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  1. #1
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    New hard drive not Operating at 6Gbps transfer speed. Why?

    I recently purchased an Acer desktop PC. It came equipped with a Seagate 1TB drive rated at 6Gbps data transfer speed and a 64MB cache. I added a second identical drive using the front loading "Easy Swap Expansion Bay" which is mounted in the spare 5.25" bay. I subsequently migrated to a RAID 1 configuraiton using Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) preloaded on the PC.

    When I look at the detailed IRST System Status report, I see that my OEM drive is on SATA Port 0 and it's running at 6Gbps transfer rate. My new drive is on SATA Port 2, but it's only running at 3Gbps even though it's rated for 6Gbps. Other reports indicate the RAID configuration is operating normally.

    So why is the new drive limited to only 3Gbps? Do the various SATA ports have different speed settings? The Easy Swap Bay sits where a second optical drive whould be installed and probably connected to Port 2. Is the Port 2 speed set lower in the BIOS assuming it will connected to an optical drive? Is it likely that the unused SATA Port 1 is configured for 6Gbps because it would normally be connected to an additional drive mounted in the spare 3.5" bay? Finally, is there a way to set the port speed for Port 2 to 6Gbps, or would I have to relocate the new drive to the spare 3.5" internal bay and use the cable intended for it?

    Lots of questions in my mine. I sure would appreciate it if someone could help me get my new drive to operate at 6Gbps speed.
    Last edited by DJG; 2012-06-30 at 13:22.

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  3. #2
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    It is highly likely that the "Easy Swap Expansion Bay " runs a SATA 2 port. SATA 3 runs at 6Gbp/s, while SATA 2 runs at 3Gbp/s. So it wouldn't matter if you connected the Expansion bay to another port, it would still run at a max 3Gbp/s.

    Without knowing the exact model of the Acer and hence the expansion bay, I can't be sure, but if you look on the manufacturers website, you should be able to get some detailed spec's for that bay, and then, if necessary, cross reference that to the manufacturer of the expansion bay chipset.
    In God we trust; all others must bring data.

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  4. #3
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    The Acer "Easy Swap Expansion Bay" contains a removeable carrier which holds the hard drive. Acer sells a companion docking station which is intended to be connected to a home theater system. The hard disk carrier is intended to removed from the "Easy Swap Bay" and inserted into the docking station so you can watch TV shows or movies that have been stored on the hard disk. The "Easy Swap Bay" is physically installed in the spare 5.25" bay. At the very front top of the cabinet there are multiple camera card readers.

    Without actually opening the cabinet, I'm reasoning that the OEM hard drive is connected to the first SATA cable connector and hence SATA Port 0 on the motherboard. I suspect the next connector on the cable running up to the top of the cabinet is not used, intended for the spare 3.5" bay, and connects to SATA Port 1 on the motherboard. As the cable continues upward, the next connector is attached to the "Quick Swap Bay", the next connector to the optical drive, and the remaining connectors to the camera card slots until all the SATA ports are used.

    Why the added drive in the "Quick Swap Bay" is running at SATA 2 speed might be determined by which connector on the cable to the motherboard is being used, and hence, which SATA port on the motherboard is driving it. Basically, are the ports on the motherboard configured as SATA 2 or SATA 3 in the BIOS on a presumption of what type of device they will physically connect to? If so, can I go into the BIOS and change the configuration for the port to the "Quick Swap Bay" from SATA 2 to SATA 3?
    Last edited by DJG; 2012-06-30 at 18:44.

  5. #4
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    Ok, thanks for the extra detail. If the expansion bay is a direct electrical connection to the motherboard , then the issue is either in the drive or on the motherboard.

    I doubt the drive is a sata 2 unit if you purchased it as sata 3, you are left with motherboard and bios.

    There is no electrical difference in sata 2 or sata 3 cables. Some manufacturers may build shielded or gold plated for sata 3, but electrically a sata 2 will be fine in a sata 3 socket.

    I can't comment on the bios because that will be specific to that motherboard, but it is possible that one port is set to sata 2 while the other is set to sata 3. You would need to explore the port settings in the bios to verify if they can be independently set.

    Something to bear in mind is that a sata 3 drive connected to a sata2 port will fallback to sata2 speeds and that's what appears to be happening here.
    In God we trust; all others must bring data.

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    Maybe you can swap the cable for the expansion bay to port #1 which may be a 6GB port like port 0. If there is anything already in port #1 maybe it can be moved to port #2 if 6GB speeds not required.
    Clive

    All typing errors are my own work and subject to patents pending. Except errors by the spell checker. And that has its own patients.

  7. #6
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Plenty is issues continue to abound over SATA 2 and USB 3 support in terms of hardware and drivers, even in the latest chipsets on the latest motherboards.

  8. #7
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    Thanks to both of you for getting me on the right track. As you can probably tell, I'm coming from the older IDE drive technology that used the ribbon cables. Looking through the holes in my side panel I can see that there are six SATA connectors on the motherboard. Four are black and two are yellow. The OEM drive is connected to one of the yellow ports with a blue SATA cable. The "Easy Swap Bay" appears to be connected to one of the black ports with a blue SATA cable. A third black SATA cable connects to one of the black ports and appears to be go to the CD/DVD drive. From inside photos of my cabinet on a vendor's website, there should be a spare SATA power connector in the vacant 3.5" internal bay.

    Having said all this, it would appear that I have two options, both of which require opening the cabinet on a two week old system. I can reconnect the blue SATA cable from the "Easy Swap Bay" to the yellow port on the mother board. Or I can buy another blue SATA cable, relocate the new drive to the spare internal bay and connect it into the spare yellow port on the motherboard. The second option would leave the "Easy Swap Bay" available for a third drive down the road.

    Since my two drives are now migrated to a RAID 1 configuration, will my system figure everything out when I re-power it again if I do either of those options? Or will I need to set something somewhere so it recognizes that the new drive has been physically and electrically relocated?

  9. #8
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    I think you need to tread carefully. Your Software RAID complicates things.

    With the Easy Swap disk forming part of a Software managed RAID, you could easily damage the RAID if you move the drive to a different Sata port. In theory, RAID 1 will repair itself, but I'm afraid I can't offer any guarantees with a software RAID becasue it depends on how the software controller detects and syncs data across the two drives.

    Logically, from your description, the two yellow Sata ports could be Sata 3 and the others Sata 2. You could download a utility such as CPU-z or the 15 day trial version of SIW which will be able to tell you the brand and model number of the motherboard. Armed with that, you can then verify the assumption that the yellow port is sata 3 and the black port is sata 2.

    The colour of the cables will make no difference to the speed of the bus. Sata 1, 2 and 3 data cables are completely interchangeable. There is a small possibility over long runs, that a shielded cable or gold plated contacts may improve the reliability of the connection compared to poorer quality cables, but it's marginal for most normal machines.

    Putting aside the complication of the RAID for one moment, you could try move the Easy Swap drive to the spare yellow (assumed Sata 3) port. Then if the drive does run at full speed hopefully the RAID will re-build itself.

    Before you do anything like that though, I strongly advise to take a full system image, and if possible, revert the system to running without the RAID - if the software controller allows that. Be careful to fully review the software Raid documentation so you can plan how you are to move data if needed.
    In God we trust; all others must bring data.

    - William Edwards Deming. 1900 - 1993

  10. #9
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    I looked through all the Intel documentation and I can't find anything that tells how to "undo" a RAID 1 implementation. I can convert from RAID 1 to RAID 0 or RAID Recovery. Maybe I would need to follow a two step process of first converting to RAID Recovery and then I could revert to two non-RAID drives

    However, there is ample reference to the array rebuilding itself after a failed drive is replaced or a drive that has become unplugged is replugged. I can't believe that I'm totally stuck with this configuration and port connections. I think the probability is near 100% that the spare yellow port is a SATA 3 port. Either option will require a port change to confirm my assumption, so I may as well move the new drive into the case at the same time. As you advise, if I decide to do anything I'll first save a full system image and then trust that the Intel Rapid Storage Technology developers anticipated this possibility.

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    This morning I moved my new drive from the Quick Swap Bay to the spare slot on the internal 3.5" drive bay. I connected it to the unused yellow SATA port on motherboard. When I restarted my system, it booted without a problem and the Intel software reported that my RAID 1 array was "normal." The Intel System Report shows both drives now opperating at 6Gbps data transfer speed.

    My thanks for guiding me along the way. I still don't know how to go back to a non-RAID configuration with both drives independent. As long as everything is working. I double that will be necessary. Moving the new drive inside the cabinet has made the Quick Swap Bay again available in case I ever decide to use it as Acer intended for storing media files. The system is also a little quieter with the new drive inside the cabinet, so everything worked for the best. I really like those kind of projects!
    Last edited by DJG; 2012-07-02 at 13:33.

  12. #11
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    For those who are following this thread, I contacted Intel technical support about how to "undo" a RAID configuration. It's actually rather simple. You enter CTRL-I during the RAID POST to enter the RAID BIOS. Then you choose an option called Reset Disk to Non RAID. I also had to download the latest version 10.8 of the Intel Rapid Storage Technology in order to have the notification icons appear in the task tray. The new version also updates some drivers.

    The main reason I set up the RAID 1 configuration was for hardware backup. However, with the two drives now mirrored and available for parallel read/write operations I'm seeing a tremendous performance improvement. Using Microsoft Security Essentials as a benchmark, it used to take about 90 seconds to run a Quick Scan. Now it's only taking about 40 seconds. The read speed improvement is also quite noticeable when opening programs and switching views within programs.

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  14. #12
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    Excellent result DGJ and thanks for posting back.

    For a RAID array implemented using a hardware controller I would have had no concern, but with a software controller, one is at the mercy of whatever functions are designed into the software. It sounds like Intel have made a good job.

    Regarding the speed improvement, RAID1 should not exhibit any speed improvement over a simple volume. I suspect the reason you are seeing the significant improvement is a that the Read/Write from the OS to the array can now occur at the full 6Gbp/s. Previously, one drive was running at at 3Gbp/s and the other at 6. With it being unbalanced, one drive may have been idle waiting for the other to complete the mirror operation before allowing data to be written again, whereas now they can both be made available to the OS at full speed.

    Good to know for the future.
    In God we trust; all others must bring data.

    - William Edwards Deming. 1900 - 1993

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