Threadripper owners can now fire up their NVMe RAID arrays


— 9:45 AM on October 2, 2017

Combining NVMe drives for enhanced throughput or redundancy on high-end desktop platforms has been a contentious issue. Intel promised NVMe RAID capability on its X299 platform, but the company restricts the option to boot from an array unless it's made of its own SSDs. On top of this, the blue silicon giant will likely charge users a premium for an "NVMe key" and has yet to release the drivers and firmware needed to make it happen. AMD's Threadripper platform has lacked NVMe RAID entirely, until now. The silicon underdogs from Santa Clara announced this morning that NVMe RAID modes 0, 1, and 10 are coming to the X399 platform as a complimentary upgrade through a BIOS update. There will be no restrictions on the brands or models of the six drives that can go into an NMVe array.

AMD claims that an experimental six-disk RAID 0 array scaled to a perfect 6x the speed of a single drive when reading and 5.4x when writing. The company's community update page says the array achieved a ludicrous 21.2 GB/s when reading from the sextet of drives. The post doesn't specifically say what kind of drives it used to achieve that figure, though screenshots on the community update page suggest a collection of 512 GB Samsung 960-series drives.

While AMD's NVMe RAID functionality doesn't require software keys or specific types of drives, not everything is sunshine and roses. NVMe RAID support requires a BIOS update from the motherboard manufacturer, and users must change their disk configuration from SATA or ACHI to RAID. Threadripper owners with an existing RAID array can't perform an in-place driver or BIOS upgrade to add NVMe RAID capability. Users with a SATA RAID array have to back up all their data and break down the array before installing a BIOS update adding NVMe RAID support. If that array is bootable, Windows 10 needs to be installed afresh, a task that presumably goes pretty fast on six speedy drives in a RAID array, 16 to 32 hardware threads, and four memory channels.

The feature only supports Windows 10, at least for now. Gerbils already ripping up threads or considering AMD's X399 platform can read more on the company's NVMe RAID support page and the community update page.

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