SATA HD/MB BIOS settings questions

First let me say Hello. I'm new to PC building and find myself having a heck of a time getting all the answers I search for so let me get to it. This is driving me nuts. I am trying to figure out what settings I need in my BIOS (Gigabyte P35-DS3P Rev. 2.O) to enable the SATA HDs (Seagate 250GB SATAs) to perform at their maximum potential. I've heard the benchmarks for SATA HDDs using RAID/AHCI are not that much different than running them in IDE emulation. If that's the case then I will just do a normal install but if the actual speed of data transfer is slower w/it in IDE then I want to configure it to RAID and use the SATA advantages.

Now, apparently Intel suggests setting the BIOS to RAID to take full advantage of SATA's capability but the manual for my MB doesn't explain how to do a semi-RAID configuration (I have no intention of setting up a RAID array). Here are the questions I have:
1)What particular BIOS setting(s) do I manipulate and what drivers do I install at F6 before setting up Windows XP Home?
2)If the MB DVD has all the drivers on it, wouldn't I then be able to install the drivers without the use of the floppy drive? All the drivers won't fit on 1 floppy so I need to know specifically which one needs to be installed to support the semi-RAID configuration Intel talks about.
3)Most importantly, am I wasting time and energy worrying about it or will IDE emulation provide the same or close to the same performance as RAID/AHCI? What is the advantage of setting BIOS/installing RAID drivers to RAID/AHCI?

I will give the list of drivers and maybe someone much smarter than I can point out the culprit(s). I have 6 onboard SATA ports, 4 controlled by the ICH9R and 2 controlled by the Gigabyte controller but which one is for the ICH9R controlled ports?

Here's a link to the manual for the board as well.

These are the drivers on the MB DVD:
2)Si3114 BASE Driver
3)Si3114 RAID Driver
4)VIA 6410 RAID
5)Promise 20779 SATA Driver
6)Promise 20779 SATA RAID Driver
7)Intel Matrix Storage Manager 32 bit
8)Intel Matrix Storage Manager 64 bit
9)Si3132 BASE (32 Bit) Driver
A)Si3132 BASE (64 Bit) Driver
B)Si3132 RAID (32 Bit) Driver
C)Si3132 RAID (64 Bit) Driver
D)iTE 8211 Driver

I'm am truly sorry for the long-winded post but I'm getting ready to build this (final parts arrive Friday) and I've done the google thing, and searched high and low in the forum for this topic but I'm going cross-eyed. If someone with the knowledge could provide me a link, or something, that would make my day. Thanks.
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  1. PCDumb said:
    I've heard the benchmarks for SATA HDDs using RAID/AHCI are not that much different than running them in IDE emulation. What is the advantage of setting BIOS/installing RAID drivers to RAID/AHCI?

    Most HDD run faster in IDE mode, my Raptor 150GB runs faster without the RAID/AHCI mode. I don't even have the drivers on my computer for RAID/AHCI, but if I ever want them installed I can use the Jmicron SATA controller as a back door to install them as I did before my reinstallation. The only reason you'd want the RAID drivers installed if your going to use two HDD in RAID 0 configuration.
  2. Okay, so I will not lose enough performance using them in IDE vs. RAID to notice? If I load the drivers for a rainy day, will I need to reload XP if I change the BIOS from IDE to RAID later? Or will it just be a matter of changing the settings and rebooting? I guess my question is should I go ahead and load the drivers while it's a fresh install?
  3. Seems Intel says it's best to run the SATA drives in RAID even if you're not using them in an Array because it unlocks the SATA potential. Here is the quoted material:

    The Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) is a hardware mechanism that allows software to communicate with Serial ATA (SATA) devices such as host bus adapters which are designed to offer features not offered by Parallel ATA (PATA) controllers besides higher speeds, such as hot-plugging and native command queuing. The specification details a system memory structure for computer hardware vendors in order to transfer data between system memory and the device. The current version of the specification is, as of July 2007, v1.2.[1]

    Many SATA controllers can enable AHCI either separately or in conjunction with RAID support. Intel recommends choosing the RAID mode (which also enables AHCI) on their motherboards rather than the AHCI/SATA mode.[2]

    So, are they talking about just their boards or boards with their chipsets?
  4. If you didn't install the raid/ahci drivers when installing you OS then theres only one way to do it. (1) Go into bios and change SATA to AHCI. (2) Choose you primary boot to the Jmicron controller. Power down your PC. (3) Unplug your PC from the electric outlet.

    (4) Unplug SATA cable from SouthBridge and plug it into the Jmicron controller. (5) Boot up your computer and Install your raid/ahci drivers from here. (6) Power down and do everything in reverse.

    Now you have installed the raid/ahci drivers without having to reinstall your OS all over again. :D

    But like I said on my HDD (Raptor X) the performance is not as good running in AHCI mode. Remember that the performance comes from your HDD more than anything else. My random access times and are relys more on the HDD itself.
  5. Okay. Thanks alot for the help. I appreciate it.
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