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eComposer View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eComposer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2017 at 1:25pm
parsec,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience and perspectives.  You are right, trial and error "in the field of battle" is certainly a teacher.  Consider this my first "blooding"... LOL :)

I followed your advice and I used the 128 stripe size, so wondering what else is involved.  Yes, correct, they are the 250 version.

I'm looking for performance, so seeing a "Reduction" in performance using RAID 0 for an approach that is so fragile and prone to failure (like the high risk plethora of possible events that can kill the PCIe RAID 0) , plus it is a pain to resurrect, just isn't worth the trouble.  The performance benefit would need to be much more than just a marginal increase.

In this case the performance is so substandard this has convinced me that at this point in time the necessary drivers etc don't exist to justify the RAID 0 approach at all.

So, given that if I understand correctly, that a single 960 Evo SSD will outperform the RAID 0 approach, I'm wondering how well cloning the operating system using acronis would be, firstly to a SATA SSD, then back to one of the 960 Evo M.2 SSDs?

I'm guessing a lot of my software licensing could take a hit from this (again - already in heated arguments with some of the more intransigent software companies).

Maybe uninstall the lot and start from square one?  At least we tried this out, it was worth the effort to find out.  You did say at the outset a single SSD was the way to go.  "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".  I will chalk this up to experience, and hopefully others can take note of this.

I must say though that I'm disappointed with the "big guns" for not addressing this sufficiently when obviously users like you and I and others reading this WANT to use this technology to the maximum. 

I'm left with the sense Intel has underperformed here, and Samsung has too.  Samsung has so little support and documentation for what clearly is the new "Gold Rush" given their new 960 range had to be pre-ordered, and from what I see on Amazon, these were the "best seller" for preorders...  Says a lot.

ASRock too having the video on using three M.2 slots sold me on the idea of doing the RAID 0 setup, and really they should make the effort to clarify exactly the things you're saying.

I know this is now for the "Consumer PC" market the "cutting edge", so understand there is still come catch-up.  However, having existed in the enterprise space for a long time across platforms, I wonder if to wouldn't make more sense to get a commercial server instead, and perhaps run VMware with virtualized desktops or something like that to circumvent all these issues.  Bit more money I know, but maybe the better way to go if you understand the System x virtualizationspace...??? 

I'm at that point where it seems to make sense to abandon this RAID 0 PCIe experiment from a practical standpoint. The available time I had is gone, and now it's time to be doing the things this exercise was aiming to enable.  :)

Once again, thank you very much for your seasoned perspectives, it is greatly appreciated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eComposer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2017 at 10:28am
Hello parsec:


I changed the bios to disable CPU overclocking and set the RAM back to default removing XMP 2. Below is the much better performance results:

Seq Q32T1 Read 3313, Write 2384
4K Q32T1   Read 531.3 Write 390.2
Seq Read 3337 Write 2341
4K Read 43.01 Write 135.1

Do you know much about optimal BIOS settings, and the effects of overclocking CPU and using XMP 2 for the RAM settings?

I'm also unable to locate any information on the IRST utility you mentioned, so am unable to change the SSD caching as you suggested. I can't find the software of any documentation on how to do this. I'd appreciate knowing how to install/access this utility you mention, and pointers to any documentation you know about.

Greatly appreciate your help!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2017 at 11:42am
Originally posted by eComposer eComposer wrote:

Hello parsec:


I changed the bios to disable CPU overclocking and set the RAM back to default removing XMP 2. Below is the much better performance results:

Seq Q32T1 Read 3313, Write 2384
4K Q32T1   Read 531.3 Write 390.2
Seq Read 3337 Write 2341
4K Read 43.01 Write 135.1

Do you know much about optimal BIOS settings, and the effects of overclocking CPU and using XMP 2 for the RAM settings?

I'm also unable to locate any information on the IRST utility you mentioned, so am unable to change the SSD caching as you suggested. I can't find the software of any documentation on how to do this. I'd appreciate knowing how to install/access this utility you mention, and pointers to any documentation you know about.

Greatly appreciate your help!


Please forgive me, but I now realize you were a complete Intel RAID virgin, that jumped into creating and using a RAID 0 array of PCIe NVMe SSDs as your OS drive. You chose a very difficult thing to do, without any Intel RAID experience. Shocked

First, the Intel RAID software is available on your board's download page. It is the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver and utility ver:15.2.0.1020, on the page below, in the Drivers section. If you don't have this software installed, you aren't a RAID user. Wink

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z170%20Extreme7+/?cat=Download&os=Win1064

You download, extract, and install it, left click and Run as Administrator. You'll need to restart the PC after the installation. As I said before, you MUST have at least one SATA SSD connected to the board, or the IRST utility program will fail to install. At least that has been my experience in the past.

After that you will find an entry in Control Panel for Intel Rapid Storage Technology. There will also be an entry in the hidden icons of the Task Bar for the IRST utility, which is delay started after Windows boots. Click on either of them and you'll get this display, although it will start off in the Status display:



The screen above is the Manage screen, where you can change the Cache mode. It won't look 100% like this at first. Click on Advanced in blue text to see the caching options and details.

You will (should) find that Write-cache buffer flushing is Enabled. You must Disable that to get the write caching options displayed, as you see above. Then click on the blue Modify, next to Cache mode, which will be Off.

You'll then see the options as shown above. If you want an explanation of each of them, click on the Help button at the top. That will open a new display, with everything you could ever imagine about Intel RAID is documented.

Try Write Back if you like, which gives the best overall performance, at the risk of loosing data if you BSOD of lose power to the PC. You'll be warned about that when you click Write back. Read only gives slightly higher read speeds, without any date write caching to memory. You can change the caching any time you like, any of the options.

So you had improved performance with no OC and stock memory speed. Confused That is curious, I'm OC'd to 4.9GHz and memory is at 3600. I'm wondering if you had CPU power saving options enabled, like C States and Speed Step, which reduce benchmark performance, but it should not have been as much as you had previously. Given the limited information about your UEFI settings, I can't explain that.

CPU usage is minimal during storage IO, but CPU power saving options cause latency that reduces benchmark results. Real world IO speeds rarely if ever approach benchmark results.

Your performance numbers are much better now, you won't get them much higher than they are now.

Tell me, now that you've used your RAID 0 OS volume for a while now, what do you think? I assume you've used SATA SSDs in the past. If you are coming from HDDs, you should be stunned.



Edited by parsec - 09 Jan 2017 at 11:42am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eComposer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2017 at 6:50pm
parsec,

Hmmmm, maybe a virgin to PC PCIe M.2 arrays, yes... But an old hand since the punch card days... and dealt more with IBM storage subsystems... last I was involved with around 5 years back was the V7000s mainly...  Never ran RAID 0 on those, but certainly leveraged SSDs to help the HDD performance.

Also did RAID 0 on HDDs in PCs such as velociraptors, but that's a while ago too.  Have been using SATA SSDs for quite some time straight, not in RAID.  LOL.

It took several hours, but I finally got the IRST utility to work.  NO idea why this has been so challenging, but something is amiss...

It's funny because I'd downloaded directly from Intel - same install file.  But downloaded a new one from ASRock and reinstalled with that.

Now the fun part, LOL.  The Utility shows the RAID 0 arrays as... FAILED!  OMG.  It shows one of the SSDs as being in a failed state.  Yet, everything still seems to be functioning, I would have expected for the array to completely fail if one drive fails in RAID 0.

Again, bizarre.  I'm not sure how to check the actual performance of each 960 Evo drive with an alternative, thinking about this.

Maybe the drive is faulty?  Fun ride huh?  Appreciate the help, it's great to have someone that knows what they're doing to reach out to - much appreciated!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 2017 at 9:59am
Originally posted by eComposer eComposer wrote:

parsec,

Hmmmm, maybe a virgin to PC PCIe M.2 arrays, yes... But an old hand since the punch card days... and dealt more with IBM storage subsystems... last I was involved with around 5 years back was the V7000s mainly...  Never ran RAID 0 on those, but certainly leveraged SSDs to help the HDD performance.

Also did RAID 0 on HDDs in PCs such as velociraptors, but that's a while ago too.  Have been using SATA SSDs for quite some time straight, not in RAID.  LOL.

It took several hours, but I finally got the IRST utility to work.  NO idea why this has been so challenging, but something is amiss...

It's funny because I'd downloaded directly from Intel - same install file.  But downloaded a new one from ASRock and reinstalled with that.

Now the fun part, LOL.  The Utility shows the RAID 0 arrays as... FAILED!  OMG.  It shows one of the SSDs as being in a failed state.  Yet, everything still seems to be functioning, I would have expected for the array to completely fail if one drive fails in RAID 0.

Again, bizarre.  I'm not sure how to check the actual performance of each 960 Evo drive with an alternative, thinking about this.

Maybe the drive is faulty?  Fun ride huh?  Appreciate the help, it's great to have someone that knows what they're doing to reach out to - much appreciated!


The failed member of the RAID 0 array is strange, there is no way a RAID 0 array can function with a member missing or failed.

First, go into the UEFI/BIOS, Advanced screen, and at the bottom of the screen list should be an entry for Intel Rapid Storage Technology. Which you may have used to create your RAID 0 array in the first place. That screen will also give you the status of the RAID 0 array.

What does it tell you there?

A reboot may be enough to clear up that problem.

You might want to check that you have the PCIe Remapping options set correctly for the M.2 slots, in the UEFI.

BTW, you will no longer see your 960's in Storage Configuration, the NVMe Configuration, or in System Browser screens, when they are in a RAID array. The only place is the IRST screen in the UEFI.

Also strange the IRST Windows program did not work immediately. As I've said, you must have a SATA drive connected to the Intel SATA ports, or it won't install. I used the IRST 15.2 download from ASRock, but normally the same version from Intel should work, always has in the past. If ASRock tweaked their version, nice job, but that would be very unusual.

I have a feeling all the trouble you apparently had installing the IRST Windows program may have resulted in a bad installation, if it thinks your RAID 0 array has failed. You can run the IRST installer again, which has been known to fix problems. What problems did you have that took hours to overcome?

Did you install the INF files and IME software in your new Win 10 installation? I believe you used the 15.2 F6 IRST driver during the Windows installation, correct?

Just thought, what UEFI/BIOS version are you using on your board? I was told the Intel RAID Option ROM version was updated in a UEFI update for the Z170 Extreme7+. My Z270 board has Option ROM version 15.2.0.2754.

You can check the Option ROM version by running the IRST Windows program, clicking on the Help button, and in that display click on System Report at the top. The second section of information shown includes the Option ROM version, as well as the driver version installed.

I'm also older than you may think. Sorry, but when you said you could not find the IRST software, that told me you were not familiar with IRST RAID. Obviously been a while since you've used it.

Repeating an earlier caution, if you clear the UEFI, or install a new UEFI version, you MUST be sure all the UEFI settings needed for a PCIe SSD RAID array are set correctly again. I did that ultimate test last night with a UEFI update for my Z270 board, and while the good news is I did not lose the RAID 0 array, and one of the required option settings was not changed (RAID mode), I had to set Launch Storage OpROM Policy to UEFI Only again, Save and Exit the UEFI, and go right back into the UEFI again to check the Boot Order entry. It was correct, but I still don't 100% trust PCIe RAID.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eComposer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 2017 at 5:30pm
The Array no longer shows as "Failed", thankfully.  And yes, that was after a reboot.  I tried to post an update, but find that often I get errors or something that blocks me from posting.

Indeed, I went into the BIOS at the time to check the RAID volume, which looked normal.  PCIe remapping is all as it was and correct.

Re spending time - this was to get the IRST utility to work.  Sorry, should have been more specific when I said I couldn't see it.  I meant I'd tried to install it, yet it was not available.  I thought there might be some specific Intel software required to enable this.  Some of IBMs systems can be like that post merging acquired software with existing... but it was actually some unknown reason why the utility did not show in any area, and certainly not available to to use.

Currently it seems to be working fine. 

Yes, I did use that IRST version in the Windows install, and as far as I know had on multiple occasions followed all the steps you outlined.  Which is why I was stumped for a while.  I still don't know what is causing these ongoing weird issues, could be hardware or software faults somewhere...  "Oh the joys of IT".  :)

RE BIOS - I didn't want to rattle the cage and remained on 2.10
I know the DRAM improvement in the next BIOS update following this, but I've had a lot of bad luck mucking around with PC BIOS' in the past, which caused Windows installations to become inaccessible and despite MBR attempts etc to be unrecoverable.  Because I have limited knowledge in the Windows space and frankly have seen just how poor the Windows OS is compared to others like AIX and Linux, I try not to tempt fate.  :)  No "Bios" of course.  LOL

All my communications with Microsoft with each BIOS related issue does not fill me with confidence.  And Window 10 from all the inside gossip I hear is really not inspiring me either.

However, if you think updating the BIOS to 7.30 would help, I'd give it a go.   But as you said, be very very careful to keep going into the BIOS until all the settings are right.

Just to check, going straight to 7.30 would be the correct approach if so?  In the past sometimes you had to do some updates in a specific sequence, I can check out the documentation, but guessing you'd know better given often key things are not always documented.  :)  Once again, appreciate the pointers!  :)





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Hi, 

After many days of trying to get my Samsung 960 EVO NVME M.2 SSD configured as a boot drive I seem to keep getting stuck at the same point. Where I get a Recovery screen with Error Code: windows\system32\winload.efi 0xc0000225

Configuration:
Z77 Extreme4 with P2.90M bios update
Samsung 960 EVO NVME M.2 in PCIE3 via a PCIE Adaptor (Shows in System Browser as Mass Storage Controller)
CMS is enabled 
Launch Storage OpROM policy is UEFI only
Latest Samsung NVME 2.1 Controller driver installed

I installed windows 10 via UEFI bootable USB it installs ok, until it restarts and gets the above winload.efi error. My bios displays "Windows Boot Manager" in the Boot settings, but nothing for the M.2 SSD specifically. 

I can boot into my current OS and see my Samsung M.2 Drive perfectly fine and Hard Drive Sentinal displays as a perfectly healthy drive with the Samsung NVME Controller working with speed test that put my old drive to shame... 

Is there something I am missing that I need in order to boot off the 960 EVO or is it not possible with this version and the Z77 board?  

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks. 

G. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote parsec Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2017 at 9:33am
Originally posted by Gambit Gambit wrote:

Hi, 

After many days of trying to get my Samsung 960 EVO NVME M.2 SSD configured as a boot drive I seem to keep getting stuck at the same point. Where I get a Recovery screen with Error Code: windows\system32\winload.efi 0xc0000225

Configuration:
Z77 Extreme4 with P2.90M bios update
Samsung 960 EVO NVME M.2 in PCIE3 via a PCIE Adaptor (Shows in System Browser as Mass Storage Controller)
CMS is enabled 
Launch Storage OpROM policy is UEFI only
Latest Samsung NVME 2.1 Controller driver installed

I installed windows 10 via UEFI bootable USB it installs ok, until it restarts and gets the above winload.efi error. My bios displays "Windows Boot Manager" in the Boot settings, but nothing for the M.2 SSD specifically. 

I can boot into my current OS and see my Samsung M.2 Drive perfectly fine and Hard Drive Sentinal displays as a perfectly healthy drive with the Samsung NVME Controller working with speed test that put my old drive to shame... 

Is there something I am missing that I need in order to boot off the 960 EVO or is it not possible with this version and the Z77 board?  

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thanks. 

G. 



The Windows Boot Manager entry in the Boot order IS the correct entry for any PCIe NVMe SSD as the boot/OS drive, or any SATA drive that has Windows installed for UEFI booting, ie, using the EFI boot loader. That is simply the way the Windows installer identifies a UEFI booting Windows installation, and that appears in the boot order.

The Z77 Extreme4 is the first board I used when I began using UEFI booting Windows installations on SATA SSDs. We are dealing with what Windows requires when we choose to use the EFI boot loader. It's the same with any mother board manufacture's products.

Newer ASRock boards that have the Boot Manager feature in the UEFI/BIOS Tools screen, allows you to add a suffix to the Windows Boot Manager entry, so it would appear as, for example, "Windows Boot Manager: 960 EVO".

How did you create the UEFI bootable USB flash drive? As you saw with that error message, it either can't find the winload.efi file, or some problem associated with it.

Were there other drives in the PC when you installed Win 10 on the 960 EVO?

If you installed Win 10 on the 960 EVO with any other drives installed (like your current OS that you mentioned) and powered up in the PC, then that is one thing you may have done wrong. The Windows installer for some reason will put the boot/system partition on another drive instead of the target OS drive. Been doing that since at least Windows 7, and MSoft has yet to change that nonsense. The PC would then have multiple boot/system partitions, and the first one found is the one that is used, which may be the non-UEFI booting installation on your "current OS" drive.

To avoid this, always install Windows with ONLY the target OS drive installed (or connected to power) when installing Windows. If this is ignored, nothing will change.

If the 960 EVO was the only drive in the PC when you installed Windows 10, did you select the entry in the boot order for the USB installation media? Normally you would have two entries for the USB flash drive in the boot order. You must select the one that is, "UEFI: <flash drive name>", otherwise you won't get a UEFI booting Windows installation.

Please answer my questions, and we can move on from there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gambit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Feb 2017 at 4:04pm
Thanks for the quick response parsec. 

I am at work so don't have the exact link I downloaded from Microsoft but I created the USB from one of their Windows 10 images. 

I did ensure that when booting to the usb I selected the UEFI: usb to boot from. 

I also ensure I had no other drives connected to my system when i did the first several attempts to get this to work though several methods with various other errors including the one i mentioned with the winload.efi. But the last time I did try this my other OS drive was connect as I booted into in to install the samsung nvme controller driver thinking that maybe this would fix the issue. I should have disconnected it before I attempted another install. That's on me. I will try this again when I get home. 

Do you know if there is a specific version of Windows 10 that I may need to download from Microsoft to create my UEFI boot usb? Is it possible the version I was pointed to was missing a driver or setting to handle M.2 SSD's maybe? 

Would using Rufus to create the USB boot drive be another option? I wasn't too sure about using this utility... 

Thanks again for your help. I may just still have some hair left at the end of this. :)




Edited by Gambit - 07 Feb 2017 at 4:19pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gambit Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2017 at 6:55am

Ok. I tried re-installing windows from the same USB via UEFI and all devices disconnected without any luck. 


I then booted back into my old OS downloaded rufus and a Windows 10 iso via the media creation tool. Unfortunately my first attempts did not work and USB drive would not boot as UEFI, as I did not realise at the time that when I selected the ISO in Rufus it changed the GPT UEFI and FAT32 options to MBR UEFI and NTFS. 


I fixed that and created another UEFI bootable USB, disconnected all drives except for my PCIE adaptor with M.2 SSD, I booted USB via UEFI deleted all the current partitions on the SDD and started a clean install. Windows copied all the files (I walked away to do a couple of other things) and rebooted, but when it started again it went straight back into the Install Windows from the start again... 


I rebooted and jumped into the BIOS and it had no other boot options. I checked all the windows partitions were created on the SSD. So I tried it again, but with the same result. 


Is it possible that I have my PCIE Adaptor in the wrong slot for booting? currently plugged into PCIE3. I read that Sandy Bridge runs at 2.0 in this slot, but that should not prevent it from booting from this drive should it?


Any suggestions? Am I missing something basic here as part of the installation? 


G.



Edited by Gambit - 08 Feb 2017 at 6:55am
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