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P7P55D Deluxe BIOS & RAID questions...

 
 
Newman
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-16-2011, 04:32 PM
I have been having ongoing problems with one of our computers which
has the P7P55D Deluxe motherboard in it. This system has been in
service for about a year and was problematic from the start.

This system belongs to our Office Manager, who is a heavy user and
*needs* a bullet-proof system that is both fast and reliable.

O/S is Win7 Professional x64. CPU is i7 860 with 8 GB of RAM.

The system has, IIRC, 3 x 750GB HD in a RAID-5 using the Intel Raid on
the mobo. The very first problem we had was that the RAID kept
degrading for no apparent reason. We eventually returned the system to
the VAR for repair. Between them and myself googling, it turns out
that it had Version 8.9 of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager installed
in it. V8.9, as it turns out, was a very bad thing. The VAR installed
V8.8 and that stopped the random degrading problem.

More recently we have started having all manner of problems with this
system. Random problems that should not happen. In my experience,
these are all realted to "disk" problems - which means the RAID
(again).

I did some searching on the Intel Site and see that Matrix Storage
Manager has been replaced by "RST - Rapid Storage Technology" and is
now at V10.1.0.1008.

The question is... Is this a case of window dressing the same old
crap? Does anyone have experience with RST 10.1? Is it any good? and,
more importantly, can I just upgrade the existing install of MSM 8.8
with RST 10.1 without trashing the RAID???

Now onto the BIOS....

IIRC, the BIOS in this system is at 1002, and the current is 2003.
Looking at the revision history on the ASUS web site (such as it is!),
there are a lot of refereces to "Improve system stability". So again,
does anyone have experience with the 2003 BIOS? It is very recent, and
I am always leary. I have found that there are "good" BIOS updates and
"bad" BIOS updates. I actually had an Intel mobo where the BIOS
upgrade slowed the system down so much that I had to downgrade the
BIOS to its previous revision to restore system performance until a
newer BIOS rev came out! And the other question, again, can I jump
from 1002 to 2003 BIOS??? Sometimes it is better to upgrade in steps.
Some revs can be skipped, some are best not (sometimes).


Since elements of Win7 x64 appear to have degraded, what I intend to
do is to rebuild the system. I am getting a WD 300GB 10,000 RPM
VELOCIRAPTOR and will attach it to the JMicron 363 3 G/s controller
for maximum performance. I will do a clean install the O/S onto the WD
drive, and then get all the other programs installed and critical data
transfered from the RAID.

I do not know if I will bother keeping the RAID. I have had a few
experieinces with "desktop" RAID, and they have all been bad. Any time
you let WinDoze get involved with a RAID it seems to have problems.
The only bullet-proof RAIDs I have seen have been in servers with
dedicated hardware controllers which prevent WinDoze from screwing
things up.

And I have also learned that the Office Managers computer is not the
machine to try something "new"on for the first time! lol.

All thoughts and input greatly appreciated.







 
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Foke
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-16-2011, 06:23 PM
On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 08:32:47 -0800, Newman <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

Just a couple of thoughts:


>IIRC, the BIOS in this system is at 1002, and the current is 2003.
>Looking at the revision history on the ASUS web site (such as it is!),
>there are a lot of refereces to "Improve system stability". So again,
>does anyone have experience with the 2003 BIOS? It is very recent, and
>I am always leary. I have found that there are "good" BIOS updates and
>"bad" BIOS updates. I actually had an Intel mobo where the BIOS
>upgrade slowed the system down so much that I had to downgrade the
>BIOS to its previous revision to restore system performance until a
>newer BIOS rev came out! And the other question, again, can I jump
>from 1002 to 2003 BIOS??? Sometimes it is better to upgrade in steps.
>Some revs can be skipped, some are best not (sometimes).


I've never seen a BIOS upgrade that had to be done in "steps". You can
always go to the latest version without installing the intervening
versions. But, I wouldn't upgrade unless a later version indicates a fix
for a problem that is impacting you. The "improve system stability"
doesn't generally fit into that category, so I wouldn't bother.

>
>Since elements of Win7 x64 appear to have degraded, what I intend to
>do is to rebuild the system. I am getting a WD 300GB 10,000 RPM
>VELOCIRAPTOR and will attach it to the JMicron 363 3 G/s controller
>for maximum performance. I will do a clean install the O/S onto the WD
>drive, and then get all the other programs installed and critical data
>transfered from the RAID.


The JMicron shouldn't be the final resting place for your new drive. It
will work OK for transferring the data, but it doesn't provide the best
performance. Once you get your data moved over and break the RAID array,
you should install the new drive to one of the Intel SATA ports.

I also am not a big believer in desktop RAID. Regular image backups are a
cleaner (and easier to implement) replacement for RAID 5.
 
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Newman
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-16-2011, 07:34 PM
On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 13:23:25 -0500, Foke <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 08:32:47 -0800, Newman <(E-Mail Removed)>
>wrote:
>
>Just a couple of thoughts:
>
>
>>IIRC, the BIOS in this system is at 1002, and the current is 2003.
>>Looking at the revision history on the ASUS web site (such as it is!),
>>there are a lot of refereces to "Improve system stability". So again,
>>does anyone have experience with the 2003 BIOS? It is very recent, and
>>I am always leary. I have found that there are "good" BIOS updates and
>>"bad" BIOS updates. I actually had an Intel mobo where the BIOS
>>upgrade slowed the system down so much that I had to downgrade the
>>BIOS to its previous revision to restore system performance until a
>>newer BIOS rev came out! And the other question, again, can I jump
>>from 1002 to 2003 BIOS??? Sometimes it is better to upgrade in steps.
>>Some revs can be skipped, some are best not (sometimes).

>
>I've never seen a BIOS upgrade that had to be done in "steps". You can
>always go to the latest version without installing the intervening
>versions. But, I wouldn't upgrade unless a later version indicates a fix
>for a problem that is impacting you. The "improve system stability"
>doesn't generally fit into that category, so I wouldn't bother.
>


The thing for me is that I want a system that is stable, rock solid,
bullet-proof. If ASUS is admitting that a BIOS flash makes a system
"more" stable, then it begs the question as to what, exactly, the
problem and fix was. Unfortunately, they do not provide any technical
details whatsoever that would allow me to evaluate whether a specific
BIOS revision might actually provide a benefit or not in my situation.

If I am going to flash, then my inclination is to do so before the
re-install of the O/S.

So I guess what I'll have to do is just flash & pray.

>>
>>Since elements of Win7 x64 appear to have degraded, what I intend to
>>do is to rebuild the system. I am getting a WD 300GB 10,000 RPM
>>VELOCIRAPTOR and will attach it to the JMicron 363 3 G/s controller
>>for maximum performance. I will do a clean install the O/S onto the WD
>>drive, and then get all the other programs installed and critical data
>>transfered from the RAID.

>
>The JMicron shouldn't be the final resting place for your new drive. It
>will work OK for transferring the data, but it doesn't provide the best
>performance. Once you get your data moved over and break the RAID array,
>you should install the new drive to one of the Intel SATA ports.


What was the intention for the JMicron controller?

The JMicron 363 port spec says 3 G/s which is the SATA II spec on the
WD drive. If it is truly capable of 3 G/s then I dont see how the
Intel port would provide better performance - although I would love to
hear the rationnel.

My big thing at the moment is avoiding the Intel Matrix Storage
Manager and or Intel "Rapid Storage Technology". These both are
WinDoze based, and I just don't need the headaches - unless I am
mistaken and RST 10.1 solves all the previous problems! I am *not* in
the mood to continue being an extention of MicroSoft and Intel's R&D
labs!
>
>I also am not a big believer in desktop RAID. Regular image backups are a
>cleaner (and easier to implement) replacement for RAID 5.


With you 100% on that one.

 
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Rob
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-17-2011, 03:49 PM

"Newman" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 13:23:25 -0500, Foke <(E-Mail Removed)>
> wrote:
>
>>On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 08:32:47 -0800, Newman <(E-Mail Removed)>
>>wrote:
>>
>>Just a couple of thoughts:
>>
>>
>>>IIRC, the BIOS in this system is at 1002, and the current is 2003.
>>>Looking at the revision history on the ASUS web site (such as it
>>>is!),
>>>there are a lot of refereces to "Improve system stability". So
>>>again,
>>>does anyone have experience with the 2003 BIOS? It is very recent,
>>>and
>>>I am always leary. I have found that there are "good" BIOS updates
>>>and
>>>"bad" BIOS updates. I actually had an Intel mobo where the BIOS
>>>upgrade slowed the system down so much that I had to downgrade the
>>>BIOS to its previous revision to restore system performance until a
>>>newer BIOS rev came out! And the other question, again, can I jump
>>>from 1002 to 2003 BIOS??? Sometimes it is better to upgrade in
>>>steps.
>>>Some revs can be skipped, some are best not (sometimes).

>>
>>I've never seen a BIOS upgrade that had to be done in "steps". You
>>can
>>always go to the latest version without installing the intervening
>>versions. But, I wouldn't upgrade unless a later version indicates
>>a fix
>>for a problem that is impacting you. The "improve system stability"
>>doesn't generally fit into that category, so I wouldn't bother.
>>

>
> The thing for me is that I want a system that is stable, rock solid,
> bullet-proof. If ASUS is admitting that a BIOS flash makes a system
> "more" stable, then it begs the question as to what, exactly, the
> problem and fix was. Unfortunately, they do not provide any
> technical
> details whatsoever that would allow me to evaluate whether a
> specific
> BIOS revision might actually provide a benefit or not in my
> situation.
>
> If I am going to flash, then my inclination is to do so before the
> re-install of the O/S.
>
> So I guess what I'll have to do is just flash & pray.
>
>>>
>>>Since elements of Win7 x64 appear to have degraded, what I intend
>>>to
>>>do is to rebuild the system. I am getting a WD 300GB 10,000 RPM
>>>VELOCIRAPTOR and will attach it to the JMicron 363 3 G/s controller
>>>for maximum performance. I will do a clean install the O/S onto the
>>>WD
>>>drive, and then get all the other programs installed and critical
>>>data
>>>transfered from the RAID.

>>
>>The JMicron shouldn't be the final resting place for your new drive.
>>It
>>will work OK for transferring the data, but it doesn't provide the
>>best
>>performance. Once you get your data moved over and break the RAID
>>array,
>>you should install the new drive to one of the Intel SATA ports.

>
> What was the intention for the JMicron controller?
>
> The JMicron 363 port spec says 3 G/s which is the SATA II spec on
> the
> WD drive. If it is truly capable of 3 G/s then I dont see how the
> Intel port would provide better performance - although I would love
> to
> hear the rationnel.
>
> My big thing at the moment is avoiding the Intel Matrix Storage
> Manager and or Intel "Rapid Storage Technology". These both are
> WinDoze based, and I just don't need the headaches - unless I am
> mistaken and RST 10.1 solves all the previous problems! I am *not*
> in
> the mood to continue being an extention of MicroSoft and Intel's R&D
> labs!
>>
>>I also am not a big believer in desktop RAID. Regular image backups
>>are a
>>cleaner (and easier to implement) replacement for RAID 5.

>
> With you 100% on that one.


I look after systems using both IMSM and RST and haven't seen any
issues,
(mainly ICH10 based chipsets) but do use 24/7 rated hard drives (cost
about
twice normal price), so maybe that's a factor? I only use RAID 1
though (see
last para.)
I wholeheartedly agree that a hardware-based RAID controller is a much
better
solution (coming from a server background), but as long as critical
data is backed-up
over the network etc, mobo-based RAID1 is a nice cheap way to give the
client machine a bit of redundancy should a drive fail. At least the
user can
keep working, even if it takes all day to rebuild the array in the
background.
I wouldn't bother with software RAID5 - needs processing power so at
the risk of buggy code and with big hard drives so cheap now, there's
little sense
in using RAID5 in anything but servers or external arrays.
--
Rob


 
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Newman
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-17-2011, 04:22 PM
On Thu, 17 Feb 2011 15:49:18 -0000, "Rob" <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>
>"Newman" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>news:(E-Mail Removed).. .
>> On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 13:23:25 -0500, Foke <(E-Mail Removed)>
>> wrote:
>>
>>>On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 08:32:47 -0800, Newman <(E-Mail Removed)>
>>>wrote:
>>>
>>>Just a couple of thoughts:
>>>
>>>
>>>>IIRC, the BIOS in this system is at 1002, and the current is 2003.
>>>>Looking at the revision history on the ASUS web site (such as it
>>>>is!),
>>>>there are a lot of refereces to "Improve system stability". So
>>>>again,
>>>>does anyone have experience with the 2003 BIOS? It is very recent,
>>>>and
>>>>I am always leary. I have found that there are "good" BIOS updates
>>>>and
>>>>"bad" BIOS updates. I actually had an Intel mobo where the BIOS
>>>>upgrade slowed the system down so much that I had to downgrade the
>>>>BIOS to its previous revision to restore system performance until a
>>>>newer BIOS rev came out! And the other question, again, can I jump
>>>>from 1002 to 2003 BIOS??? Sometimes it is better to upgrade in
>>>>steps.
>>>>Some revs can be skipped, some are best not (sometimes).
>>>
>>>I've never seen a BIOS upgrade that had to be done in "steps". You
>>>can
>>>always go to the latest version without installing the intervening
>>>versions. But, I wouldn't upgrade unless a later version indicates
>>>a fix
>>>for a problem that is impacting you. The "improve system stability"
>>>doesn't generally fit into that category, so I wouldn't bother.
>>>

>>
>> The thing for me is that I want a system that is stable, rock solid,
>> bullet-proof. If ASUS is admitting that a BIOS flash makes a system
>> "more" stable, then it begs the question as to what, exactly, the
>> problem and fix was. Unfortunately, they do not provide any
>> technical
>> details whatsoever that would allow me to evaluate whether a
>> specific
>> BIOS revision might actually provide a benefit or not in my
>> situation.
>>
>> If I am going to flash, then my inclination is to do so before the
>> re-install of the O/S.
>>
>> So I guess what I'll have to do is just flash & pray.
>>
>>>>
>>>>Since elements of Win7 x64 appear to have degraded, what I intend
>>>>to
>>>>do is to rebuild the system. I am getting a WD 300GB 10,000 RPM
>>>>VELOCIRAPTOR and will attach it to the JMicron 363 3 G/s controller
>>>>for maximum performance. I will do a clean install the O/S onto the
>>>>WD
>>>>drive, and then get all the other programs installed and critical
>>>>data
>>>>transfered from the RAID.
>>>
>>>The JMicron shouldn't be the final resting place for your new drive.
>>>It
>>>will work OK for transferring the data, but it doesn't provide the
>>>best
>>>performance. Once you get your data moved over and break the RAID
>>>array,
>>>you should install the new drive to one of the Intel SATA ports.

>>
>> What was the intention for the JMicron controller?
>>
>> The JMicron 363 port spec says 3 G/s which is the SATA II spec on
>> the
>> WD drive. If it is truly capable of 3 G/s then I dont see how the
>> Intel port would provide better performance - although I would love
>> to
>> hear the rationnel.
>>
>> My big thing at the moment is avoiding the Intel Matrix Storage
>> Manager and or Intel "Rapid Storage Technology". These both are
>> WinDoze based, and I just don't need the headaches - unless I am
>> mistaken and RST 10.1 solves all the previous problems! I am *not*
>> in
>> the mood to continue being an extention of MicroSoft and Intel's R&D
>> labs!
>>>
>>>I also am not a big believer in desktop RAID. Regular image backups
>>>are a
>>>cleaner (and easier to implement) replacement for RAID 5.

>>
>> With you 100% on that one.

>
>I look after systems using both IMSM and RST and haven't seen any
>issues,
>(mainly ICH10 based chipsets) but do use 24/7 rated hard drives (cost
>about
>twice normal price), so maybe that's a factor? I only use RAID 1
>though (see
>last para.)
>I wholeheartedly agree that a hardware-based RAID controller is a much
>better
>solution (coming from a server background), but as long as critical
>data is backed-up
>over the network etc, mobo-based RAID1 is a nice cheap way to give the
>client machine a bit of redundancy should a drive fail. At least the
>user can
>keep working, even if it takes all day to rebuild the array in the
>background.
>I wouldn't bother with software RAID5 - needs processing power so at
>the risk of buggy code and with big hard drives so cheap now, there's
>little sense
>in using RAID5 in anything but servers or external arrays.


This desktop is not on 24 x 7 - just regular office hours. But, yeah,
the 10K RPM WD is "Enterprize" level. These drives are just so much
faster that I think I am going to start spec'ing them in for heavy
users whose productivity may be impacted. It's true, you can't afford
a cheap hard drive!

I must confess that I have been very lucky with hard drives. I have
only had one drive in a desktop application tank on me in the last 10
years (touch wood!) and it did not completely crash. Sure the O/S got
hosed, but I used my handy dandy USB adapter and got the data off it
(fast!).

I tell all my users - your local machine is NOT backed up. If you want
it backed up - copy it to your section of the designated network share
which is backed up regularly. We also have a NAS box that runs RAID6,
so if all elese fails, copy it there!

I have had some drives drop out in the NAS and the Server, but the
RAID arrays (RAID6 and RAID10 respectivly) are so bullet-proof there
was never an issue.

After considering things, my experieince is that most of todays hard
drives will last at least 3 to 5 years when used on a daily basis
before starting to have problems. And hard drives are so cheap that I
am going to simply start stocking a few to have on hand and do a
pre-emptive image and swap between 3 and 5 years (if we intend on
keeping the system!).


 
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Foke
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      02-17-2011, 07:40 PM
On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 11:34:19 -0800, Newman <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:


>The thing for me is that I want a system that is stable, rock solid,
>bullet-proof. If ASUS is admitting that a BIOS flash makes a system
>"more" stable, then it begs the question as to what, exactly, the
>problem and fix was. Unfortunately, they do not provide any technical
>details whatsoever that would allow me to evaluate whether a specific
>BIOS revision might actually provide a benefit or not in my situation.
>
>If I am going to flash, then my inclination is to do so before the
>re-install of the O/S.
>
>So I guess what I'll have to do is just flash & pray.


In my experience the "improved stability" generally lowers some internal
timings. When an enthusiast mobo (which is what we're dealing with here)
is first introduced, all the hardware sites run benchmarks. So, the bios
is tuned for maximum performance. Once said mobo is out in the field for
a while, reports will start coming in about problems with certain types of
memory, etc., so they offer a BIOS with reduced/altered specs to
accommodate that particular type of memory. I have a P7P55D non-Deluxe
and haven't bothered to flash to the last bios (also the 2003) because my
system is running great without it. I'm running 1702.

>What was the intention for the JMicron controller?


My understanding is that it was used mainly for hot-swap capabilities. As
for performance, you're almost always better off using the SATA connector
that's part of the native chipset as opposed to an add-on controller like
the JMicron. Just because you had a problem with RAID doesn't mean that
there will be problems running non-RAID drives.

Have you tried the ASUS forums? There's usually some knowledgeable folks
that hang out there and might be able to help you with your RAID problems.
http://vip.asus.com/forum/topic.aspx...Language=en-us
 
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Newman
Guest
Posts: n/a
 
      03-14-2011, 03:31 PM
Update!

The system seems to be on a slow downward spiral.

Problems printing, and then it could not connect to the LAN - even
though the Device Manager says the PCIe NIC is "working properly". I
had the second NIC disabled, so I enabled it and could then see the
LAN again (THANK GOD!) When I tried to diable the primary NIC, the
sytem crashed so hard I had to unplug it from the wall to get it back.

I decided to take a new bare drive and do a cold-turkey install of
Win7 x64 on it. The install crashed! Twice!

That is it! This system is being replaced with a new system, and then
it is being RMA's to our VAR who will get to the bottom of this. My
bet is that the motherboard is at fault (and this one has been a lemon
from day 1 IMHO).

New system should be delivered later this week - hopefully before the
existing system does a melt-down.

<sigh>

On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 13:23:25 -0500, Foke <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>On Wed, 16 Feb 2011 08:32:47 -0800, Newman <(E-Mail Removed)>
>wrote:
>
>Just a couple of thoughts:
>
>
>>IIRC, the BIOS in this system is at 1002, and the current is 2003.
>>Looking at the revision history on the ASUS web site (such as it is!),
>>there are a lot of refereces to "Improve system stability". So again,
>>does anyone have experience with the 2003 BIOS? It is very recent, and
>>I am always leary. I have found that there are "good" BIOS updates and
>>"bad" BIOS updates. I actually had an Intel mobo where the BIOS
>>upgrade slowed the system down so much that I had to downgrade the
>>BIOS to its previous revision to restore system performance until a
>>newer BIOS rev came out! And the other question, again, can I jump
>>from 1002 to 2003 BIOS??? Sometimes it is better to upgrade in steps.
>>Some revs can be skipped, some are best not (sometimes).

>
>I've never seen a BIOS upgrade that had to be done in "steps". You can
>always go to the latest version without installing the intervening
>versions. But, I wouldn't upgrade unless a later version indicates a fix
>for a problem that is impacting you. The "improve system stability"
>doesn't generally fit into that category, so I wouldn't bother.
>
>>
>>Since elements of Win7 x64 appear to have degraded, what I intend to
>>do is to rebuild the system. I am getting a WD 300GB 10,000 RPM
>>VELOCIRAPTOR and will attach it to the JMicron 363 3 G/s controller
>>for maximum performance. I will do a clean install the O/S onto the WD
>>drive, and then get all the other programs installed and critical data
>>transfered from the RAID.

>
>The JMicron shouldn't be the final resting place for your new drive. It
>will work OK for transferring the data, but it doesn't provide the best
>performance. Once you get your data moved over and break the RAID array,
>you should install the new drive to one of the Intel SATA ports.
>
>I also am not a big believer in desktop RAID. Regular image backups are a
>cleaner (and easier to implement) replacement for RAID 5.


 
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