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Possibly n00bish SATA 1.5 question

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April 1, 2009 6:21:21 PM

My 6-year-old HDD recently died, taking Windows with it. Now I have a new one, and I'm keen to get it going. But my mobo (A7N8X Deluxe) is OLD: it has a Sil3112A SATA chip. I think this means I can only use SATA 1.5 Gb/s, so I made sure the new drive (ST3250410AS) would be functional with old SATA -- it has a jumper block whereby you can limit it to 1.5. BUT- it came without a jumper cap, and I definitely don't have spares! My question therefore is, can I steal a jumper cap from the wake-up jumper on the USBs I don't use without impairing the motherboard otherwise? And if not does my SATA chip-drive combination have any chance of working without forcible limiting to 1.5 Gb/s?

Thanks.
a b G Storage
April 1, 2009 6:49:00 PM

I have a PCI SATA card that has the same SiI3112A chip on it. I've used it to connect a 3.0 Gb/s drive to an older PC (no SATA at all) and it worked just fine without messing with a jumper to force 1.5 Gb/s. It automatically used the slower interface speed despite the drive being set for 3.0 Gb/s.

April 2, 2009 2:04:51 PM

Hmm, but perhaps you updated the SiI drivers? I will be working with whatever software was on there when I bought the mobo in '03: I've never used it before (only just switched the jumper to 'Enable'). Is there a way to load the newest driver without having Windows?
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a b G Storage
April 2, 2009 3:46:01 PM

Are you going to try a clean install of Windows using the SATA controller?

If so, for Windows XP you will have to either make a floppy with the SiI3112A drivers to "F6" load just before OS install, or you can slipstream the drivers onto a new Windows XP install disc using nlite.

Do you have a floppy drive?
April 2, 2009 6:30:49 PM

I am going to clean-install Windows from my OEM recovery CD. Of course, first I need the only HDD in the system to work. Since I got a jumper cap today, I'm now going to find out if it will work without a fuss -- that is, with whatever software is on the mobo, drive and chip. Wish me luck ..

I do have a floppy.
a b G Storage
April 2, 2009 7:48:26 PM

Hopefully, since the SATA controller is onboard the OEM should include the drivers on the recovery CD.

Another thing to try if the hard drive is not accessable at first is go into the BIOS and set the SATA controller to "IDE mode" or "Legacy mode" or similar. These options will make your system see the SATA hard drive as an IDE drive and no extra drivers would be needed. It will be seen just like your old hard drive was.
April 2, 2009 9:39:51 PM

(I can't access the SATA controller in BIOS.)

Right, it doesn't work. BIOS doesn't detect the HDD. This means I have to boot from CD and go F6, right? So I need to know how to load this and this in F6. Floppy will be a problem because although I have a floppy drive on the PC I'm trying to fix, I don't have one on the PC I'm using now. Is my only option then to get a USB floppy external for this PC, to make the discs?
a b G Storage
April 2, 2009 9:45:48 PM

You can't access the controller in BIOS or you can't see the hard drive in BIOS?

If the HDD or controller isn't seen in the BIOS, then it's not a driver problem.

The SATA controller is on the motherboard right? Are you sure it is enabled (turned on) in the BIOS?

April 2, 2009 9:48:59 PM

If there was a (not too technical) way to do it by USB flash, that would be really convenient.
a b G Storage
April 2, 2009 9:53:07 PM

kalefield said:
If there was a (not too technical) way to do it by USB flash, that would be really convenient.
That's one of the improvements that came with Vista: you can load drivers from sources other than a floppy.

What is the model # of your motherboard?
April 2, 2009 9:53:24 PM

Sorry, that last post was an afterthought not related to your reply.

I can't see the HDD in BIOS. I tell it to autodetect and it doesn't find anything.

I have searched the BIOS for anything relating to SATA, and found nothing. The closest I can find are two options for enabling 'serial' ports.

However, on booting, before I get to 'Boot from CD', I see something from the SiI chip asking me if I want to set up RAID and recognising the drive.

Yes, the controller is on the motherboard.
April 2, 2009 9:56:16 PM

Asus A7N8X Deluxe. It's old, 2003-vintage. The SiI BIOS version is 4.1.5; newest on the website is 4.2.84. It looks like I'll have to get an FDD for this PC.
a b G Storage
April 2, 2009 9:57:56 PM

This sounds like the silicon image chip has its own separate BIOS (very similar to having a third party add-on card). The fact that it comes up on boot and detects the drive is a good sign.

Is your OEM recovery CD a Windows XP install disc, or is it a hard drive image? Hopefully its not an image.
April 2, 2009 10:00:15 PM

By the way, what is BASE BIOS?
April 2, 2009 10:02:14 PM

I'm pretty sure you're right about the separate BIOS, and I'm pretty sure it's an install disc.
a b G Storage
April 2, 2009 10:27:06 PM

I had an Abit board from that era and it had a third party controller with it's own BIOS. The base BIOS is probably the one for the motherboard, but I'm not sure. Basically, Asus has attached third party hardware on their board and the maker of the controller supplies its own BIOS. That's also why you couldn'd see the hard drive in the motherboard BIOS.

I downloaded the user manual. The SATA controller is enabled by a jumper. From your previous post, the controller is enabled.

If it's an install disc, try to slipstream the SiI3112 drivers using nlite. Then burn a new slipstreamed install disc. While you're at it, include SP3.

nlite: http://www.nliteos.com/
SP3: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyI...
SiI3112 non-RAID driver: http://www.siliconimage.com/docs/3x12-x86-1.3.68.2-logo...

Once you get your new slipstreamed install disc burned, go into the motherboard BIOS, go to "Advanced", go to "Advanced BIOS Features", make the first boot device the CD-ROM, and then boot to the slipstreamed install disc. Also, make sure "Boot Other Device" is enabled on that same screen. You should be able to install Windows after that.

If your disc is a hard drive image, I don't think you will be able to slipstream the drivers.
April 3, 2009 7:10:17 PM

Your old board has one main BIOS. And the onboard SATA controller has its own BIOS. In order to have it to work, it has to be enabled and then, it shows it own screen, the one you see asking to setup RAID.

On some old controller, Promise come to my mind, you have to setup a one drive RAID array. Maybe this will be your case, if you cannot use the drive as it is. But anyway, you will need the third party drivers disk to actually being able to install XP.

It means that, if your recovery CD wasn't build taking into account that you need the drivers, then restoring to this drive might be impossible. If the restore program is smartlt done, then it will just do as an install, asking for drivers, then restore to the drive.

Anyway, all is not lost. You can reuse your XP serial with any XP CD provided that it is the same version. So, finding an original CD should not be a big deal. This would allow you to install XP clean.
April 3, 2009 10:39:44 PM

One small problem: the SiI support page says you should have the latest BIOS to use the latest drivers and the latest drivers to use the latest BIOS. A catch-22! And regardless, there seems to be no way for me to update the SATA chip BIOS without Windows installed, & still no way with Windows installed, because the BINs they provide are for a PCI card, not for a chip integrated into a motherboard. Well -- they do provide that BIN, but they warn: 'motherboard BIOS for OEM use in development. This BIOS is not intended for general end-users. End-users with a SiI3112 onboard a motherboard, please contact the motherboard manufacturer for a BIOS upgrade.'

I am going to load the latest drivers with floppy. My dad was able to get an old FDD external from work.
April 3, 2009 10:40:09 PM

If this doesn't work, I will slipstream. I was reluctant to because it seemed a little beyond my competence.
April 3, 2009 11:04:32 PM

Hey guys! I think it worked. Nothing happened the first time when I loaded the driver rwp linked to. But I tried again with an old driver (V1.0.0.22) I found on the Asus support site. Asus says it is IDE but I think it is a RAID driver. (Is there any reason the HDD would only work as RAID? Perhaps the factory SiI BIOS is a RAID BIOS.) Anyway, it worked: I am now formatting the disc.

a b G Storage
April 3, 2009 11:17:23 PM

Awesome news.

If the RAID driver works, then use it. As long as Windows is happy with it.

Hopefully you won't run into the 137GB limitation with your 250GB drive. I think drives larger than 137GB need at least SP1 to see the entire disk.

Post back if you have any more issues.
April 3, 2009 11:57:40 PM

You won't believe this: Windows formatted the HDD, it copied a ton of files onto it, and told me to restart. I restarted, and was back to square one. It doesn't recognise the disc and won't setup Windows. What a farce! I have a load of work and won't be able to go further on this problem for a month. But I will probably try slipstreaming. I am even considering updating the mobo BIOS. How risky is that?
April 4, 2009 12:59:43 AM

That will do the same thing.. the controller's dribvers are not include in the restore image, so, xp will never boot from this controller. Just get a normal xp cd, and reinstall just normally
April 4, 2009 1:00:27 AM

And updating the BIOS won't do anything..
April 4, 2009 1:07:31 AM

And if you have a local shop, you can ask the for a copy of XP.. that will save you lot of time.
April 4, 2009 2:18:02 AM

The problem with getting a new XP CD is the price ;) 
April 4, 2009 2:44:18 AM

Here is the XP disc I'm using:



Can I slipstream drivers onto this or do I just have to get a new copy?

April 4, 2009 2:45:08 AM

Wait, that didn't work. Try:
April 4, 2009 2:45:14 AM

no, you don't need the real one, you already have the key. All you need is a copy of the cd (just like if your real cd was lost or defective) and you're good to go. You could even find one on the torrent. This is not piracy, you already have the thing, you just don't have the media.

I did that to reinstall my laptop. I got a cd of XP Home and reinstalled it without the crap Acer (and others) like to install on their laptop
April 4, 2009 3:02:06 AM

Could you link me to a suitable torrent?
April 4, 2009 3:29:24 AM

you can use a torrent search engine, like thepiratebay.org and search. you will see some links, you may need to try some to see which one download the faster.

Just make sure to download the same version (pro or home) that the one you have
April 4, 2009 4:45:18 AM

Ok, good news I think. XP installation actually worked, it's just that because BIOS was set to boot from CD I wasn't getting to the point where I could setup Windows. Bad news: I made a 20Gb partition and installed it there. I now can't see the rest of the HDD. So I'm praying there's a way to format it without reinstalling Windows ...

Ps. Is there a trick to doing Alt+F2 to get AWDFLASH? I can't seem to do it.
April 4, 2009 6:38:16 AM

The latest is I flashed the BIOS and it did help a little: it actually updated the SiI BIOS and added an SCSI/SATA boot priority option. I have extended my Windows partition and am now downloading SP3 (this Windows is pre-SP1!).

As a side note, nlite didn't make a usable CD. It may have been the fault of MagicISO.

Problem largely fixed then. Thank you both for your help: you were too generous.
April 4, 2009 1:28:48 PM

if you left-click on "My Computer" icon, and select "manage", and click on "disk manager" in the left menu, you will see all the info you need about your disk.
April 5, 2009 4:06:55 AM

Yep: all good. All I have now are tiny problems like getting " when I press @ on the keyboard, and some incredibly piercing white noise coming from my ATX 12V.
!