Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win8?

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Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win8?

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:36 am

ok so based on some front-page comments, I decided to pick up a small, cheap SSD to do some Smart Response with my 1TB games drive. The people doing it seemed to be really into the idea and I thought sure, it's a cheap way to speed up game loading.

So I got the drive and figured it was as easy as plugging it in and installing the RST app and set up a cache in the software. I was wrong. After reading it seems I have to put the SATA controller into RAID mode, and THEN it's as easy as setting up a cache in software. No big deal, right? I pop into the UEFI and switch the controller and reboot and after Windows 8 futzed around for a little bit, it crashed. No boot. Switched back to AHCI and I can at least use my system again.

Reinstalling Windows is a huge PITA because of the other software I have to set up along with it. My Steam library is safe because it's on another drive, but I've got lots of other stuff on my main SSD. Is there a way around it? I've got an ASUS P8Z77-V LK motherboard with the latest BIOS and other useful, compatible hardware running Windows 8 Pro.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:02 am

You need to pick up a SATA Controller card such as: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816132030
Install the card, boot normally, install the card drivers, shut down the PC and switch to RAID in the BIOS and attach the boot hard drive to the new SATA controller card.
The system will boot up off the card, once in windows install the RAID drivers then you can remove the card and boot off the RAID controller.

Good Luck!
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:13 am

You may be able to do it by changing a couple of registry keys. See first post of this forum thread for step by step instructions on how to do this in Windows 7. For Windows 8, I think the AHCI driver that MS installs is called "storahci" instead of "msahci". Apparently, in Windows 7, manually changing registry entries for the keys:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\msahci (replace with storahci for Win8)
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStorV
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor

to 0 will prompt Windows to install the correct drivers at startup after switching SATA mode to RAID in the BIOS.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:41 am

I did something similar for Windows 7, so I am completely convinced it would be possible on Windows 8.

In case you didn't find this yet:
http://www.eightforums.com/installation ... lling.html

Also, I recommend not downloading the RST drivers from Intel, but from www.station-drivers.com. I think they're snagging newer drivers through OEM channels or something.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:34 pm

I think you and I were talking about the same thing derFunk in that front-page thread and as soon as I remembered you need to use RAID I kinda lost interest.

Since you took the plunge first lemme know how it goes! :D
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:42 pm

Safeboot thing in the link from TwistedKernel did it for me. Set it to safe boot, jumped into the UEFI, switched to RAID, rebooted, it switched drivers, and I rebooted again. Now the RST software shows Smart Response and I have it enabled.

Rhyadar, it works at least. I haven't had time to play much so no idea if it's helpful, but it cost me about $45 on eBay for a NIB Corsair Force Series 3 60GB drive. For that price it can't hurt, I figured.
Last edited by derFunkenstein on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:42 pm

Cynan is on the mark.

Most recently, I did this myself on Win8, but I had Marvell SATA controllers to work with, made it much simpler. I have a 32GB SLC msata co-caching my Raptor 300GB where my Steam library primarily lies.

Change the registry, shut down, boot into bios setup, switch ahci to raid, let it reboot and boot into Windows. Detection, reboot, done. Use RST to setup caching.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:46 pm

Forgot to mention I copied my VMs to that drive and it really does seem to work. Fired up Win 7 x64 in VMware 10 in about 9 seconds. O_o
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:43 am

Just to follow up a week later, I really dig the difference it's made. First of all, the VMs that are on that drive boot up as if they were on an SSD. The portions of the disk images that boot up Windows must be on the cache and that makes everything more pleasant.

Additionally the couple Steam games I'm playing right now seem to load faster. I'd been using Steam Mover to put Max Payne 3 and Tomb Raider on my main SSD, but I moved them back prior to installing the SSD cache drive and enabling acceleration, and they seem to load every bit as fast. Not sure how SRT works but it seems to really be doing its job.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:15 am

Are there any things you lose by switching the controller from AHCI to RAID? TRIM was one of those things if you had an array but functionally does RAID = AHCI just with the ability to create RAID arrays?
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:05 am

TRIM was only lost for SSDs in an array - lone SSDs still have TRIM support. And nowadays SSDs in RAID arrays also have TRIM support so I don't think anything at all is lost other than a couple seconds of your time - my board still has to show the RAID BIOS before booting so now it takes a couple seconds longer.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:28 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:my board still has to show the RAID BIOS before booting so now it takes a couple seconds longer.


And next time someone says "Why UEFI, seems like headache with no payout", I will point them to this note, where I point out that RAID startup is fully integrated into my normal POST, and I can manage/create/delete arrays directly from the main firmware setup.

It's a small victory, but I'm keeping count. ;)
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Fri Oct 25, 2013 10:43 pm

It's an ASUS Z77 board. It's got UEFI. I've even got UEFI-only set in the settings. But I still get this nonsense. :(
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Sat Oct 26, 2013 12:09 am

The easiest way is to switch to RAID, boot into safe mode, let Windows install the drivers and then reboot.

I just did that last week in Windows 8.1 to switch to RAID mode (because it turns out Storage Spaces is rather slow).


derFunkenstein wrote:It's an ASUS Z77 board. It's got UEFI. I've even got UEFI-only set in the settings. But I still get this nonsense. :(

Yeah, UEFI isn't necessary the panacea even though it could be a solution. Not that I reboot often and it only adds like 3 seconds.

Also, I created my RAID entirely while online in Windows. Why would I need to dip into the UEFI screens at all?
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:48 pm

Intel RAID supports TRIM now.

Intel has made major strides with their RAID products in the last decade or so. It used to be just another fakeraid all-in-software kind of solution, all the Intel firmware did was call it a RAID disk to the OS. Linux in particular used to cause problems by seeing and talking to the RAID member disks individually. One mistaken command and your array goes poof.

These days, things are much more advanced. I recently set up a 32GB mSATA caching against my Raptor 300GB (where most of my Steam library lives). When I booted Debian a few days later to do some updates, the cache drive is still doing it's thing.

OS-AGNOSTIC RAID.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:05 pm

I tried doing this the other night with a pair of 2TB Greens in 0, but I couldn't get Windows to boot when switched from AHCI to RAID, and just did it in Windows instead. Anyone think that there'd be a significant advantage to figuring out how to do it on the chipset?
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:09 pm

Airmantharp wrote:I tried doing this the other night with a pair of 2TB Greens in 0, but I couldn't get Windows to boot when switched from AHCI to RAID, and just did it in Windows instead. Anyone think that there'd be a significant advantage to figuring out how to do it on the chipset?


Going to RAID0... You were converting the OS disk or something?

I'm guessing not, since that would be complicated. If your OS disk is on the same controller, and safe mode doesn't work, see if you have another SATA controller you can use temporarily. A lot of motherboards do, even most, I'd say. I disconnected all but my OS disk, put it on the other controller, booted. Let Windows figure that out. Rebooted, switched from AHCI to RAID. Save, boot, let Windows figure THAT out. Install Intel's RAID utility optionally, for better feedback/control panel. Reboot. Verify one last time that the controller is fully functional and visible in Windows. Shut down. Move OS disk from third party controller to Intel RAID. Boot, see Windows, realize it wasn't that bad, as workarounds go.

But really, the Safe Boot method in Win8 is pretty much Teh Bombz0r. In Windows 7, you can achieve most of the same effect by registry edits.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:16 pm

Yeah, went to the registry to make the changes after Windows wouldn't boot in RAID mode, and the changes were already made :/.

Do have a Marvell controller on board, so I'll have to do it that way- won't have time to make the change, but if I can get to the desktop with the SSD connected to the Intel controller set to RAID mode, well, that's progress, thanks!
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:53 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Yeah, went to the registry to make the changes after Windows wouldn't boot in RAID mode, and the changes were already made :/.

Do have a Marvell controller on board, so I'll have to do it that way- won't have time to make the change, but if I can get to the desktop with the SSD connected to the Intel controller set to RAID mode, well, that's progress, thanks!


Something I saw, that wasn't well documented... The various storage drivers have a startup option, the values aren't coming to mind, but there's basically on, off, and NEEDED_FOR_BOOT_VERY_ON, I think they were 0, 1 and 3 respectively.

If you have more than one storage driver using the 3/VERY_ON option, undocumented things happen. I actually had this trouble because I'd flagged more than one storage driver (Intel RAID and Marvell SATA, I think) as both being BOOT type. None of them worked, BSOD every time. Booted my WinPE, loaded the registry, turned off everything but the Intel RAID driver, and it booted. After that I figured it out and flagged the others I wanted as normal-on, and things kept working.
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Re: Switch from AHCI to RAID on Z77 without reinstalling Win

Postposted on Tue Nov 05, 2013 7:15 pm

Well, I did get AHCI working using the prescribed method with ease over the weekend, but unfortunately I killed one of the drives shortly after building the RAID 8).

No idea what happened, but the drive shows up as 0.0TB at boot, and neither WD's software nor Disk Management can do anything with it. I'll look up the warranty later, but I'm fairly sure this drive is far beyond that date!
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