RAID setup within Windows!
As Serial ATA in combination with RAID becomes more popular, it is important for IT companies, such as VIA Technology, to make it accessible to all users but more importantly to make it easy enough for people who are new to computers to understand and make full use of the many benefits it has to offer.
While testing the PT800 reference motherboard, we were particularly impressed with VIA's upcoming RAID Tool software which enables users to create RAID arrays (in RAID 0 and RAID 1 configurations) within Windows through a simple and effective, easy-to-use program, just like Intel's equivalent - Application Accelerator RAID edition (version 3.0 and above). It is just a case of booting into Windows, plugging in your matching Serial ATA drives into your motherboard (Yes, SATA is hot bootable, and swappable - meaning you don't need to waste precise time shutting down and booting to get your SATA drives up and running - it acts just like USB) and starting up the V RAID Tool which we were told will soon be available for download from the VIA Arena website.
Of course, however remembering, if you are setting up your drives in RAID for your main OS install, you will need to create the RAID array in the BIOS first - but this should not be cause for concern for anyone since this is how RAID has always worked since its inception nearly 15 years ago.
- V RAID Tool Software
When you first start the program you are taken to the main screen which shows the two (or more) drives which are about to be made into a RAID array.
From here you than click the Operation menu which gives you the option to create the RAID array. You're than taken to the screen (pictured above) which asks if you want the program to automatically create the RAID, which automatically selects which disks are put in the RAID, or custom which lets you choose which disks are put into the RAID and stripe size. If you choose custom, you will be taken to the following screen.
The screen pictured above lets you choose from available disks that you want to be part of the array you are creating - in our case, RAID 0, which is designed for performance, this basically binds two drives together to be used as a single drive. Once you have chosen the drives you want to be part of the array, you click create and the array is created in about one second flat. You are than asked to reboot, after which we bring up the V RAID Tool again and see that the array has been created painlessly and very quickly with little effort.
Now we've seen how easy it is setup the array within Windows, let's see what performance we get from VIA's VT8237 Southbridge when pitted directly against Intel's ICH5R Southbridge inbuilt RAID controller with HD Tach to see which company offers the fastest SATA RAID performance with their respective new chipsets - PT800 and 875P Canterwood.
(This section by Cameron Wilmot)