Over the last few weeks, the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ processor has cemented a place in the world as today’s ultimate solution for creators and enthusiasts. It’s easy to see why: scores of cores, piles of PCI Express® lanes, plus powerful quad-channel memory support. And, today, we’re making the best a little better with a beta release of free support for bootable NVMe RAID!
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
NOTICE: Any user that has an existing SATA RAID config must back up the array’s data and break down the current array before proceeding with driver install and BIOS upgrade. Please see additional details in our knowledgebase article.
Update the BIOS for your AMD X399-based motherboard to add BIOS support for NVMe RAID.
Install two or more NVMe SSDs to your system.
Create a new NVMe RAID array:
Method A: …Using your motherboard’s firmware. There will be a new menu in your BIOS, or a new menu accessible with a hotkey during POST. This will vary by model.
Method B: …using the AMD RAIDXpert2 software.
Make sure your disks do not contain important data!
Just enjoy! No hardware activation keys, license fees, or arbitrary SSD restrictions apply. It’s that simple.
AMD RAIDXpert2 is a Windows GUI to create and monitor NVMe RAID arrays like the 6-disk RAID0 array above. Arrays can also be created through new menus in your motherboard’s firmware.
WHAT’S THE PERFORMANCE LIKE?
In a word: wow. In our own performance testing, we’ve been seeing some blistering results from our test systems—a monstrous 21.2GB/s from six disks in RAID0! But RAID users know that scaling matters, too, and X399 NVMe RAID still looked great in our lab: 6.00X read scaling, and 5.38X write scaling, from one to six disks (see chart below).
Performance will naturally vary based on the model and quantity of SSDs you use, plus the test pattern of your benchmark, but it’s clear that our free NVMe RAID solution can scale and scale fast.
Testing conducted by AMD performance labs as of 9/18/2017. Test configuration: AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ 1950X, 4x8GB DDR4-3200 (16-16-16-36), ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme X399, 1-6x Samsung 960 Pro NVMe SSD (512GB ea.), default BIOS settings, Windows® 10 x64 RS2, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (driver 385.41), RAID Writeback Cache ENABLED, RAID Read Cache DISABLED, Write Cache Buffer Flush DISABLED.
Q: Do I need to buy some sort of activation hardware or license to enable NVMe RAID on the AMD Threadripper platform?
A: No. You only need to follow the steps 1-5 outlined in this blog.
Q: Is your NVMe RAID solution bootable?
A: Yes. Create the RAID array with the RAID management menu(s) in your BIOS, then proceed with Windows installation. Please ensure that your system is in pure UEFI mode by installing Windows with Compatibility Support Module (CSM) disabled in your BIOS. You will also need the NVMe RAID driver on a flash drive, as the Windows installer will ask for it before your array can be detected.
Q: What RAID levels are supported?
A: RAID0 (striping), RAID1 (mirroring), RAID10 (striping with mirroring). Please note that RAID10 requires four or six NVMe devices by design.
Q: How many simultaneous SSDs can I run?
A: The AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ platform supports up to seven simultaneous PCIe® devices without adapters. Provided you have one GPU in the system, this sets a practical limit for most users of six NVMe SSDs.
Q: How are the NVMe SSDs electrically connected to the system?
A: NVMe SSDs are connected to the system over the PCI Express® bus. These PCI Express lanes come directly from the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ processor, rather than being routed through a relatively narrow link from the chipset.
Q: What AMD chipsets are compatible with NVMe RAID?
A: The AMD X399 chipset is compatible with our free NVMe RAID solution.
Q: Is hotswap supported in RAID1 and RAID10 arrays?
Q: When will the required BIOS update be available for my AMD X399-based motherboard?
A: Please check with your manufacturer for the latest updates. We expect all AMD X399 motherboards to be updated imminently, though the exact date(s) of availability will depend on the motherboard vendor’s QA schedule.
Q: Do all AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ CPUs and motherboards qualify for NVMe RAID support?
Q: What operating systems are supported?
A: Windows® 10 x64 (build 1703) is supported at this time.
Q: Can I use any NVMe SSD with this update?
Q: If I already have a RAID array of SATA disks, can I just upgrade my driver and BIOS to add NVMe RAID support? A: In-place upgrades of the RAID driver are not supported at this time. Please back up your data and break down your array prior to installing an NVMe RAID-ready BIOS or driver. AMD recommends that users start fresh with a new NVMe RAID array and a new install of Windows. To this effect, our knowledgebase article offers standalone drivers suitable for placing onto a flash drive for the Windows installer.