Intel Smart Response Technology on Windows 10

Intel’s Smart Response Technology is an interesting way of having the storage of a high capacity hard drive but with (some) of the speed benefits of a SSD.

Basically a small capacity SSD is used as a cache for both reads and writes to the slower hard disk.

I have a 512GB SSD for my system drive and a 2TB storage hard drive. I decided to test out Smart Response Technology (or, ‘SRT’, from now on) on my storage hard drive, even though most uses of SRT are for a system/boot drive (which in my case, is already an SSD).

I purchased a cheap Kingston 120GB V300, which has moderate read speeds but terrible (160MB/s) write speeds – but still faster than a hard drive, particularly at random reads/writes. I switched my BIOS over to RAID mode, opened up Intel’s ‘Rapid Storage Technology’ program on Windows 10, and attempted to add the new SSD as a storage cache.

Unfortunately, I came across an error message that was about as useful as a chocolate teapot:

An unknown error has occurred while an operation was in progress. The operation could not be completed.

Determined as I was, I opened up event viewer to see if there was a more detailed error message:

0: SSI Status: Internal Error
0: RAID Config Status: Illegal Disk Action.
TriggerTransaction operation failed for Trigger: CreateVolume
System.Exception: 0: Trigger create failed in internalIsiVolumeCreate
Error returned by IsiVolumeCreateFromDisks() in PsiData::PsiDataSource::ActionVolumeCreateFromDisks

Again, some critical error without any useful information…

It seemed with some further Googling that in fact SRT does not work with Windows 10, or more precisely, if you are running Windows 10 you can’t create a new SRT volume.

The solution to solve this is actually very simple, though a bit time consuming. You need to install Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 or Windows Server 2008/2012 as a separate installation, set up the SRT caching from that OS in the RST program, then reboot back into Windows 10. Even though Windows 10 doesn’t support creating new volumes, the RST software recognized that an existing cache disk was setup, and just continued to use it.

I personally installed a fresh copy of Server 2012 R2 onto an old 160GB hard drive, connected via SATA (having unplugged my system SSD, but left the cache SSD and 2TB storage hard drive plugged in). Then I simply installed the latest version of RST, tried to enable the caching as I did before, and this time it worked straight away. After shutting down, unplugging Server 2012, and re-connecting my Windows 10 SSD, it picked it up automatically and just worked.

This method of course only works if you are setting up a cached configuration that is nothing to do with your Windows 10 boot drive. It may be possible to accelerate a Windows 10 boot drive using the same method (i.e. using a different OS to configure the RST software, but pointing it at the Windows 10 install), but I would do this cautiously as you risk breaking something.

The real question here is: why on earth hasn’t Intel fixed this problem in Windows 10 yet?! Win10 has been out for nearly a year now, and Intel still advertises SRT as a feature on their website….

2 thoughts on “Intel Smart Response Technology on Windows 10

  1. Not sure if they’ve updated since then, but this now works. You can download the f6flpy drivers and update the raid controller by pointing the update driver window to it. Then, when creating the accelerated volume you have to choose either the minimum or a custom size, not full disk, and specify 64GB, or whatever you need. This worked for me on a Z170 with W10 Pro x64.

  2. “This worked for me on a Z170 with W10 Pro x64.”

    The same here. I’ve used an Integral 120GB P Series 4 SSD sourced from MyMemory for £24.99 delivered. I only mention the source as they’re selling them for half the price of many other suppliers. No idea why.

    It’s a fantastic drive to use for SSD caching with RST as it has sequential read/write speeds of 530 and 430MB/s respectively. The 50% over-provision on capacity also means that expected lifetime will be extended dramatically due to wear-levelling never being painted into a corner, plus it’ll never hit the “write-cliff”, so fresh-out-of-box transfer speeds and IOPS are always guaranteed.

    In layman’s terms, it goes like stink and always will until the day it eventually dies.

    Game loading times have roughly halved, and file transfers to/from a suitably faster drive are happening at the full 0.5GB/s that you’d expect with this particular SSD when using RST in performance mode.

    If anyone’s considering trying this and has £25 to spare, the Integral SSD offers the best bang-per-buck solution that comes close to saturating SATA-III.

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