#1 NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Dae 16.05.2018 22:09

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Hi everyone,

this is a fantastic forum, lots of useful information, thanks to all participants!

I'm sorry if this has been asked before. Has anyone tried building a RAID out of NVMe SSDs (such as Samsung 960 Pro, Toshiba XG5 etc) on servers running Windows Server? Is it even possible? (Our server hardware suppliers start ignoring us when we mention NVMe...)

We've been running NVMe SSDs in software RAID (mdadm) on our Linux servers with great success, but there's very little information in the Internet about doing the same under Windows Server.

Thanks!

#2 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Fernando 16.05.2018 22:45

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@Dae:
Welcome to the Win-RAID Forum!

I cannot answer your question, because I have neither a server mainboard nor am I running any Windows Server OS.
Questions:
1. Why do you want to create a RAID array consisting of NVMe SSDs and which sort of RAID array do you want to create?
2. Which server mainboard are you using and which chipset does it have?
3. Which Windows Server OS do you want to install?
4. Do you want to boot off the RAID array?

Regards
Dieter (alias Fernando)

#3 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Dae 17.05.2018 01:11

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Hi Dieter, thanks for your response!

1. I'd like to create RAID 1 out of two NVMe SSDs to protect against single-drive failure and if possible, enjoy increased read speeds. The server will have many uses, among which are virtualisation and RDS. Quite possible I don't really need NVMe speeds in my use case, but if it is possible to try next gen technology, why not do it sooner than later? :)
2. To be decided. I'm considering ASUS servers, such as RS300-E9-PS4 (Intel C232 chipset) and RS700-E9-RS4 (chipset Intel Lewisburg PCH C621). Both models have two M.2 slots and NVMe support is advertised. BTW I already own an ASUS server, model ASUS RS300-E9-PS4, with 2 x Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SATA SSDs (MZ-N5E250BW). I used Intel RSTe to create RAID 1 out of them. It worked well, but AFAIK Intel RSTe doesn't support NVMe drives, only SATA.
3. Windows Server 2016 Standard.
4. Definitely yes.

Thanks!

#4 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Fernando 17.05.2018 10:16

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@Dae:
AFAIK it is not possible to create a bootable RAID1 array consisting of NVMe SSDs.

Zitat von Dae im Beitrag #3
AFAIK Intel RSTe doesn't support NVMe drives, only SATA.
This is not true. All Intel RST(e) drivers from v14.8 series do support NVMe as well.
I have created and successfully used such NVMe RAID0 array myself.

#5 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Dae 17.05.2018 12:54

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Ah, I think I understand. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If I remember correctly, there are two ways to use RST(e): at boot time and from Windows via RSTe Management Utility. I suppose RST(e) would only recognize NVMe drives if used from Windows, but not at boot time. Therefore it is possible to create a RAID0/1/... consisting of NVMe SSDs using RST(e), but it won't be bootable. Is this correct?

#6 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Fernando 17.05.2018 13:51

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@Dae:
You cannot create an Intel RSTe NVMe RAID array by using the Intel RSTe Console Software. The only possibility is to create the RAID array from within the Intel RAID Utility, which is part of the BIOS. So you can create the NVMe RAID array before having installed any Windows OS.
The created Intel RSTe NVMe RAID array is bootable (makes only sense with a RAID0 array). I have already done it successfully with my Z170 Chipset system and 2x250GB Samsung 960 EVO SSDs running Win10 on the RAID0 array as bootable system drive.
Preconditions:
1. A mainboard with a modern Intel Chipset from 100-Series up with native NVMe support.
2. The Intel RAID Controller has to be enabled within the BIOS.
>Here< is a YouTube video about how to create a bootable Intel RSTe NVMe RAID0 array.

#7 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Dae 17.05.2018 17:19

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I don't understand this part:

Zitat von Fernando
The created Intel RSTe NVMe RAID array is bootable (makes only sense with a RAID0 array).

Why it doesn't make sense with a RAID1? In the video, at 4:19, I can see that the mirroring is among available RAID levels.

Thanks!

#8 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Fernando 17.05.2018 18:33

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Zitat von Dae im Beitrag #7
Why it doesn't make sense with a RAID1?
1. The stored data should be mirrored (to be able to recover them at any time), not the Operating System.
2. A RAID0 array is much better performant and gives you much more space.

#9 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Dae 17.05.2018 19:15

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I see your point. But can you please explain why a RAID1 volume, created in a similar way as in the above-mentioned video, would not be bootable?

#10 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Fernando 17.05.2018 19:19

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@Dae:
It may be bootable (I haven't tried it), but in my eyes it wouldn't make much sense. Furthermore you may not get TRIM support within a RAID1 array.

#11 RE: NVMe SSD RAID on a server, is it even possible? by Dae 17.05.2018 19:40

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Thank you! There is a point in using RAID 1 for the OS if you can't afford lengthy downtime. Recovering the OS from a backup may take valuable hours. Replacing a failed disk takes minutes.

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