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Old Dec 2, 2009, 06:18 PM   #1
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D0T-C0M
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Default COD4 and MW2 slow map loading with RAID0

I don't know but is it normal for a 4 drive RAID0 to take 20 seconds to load a map? Most times when I finally finish loading others are already playing the game. I would think a 4 drive RAID0 would load in under 10 seconds. Although after the first load it gets cached and is much faster. Any known issues or tweaks?

I've already benchmarked my RAID0 and it rocks so I'm a bit confused at to my loading times.

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Old Dec 2, 2009, 10:31 PM   #2
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check cpu usage, it could be that it's unpacking compressed data into ram

tell me a mp map to load for cod4 to compare
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 12:08 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D0T-C0M View Post
I don't know but is it normal for a 4 drive RAID0 to take 20 seconds to load a map? Most times when I finally finish loading others are already playing the game. I would think a 4 drive RAID0 would load in under 10 seconds. Although after the first load it gets cached and is much faster. Any known issues or tweaks?

I've already benchmarked my RAID0 and it rocks so I'm a bit confused at to my loading times.

What exactly do you mean by 'it rocks', how about some numbers. It could be that since they're older drives and modern games there's just a lot going on for somewhat slower drive capabilities. It could be RAM/CPU related, but I doubt it because you've got a pretty capable setup. Also some time is probably added by connecting to an online server (if this is what you mean by loading maps), and if your array needs to be defragmented this could substantially hinder performance.

As for others loading faster they could be running lower settings (less to load) or could be running SSDs.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 05:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaJMasta View Post
What exactly do you mean by 'it rocks', how about some numbers. It could be that since they're older drives and modern games there's just a lot going on for somewhat slower drive capabilities. It could be RAM/CPU related, but I doubt it because you've got a pretty capable setup. Also some time is probably added by connecting to an online server (if this is what you mean by loading maps), and if your array needs to be defragmented this could substantially hinder performance.

As for others loading faster they could be running lower settings (less to load) or could be running SSDs.
When I say it rocks here is a screenshot of my results in HDTach


As far as map loading MW2 is much worse than COD4. In COD4, maps will load within 15 seconds but in MW2 when a map loads for the first time it can take 20seconds and sometimes 30+seconds. Once the map is in cache any subsequent loading of the map is lightning fast.

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Old Dec 3, 2009, 01:49 PM   #5
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same load times if you start it up locally with nobody else?
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 01:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by kn00tcn View Post
same load times if you start it up locally with nobody else?
I'll try that tonight and check.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 02:55 PM   #7
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Is it a dedicated RAID controller or a onboard one? Because some of the onboard ones are pretty crap and are basically software raid, which would use a lot of CPU useage when using the RAID. Which in turn would slow down the loading of things, as its raping the CPU to do the RAID as well as load the game etc.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 03:05 PM   #8
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Yup. On board RAID rarely results in any real world differences in game loading.

Even with dedicated RAID cards the differences are usually nothing to get excited about. RAID 0 generally isn't worth the hassle or money if the only thing you're looking to get from it is game loading performance.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 04:09 PM   #9
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Well gaming was one of the reasons I went for a 4 drive RAID0 but also I do video and image editing. I got a deal on five 80GB Seagate baracuda harddrives so I was running 4 in a RAID0 configuration and a spare.

My motherboard has an onboard Intel ICH9R RAID controller. I agree that onboard RAID is only slightly better than a software RAID but I should still see better performance than just running one single drive. In my HDTach tests the CPU usage is 11% so I still have 90% of my Q6600 quad core to cope with the rest.


I just did some tests in COD MW2. The game is started fresh from a reboot using the Afghan map with a resolution of 1680x1050, Anti-Aliasing set at 2x and textures set at extra and another test run with it set to high.

My initial time estimates are off because I was way too conservative when counting 1001, 1002, 1003 etc... now timing it with a stopwatch reveals that when textures are set to "extra" it from the time the loading bar in the splash screen displays till it reaches the end takes 53sec and when textures are set to "high" it takes 44 seconds. Please note that if I reload the map without quiting it takes only 5 seconds at the most. I rebooted between the 2 tests I ran to make sure nothing was cached in memory.

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Old Dec 3, 2009, 04:17 PM   #10
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something is very wrong if it takes 40-50 seconds to load the map. i don't have a fancy raid or anything and my load time is about 8-10 seconds. this is only the time for the bar to fill up though... getting into the game can take another 5-20 seconds while the game connects and synchronizes with the server.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 05:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spindoctor View Post
something is very wrong if it takes 40-50 seconds to load the map. i don't have a fancy raid or anything and my load time is about 8-10 seconds. this is only the time for the bar to fill up though... getting into the game can take another 5-20 seconds while the game connects and synchronizes with the server.
My thoughts exactly. Please if anyone has any ideas or suggestions I'm all ears.


I will add that this is on a fresh install of Win7 pro 64bit with 4GB of RAM.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 07:34 PM   #12
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It's your raid setup. It's as simple as that.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 07:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMT View Post
It's your raid setup. It's as simple as that.
That doesn't help me at all. I need suggestions
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 10:57 PM   #14
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What suggestions do you want.

1. Live with it
2. Get a real dedicated RAID card cost much$$$$
3. Don't use it. Cause if one disk dies you lose everything.
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Old Dec 3, 2009, 11:40 PM   #15
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just these 2 games?

but hm.. you'd run into similar slowdowns in a video editor loading multiple clips from multiple file times
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 05:37 AM   #16
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I just checked and my stripe size is set at 16kb. I'm going to image my drives and up that value to 128kb or 256kb to see if it helps. I'm assuming that the game loads much larger files causing multiple read and write request are killing my performance.
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 05:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D0T-C0M View Post
I just checked and my stripe size is set at 16kb. I'm going to image my drives and up that value to 128kb or 256kb to see if it helps. I'm assuming that the game loads much larger files causing multiple read and write request are killing my performance.
That will make fark all difference, but if you want to try it you can.

To Quote.

RAID 0 performance

While the block size can technically be as small as a byte, it is almost always a multiple of the hard disk sector size of 512 bytes. This lets each drive seek independently when randomly reading or writing data on the disk. How much the drives act independently depends on the access pattern from the file system level. For reads and writes that are larger than the stripe size, such as copying files or video playback, the disks will be seeking to the same position on each disk, so the seek time of the array will be the same as that of a single drive. For reads and writes that are smaller than the stripe size, such as database access, the drives will be able to seek independently. If the sectors accessed are spread evenly between the two drives, the apparent seek time of the array will be half that of a single drive (assuming the disks in the array have identical access time characteristics). The transfer speed of the array will be the transfer speed of all the disks added together, limited only by the speed of the RAID controller. Note that these performance scenarios are in the best case with optimal access patterns.
RAID 0 is useful for setups such as large read-only NFS servers where mounting many disks is time-consuming or impossible and redundancy is irrelevant.
RAID 0 is also used in some gaming systems where performance is desired and data integrity is not very important. However, real-world tests with games have shown that RAID-0 performance gains are minimal, although some desktop applications will benefit.[1][2] Another article examined these claims and concludes: "Striping does not always increase performance (in certain situations it will actually be slower than a non-RAID setup), but in most situations it will yield a significant improvement in performance." [3]

Just read the bolded part. It doesnt always work.
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 07:21 AM   #18
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Have a RAID0 as well, and my load times in MW2 are pretty good. The only thing that takes time is the whole synchronization part. At times it would take more than 30 seconds to connect to a (slow) host.

Are you sure that those times are from the actual map loading, and not the regular sync stuff?
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 02:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lunat!c# View Post
Are you sure that those times are from the actual map loading, and not the regular sync stuff?
No the tests I did were on a private server with only me online. I timed from the time the splash screen appears and stops when the loading bar finishes. I'm not counting the time spent syncing.
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 02:50 PM   #20
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Quote:
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RAID 0 is also used in some gaming systems where performance is desired and data integrity is not very important. However, real-world tests with games have shown that RAID-0 performance gains are minimal, although some desktop applications will benefit.[1][2] Another article examined these claims and concludes: "Striping does not always increase performance (in certain situations it will actually be slower than a non-RAID setup), but in most situations it will yield a significant improvement in performance." [3]
I read that complete article and while it may be true that RAID0 does not significantly increase performance it should at the very least perform as good as a single drive which is not the case in my situation. The article does state that choosing a really small stripe size too (in my case 16kb) can cause performance loses to the point where it can be worst that a single drive. I'll rethink my setup on my next computer build but in the meantime I hope to regain my RAID performance to at least the level of a single drive.

While the evidence does seem to support what you say, I was wondering why in real life 4 drives in a RAID0 would not outperform single drive installations?
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 03:16 PM   #21
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Can't reboot mine since I am competing with someone regarding uptime, but I believe mine is 64 kb.

Anyways, RAID 0 should wtfpwn a single solution. My single drive speed is 55 MB/s, in RAID 0 they are close to 100 MB/s (lost some due over clocking). Increasing the strip size to *4/*8 should "fix" it, I would reckon.
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Old Dec 4, 2009, 05:55 PM   #22
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Well I just changed my stripe size to 128KB and my loading time went from 53 seconds to 35 seconds with textures set to "extra". Still not great but at least I'm not as far behind everyone by the time I get out.

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Old Dec 5, 2009, 03:34 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Can't reboot mine since I am competing with someone regarding uptime
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