SandyBridge-E Adventure – Supplemental

Quick note on some weirdness I have started experiencing that is probably worth exploring…

It started when I caved in and decided to go back to RAID 0. Thats ironic since part of my reasoning for upgrading to SATA 3 was to get away from RAID 0, but it’s one of those cases where too much is just never enough. SATA 3 single SSD came in just a bit ahead of SATA 2 RAID 0 SSD, which left me wondering what SATA 3 RAID 0 would do on the desktop. I have 2 Crucial M4 128GB SSDs in RAID 0 on my Alienware M18 and I know that they push 800+MB sequential (vs 400MB from the Vertex 2’s in RAID 0 and 500+MB from the single M4 512GB). Psychologically it’s tough for the laptop to have more capability in one area than the monster desktop, so I bit the bullet and bought a second 512GB M4 ($370 at Amazon). End result of that was over 1GB/s sequential. Real world impact is pretty minimal, but it’s definitely cool to see on benchmarks!

Anyhow, when doing a big disk subsystem upgrade I always do a clean Windows build. This is where things went sideways. Somehow after the new Windows install, I am finding some kind of fundamental conflict with IASTORUI.DLL (admittedly not installed when I had single disk), the HP Installer for the LaserJet Color CM1415 (that was definitely installed before with no issues) and the NVidia 306.92 drivers (the conflict source coming up in the event logs is NVD3DUM.DLL)

I found that reinstalling the NVidia drivers clean allowed HP Installer to run, and allowed IASTORUI to run as well, but once I fully configured tri-sli (SLI enabled surround desktop), IASTORUI was broken again. No resolution yet and I am still tracking it down. There has been one ambiguous BSOD as well, which is a cause for concern.

More as this situation develops!

UPDATE: Definitely some sort of conflict with SLI.  If surround config is set to “Activate All Displays”, the problems vanish and both HP Installer and the IASTORUI run without a hitch.  Any other setting, including single monitor SLI (maximize 3D performance), results in the application errors.  Another interesting thing is that Metro 2033 benchmark crashes after the second run.  First run goes off without a hitch.  Audio drops out on run 2 and then at the end of the run it hangs.  The system will still be up and killing the process brings things back to normal.  Last issue is following a benchmark failure, the system will occasionally BSOD with a 0x00000019, x20 BAD POOL ERROR on reboot.  Restarting clears it up.  Definitely something fishy going on.  So far one thing is certain; x79 appears to be nowhere near as stable as X58 always was!

Testing continues…

FINAL UPDATE: Well the problem is resolved… Unfortunately the conclusion is not a great one.  Unable to get resolution through various combinations of driver reinstallation (including cleaning with Driver Sweeper) and reconfiguration, I threw in the towel and went nuclear.  Nuclear of course means a full Windows reinstall.  What I did do this time was take care to set the BIOS CSM (Compat Support Module) to full auto.  I had changed that setting the first install to be “both, present legacy first”.  This is another complexity introduced by the switch to UEFI during this, fuzzy, transient period.  I expect once legacy BIOS support is fully dead and we live in a 100% UEFI world this will all go away.  Booting the system with CSM on auto, I did a total wipe of the array and a reinstall of Windows using the 20120420 F6 RAID driver set from Intel (this translates to the 3.0.3011 driver).  As you can see below, all is now working:

If I were to draw any conclusions here they would be the following:

  • X79 is definitely more… fragile the X58
  • UEFI vs legacy BIOS pre-boot can be tricky, especially with a dual support OS (Vista+)… “auto” it seems is your friend
  • Given the above, cautious installs are required – on a new install, install the full OS… do all of the updates first (suffering the 40 reboots and endless downloads)… only when the base OS is fully idle should you go ahead with hardware installation…
  • Windows 7 will automatically support the NVidia cards and by default they will update themselves but not install the full suite… I left this support in place and did the following order:
    • full RAID suite first (leaving aside the automatic Windows Update installation of the NVidia cards)
    • chipset support (this well then discover all of the additional hardware)
    • Marvell support (if enabled)
    • USB 3 support
    • X-Fi support (if applicable)
    • NIC drivers (for secondary ports)
    • Reinstall of the current NVidia drivers (to catch the bits that don’t install – 3D Vision namely)
    • HP install (for the printer)
    • Config it all up (SLI surround on, etc)

So no “magic wand” unfortunately.  Not exactly a sexy satisfying conclusion, but more a cautionary tale.  Hopefully this will save at least a few folks some frustration or at least provide comfort in knowing you are not alone!


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