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Intel Matrix RAID
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Intel Matrix RAID

Diagram of a Matrix RAID setup
Diagram of a Matrix RAID setup

Matrix RAID is a computer storage technology marketed by Intel. It is a firmware RAID system, rather than hardware RAID or software 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.[1]

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).

In 2010, Intel renamed the Intel Matrix RAID to Intel Rapid Storage Technology and redesigned the graphical user interface to make it simpler.

Operating system support

Linux supports Matrix RAID through device mapper (DM-RAID) and MD-RAID. 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). All the functionality of the Windows driver is also not available; such as creation of RAID volumes (which must be performed in the ROM, or using Windows).[2]

FreeBSD and MidnightBSD support Intel Matrix RAID using the ataraid driver, managed through the atacontrol command.[3][4] However, with older versions of FreeBSD there are critical reliability issues which include array device renaming when a disk in an array is replaced,[5] an array being considered healthy if the machine reboot/crashes during an array rebuild,[6] and kernel panics when a disk is lost or is removed from the bus.[7][8] Some of these problems, when experienced in combination, could result in the loss of an entire array (even in the case of RAID 1). All of these issues have been addressed and are not present in current FreeBSD versions.

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.[9]

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. There are several versions available:

Version Release date Notes
v3.0.0 2003
v8.0.0 2008 Standard on Intel X58 based motherboards.
v8.9.0 2009
v9.6.0 2010
v10.1.0 2011
v10.5.0 2011 Standard on Intel Z68 based motherboards. This version is the first one to support RAID arrays made of HDDs With Over 2.2 TB.[10]
Not yet available (June 2011) for Intel X58 based motherboards.
Physical disks >= 2TB are not supported on controllers older than ICH9.[11]
v10.6.0 June 2011
v10.8.0 November 2011

The latest stable version is (17 October 2011). The latest testing version is Alpha (05 August 2011). Note: these versions do not support ICH8 controllers.

See also



External links

Source: Wikipedia | The above article is available under the GNU FDL. | Edit this article

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