P7P55D Deluxe BIOS & RAID questions...

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Newman, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. Newman

    Newman Guest

    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

    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    Manager has been replaced by "RST - Rapid Storage Technology" and is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.

    Newman, Feb 16, 2011
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  2. Newman

    Foke Guest

    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 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.
    Foke, Feb 16, 2011
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  3. Newman

    Newman Guest

    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.
    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! :(
    With you 100% on that one.
    Newman, Feb 16, 2011
  4. Newman

    Rob Guest

    I look after systems using both IMSM and RST and haven't seen any
    (mainly ICH10 based chipsets) but do use 24/7 rated hard drives (cost
    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
    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
    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, Feb 17, 2011
  5. Newman

    Newman Guest

    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

    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!).
    Newman, Feb 17, 2011
  6. Newman

    Foke Guest

    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.
    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.
    Foke, Feb 17, 2011
  7. Newman

    Newman Guest


    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.

    Newman, Mar 14, 2011
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