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SATA mode versus Legacy Mode

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August 15, 2006 4:47:25 PM

Hey All-

I have a new SATA drive that I want to install Windows XP fresh on but I don't have a floppy drive that works anymore and don't feel like going through the slipstream hassle. I was wondering what (if any) performance hit I would be taking by setting the drive to Legacy IDE mode in BIOS and just install it with windows thinking it is IDE?

Thanks
a b G Storage
August 15, 2006 5:16:42 PM

Unless you buy a SATA to IDE adapter, no it's not possible. Just slipstream SP2 and the rest of the hotfixes and be done with it. The easiest way would be to first slipstream SP2 with nLite, then download the latest version of RyanVM's update pack. I believe you can also use nLite to integrate that, but in case I am wrong, download the RVM integrator and use it.
August 15, 2006 5:54:24 PM

Wait.. I'm a noob here.. Why do you need a floppy drive? I installed XP on my SATA drive clean a couple years ago w/o a floppy drive.. I had XP install CDs. Slipstream refers to network deployment right? Thx
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a b G Storage
August 15, 2006 6:32:53 PM

No, slipstream refers to the process of integrating service packs and hotfixes on to the XP cd. Once they are slipstreamed, the user no longer has to install them seperately, because they have already been applied. With SP2 slipstreamed, you shouldn't require a floppy to load the proper drivers (or a SATA to IDE adapter), they should already be on the disk.
August 15, 2006 6:39:20 PM

In that case if I use a XP with SP2 disk from MSDN should that work without a floppy?
a b G Storage
August 15, 2006 7:00:20 PM

You don't need any disk's from MSDN, you can get the SP2 install file here and integrate it yourself. Once the update is integrated with the XP disk, the floppy shouldn't be needed.
August 15, 2006 7:04:00 PM

Ya I know, but I have the SP2 MSDN disk in a cd case right next to my machine :D 
a b G Storage
August 15, 2006 7:07:39 PM

I see.... thought you meant you were going to order it....
August 15, 2006 7:22:02 PM

Nope I get it through the school or whatnot. But, in any event, if the SP2 Disk will have SATA drivers on it then I guess that is all I need to do . Thanks a lot.
August 15, 2006 7:45:44 PM

Quote:
Nope I get it through the school or whatnot. But, in any event, if the SP2 Disk will have SATA drivers on it then I guess that is all I need to do . Thanks a lot.


Depends on what kind of SATA controller you have as to whether the Windows XP (with or without SP2) will have drivers for it or not.

If your SATA controller is in legacy mode, Windows will use generic IDE drivers for setup. Once Windows is running, if you install chipset drivers for your motherboard, you'll get a manufacturer-optimized IDE driver, but it will still communicate with the SATA controller via the legacy IDE/ATA protocols.

If you put the SATA controller in native mode/AHCI mode, Windows will usually report that it can't find a storage controller on your computer. In this case, you need a floppy drive and a floppy with the native SATA drivers on it, and you'll press F6 during the Windows setup to have it load the drivers from the floppy. This is the same way you set up a machine that has a SCSI controller or RAID controller as the boot device.

If you use legacy mode, you give up two things that the native SATA driver can do: Native Command Queueing (NCQ), and Hot-Swap capabilities.

There have been other discussions on the forum about NCQ, and tests on current SATA drives that support NCQ seem to indicate that NCQ can actually slightly slow performance when used on a single-user workstation, although it can speed up performance when used on a server. I personally feel this is the result of immature development of NCQ capabilities in current SATA drives and controllers, and I feel that those results will reverse themselves in future SATA implementations, but that's only my speculation.

Hot-Swap can be useful in very specific circumstances. At work here we have some video editing workstations that use a removeable caddy hard drive system, where each video project is stored on it's own removeable caddy. Moving to native SATA drivers in these systems enabled us to hot-swap the caddies, rather than previously where we would have to shut the systems down to swap.

I personally would recommend the native SATA/AHCI mode and it's associated drivers, even though it's more of a pain to set up. The controller manufacturers will be concentrating their performance efforts there, and future drives, controllers, and drivers that improve performance will be built around native mode, not legacy mode.
August 15, 2006 8:09:01 PM

Quote:
If you use legacy mode, you give up two things that the native SATA driver can do: Native Command Queueing (NCQ), and Hot-Swap capabilities.

true, but in both cases the disk AND the controller must support ncq and hot swap. if one of them does not support, then he can use in legacy mode with no loss of performance at all.
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