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Trying to get this SATA PCI controller installed

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August 17, 2009 3:53:13 AM

I have a Compaq Presario SR2050NX that I've debugged and determined that the onboard HD controller is bad. I bought a Sabrent PCI SATA card to try and use without reinstalling windows on the HD. I followed the directions on installing the controller and it's not working to boot the primary drive.

I have an identical Presario unit, so I thought I'd use it to double check the config on it because the motherboard is solid. I loaded the Windows Sabrent driver on this second unit onto the hard drive using onboard controller while stand up card was installed with no drives. Then powered down, plugged my drive in the standup controller and booted up. I get a black screen with a blinking cursor when trying to boot anything - windows or diags partition.

I disabled the onboard SATA controllers and the primary IDE in the BIOS just to see if I could get this controller to boot as primary. It sees my seagate 250 gb HD as drive 0 in the BIOS, but it doesn't list this card anywhere that I can see. It just displays the Sabrent bios (Silicon Image) and then has a black screen with a blinking cursor.

I also checked the F4 Raid util on the card, and it sees the drive as well. I'm not using a raid setup or config, just 0.

I've tried to make sure it's first to boot, but no luck.

It has a RC410-M (Asterope3) Motherboard,
and AMI BIOS 3.17 07/26/06 Core version 08.00.12
BIOS string: 63-0100-000001-000101111-072606-RS400-RC410-M-YZKC

What setting am I getting wrong? I saw no jumpers on the standup card - it has two connection ports. Is there any util that I can see what's going on? I enabled it to display diags when booting up but didn't get enough info.

Thank you for any help on this :) 
Cat
a b G Storage
August 17, 2009 7:58:35 AM

Hey crystal, your problem sounds particularly mystifying... does the manual require you to hook up the PCI card to your motherboard, aside from just plugging it into the card slot?
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a c 87 G Storage
August 17, 2009 4:40:31 PM

1) Can you hook up the card to your 2nd (working) system, install the drivers if needed and a hard drive? This will test the card.

2) I didn't see you mention that you installed drivers for the SATA controller.

3) I know you don't want to reinstall Windows, but if you have a hard drive that you can test why not get a free copy of Windows 7 RC as it is much more driver friendly.

4) You can also test your basic hardware with a Linux LIVE CD (like Ubuntu) which doesn't require a hard drive.

I'm wondering if it isn't just that you haven't properly installed the drivers for the controller card. My experience is from installing Windows from scratch so I'm not sure of the exact steps for adding a controller card and hard drive with Windows already on it.
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August 24, 2009 1:20:07 AM

Thanks for the responses!

r_manic - no, it only requires it to be plugged into the slot.

Photonboy - I did install the windows drivers on the hard drive. Sorry I didn't mention that. It would not boot that hard drive. I will try Win 7 soon if I need to. I was just about to try the Live CD to test the hardware just in case. Oh, and I don't have a spare hard drive to try a new/fresh install to play with. Just making do at the moment.

I finally got confirmation from HP's site that it is my hard drive controller on the motherboard that has failed. I still haven't received a response from the SATA controller's support - Sabrent.com to get the card to boot the hd.

HP is out of my mobo part, but I found a new spare part motherboard for $107 that matches on another site.

Decisions, decisions. :)  I'll play with it a few more days before ordering the mother board - then I can still use the SATA controller as a secondary if needed.

Trying to resolve this thing without too much $$. Also, we have a couple of programs we use that we are not ready to upgrade to Vista or Win 7 versions.

Thanks again for the help - I'll keep you posted. :) 
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a c 342 G Storage
August 24, 2009 3:52:33 PM

My guess is the root of the problem is drivers, so let's go through the sequence of possibilities.

1. How can your BIOS and Windows access the new controller itself? Most such add-on cards have a "BIOS extension" on them that works with your own mobo's BIOS so that the card appears to be just another part of your mobo's hardware, with no special software drivers needed. Two big clues to this: if the PCI controller card claims you just plug it in and it works, very likely that's how they do this and it does work. Also, you indicate your BIOS can see the 250 GB drive. I don't have one of these, but in a recent post OP said in a case like this the BIOS Setup screen did not list the HDD connected to the PCI card in the first screen that lists "all" the hard drives, but it DID list it in the place where you set up which drive you boot from in which order. So the BIOS saw it, just did not list it up front apparently because it was not under the direct control of the BIOS on the mobo.

2. OK, so if the BIOS sees it, how does Windows get to it? From your posts I assume you're using Win XP. Like versions before it, XP has built into it the driver it needs for using IDE (aka PATA) hard drives, and no others. Originally for the case of SCSI drives and RAID systems it has another ability, and this also handles the new SATA drive systems that appeared. If you're trying to INSTALL AND BOOT from a non-IDE drive, early in the Install process it asks whether you want to install other external drivers and allows you to do that if you press F6. The trick is, it only allows the installation from a floppy drive, and people started building machines without those. So mobo manufacturers solved that problem by adding a feature to their BIOS chips. They added a section on how you want the SATA drive controller to handle the drive, and usually there are four choices - IDE Emulation, native SATA, AHCI, or RAID. The last three all are ways that Windows does not understand and they do require installation of drivers from floppy. But the first choice has the system make the actual SATA drive look (to Windows' view) just like an older IDE (PATA) drive, and Windows is completely happy to install and boot with this drive.

Now, if you have Windows already installed on an IDE drive and later add a SATA unit, you can install SATA drivers in Windows and have the BIOS treat the SATA drive as a native SATA device. With the driver running Windows has no problem using it for data. BUT that only works because Windows loads first, then loads drivers, and then tries to access the SATA drive. It still cannot BOOT from that SATA drive because the drivers have to be loaded from the disk AFTER Windows itself loads! So to BOOT from a native SATA device, Windows has to have the driver required loaded in as a basic part of itself with that Install-from-floppy routine when Windows is first installed. Otherwise, the PATA Emulation system in BIOS will solve the problem for you.

You had a properly-functioning Windows XP running on a SATA drive controlled by the mobo BIOS, and very likely it was using this PATA Emulation mode. Now you are forced to switch to a different controller that may NOT be using that Emulation mode, so Windows cannot boot from that drive. Check all the documentation and the website from the Sabrent card and see how to get it to use an emulation to let Windows use it directly and boot from it.

3. Before going any further, check if a solution already is there and not obvious. Remember I said in item 1 above that the SATA drive on the Sabrent PCI card may not show up in the first screen listing "all" drives, but may still show up in the list of drives available to boot from. Have you actually gone to that section of the BIOS Setup screens and told it to ignore all other drives (for boot purposes) and boot solely from that 250 GB drive on the PCI card? I just thought maybe you have not done this since the BIOS may not acknowledge it in that first screen.

If you cannot get this to work this way and are forced to leave the drive as a native SATA device, there are three possibilities, none of which is really convenient.

4. IF you have a floppy drive in the machine, you can put the native SATA drivers that Windows needs on a floppy disk and keep it in the drive. Then, EVERY time you boot there is a place where you can push a function key to let you install from floppy the drivers it needs. This will let windows use the drive to boot from, but it won't permanently install them so you have to use the floppy process every boot.

5. You could completely re-install XP and install the required drivers from a floppy at the first stage so that they become a permanent part of Windows. Thereafter you do not need the floppy for any subsequent boots.

6. If you upgrade to a more recent OS that should solve the problem, too. As of VISTA, Windows did build in the drivers necessary to access native SATA and, I believe, AHCI modes, in addition to the old IDE drive systems. So that problem is gone now, and the Emulation solution is not needed if you have those OS's.
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August 28, 2009 12:41:15 AM

Thank you Paperdoc!

I will test these items out in the next couple of days. With work and school, I haven't been able to get back to debugging. I need to fix it soon because my husband has taken over my laptop (it's his machine that is down ;) )

Also, I tried ordering the motherboard part from HP and Spareparts warehouse and they are out - and no telling if and when they will have them. So I'm back to the drawing board of getting this controller to boot. I want to give it one more shot before going to get a new desktop. Afterall this machine is only a couple of yrs old.

I will definitely keep you posted on my progress!!

Cheers,
Cat
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September 2, 2009 2:54:24 AM

I installed the drivers as Paperdoc suggested, and alas, it has a disk boot read error when I try to boot it up on the card controller. When I put it back on the motherboard, it boots fine. I'll probably have to do as he suggests in the latter part of your thread. Still working on this. :) 
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September 10, 2009 1:46:25 PM

One other option: Do a repair installation of XP and put the drivers on at that time. Boot from the XP install CD and press F6 to specify SATA/SCSI drivers. Get those added and continue through the install until Windows shows you existing installations and at that point pick the one you want to "repair". (Note that these directions are NOT telling you to repair XP using the recovery console!)
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September 10, 2009 2:14:52 PM

I have a Silicon-based PCI controller for IDE drives - and as mentioned above, the BIOS for it comes up right after the motherboard BIOS. There's a key-press shown to enter the setup for the card which lets you tell it whether you want RAID or non-RAID use. The same is true for the drivers, you install one or the other (or both I guess if needed).

You need to make sure that if your card has the same options, that it's set up for non-RAID use.

The drives are listed with hex locations when the card BIOS goes thru POST - but never show on the system BIOS as drives since they aren't loaded until after the system BIOS.

Never tried to boot from drives connected to it so can't really help with that. If you're still having problems I can put this card in and look at the settings more closely. And try putting a bootable drive on it and see if it works. I think one problem is that in the system BIOS boot options, the card won't be listed - but might work as some other choice I'm not used to using. Let me know if you want me to try it.
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March 22, 2010 11:04:44 AM

just to let anybody that see's this my manual said to set the bios to boot scsi first for the card to work as a boot disk. Although i tried this it did not work either. although i did not have any problems for system to see the drives they will not boot first. manual is a joke as it was one sheet of paper.
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a b G Storage
April 5, 2010 4:30:04 AM

This topic has been closed by R_manic
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April 15, 2010 2:41:06 AM

Best answer selected by crystalcat67.
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