Intel® Virtual RAID on CPU (Intel® VROC) support on X299

Documentation

Product Information & Documentation

000026106

09/05/2018

Intel® Virtual RAID on CPU (Intel® VROC) support on X299 - Q&A

Click or the question for details:

What is Intel® VROC? Intel VROC stands for Intel® Virtual RAID on CPU. It's a bootable RAID solution specifically designed for NVMe*-based solid-state drives (SSDs) connected to the PCIe* 3.0 lanes off of Intel processors. It's primarily targeted for professional workstations and server platforms to provide an enterprise grade RAID solution for NVMe SSDs.
If Intel VROC is an enterprise solution, why is it supported on X299 HEDT? Intel VROC can be enabled on any platform with processors that support the Intel® Volume Management Device (Intel® VMD) feature, including the X299 chipset. Since RAID is still applicable to high end desktop (HEDT) users, Intel VROC was migrated to this client chipset to provide a compelling RAID alternative. Check with your X299 HEDT motherboard vendor for specific details of Intel VROC support on X299 platforms.
What is the biggest advantage of Intel VROC? The biggest advantage of Intel VROC is the ability to directly connect NVMe-based SSDs to the new Intel® Core™ X-series processor family PCIe 3.0 lanes. This provides the ability to manage bootable RAID volumes with NVMe-based SSDs directly connected to the CPU with an unimpeded I/O path.
Is Intel VROC software or hardware RAID? Intel VROC is a hybrid RAID solution. 
It has attributes like hardware RAID because of the key silicon feature called Intel VMD which is offered with the new Intel® Core™ X-series family of processors. Intel VROC uses Intel VMD to aggregate NVMe SSDs allowing bootable RAID. Intel VROC also has attributes like software RAID. For instance: it uses some of the CPU cores to calculate the RAID logic. Because of this combination of software and silicon, Intel VROC is called a hybrid RAID solution.
Does Intel VROC support third-party SSDs on the X299 platform? No. Intel VROC on X299 platforms supports Intel® SSDs only. For a full list of supported Intel SSDs, please see the Intel® VROC Configuration List
What is an Intel VROC hardware key? Intel VROC is a licensed product for sale through OEMs or ODMs with a support service level agreement. The Intel VROC hardware (HW) key is the mechanism to obtain a license to the Intel VROC software. Certain OEMs/ODMs have platforms that support Intel VROC by adding an HW key header to their motherboards. The Intel VROC hardware key must be inserted into that motherboard to enable the RAID license. Only one key is needed per system.
Where can I get an Intel VROC hardware key? End users can get the Intel VROC hardware key online. Various keys are available from different sources, but the Intel SSD Only Key (VROCISSDMOD) is the only one supported on X299. Supporting motherboard OEMs sell the correct version of the key. See the EVGA site for this opportunity.
Which OEM or ODM has designed in Intel VROC? Several OEMs and ODMs have designed in Intel VROC into their X299 platforms. Query OEM or ODM platform provider directly.
What is the Intel VROC SKU supported on X299? The Intel VROC SKU supported on X299 is:
  • Intel VROC-Intel SSD only SKU (VROCISSDMOD): RAID 0/1/5/10 support on Intel SSDs only.
How is Intel VROC different from Intel® RSTe? Intel VROC is under the umbrella of the Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise (Intel® RSTe) storage driver family. The SATA RAID portion of Intel RSTe remains the same. For NVMe RAID, Intel VROC is architected to use Intel VMD to provide bootable RAID 0/1/10/5 arrays from CPU PCIe* directly. Intel RSTe legacy NVMe RAID doesn’t have this feature.
How can I try Intel VROC? Intel VROC support is specific to certain X299 platform providers. Work with your provider and/or Intel representative for additional enabling support.
I found RAID0 works without an Intel VROC HW key. But the product brief says I need a VROC HW key for RAID0. What should I do? An Intel VROC HW key is required to use RAID 0/1/5/10 for most SSDs. However, Intel VROC is also designed to provide RAID 0 for eight times Intel® SSDs without requiring an HW key. For instance, the Intel® DC P3608 SSD. For any other regular x4 SSDs, without an HW key, RAID0 may work, but isn't supported. In short, an Intel VROC HW key is required for official support for RAID0 with regular x4 SSDs.
What Operating Systems are supported by VROC on X299? Windows® 10 is the only OS supported by VROC on chipset X299.