New laptop came with this preinstalled. Is it bloatware or OK to uninstall?
TL;DR - If you have one of the below I/O controller hubs, leave the MSM installed to enable AHCI and native command queueing. Do so even if you have drives not in a RAID configuration.
Details: From the Matrix Storage Manager FAQ: Do I need Intel® Matrix Storage Manager if I don't want to use RAID?
The Intel® Matrix Storage Manager is recommended for installation on platforms with the below controller hubs, even if you do not want to take advantage of the benefits of RAID. This is because it also provides support for Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) on those platforms.
Some of the benefits of AHCI include increased performance and new usage models, enabled by features such as Native Command Queuing (NCQ), hot plug, and Link Power Management (LPM).
Intel® Matrix Storage Manager, when used in conjunction with a hard drive that supports NCQ and one of the below chipsets, can increase storage performance on random workloads. Hot plug (also referred to as hot swap) allows devices to be removed and inserted while the system is running. LPM is a mobile-specific feature that, when used in conjunction with a hard drive that supports it, enables lower power consumption under certain workloads.
AHCI is supported by the following I/O controller hubs:
Intel® 82801IR/IO controller hub (ICH9R) Intel® 82801HEM I/O controller hub (ICH8M-E) Intel® 82801HBM I/O controller hub (ICH8M) Intel® 82801HR/HH/HO I/O controller hub (ICH8R) Intel® 631xESB/632xESB I/O controller hub Intel® 82801GHM I/O controller hub (ICH7MDH) Intel® 82801GBM I/O controller hub (ICH7M) Intel® 82801GR I/O controller hub (ICH7R) Intel® 82801GH I/O controller hub (ICH7DH) Intel® 82801FBM I/O controller hub (ICH6M) Intel® 82801FR I/O controller hub (ICH6R)
If you have an Intel software RAID, I'm pretty sure that's the monitor/management program for it. If you uninstall it, you'll likely not be informed of any disk failures, and possibly you'll have to use the BIOS utility to rebuild after any failure (or, maybe, rebuild will not be possible at all)
Intel's page about it: http://www.intel.com/support/chipsets/imsm/
Unfortunately, the MSM ROM Bios has the tools to configure a RAID, but it actually does not manage it, except to perform automatic XORing, mirroring and striping for updating disks or reading from them (i.e. just to perform basic single sector remappings and a feow supplementary I/Os on other disk members). The actual rebuild requires OS support to perform the actual rebuild by performing null read/writes to the sectors, so that the BIOS will compute the XORs and remap the sectors on the actual disks. When the reconstruction is finished, the RAID controler will maintain a basic growing counter of sectors that have been checked and rewritten on all disks. and when the last sector is reached, it will update the final sector on each disk of the array and will send a signal to a listening driver that the reconstruction is finished. The RAID controler itself does not expose a lot of things except the value of its current sectors counter that the OS still needs to read (to allow the BIOS to check and update the other disks).
If there's any error, the option ROM BIOS will suddenly shutdown the array and you'll your RAID volumes being dismounted, as if they were ejected abruptly (the BIOs will commit terminate its pending writes on member disks and will then stop these disks to low power mode, waiting for you to reboot to see what to do : you would notmally have to install a new spare disk and then reset the RAID array to recover mode, and the rebuild will then restart from sector zero... Very stupidly !).
Unfortunately, the option ROM BIOS can be used to set the disks to recovery mode, but the volumes won't be available to the OS as long as the reconstruction of the initial vital sectors needed to recognize the volume partitions have not been rebuilt to allow the OS to remount the volume. So the next boot will still have the disks missing for some time, but you still need to reboot without these volumes. If your RAID volume contains files needed to boot Windows, this means that Windows won't be able to boot : you'll still need to boot from a Windows DVD of Flash key, just to go up to the failsafe mode, where the iastor*.sys drivers are loaded and able to work on the recovery process requested.
Why can't the ROM BIOS start making the recovery when you're still in the option BIOS screen ? It's a mystery, it should not require a lot of code in the ROM BIOS to perform this task safely, without being interrupted by concurrent accesses by the OS.
Also the MSM is poor in how you can partition your volumes on your array : only TWO volumes are supported at most (Volume0 for the start of the array, and ALL the rest for Volume1, using the same number of disks and with a limited choice of RAID options for Volume1 once you have chosen the RAID mode for Volume0).
MSM on IRST is a toy, not serious to consider. If your PC has it, consider buying another better PCIexpress RAID controller.
In addition, IRST is installed on some motherboards in such as occupies all ports SATA AHCI ports 0-5, and a typical RAID 5 would normally occupy 5 ports, leaving only 1 port available to boot from something else (if you have activated the RAID BIOS, the system can no longer boot on other SATA ports managed by supplementary controlers!) Notably you should expect being able to boot your system on a SSD (installed on the 6th port, but how will you install it if you can't boot from a DVD ? You'll need to plug your SSD on the 6th port, the DVD will be on a 7th port but not available for booting and installing Windows or another OS on your SSD. So you'll need to install the OS from a USB key (make sure your standard BIOS ROM allows booting from a USB Flash disk on which you've copied the installer, and make sure you have this key available if ever you need to enter in recovery mode). The alternative is to use an external DVD reader plugged in an USB port).
MSM IRST is preinstalled on motherboards in such a way that any RAID5 configuration is supposed to host the OS (and this is a false assumption, as a RAID5 is generally used to store a lot of data : your documents, and the backups of your OS and applications or documents or databases).
RAID5 is unusable if your controler just has 4 to 6 ports on which it canb boot, it should have at least 8 ports (5 ports for your RAID5 volumes, plus 1 port for the spare drive, plus 1 SSD for the OS and your applications, plus 1 DVD reader), you should also have other ports for connecting a large enough backup (for this usage consider performing backups onto USB disks and once a backup completes and is verified, make a copy to another USB volume, but don't perform continuous backups to a RAID-mirrored pair of disks, but if you do, it should be usaing another controler. But the problem is that the other RAID controler will not be able to mount its own ROM Bios...).
Really, better solutioàns for RAID storages shoulf use better softwares not stored in ROM but managed in a bootable (and recoverable) UEFI partition with all tools needed to recover disks safely and then partition the rest of the RAID volume as you want; this UEFI Bios should also be able to controle everything including being able to check the contents of the volumes for various OSes using them in various filesystem formats.
Ideally a RAID5 will better live within a NAS, with almost no BIOS but a Linux kernel stored in internal Flash, and with a Telnet CLI access to control it. This kernel should then be able to export share content in PXE bootable mode (for booting any kind of OS) or make it available on network with iSCSI protocol or other sharing filesystems (NFS, CMB/LanMan/NetBios, UPnP media players, FTP, ...).
Do you really want RAID5 in Windows ? No. use a NAS (available to your Windows PC via a fast Gigabit Ethernet link, or a faster Fiber channel, or at least USB3).