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Intel Optane in RAID 0 - World's Fastest System Disk

By: Jon Coulter | m.2 SSDs in Storage | Posted: Jun 28, 2017 12:50 am
TweakTown Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Intel

Jon's Consumer PCIe SSD Intel Z270 Review Test System - Specifications



We would like to thank ASRock, Crucial, Intel, Corsair, RamCity, IN WIN, and Seasonic for making our test system possible.




Creating RAID Array




Step one in creating a bootable PCIe storage array is to set storage configuration in BIOS to RAID mode and Storage OpROM Policy to UEFI only. Then reboot. Next, enable RST PCIe Storage Remapping. Then reboot again.




Next, create your RAID volume by entering into the Intel Rapid Storage Technology page (located in advanced options). This option will show up in BIOS after completing the first two steps.




Click on Create RAID Volume.




Select RAID 0 and select the drives you wish to RAID. Intel defaults to 16K stripes, but we prefer 64K stripes. Select stripe size and click on Create Volume.




Now you have created your RAID volume. Insert your Windows Installer and reboot.




Be sure you are booting your Windows Installer as UEFI when installing Windows. Before installing Windows, you need to grab the latest driver, extract it and place it on another USB drive. You can grab it HERE We will be injecting this driver into our Windows install so the array can be seen by the Windows Installer.




Once you have the installer to where you select where to install Windows, you will be greeted with no drives in the list. Insert the USB drive with the driver you downloaded. Click on Load Driver. (This is where we inject the driver you downloaded so the array can be seen.)




Now click on Browse.




Now browse to the f6flpy-x64 you placed on the separate USB drive, and click OK.




Hit "Next" to inject the driver. It will take approximately 2 minutes to install the driver.




After the driver is installed, Windows Installer can see the array, and away you go. After Windows is installed, install your chipset drivers, and then you need to install the RST control panel/driver to be able to manage the array. You can grab it here. Download the SetupRST.exe file, install it and restart. Now look in your app list under "Intel" and open "Intel Rapid Storage Technology."




Click on the "Manage" tab. Expand "Advanced." Disable write-cache buffer flushing, Modify Cache mode to Write back (very important for best performance). Then click on the "Performance" tab and disable Link Power Management (not shown), and restart your PC. Now you are good to go. Don't forget to get rid of the hibernation file as previously mentioned because you will get back a lot of GB's.




This is a quick shot of our array as we configured it.


Drive Properties


While we did follow our usual 75% full testing, Optane is different than flash in that performance is not affected by the amount of data on the drive or whether or not the drive is in a "steady-state." TRIM also has no effect on Optane.


2-Drive Optane Array - OS Disk 75% Full




3-Drive Optane Array - OS Disk 75% Full




All of our testing is performed with our test drive as our boot volume. Our boot volume is 75% full for all OS Disk "C" drive testing to replicate a typical consumer OS volume implementation. We feel that most of you will be utilizing your SSDs for your boot volume and that presenting you with results from an OS volume is more relevant than presenting you with empty secondary volume results.


System settings: Cstates and Speed stepping are both disabled in our systems BIOS. Windows High-Performance power plan is enabled. Windows write caching is enabled, and Windows buffer flushing is disabled. We are utilizing Windows 10 Pro 64-bit OS (Build 15063) for all of our testing except for our MOP (Maxed-Out Performance) benchmarks where we switch to Windows Server 2012 R2 64-bit.



Boot Speed (Restart to Desktop) - Video



This is our 2-drive array. Restart time and back to desktop = 10 seconds. The 3-drive array is even faster.


We will be testing two and three drive Optane Memory arrays. We will only be doing testing with the arrays running as our system (OS) disk. We believe that while our arrays give us plenty of capacity for a system disk, we don't get enough for a secondary storage device. With this in mind, we don't see the need for any of our usual secondary device testing.

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