to create a costly external NAS for storage to avoid this issue.

       

      Yes WD is to blame for making such a slow to be ready drive (I think they brag about it that it spins up slower for reliability), but I am not sure why AHCI could resume even if the drive isn't spinning fully but not RAID. You are afraid they would drop from array, maybe?

        • 1. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
          sylvia_intel

          Hello Odel888, thanks a lot for posting your issue in Intel Communities.  I would like to give you some information about this behavior.


          It is expected to notice a performance difference in a system configuration between AHCI and RAID mode. AHCI mode is optimized for high end mechanical drives supporting Native Command Queuing (NCQ) and Hot swap capabilities, and to take advantage of Solid State Drive technologies. The operating system needs to load the proper support for each mode reason why it is required to install it from scratch if you change from one mode to the other.


          I’m wondering if you reinstalled Windows when you moved from AHCI to RAID. If you didn’t, then we’ll recommend doing it. Even if the bootable HDD won’t be part of a RAID array Windows needs to enable the proper support for the RAID controller from the setup stage.

           

          As a matter of fact it is expected that a Windows installation fails to boot if the SATA mode was changed from AHCI to RAID or vice versa. Usually Windows comes up with an error asking to repair. If your Windows installation is booting up fine when changing the SATA mode to AHCI or RAID it is unusual for us.

           

          Once again, it is expected to experience a performance decrease when enabling the RAID mode but we are not able to say how big this difference will be. The recommendation we can provide, if you want to use the RAID capabilities of that motherboard, is to install Windows from scratch in RAID mode. If you want to go back to AHCI then it is needed to install Windows again in AHCI mode.

           

          Would you please let me know which Operating system are you using?

          Please check with ASUS if there is any new BIOS update that needs to be installing on your board. Also, check if the hard drives need a firmware update.

          • 2. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
            Odel888

            Thanks for your answer Sylvia.

             

            I did many tests with two different computers. I tried with Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 fully patched and the behavior is the same, regardless if I install with RAID controller mode on or not from scratch.

            As I said in my post, the behavior can be seen even before the BIOS hands off to the OS so it is independent of the OS.

             

            When I start the computer and the BIOS screen doesn't appear before 23 seconds if my controller is in RAID mode with a 2 TB HD but it does much sooner if it is a 1TB HD from WD, it is telling. Also, if I switch to AHCI then the BIOS screen appears much sooner even with the 2TB HD.

             

            I spoke to WD and there is no firmware update. Their Black higher quality drives 2TB and above as well as their enterprise drives are slow to spin up by design. They even brag about it as a reliability feature to have slow spin ups time. It is what Intel Controller does with it that makes it different. In AHCI, it doesn't wait for the drive to be fully spinned, but in RAID mode, it does, which translates into much longer boot times and getting out of sleep mode in 17 seconds instead of less than 4.

             

            Also, what you tell me is a bit disturbing about NCQ and hot swap. I thought RAID mode was like AHCI in this respect and supported these features as well, while adding support for RAID. Please verify this information as I thought I had read online before that it was the case.

             

            As to how I magically changed from one controller mode to another without reinstalling from scracth, I simply boot into safe mode, delete the controller I want to change, go into BIOS to change to the other controller Mode, restart and Windows detect the new mode and install the appropriate driver. Everything seems to work well that way and rest assured I also tested by reinstalling from scracth and it doesn't make any difference.

             

            What my tests have been showing is that Intel Controller waits a lot longer to give the OS a go when in RAID mode compared to when it is in AHCI. This is so bad I am considering using Storage spaces software raid instead to create the mirrored disks. I can not accept a 17 seconds delay to wake from sleep mode and to a lesser degree I don't like booting in 21 seconds if I can boot in 8, but that I concede is being a bit fancy, which I thought I could be when paying for such a powerful machine with high performing SSD and HDs.

             

            Unfortunately, suggesting switching disks is not really interesting for me, as right now, the competition doesn't seem to offer disks that are as reliable as Western Digital Blacks and WD themselves only offer products with components life rated for three years instead of five in their other categories. I suggested to WD to make 5 years quality drives that are ready fast to keep up with today's world of "instant on" and they said it was a good idea. I don't know if it is technologically easy to do though and I can't wait for it to happen.

             

            What I know is that since it is so easy to pop an SSD laptop or tablet to look something up online in a sec and put it back to sleep and I can do that 30 times a day, it makes the powerful desktop of another era looks like a dinosaur and don't make you want to turn it on and generate heat if it is going to take 17 seconds to do it. Some would argue to leave it on all the time except at night, but that doesn't seem very "green" to me, plus when it is hot in the summer, it makes the room quite uncomfortable.

            • 3. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
              Odel888

              Sylvia, I replied to your post, but I forgot to click Reply so see the post below your answer.

              • 4. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                sylvia_intel

                Odel888, to be honest with you I not pretty sure if this behavior is expected or not, however I’m going to check with engineering.

                Could you please update the BIOS of the motherboards and also make sure the SSD and HDD are running the latest firmware version?

                • 5. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                  Odel888

                  Sylvia,

                   

                  If you can check with engineering, that is great. You can easily reproduce the problem by trying to boot a deskop using any of the Asus motherborads Z87-Pro or H87M-E with the controller in RAID mode using only an SSD (doens't matter if it is Intel 530 or Samsung 840 Pro or whatever) then see how just plugging a 2TB Western Digital Black adds many seconds to the boot and getting out of sleep. If you try with a 1TB Western Digital, the delay added is much shorter. You don't need to configure the RAID or anything. The SSD is plugged in the Intel Controller set up in RAID mode but of course is not in RAID. The added Hard Disk is on the same controller but the RAID isn't configured either. I wonder if by design Intel RAID controller waits for an ok from the Hard Disk before handling off control to the OS and this ok just takes a very very long time one a WD 2TB Hard Disk.

                   

                  Since my plan was to use the SSD as boot drive and 2 x 2TB RAID 1 for data, it would be nice to get out of sleep in less than 17 seconds because really the data disk insn't needed for proper Windows operation when everything related to the OS is on the SSD.

                   

                  Last time I tested, everything was up to date.

                  • 6. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                    sylvia_intel

                    Odel888, I want to share this information with you. I was trying to replicate your issue on a DZ87KLT Intel Motherboard. This system has an i7-4770K processor, an SSD, one 1TB  hard drive for storage and two 500gb  HDAD on RAID 1.

                    It took me one than 1 minute to boot to Windows.  The system had to check the RAID status before getting to the OS.

                     

                     

                    Please check on BIOS, under “Boot” if there is any feature selected that might have increased the boot time of your system. For example in our motherboards, under “boot configuration” we need to make sure that the optical and network options are not selected.

                    • 7. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                      Odel888

                      Sylvia,

                       

                      Thanks for taking the time to try to replicate the issue. Your boot time of one minute seems awfully long to me in context of the mobile revolution.

                       

                      A lot of people in the industry complain that desktop sales are slowing, but it feels the divide gets bigger as no energy seems to be deployed to make the desktop as "snappy" as tablets or laptops like the ones from Apple that resumes from sleep instantly. I am trying to help Intel figure out one of these problems so they can improve their products and try to bring the desktop to a level that is more in line with the current "instant-on" trend while still providing the advantages of the powerful desktop machines.

                       

                      So to me, Intel could do a few things:

                      1) verify if they could give the go to the OS sooner in the case a long to spin-up hard disk is plugged, either when cold booting or resuming from sleep.

                      2) work with Microsoft if possible to be able to distinguish between OS and DATA disks so that you could resume in less than a second a system in S3 sleep that has everything from the OS on an SSD but has a RAID 1 set of hard disks for Data.

                      3) maybe have a talk with hard disk manufacturers so they create faster to ready hard disks using maybe hybrid technologies with flash or something else because the desktop PC world seems completely outdated right now for this aspect. Is it so hard to create a 5 year warranted reliable hard disk that has a fast time-to-ready?

                       

                      First, I want to reassure you I went through all BIOS settings to reduce any unnecessary delay. I controlled all factors and reduced the problem to a very simple one of plugging a hard disk to a computer booting with an SSD on the same controller set in RAID mode and observing the difference in boot time and resuming from sleep. I even switched the controller to AHCI in the BIOS and adjusted Windows so it would boot anyway as I wrote before so we can really see the impact of having the controller set in RAID mode and adding a slow to spin hard disk to a system. In all those tests, I had the same BIOS settings I had reviewed prior to testing so I am pretty sure I nailed down this issue quite precisely. I replicated all tests at least two times.

                       

                      What you need to check is

                      1) how much more time you take to boot when plugging a long to spin HD like Western Digital BLACK 2-4TB to an Intel RAID controller set in RAID mode compared to booting using only the SSD.

                      2) Try getting out of sleep fast with a 2TB WD Black plugged in when the controller is set in RAID mode vs if you unplug it. 17 seconds with the hard disk in!

                      3) You could also observe that only changing the controller to boot in AHCI mode instead of RAID reduces the delay significantly (providing you adjust Windows the way I described in one of my previous messages so it boots anyway).

                       

                      To give you some examples :

                      I got one full UEFI computer (i7-4770k, Nvidia discrete video card) to boot in 8 seconds (defined as the moment you push power to when the Metro interface pops up) using only the SSD in AHCI

                       

                      I also have a 33 seconds boot time on a non UEFI i7-4770k with the same discrete video card when I have any HD plugged in vs about 20 seconds if I only use the SSD.

                       

                      Another computer in full UEFI (i5-4xxx with no discrete video card) in 17 seconds with the SDD and 2 WD Black 1TB in RAID 1 (those 1TB takes much less time to spin) vs 13 seconds with only the SSD plugged in. But if I switch the 1TB disks for 2TB WD Blacks, then it exhibits the same additional delay as the non UEFI computer.

                       

                      So that is why It is very important you use a slow to spin drive or else the test will not show up much of a difference (3-4 secs maybe).

                       

                      And you don't even need to configure the RAID, just plugging the disk on a controller set in RAID mode shows instant delays.

                       

                      I use fully patched 8.1 machines freshly installed.

                      For your information I think that RE4 2TB and more hard disks from Western Digital are also slow to spin-up if you happen to have some available for testing.

                      • 8. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                        sylvia_intel

                        On a previous post, you explained me a workaround you performed in order to avoid the installation of the operating system from scratch, however this is not a valid workaround for us.

                         

                        I can provide all your recommendations to the corresponding team, but it will be necessary to perform the installation of the OS following the correct process. 

                        That is part of the troubleshooting that you would need to perform in order to find out if that is causing this behavior.

                         

                        Please check the following article regarding this. http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/sb/CS-029980.htm    

                        I suggest you installing the OS from scratch and check the boot time again. Please let me know your findings.

                         

                        Thanks for understanding.

                        • 9. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                          Odel888

                          Sylvia,

                           

                          I feel as if communication is a bit difficult and you understand half of my post. Maybe because I am not native English what I say isn't clear, so I will try to be more precise.

                           

                          You don't need to reinstall the OS from scratch. The example I gave you was just one of many to support my claim. You can even not do this test of switching from RAID to AHCI or the opposite to experiment the issue. I also stated that the issue was OS independent as we can see from the long time it takes for the BIOS handoff before any loading of the OS as soon as you plug a 2TB WD Black HD in the machine. And yes, I also did reinstall from scratch and experimented the exact same behavior, all BIOS updated, everything fully patched, same context.

                           

                          So, right now here is a very simple test your engineers can perform (obviously I would like they read all the posts as well, but let's start with this one so they experiment the issue and want to explore further) :

                          1) Install and patch Windows 8.1 on a single SSD (Intel 530, Samsung 840 Pro, doesn't matter) while the controller is set in RAID mode.

                          2) Mesure boot time et time to get out of sleep (S3) (do it two times to be sure).

                          3) Just plug a Western Digital Black 2TB to 4TB HD on the same Intel controller. Don't do anything else. Don't set up a RAID or anything, it doesn't matter. Just have the HD plugged in. If you do set-up a RAID with 2 HDs, the behavior will be exactly the same anyway.

                          4) Mesure boot time and time to get out of sleep again (do it two times to be sure). Observe that boot time and resume from sleep takes 13 more seconds which brings an out of sleep experience from 4 seconds to 17 seconds (it might even be less than 4 seconds, it is my screen who doesn't wake up fast enough for me to see).

                          5) Now try the same thing with a different hard disk that doesn't have such a long spin-up time or time to ready like the Western Digital Black 1TB. You will see the difference in boot time is much less dramatic.

                          6) Reinstall the PC from scratch as indicated in number 1 but with controller set in AHCI mode. Redo all the other tests 2-5 and observe that even with the Western Digital Black 2TB, the delay is much less dramatic than when the controller is in RAID mode, RAID used or not.

                           

                          Hoping this is clear enough,

                          Thanks,

                          • 10. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                            sylvia_intel

                            Odel888, I completely understand the description of the issue, and the people I’ve shared the case with also are clear about it.

                             

                            I don’t see any problem by having our engineering people doing the testing but I don’t think we will use the exact same hardware though.

                             

                            Now, based on conversations I’ve had with colleagues and people from other support teams, we agreed with the fact that it is totally expected that the boot up and coming from sleep times will increase when having a RAID configuration for fault tolerance. If using a RAID 0 there won’t be any difference and possibly we can expect a light improvement but with RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10 we can expect that.

                            In your case the problem occurs just by turning the RIAD on, but possibly this is simply that the Storage controller is taking longer to read the HDDs structure. We’d like to have a chart or score table to tell what will be the expected delay times based on the RAID type or HDDs size but this is information that is not documented, at least not in our side, eventually Hard Disk Drive manufacturers have it.

                             

                            It is important to understand as well that even though this ASUS motherboard is using a PCH (Platform Controller Hub) made by Intel, it is possible that the chip was customized according to the ASUS specifications and the motherboard design, this fact has shown during the time that not necessarily the Intel chips found in OEM computers or 3rd party brand boards are expected to behave exactly the same way as one present in an Intel® Desktop Board.

                            We use our documentation as per reference in order to provide technical recommendations but, we don’t have a way to confirm that your product will respond the same way to our recommendations.

                            We have a few testing machines around with RAID configurations and they all take a while to boot up, some have mechanical drives with the operating system, other have Solid State Drives and the boot up time varies among them but definitively the ones in RAID or RAID enabled last more to boot up from a cold boot.

                             

                            I’m requesting the testing to our engineering people to see if we can find something evident that needs to be corrected with new chips or updates in the future but please be aware and consider all of my comments above. It is possible that, even if we recreate the problem, there won’t be an immediate solution to provide you.

                            • 11. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                              Odel888

                              Sylvia,

                               

                              Yes, the important consideration in my case is that just plugging a Western Digital 2TB Black Hard Disk adds significant delay (13 more seconds) to getting out of sleep and boot time, regardless of RAID level.

                               

                              The important hardware to use I think is the WD Black 2-4TB hard disks because my hypothesis is that the Intel Controller is interacting in a not so nice way with it because those disks take too long to be ready.

                               

                              I understand what you say about third party manufacturers, that the issue might not even show up on a pure Intel board instead of the two different Asus I tested and I don't have any expectation that Intel will be able to provide a fix for me with the platform I am using either.

                               

                              My goal is to bring this issue to Intel's attention in the hope that future platform development might avoid producing the same problem if that is something your engineers can do. Then, it would be a service to the community of desktop users which uses RAID, being it level 1, 0, 5 or whatever and even if it is only for data disks.

                               

                              Thank you for your attention to this problem and I am curious to hear the results of the tests by your engineers.

                              • 12. Re: Is it normal that using the Raid Controller slows down boot time and waking up from sleep considerably?
                                sylvia_intel

                                We really appreciate you interest in helping us to improve our products and the time you are investing in this topic. I do agree with you with the fact that eventually there is a problem or an expected behavior that we are not aware off when combining certain hardware, in this case the Western Digital Black 2TB drives.

                                I’m sharing this case with our engineering people for them to try recreating the problem. If I get feedback from them I'll gladly share it with you.