Running high performance RAID system & ReadyBoost with Windows Vista

Hi, I'm Tony Mangefeste, Program Manager in the Optical Platform Group.  With the upcoming Beta 2 release of Windows Vista, I took the opportunity to self-host it on my primary development system.  At Microsoft, we’re encouraged to self-host the OS and other applications as they are developed.  I take a great deal of pride in having the opportunity to run our software through the paces before our customers.   The self-host process allows employees to put the software through its paces, and supports the development process.  Up until now, I hesitated to install Windows Vista on my main system.  My system is a dual-core processor system with four raptor hard disks connected to a RAID controller.  I took the opportunity to install the operating system, and loaded the RAID drivers through the 3rd party load driver option during Windows Vista setup.  The primary difference from Windows XP was that I am now able to install the drivers from a USB storage key.  After I successfully installed the RAID driver and setup completed, you’ll notice that on the Windows Vista 64-bit installation has Drive Integrity checks on by default. 

I am not a RAID expert, but between now and Windows Vista RTMs, RAID driver developers will be boot-signing their drivers.  Until then, you will need to turn off Drive Integrity checking by using a bcedit parameter.  By using the command bcdedit –set nointegritychecks ON from an elevated command window, then you can disable the boot checking of RAID drivers that are not boot signed.  I spoke with the team responsible for the 64-bit driver integrity checking, and there will be resources online during WinHEC 2006 for driver developers and end-users.  And after all this, why am I happy that Beta 2 is working so well?  As a serious gamer, I’m interested in maximizing the performance of my hard drives as much as possible.  I’m very happy with the performance, and I recommend exploring Windows ReadyBoost in addition to getting your RAID array operational.  To try ReadyBoost, try plugging in a USB key.  Windows Vista will present you with the option to improve system performance.   I recommend using ReadyBoost to improve system performance.  And where should you look to read more about these cool features?  There’s a few places.  You can visit this site to learn more about 64-bit kernel mode signing, and visit the Windows Vista Performance site and read up on Windows SuperFetch and Windows ReadyBoost.  Make sure and visit the Storage talks at WinHEC for more information about the future of hybrid drives. 

As I find more tips for gamers to squeeze the most out of hard drive performance, I’ll be sure and pass that information along.  In the meantime, try out Beta 2, report issues and help us make Windows Vista a great gaming platform.


Comments (8)

  1. Kevin Power says:

    Take a look at linux.

    Take a look at Linspire, who needs Vista?

  2. Cyanna says:

    @ Kevin Power: I do. And our enterprise, and most people I know. It doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally fool around with some Linux distro, but that’s just for fun. The other OSes out there do not offer the support MS does, there is a serious lack of compatible software, and with Apple you’re much more in a bondage situation than with MS (no choice for hardware, no backwards compatibility….)

    @Winblog: nice job! Lots of eye-candy for those that want that, but it can be disabled for those that don’t want to sacrifice the performance. Enough new features to make me want to upgrade, and not so many that it feels completely strange. Not to say that it’s a wrap yet, but after my first 2 days with Vista I definitely want more.

  3. Jarde says:

    I could almost use vista beta 2 as my main.. Performance is very good. performance was horrible few builds ago but that was mainly because nvidia wddm drivers. Now I don`t have to use (borrow) ati gpu , I can use my geforce because nvidia drivers good enough at this stage. Only issues an having are few lags in explorer when browsing filesystem and high cpu usage when using via sata drivers. Waiting for rc-version of vista !

  4. Cep says:

    About time Windows supports loading raid drivers! You can’t imagine the headaches that it has caused me with XP. I don’t have a floppy drive so every time I reformat (which is more often than I’d like) I have to disconnect the raid, install onto one drive, then reconnect the raid and wait about 10 hours for it to copy to all other drives.

    @ Kevin Power: Please, let me know when I can easily play games as fast as they run natively in Windows and can install them by just dropping the DVD in. No command line args. No stupid interfaces to turn "compatibilities" on. Sorry. Linux makes a kick ass server (I run 23 FreeBSD machines) but isn’t ready (yet) for desktop primetime.

  5. Aben says:

    Not as applicable for arrays, but does anyone know if they finally fixed the disk fragmentation issues present in the previous versions of windows?

    For example, MacOS does not even require a defragmenter due to the quality of disk management present. My XP machines fragment to horrible levels in just a few days of use.

  6. Steve says:

    If I have SATA in RAID 0, will Vista automatically load the correct drivers for my onboard Promise controller? If not, then Vista will never be able to be loaded on this machine.

  7. lucyfek says:

    i have a mixed results with vista & raid setup. my system consists of 2 raptors in raid0 and 2 older pata drives in ride0 plus 2 other sata drives (one of them i’ve just installed for vista only). all this on nforce4 and a64. i was not able to get this system to access my raid partitions during setup – no option to supply raid drivers, and only under recovery options i managed to install raid drivers (i could browse through my rapors to "load drivers") – but it’s not remembered once you try to go back to installation window – "setup could not get information about the disks on your computer". i eneded up leaving only 2 sata drives and even then i had to reverse to just one as vista instalation was insisting on placing files on the drive with my data and did not let me use the new drive (partitioned with ntfs under xp).

    once i’d installed the system i enabled remaining drives in bios (and raid as well), installed nvidia drivers but still i can’t get the pata raid drives to work – i can see one of them as requiring initializaton (but i’m not willing to loose my other stuff).

    any suggestions?

    by the way – what drivers are the correct ones: 32bit, 64bit or x86? – i installed  64bit vista and 64bit drivers but this x86 seems confusing (obviously in short manual there is nothing about this, and loading raid drives also seems automatic?), besides that 64bit are not digitaly signed (can this be source of any issues) and the IDE folder is quite empty when compared to other driver packs (and i still haven’t got my pata raid to work).

  8. lucyfek says:

    bcdedit –set nointegritychecks ON

    does not work, but:

    bcdedit /set nointegritychecks ON


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