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Add-in PCI-e SATA card causing problems

Last response: in Storage
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July 2, 2008 11:11:20 PM

My first question, so I hope this is the right section.

I have an ECS A780GM motherboard which has 5 SATA connections - I need 6. I used a PCI 2 port SATA card with 2 SATA DVD R/W's attached with no problem, but I now need to free up a PCI slot. So, I bought a PCI-e 2 port SATA card, similar to http://www.syba.com/Product/Info/Id/4

Installation no problem and all BIOSes updated successfully to the latest versions etc. BUT..... if I boot my system with any drive connected to the new card, I get a "load bootable media" error message. If I boot my system with NO drives connected to the new card, I can start XP as normal. SATA "hot swap" means I can connect drives after XP has booted but that hardly seems to be an ideal solution!

It seems that the new card is hi-jacking the boot order I have set in the motherboard BIOS and the motherboard BIOS seems to have no way of excluding the new card at boot time!!

Has anyone encountered a similar problem? If so, is there a solution?
July 2, 2008 11:26:38 PM

Your card should have it's own BIOS POST entry (like Ctrl-S or something) or a Windows configuration utility that should be able to turn off the boot function.
July 5, 2008 10:05:43 AM

Thanks for the idea. I had loaded the non-RAID BIOS into the card, which gives pretty well no control etc. I therefore loaded the RAID BIOS and installed the Windows app for controlling the card and attached drives. But I still cannot prevent the boot failure when any drives are connected. I even changed so that I was running HDD's off the card, on the basis that I might have more success with RAID manipulation. Still no joy. I can set the drives to be either "ordinary drives" (ie no RAID functionality at all) or JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Drives which may or may not be part of a RAID set). Either way, if I connect the cables after Windows has started, they are usable in Windows Explorer and their status is correctly set when I use the Silicon Image RAID utility.

I have used the motherboard BIOS to specifically exclude these drives from the boot order - the only bootable device is my original RAID set attached to the motherboard.

I can try moving the RAID set from which I boot at the moment to the new card, although I can't be sure that the method of implementing RAID will be the same and that they will be readable by a different controller chip. I cannot reinstall Windows, unless I am prepared to loose the facility to boot from a RAID set in the future: I will have to connect a CD-Rom to the new card to install from and that's one of the two SATA ports gone.

One thing - if I attempt to boot with drives attached to the new card, I get a "Checking NVRAM" message on screen for a second (or less). This suggests that the new card is somehow changing the BIOS but not in a permanent way - if I go into BIOS setup next time around, the boot order is as I would have wished.

I guess some problems just don't get solved - it's what helps keep hardware manufacturers in business!!
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Anonymous
a b V Motherboard
a b G Storage
February 7, 2010 5:17:39 AM

I've the same problem. How to resolve it ?
a b V Motherboard
a c 127 G Storage
February 8, 2010 4:23:01 AM

Its possible the firmware trips when reading the last sectors on each drive to determine if they are part of a RAID or not. If these contain random data from a filesystem, because the disks were previously used as RAID (i.e. not brand new disks) this may cause problems.

Try zero-writing your raw disks, for example while being in linux.

1) connect only the disks you want to zero-write
2) boot from ubuntu livecd
3) execute in terminal "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=1M" which runs for a few hours then gives output.
4) put then im your onboard RAID controller again and retry creating an array.

This may help. Note that a regular full-format in Windows XP does not zero-write the disk.
a b V Motherboard
a c 342 G Storage
February 8, 2010 1:02:42 PM

Since you're working with XP, how are the SATA ports on your mobo set for mode? Are they set to use IDE (or PATA) emulation for some ports? Or, was this system set up originally with a RAID array as the boot device? XP by itself cannot use a SATA or AHCI device - it needs drivers installed into Windows for this. Now, if you are booting from a RAID array, it already has a driver for that device, so you may never have tried booting from a SATA device and failed.

I'm just wondering if, with the new controller in place and udner the influence of its BIOS extension, the system is trying to ensure that the SATA devices connected to it are available to Windows, and they are not because Windows XP does not understand SATA / AHCI. For any SATA devices on your mobo controller ports that you do NOT boot from, this would be solved easily by installing the SATA or AHCI driver in Win XP. But if the new controller card somehow is interrupting the boot process and telling Win XP about the SATA devices it holds before Windows ever gets to loading the required driver, maybe that's a problem. By any chance, does the new card's BIOS allow you to configure its SATA ports to do IDE (or PATA) Emulation the way so many current mobo BIOS's do?
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