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SATA problems on Intel D975XBX mobo

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August 20, 2006 3:03:58 AM

This motherboard has 8 SATA ports - 4 on the Intel 975 chipset and 4 on a Silicon Image 3114 controller. I have individual (non-RAID) hard drives plugged into both controllers. I am running Windows XP Pro SP2. Here are the two issues:

1. Windows will not recognize any hard drives connected to the Silicon Image controller. It WILL recognize my SATA DVD drive (Plextor 755SA). I suspect the problem is the driver - Silicon Image usually provides separate "base" (non-RAID) and RAID drivers but only the RAID driver was provided by Intel. The hard drives are recognized on bootup, so I don't believe it's a hardware issue. Of course the Silicon Image web site does not have a suitable base driver for this configuration, only the add-in card, which Windows won't recognize as a suitable driver.

2. The Intel 975 chipset SATA controller has 3 possible modes set in the Bios - IDE, AHCI, and RAID. I don't need RAID mode but would like to run in AHCI mode since this enables enhanced features. Switching from IDE mode to AHCI mode causes Windows to crash. Indeed the Intel web site says that if you install windows on a SATA drive while in IDE mode and then switch to AHCI mode, Windows will crash. Well ok, I already discoverwed that, but how do I "update" the Windows installation to work in AHCI mode?
August 20, 2006 4:28:21 AM

For your first issue, do your drives connected to the SI controller show up in Windows Disk Management? If so, do they show up as blank? If so, you need to create a new partition on them so that they'll show up in Windows Explorer.

Alternatively, it may be that without base-functionality drivers, the SI controller can't present individual drives to Windows - they might have to be in a RAID, or at least a JBOD configuration.

For the second issue, I've just written a guide that will address this issue. If you get your SI controller working properly, you can use it rather than a PCI intermediate storage controller to change your ICH7R from IDE to AHCI mode.
August 20, 2006 5:29:13 AM

The drives connected to the SI do not show up in Disk Manager. They are data drives with existing data on them from my old machine. Odd that the RAID drivers would cause the DVD to show up, but not the hard drives.

So to fix #2 and use AHCI, I need to basically use Ghost to copy from this drive to an AHCI formatted drive? That kinda sucks since I would need to do it twice since I only have one Raptor drive, but I'll keep that in mind for when I get a Raptor SATA II drive, which unfortunately hasn't even been announced yet.
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August 20, 2006 6:16:07 AM

Update - if I run the Silicon Image RAID management program, it does show available drives for creating a RAID array. It does not let me configure the controller for individual drives, thus confirming that Intel is giving out only the RAID driver and I need the BASE driver. Of course you know where this leads. Intel pointing to Silicon Image and Silicon Image pointing to Intel and the consumer getting screwed. Another option is to somehow make the Silicon Image controller think that these hard drives are not "RAIDable" and thus it will pass them through just like it did with the DVD drive. Any ideas?
August 20, 2006 3:37:39 PM

I downloaded the user manual for the SI 3114 controller from SI's site. I know it isn't exactly the same as the Intel implementation, but it did give me a few ideas.

It says in that documentation that single disks are not passed on to the BIOS, only defined RAID arrays. This is probably why your existing disks don't show up. As far as the DVD, I think the controller knows that's not a RAID-able device, therefore passes it through to the BIOS.

The documentation did say that to use a single disk, what you can do is create a new array that is a JBOD array, and only add a single disk to it.

Before you do this with your drives that contain data, I would try it with a different drive and see if the data/partition that's on it survives the procedure. It's very possible that the controller will wipe the data on it.

If none of that works, you'll have to attach your drives containing data to the ICH7R controller to access them. If you have enough free space elsewhere, maybe you could move the drives one at a time to the ICH7R, copy the data off, move it to the SI controller, create a 1-drive JBOD, and then copy the data back. Do that one at a time for each drive.

If the 1-drive JBOD works, you could use that to transfer your ICH7R from IDE to AHCI mode. You would need a blank drive and would need to copy your C: partition to that drive on the SI controller temporarily.
August 20, 2006 9:11:27 PM

I can't do that - the drives need to be removeable. I have them connected to removeable storage trays. If I can't hot-swap, I can't use it.
August 21, 2006 12:04:51 AM

Sounds like the least troublesome and easiest solution is a 4-port SATAII PCI card, i.e. Promise SATA300 TX4. $67 at newegg.com.

Turn the SI controller off in the BIOS and be done with it. 8)

The Promise card doesn't specifically say that it supports hot swap, but I'm under the impression that SATAII specifications state that hot swap must be supported, and the card is definitely SATAII. Thus, I would be surprised if the card didn't support hot swap, but you might e-mail Promise to be sure.

Once you transition your ICH7R to AHCI mode, it will also support hot swap.
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