To IRST or not?

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
L. Beau Grees
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:32 am
Location: Adanac

To IRST or not?

Post by L. Beau Grees » Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:43 pm

Just completed a new build [Gigabyte Z87M-D3H, Intel 530 Series 120GB SSD, WD Green 2TB HD], installed Win8.1, and installed the latest drivers downloaded from Gigabyte site: chipset drivers, Intel Management Engine, HD Audio driver, and LAN driver. The VGA driver said that the currently installed driver was newer, so didn't install that one.

The big question is, whether or not to install the Intel Rapid Storage Technology? I have googled and read post after post, but the answers seem to be about evenly divided between "yes" and "no". Can someone offer a definitive answer (or how about an opinion)?

I also download the latest Intel SSD Toolbox from Intel site: should I install this?

fastturtle
Posts: 198
Joined: Thu May 19, 2005 12:48 pm
Location: Shi-Khan: Vulcan or MosEisley Tattonnie

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by fastturtle » Thu Dec 26, 2013 6:14 pm

From what I understand, you need a smaller drive (16-32GB) to take advantage of IRST as it simply improves on the Windows Ready-Boost feature. In other words, if you're using an SSD as the boot drive then don't install the IRST.

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by washu » Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:29 pm

Install the SSD toolbox, it is useful for firmware updates and info about your SSD health.

Unless you are going to use SRT (SSD caching a hard drive) and/or RAID you don't need IRST. While it doesn't have any effect on performance, it is better to not use it unless required. Disk utilities are more compatible with AHCI mode.

fastturtle:
IRST is not just caching, that is SRT (Smart Response Technology). The SSD used must be at least 20 GB and can be as big as you want, but only a maximum of 64 GB will be used. The rest becomes available as a normal drive. Despite having similar sounding descriptions, SRT and Ready-Boost are not related in any way.

Abula
Posts: 3628
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
Location: Guatemala

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by Abula » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:21 pm

Since running SSDs i have been running intel rapid storage technology drivers, they perform better on windows 7 than the default, marginally but faster, not sure on windows 8.1, but i would.

The intel ssd tool box, i would run it only if you are running intel ssds, pretty good utility, i used to when i ran my X25-M G2, but now that i went with Samsung and Crucial i dont.

L. Beau Grees
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:32 am
Location: Adanac

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by L. Beau Grees » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:54 pm

Thanks for the replies. I meant to say in the original post, that I am not using RAID; but I guess you knew that, since I mentioned only one HD and one SSD.

So apart from RAID, we have one 'yes' and one 'no', just as I have found in all the googling. Most on the 'yes' side, have mentioned a (slight) performance increase, just as Abula said. But, washu, you mentioned disk utilities being more compatible with AHCI mode; can you expand on that, please: are IRST and AHCI mutually exclusive? I had thought that using IRST, one would still be in AHCI mode (as opposed to IDE mode)?

And we have two 'yes' for the Intel SSD Toolbox (if one is using an Intel SSD, which I am--and this is my first SSD system); so that seems like a go.

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by washu » Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:00 am

IRST mode (RAID Mode) and ACHI are not the same at all. When in IRST mode all disk access goes through the IRST driver, not the ACHI one. Windows thinks disks attached to the IRST controller are SCSI/SAS disks, not ACHI/ATA. It's quite clear in device manager in Win 7 and below, Win 8 seems to hide the distinction but it is still there.

Examples of software that does not work in IRST mode are the disk manufacturer's diagnostic utilities and SSD toolboxes (other than Intel's). For example, with my Samsung SSD their magician software knows the drive is present when attached to IRST, but can't talk to it. You could not fully use WD's diagnostic utilities with your WD green if the controller is in IRST mode.

L. Beau Grees
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:32 am
Location: Adanac

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by L. Beau Grees » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:03 pm

Thank you. But, if I install IRST, and am NOT using RAID, then will it be in IRST mode anyway, or in AHCI mode? And if in AHCI mode, would it still cause the effects you noted above?

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by washu » Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:44 pm

IRST vs AHCI mode is something set in your BIOS setup. If set to RAID mode the controller appears as the IRST SCSI controller and must use the IRST driver. If set to AHCI it appears as a standard AHCI controller and uses any suitable AHCI driver.

If you install IRST while the controller is set to AHCI mode it will just install the Intel AHCI driver. It will not change the mode of the controller. The Intel VS the MS AHCI driver is your choice and both work about the same and are compatible with disk utilities.

L. Beau Grees
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:32 am
Location: Adanac

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by L. Beau Grees » Sat Dec 28, 2013 6:11 pm

Thank you. That's what I wanted to know.

So the original question, whether to install IRST for AHCI mode (non-RAID) (i.e. to use the IRST AHCI driver instead of the MS one), still remains, and has one "yes" and one "no", evenly divided just as all of my googling has turned up. So I'm still undecided.

cerbie
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:21 pm

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by cerbie » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:37 am

The driver, iastor, works in both AHCI and RAID mode, and works fine if you don't have any option for RAID mode. There is no harm in installing IRST (which is not present at all in your BIOS; it is a Windows software package). If you find it to be a problem, or can't use it to do something like run a diagnostic tool, or flash firmware, you can go back to MSAHCI with a few mouse clicks and a reboot (update driver, select from compatible devices, then choose whichever one). The main reason to install it, if not using SRT or RAID, is it being faster than the Microsoft driver, for many SSDs.

fastturtle
Posts: 198
Joined: Thu May 19, 2005 12:48 pm
Location: Shi-Khan: Vulcan or MosEisley Tattonnie

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by fastturtle » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:54 pm

Thanks for the clarification on the IRST issue washu but I'll stick with my original "No" with this explanation.

The main issue I have with loading the Intel drivers revolves around Windows safe mode. Simply put, if there isn't an absolutely compelling feature in the driver, stick with the MS supplied for maximum compatibility with the safe-mode drivers.

I'm a purist when it comes to device drivers and refuse to upgrade from the latest versions that MS offers through Win-Updates (the Nvidia Vista Driver issues for example). Unless the update/driver offers a fix for a known issue that I will encounter, I will not update (my video card is still using the original 2010 driver due to stability).

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by washu » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:24 pm

fastturtle:
In general I agree with you. There is nothing wrong with the MS AHCI driver. The Intel AHCI driver is in some cases a couple of % faster, but really it makes no significant difference.

However, if you want to use RAID5 on Windows there is nothing even close to IRST outside of expensive hardware RAID cards. Windows software RAID5 is dreadfully slow and all other "fake raid" or chipset RAID cards suck as well.

L. Beau Grees
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:32 am
Location: Adanac

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by L. Beau Grees » Tue Dec 31, 2013 10:11 am

So, I have loaded the Intel SSD Toolbox. I decided not to load the Rapid Storage driver at this time (it can always be loaded later).

But, there is another IRST -- the Intel Rapid Start Technology (from Intel). It is one of the many utilities included by Gigabyte, some of the others being:

App Center (required for most of the other utilities)
@BIOS
EasyTune
EZ Setup
Intel Smart Connect Technology
Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
Realtek LAN Optimizer
On/Off Charge (2)
Smart Recovery 2
USB Blocker

It seems that @BIOS is a Windows-based firmware updater, which I will definitely ignore in favour of the updater within the BIOS.

EasyTune, among other things, (I believe) monitors temperatures and fan speeds. I will likely load that for comparison purposes, since I'm having difficulty getting SpeedFan correctly set up for this mainboad (for example, SpeedFan shows the four core temperatures changing as they should -- but they are all below ambient!).

But overall, it has proven very difficult to find out exactly what these utilities are and do, much less decide whether or not to install them. Any input/opinions/suggestions/pointers to information would be very welcome.

washu
Posts: 571
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:20 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by washu » Tue Dec 31, 2013 1:50 pm

Here is my advice:

Is there some feature advertised by your MB that is not working that you want? Ex, fan control? If so, read through the docs of the utilities until you find what you need.

If everything you need is working to your liking? Don't install the rest! Useless bloat is useless bloat.

L. Beau Grees
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2013 10:32 am
Location: Adanac

Re: To IRST or not?

Post by L. Beau Grees » Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:04 pm

Concur. After some research into the function of all those listed, I've decided not to install any of them.

For temperature comparisons regarding the SpeedFan problem, I've run (portable, no installation):

CoreTemp
HWiNFO
HWMonitor
PC-Wizard
RealTemp
RealTemp-TI

SpeedFan is the only one to have problems with the core temps. In addition, some of the others enable the tray to display a reading which is the current highest core temp, a feature I had wished for in SpeedFan for quite some time.

As I'm interested only in monitoring (temps and fan speeds mainly), rather than controlling fan speeds (which can be done by the BIOS), at this point, I'm leaning towards HWiNFO. I'll be testing it on my other boxes to ensure that it is consistent across my hardware.

Post Reply