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SSD Toolbox can't communicate with Intel SSD nor HDD in SATA RAID

idata
Community Manager
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I've discovered that having a direct SATA connection to Intel SSD is not enough for the Toolbox to communicate despite what the SSD product FAQ's and other instructions say. It appears that configuring mobo BIOS for RAID is yet another hurdle the application can't get over. I didn't test this w/o BIOS RAID configuration so I don't know if that works or not.

The relevant system components are entirely Intel. My Intel DX79SI mobo with i7-3930 processor is configured with one 300GB Intel 320SSD as system disk and a set of 3 mechanical drives in a RAID5 data set controlled with an Intel C600 SATA controller. It boots and runs fine. However the SSD Toolbox reports that SMART is disabled so it can't display SMART wearout and drive health data. Neither can the Toolbox view SMART data for any of the other SATA HDD in the RAID set. Given this issue I don't trust that it is properly reporting the firmware level, or that it can safely update SSD firmware if it thinks it's warranted.

It doesn't appear that Intel has posted this as a known issue in any literature, but I'm assuming this problem isn't strictly limited to my system. I'd like a response saying this is either a known issue else is known to work. We can proceed from there.

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36 Replies
idata
Community Manager
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SSD's do not work in raid. Your ssd needs to be plugged into the right port. Then your toolbox and trim will work properly.

If you don't trim it regularly, you will start getting blue screens. I can post my chat w/intel about this if anyone wants it.

FINALLY my computer works the way I had hoped. Cleared up a SH**load of problems now that trim works

DShar11
Novice
95 Views

SSD's work just fine in raid. I have no idea what you are on about.

 

You can plug the drives into whatever port you want but if you are in raid there will be no trim, toolbox or not.
idata
Community Manager
95 Views

I will second that motion, indeed SSDs work fine with Intel chipsets and their IRST software. You don't need to use Intel SSDs for RAID to work either, I'm currently running RAID 0 volumes with three different manufactures SSDs, one of which are Intel SSDs. But you need to do a little homework to learn how it is done, but it's not difficult.

I've seen claims that some SSDs won't work in RAID, but I've never had any problems.

Sure, I'd like to see your chat with Intel support.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

I'm not havng a problem using the 520SSD with BIOS Chipset SATA mode configured as RAID.

BIOS detects the drive as a SATA INTEL SSDSC2cw240A3. drive on port 0 with a link rate of 6Gb/s and at least in my version of BIOS 0430 on an intel DX79SI the three modes for the chipset are IDE (don't want) AHCI and RAID which according to the explanation on the BIOS page " RAID always enables AHCI".

I still can't get the SSD toolbox to recognize the drive as a Intel and enable the SSD optimizer. The toolbox reports the correct size and firmware version, but does not report SMART attributes.

It apeears to me the combination of a c600 chipset with the most current drivers for the chipset and Intel RST enterprise with most current version is the root cause of the symptom I observe.

If anyone can point me in different direction that makes sense, please do so.

Thank you all for continuing to add to this topic.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

Hey gang,

I'm under the impression that if you have an SSD, TRIM is a must to keep it functioning. See Wikipedia for TRIM discussion.

According to Intel, raid is not an option for using TRIM and the toolbox. You must be in IDE.

What am I missing? How can you work around?

Thx,

raz

DShar11
Novice
95 Views

Your first assumption is not correct. I have had my two 520's in R0 since the day I bought them, quita a few weeks ago now. They have never seen a trim command from the os.

 

They have not slowed down one bit that I am able to notice. Trim is vastly overrated imho, would much rather have aggressive GC than trim any day of the week.

Sorry, but I never go to wiki for information on anything. Just as well ask some random person on the street.

If you have only a single drive you already have trim, activated automatically, and the toolbox should work also. You do not have to be in IDE for trim to work. Actually you are much better off in achi mode.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

Well, Intel tech support responded

Hello Tom,

Thank you for contacting Intel(R) Technical Support.

We understand you have questions on the Intel(R) 520 Series SSD's.

In regards to your question, the Intel(R) SSD Toolbox does not recognize any SSD if it's configured as RAID on BIOS, either if the SSD belogs or not on a RAID array.

Note that AHCI mode or IDE mode is recommended, as the TRIM command and the SMART features works on those modes. Due to limitations on the SSD Toolbox, the error you are seen is to be expected.

We would suggest checking on the motherboard BIOS to see if there's an option to just RAID certain ports and not all of them, and leave the SSD as a stand-alone AHCI mode drive.

If by design you cannot setup AHCI on just one port, the Intel(R) SSD Toolbox cannot be used on this type of configuration.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again if you need further assistance.

Sincerely,

Javier.

Thank you all again for sharing your thoughts. It is a shame though, I have two x58 chipset boxes wit the same drive configuration as my new x79 and I hoped the new one would mimic the old when it came to the tool box.

I guess I should be thankful since I have yet to experience any other problems.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

To all on this thread,

I'm not a computer tech guy at all. What I've learned is just from trying to get my computers working properly and Intel chat. I buy custom made because I require multiple screens and a fast unit. The SSD seemed the way to go. New stuff always seems to cause me headaches.

I hope I haven't caused anyone bigger problems but I was so happy to have my computer working properly again. That's why I passed along what I've learned.

IF IT"S NOT GETTING TRIM, YOU WILL HAVE PROBLEMS.

I use my computers 5 days a week 9-10 hrs./day. It took 6-9 months b/4 I noticed any problems. Then it continued to get progressively worse until I had a blue screen every time I tried to turn them off. When I finally got the TRIM to work...BINGO! new computer.

I wish you all the best. Nothing in life is more frustrating than a messed up computer

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

t53186, Thanks for posting that, interesting... I wonder if that reply was meant to apply ONLY to X79 mother boards using the RSTe RAID software. I don't have experience with that platform, but I don't think everything stated there is correct. I've used the SSD Toolbox for a long time, but I can't remember if the old Toolbox behaved as described in that reply to your questions.

Regardless, the following is what the Intel SSD Toolbox 3.0.2 displays with my SATA mode set to RAID on an Intel P67 chipset mother board (not made by Intel), IRST driver, and two 120GB 520 SSDs in RAID 0. The tech that wrote that statement may have been referring only to using the SSD Toolbox on a X79 system with the RSTe driver with SSDs in RAID volumes.

First is the RAID 0 volume itself. Most Toolbox functions are not available with a RAID volume, but it certainly is recognized IMO. The limitations with RAID volumes are clearly stated in the SSD Toolbox Installation Guide. I named the volume "520 RAID0" (seen in the Serial Number field), but the other information was found by the Toolbox software. The size of this volume is less than the sum of the two 120GB SSDs, due to my manual over-provisioning of the volume. SMART data for an array of drives combined into one volume is not standardized and really does not make sense.

Next is one of the 520 SSDs in the RAID 0 volume. Again some of the Toolbox functions are not available because the SSD is part of a RAID volume, but the Drive and SMART information, etc, can be displayed. You can see the second 520 of the pair in the unhighlighted tab to the right of the first one.

SMART data is available for the members of the RAID volume.

This is my Intel 510 SSD, not in a RAID array, but in the same PC and connected to the same Intel PCH/SATA controller in RAID mode, that my 520's are. All Toolbox functions are available for this SSD. A single SSD used in RAID mode is really operating as if the SATA mode was set to AHCI. An important detail in this configuration is, a single SSD that is not a member of a RAID array/volume will receive TRIM commands from the OS with the SATA mode set to RAID.

As mentioned in the reply, enabling differing SATA operating modes for each SATA port on a single PC SATA chipset would be an unusual feature that does not exist in modern chipsets. The suggestion about trying that in the reply is just wrong. I won't mention anything else in that statement that is not correct, you can see that for yourself in the pictures. If the tech was referring only to X79/RSTe systems, that was never mentioned in his reply. Given the size of Intel, and all that is going on simultaneously, I can see how misinformation or miscommunication happens, but it's still not good, to put it mildly. The 3.0.0 version of the SSD Toolbox was released in October, 2011, with two very minor updates since then. It's been like this for six months. RAID has existed for years, and SSDs are not new any more.

I can't believe that Intel will forsake the X79 platform for use with the SSD Toolbox, IMO, something will be updated to fix the current issues it has with the X79 platform, and/or RSTe driver.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

Parsec and Dave-Thank you, all the information you provided and time spent is truly appreciated.

I too have experience with older version of the SSD toolbox along with other chipsets and am discouraged the X79/c600 chipset does not support the intended features of the SSD toolbox. I have two x58 boxes with identical storage as the X79. One Intel SSD for OS and some programs, One CD/DVD, and four 500GB drives in raid 10 partitioned as E and F. All plug into to the same sata ports 0=SSD 1=CD/DVD 2,3,4,5= Hard drives. All boards have most current chipset drivers for the option rom (CTRL + I), and the rapid storage manager application.

X58 chipsets work as expected, no problems, all toolbox functions available and operational.

X79 chipset exhibits problems as reported.

One other peculiar bit of info. When installing Windows 7 professional with the sata ports configured as raid in BIOS, the install requests a driver for the storage device as no storage devices can be found. The driver needed is the "F6" driver associated with the Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise application. Found that out the hard way-trial and error as the available documentation does not state specifically that the "F6" driver is needed for a X79 chipset with sata configured as raid, even though the SSD is not in a raid array.

The response from tech support was a bit vague as it appears the rep is not familiar with the X79 chipset. I cannot independently change the sata mode for each or any of the 6 ports.

Hopefully Intel will identify this inconsistency and come up with a proper fix. As I mentioned to support, much time was spent researching the available products and I chose a Intel solution based on the available documentation, my interpretation of that, my experience with Intel and their reputation for rock solid products,

Once again, Thank you for all the constructive advice and your shared experiences.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

You're welcome t53, your posts have added to our information about the X79 platform, and the RSTe driver. I don't have a X79 board, but Dave does (two!), and I'm surprised I haven't seen more about the X79/RSTe issues and the Toolbox, but I must not be looking in the right places.

Very interesting about the need for a driver during OS installation on the X79 platform in RAID mode. Actually, that is the way it has always been in the past, you had to load the basic iaStor driver when in RAID mode, which is what people still do with Win 7 on Intel 6-series chipsets (P67, Z68, etc, not the C600/X79 chip.) In your case, as long as the SATA mode is set to RAID, Windows will ask for the driver, since it really does not know if a drive attached to it is a single drive or a RAID volume, among other reasons. That was a decision that was made in the Windows installation software's design, and frankly is the correct one.

I said it's interesting, because I read recently in the Intel RAID/IRST FAQ, that with Win 7 you do not need to load a driver during the OS installation when in RAID mode. That is a nice enhancement. I've never tried that so I don't know if it works, I always load the "F6" Intel IRST driver when that option is presented during the OS install, I didn't know better. Assuming that is correct, that enhancement of Windows didn't last long, at least for X79 boards. I wonder what Windows 8 will do with this?

The need to load the driver for a X79 board does make sense really, the X79 RSTe driver is a major turn off the smooth path that the IRST driver has been. I use the same IRST driver download file on Intel G45, X58, and P67 chipset mother boards, for both AHCI and RAID modes. IRST/RAID and the SSD Toolbox all work fine on those platforms, with the known limitations of the Toolbox with RAID volumes. The issue with the SSD Toolbox and X79/RSTe must be due to the RSTe driver.

I have many questions about this in my head, including what will the other 7-series chipsets (that can be used with the first Sandy Bridge CPUs, and others on socket 1155), be using for their RAID driver, RSTe?

DShar11
Novice
95 Views

I would just add that after reading the response from the Intel tech I am shocked at his lack of knowledge on this subject. He has no right answering the phone if that is his level of expertise.

 

I can get my 520's to show in the toolbox just fine, in ide, achi, or even raid mode. Just have to use any driver other that the irste series that's all. Sad that he would provide answers that have no basis in fact, wow.

 

Yes sir parsec, you have to load F6 drivers for an install even on W7 or W8 now on the x79. No signed drivers present from MS for raid, how weird is that. Gives us some insight into just how much trouble Intel has had with the x79 don't ya think.

Message was edited by: Dave

idata
Community Manager
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Frankly Dave, that is exactly what I thought about that reply, but since I do not know what the entire conversation was, or the exact question(s) asked of that tech, I kept my opinion and comments to a minimum.

I'm not surprised about the need to load drivers with X79. Does that mean that msahci does not work with the X79 PCH? Perhaps it's more accurate to say that Intel is having some issues using the X79/C600 chipset and RSTe in the consumer PC environment. It seems the other new 7-series chipsets are very different than X79, but then they are each used with a different CPU/socket architectures, 1155 and 2001.

Interesting that the 11 series IRST driver (for the other 7-series chipsets) can work with the X79, as you have discovered, although I imagine Intel does not recommend or support that combination. (Readers should note that this combination requires a more advanced, manual driver installation technique, done at your own risk. Or what is your opinion on that, Dave?)

In a vague way the X79/socket 2001 CPU platform reminds me of AMD's Bulldozer CPU situation, where a CPU that was really designed for the enterprise and server environment was also put into the consumer PC environment, kind of the square peg in a round hole analogy.

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

I registered because I'm also having problems with RSTe, and no, I'm not using RAID. I have an Intel 320 Series 120 GB SSD and two WD Caviar Black HDDs, one 1TB Sata 3, and one 500 GB Sata 2 for over a year, and recently upgraded to the X79 platform. I'm using an Asus Sabertooth X79 and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit edition.

I have S.M.A.R.T. enabled in the BIOS and SATA is set to AHCI mode.

I'm using only the SATA ports the X79 chipset provides. The 320 Series SSD is connected to SATA 3 port 1 and the WD Caviar Black 1 TB SATA 3 is connected to SATA 3 port 2, while the WD Caviar Black 500 GB is connected to SATA 2 port 1. I also have the additional SATA controller provided by the motherboard disabled in the Bios given that I don't need more SATA ports.

I did a fresh install of Windows and initially didn't install Intel's RSTe drivers and all seemed to work well. I installed the latest version of Intel's SSD Toolbox and was pleasantly surprised that it now presents two nice graphs à la SSD Life to show you how healthy the SSD is.

After installing Intel's RSTe 3.0.03011 that stopped working, and I also couldn't run the Optimizer. HD Tune also couldn't access any S.M.A.R.T. data for either the SSD or the HDDs.

All of this would have probably been ok for now if, for the first time in years, one of my computers didn't have a BSOD, the last time I had a BSOD was with Windows XP if I'm not mistaken, I couldn't take a photograph of it, but I still managed to read "iastor.sys", which is from Intel's drivers.

I should note that I ran the computer for a few days (can't remember how many) with these drivers, so it didn't BSOD right away. Could it be that RSTe is preventing TRIM from working and therefore leading to these problems ?

I wasn't doing anything special at all, I was actually watching a youtube video.

I was using driver version 3.0.0.3011, which I believed were the most recent ones, except they aren't. Intel has a newer version, which is 3.1.0.1068, that doesn't come in .exe format, instead it comes in a .zip file, and it looks more like something a developer would get instead of an end user. There isn't even a setup file in the main folder, you have to go to the GUI folder to launch the setup.

Updating to these latest RSTe drivers didn't allow for the SSD Toolbox to report S.M.A.R.T. values, neither HD Tune either. I didn't experience a BSOD, but then again I didn't stay with these drivers for long, I opted to uninstall them and run the system with Microsoft's generic AHCI drivers.

Now both Intel's SSD Toolbox and HD Tune work properly, reporting S.M.A.R.T. values for both SSD and HDDs.

I am disappointed to see that Intel doesn't even say that the RSTe drivers are compatible with the X79 chipset, you have to know that the C600 chipset drivers work. Well, actually, from what I've seen, they really don't, so perhaps Intel should commit more resources to it and release proper drivers for what is the enthusiast platform. In the meantime they should put a note equal to the one you get when you try to install RST on the X79 platform. Funny enough, some people manually install this version and it works better than the RSTe.

Even in the device manager it doesn't say X79 but C600.

It may technically be C600, but then again a Core i5 3570K may technically be a Core i7 3770K with 2 MB of L3 cache fused off and HT disabled, and I don't see Intel calling their CPUs the same. I don't have SAS ports on my motherboard, so this is not the same as C600. Could this also have something to do with these driver problems ? Maybe the drivers are buggy because the X79 chipset has some features disabled compared to C600. These motherboards are not cheap and the platform has been released almost six months ago; I hope Intel releases proper storage drivers for the X79 chipset soon.

Best regards,

tpi2007

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

I feel your pain. Alot of discussion about the X79 chipset/C600 in this any other sections of the support community. (SSD, Chipset, Motherboard) sections all have discussion regarding the features or lackof.

Here is one that explains some of the mystery /message/155972# 155972 http://communities.intel.com/message/155972# 155972

I use an Intel DX79SI MB/I7 3930k with bios configured as raid even though it also enables AHCI for drives not in a raid set. Intel 520 240GB SSD in port 0, CD/DVD in port 1, 4 WD Caviar black 500GB drives in ports 2,3,4,5 configured for raid10. In order to use the SSD toolbox with all features available (smart attributes, drive health and SSD optimizer) I must use Intel driver version 11.0.0.1032 for the storage controller (C600 chipset). When manually installing this driver in device manager, a windows exception pops up informing me the drive is not valid for the chipset. However it does work. This also prevents the Intel Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise IAStorUI.exe from running-will not start the GUI.

If I use the "recommended C600 driver v 3.0.0.3020 I can use the RSTe gui, but the SSD toolbox does not display smart data, health of the SSD, an cannot use the SSD optimizer. I do switch back and forth ocasionally, but the RSTe GUI has very little value other than some icons of my drive. It can check the health of my raid10 array and do some detection and repair of physical sectors-maybe, not repair just flagged as bad.

The C600 comes in a variety of hardware releases. some are sata, some are sas, some have both. No conselation though.

It is also my conclusion this platform was not quite what I expected. But only the storage controller, which is vital. I went with the Intel board based on my experience as a rock solid platform without some of the added features (bells and whistles) that I don't need.

It is curious to note not too much feedback from Intel reps in the forums regarding this problem despite being mentioned in other sections. Also my discussion with support was fruitless, Seems the support person I opened up the ticket with did not have any valuable or correct information to provide.

It really is a shame the limitations of the storage controller. I've been in the hardware engineering field of IT for over 25 years and have experienced some of the worst nightmares known to the industry and can only say I am quite disappointed. If I could trade in my $1,200 CPU, motherboard, and SSD, I would.

It's hard to say for sure what caused your bsod, but I suspect it was the driver. Usually is, when the code/driver violates the hadware abstration layer.

Good Luck,

Tom

idata
Community Manager
95 Views

Thanks!

I think I will install Intel's latest 11 series RST drivers like you described. Microsoft's AHCI drivers work, but I just tried a game that has to fetch a lot of data from the HDD and it stutters every thirty seconds or so. I remembered this behaviour from when I put together a legacy Pentium 3 system a few years ago and I observed the same behaviour until I installed Intel's drivers, which solved the problem.

Cheers!

tpi2007

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