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I'm Perplexed about SATA and RAID Drivers

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August 2, 2007 4:27:01 AM

Perhaps I'm over thinking this, but here goes. I am currently constructing my first build using an Intel D975XBX2 mobo and I am confused about the RAID Drivers that came with the board. I am not going to set up RAID, but I read in a pc building guide that in order for XP to see my SATA HDD I must install the RAID drivers that came with my mobo on floppy. The mobo manual does not appear to say this, but I'm unsure. If you are unfamilar with the mobo, it has both an Intel RAID controller as well as a Marvell controller with each one supporting 4 SATA ports. Essentially, I'm asking if it is necessary to install the RAID drivers during the initial OS install using F6 in order to get up and running.

Second, while I do not want to set up RAID, I may wish to add an addtional HDD down the line for additional storage. Can I simply add another HDD? Or, does this require AHCI and, therefore, require installation of RAID drivers? Or, is this question moot because no matter how many HDD's I have, it is always absolutely necessary to install RAID drivers. By the way, my optical drives are both SATA if that makes a difference.

I have no problem installing RAID drivers, but I was wondering if that will cause problems if I only have one HDD.

Obviously I'm confused and need some assistance. Sorry for being such a noob.

Oh, and I do not have a floppy drive.
a b G Storage
August 2, 2007 4:45:04 AM

If you were to set up a RAID array, yes you need to use the floppy when installing Windows. Windows needs to know how to use the controller for RAID and it is not included with Windows by default.

You do not need to use the RAID driver for adding another HDD. Just plug it in, boot up, and set up your disk. It's just as easy with a RAID setup as well. I have RAID-0 as well as a single backup disk, which is on the same controller but not a part of the RAID-0 array.

So, you only need the floppy disk to install RAID...nothing more. It is a good idea to have the Intel/Mavell controller drivers installed after installing Windows however as they may provide other functionalities (as well as letting you avoid those stupid "New Hardware Found" messages), but it will not get confused by having a single disk or SATA CD drives. For you, plug-n-play.
August 2, 2007 5:07:01 AM

Thanks, Leo. That's helpful. I think I will just install the RAID drivers as you suggest. Are the other functionalities you refer to AHCI? Is this what avoids the "New Hardware Found" messages by enabling the ability to hot swap HDD's? This reminds me of another question. I seem to recall people having issues with the Marvell controller. Is there any particular order in which I should untilize the SATA ports? Should I stick with the Intel controller if possible?
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August 2, 2007 5:09:42 AM

flauntyham said:
Perhaps I'm over thinking this, but here goes. I am currently constructing my first build using an Intel D975XBX2 mobo and I am confused about the RAID Drivers that came with the board. I am not going to set up RAID, but I read in a pc building guide that in order for XP to see my SATA HDD I must install the RAID drivers that came with my mobo on floppy. The mobo manual does not appear to say this, but I'm unsure. If you are unfamilar with the mobo, it has both an Intel RAID controller as well as a Marvell controller with each one supporting 4 SATA ports. Essentially, I'm asking if it is necessary to install the RAID drivers during the initial OS install using F6 in order to get up and running.

Second, while I do not want to set up RAID, I may wish to add an addtional HDD down the line for additional storage. Can I simply add another HDD? Or, does this require AHCI and, therefore, require installation of RAID drivers? Or, is this question moot because no matter how many HDD's I have, it is always absolutely necessary to install RAID drivers. By the way, my optical drives are both SATA if that makes a difference.

I have no problem installing RAID drivers, but I was wondering if that will cause problems if I only have one HDD.

Obviously I'm confused and need some assistance. Sorry for being such a noob.

Oh, and I do not have a floppy drive.


Just about all onboard RAID controllers (onboard 3rd party IC or built into the south bridge like Intel ICHxR series) have an IDE and RAID mode. In IDE mode, SATA devices normally get native support from the BIOS and require no drivers. Even booting from a floppy and running an old version of Ghost will see the drive.

Exceptions include many early generation VIA southbridge controllers with SATA support. They required a driver. They seemed to only be able to run single SATA drive as a JABOD RAID disk.

nVidia has a nice setup as you can normally enable and disable RAID support on each port. Which means a SATA DVD-RW can coexist on the same controller as a SATA mirror or stripe. With, Intel it seems to be all or nothing so you have to have a board with more than one SATA controller.
August 2, 2007 5:29:40 AM

Ok, Vic. I think I understand. If I'm hearing you, I only have to worry about conflicts between optical drives and HDD's on the same controller if I'm setting up RAID. Otherwise, it should be ok to mix and match, so to speak. Is there a preferred method? In other words, should I first occupy SATA ports 0-3 on the Intel controller irrespective of the type of drive before moving to the Marvell or should that even matter? By the way, I believe one of the Marvell ports is to be used for an eSata adapter.
August 2, 2007 5:32:24 AM

What do you mean you don't have a floppy drive :ouch:  ? They are cheap and essential to any computer, especially for the more recent ones with SATA drives.

Don't worry though, I also was behind the times as you are :D  , had to install my sata drives without a floppy.

you can slipstream your SATA drives on a bootable winXP installation CD. If you're not familar with sleapstreaming you can check wikipedia or google.
A nice and nifty tool for slipstreamin' is nlite available at http://www.nliteos.com/,
Slipstreaming also maybe useful if you want to include latest updates, drivers on your cd, or if you want an unattended installation (that's exactly nlite's purpose)

If you think that hassle is not worth your time, as far as I know your only other way is wasting cash on a floppy drive.
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