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SATA and slave madness!

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March 4, 2010 12:28:06 AM

Ok, so I've been running through search after search for the solution (most google links end up here) and have yet to find anything on this.

I know that SATA drives don't have master/slaves, but I can't get windows to see all 6 of my satas. I have the DSEB SAS mobo from asus, and it comes with 6 satas. Port 1, 2, and I think 3 are all fine. Windows sees em, I can use em, etc. The other 3, however, are not showing up. Some of the fixes I read about here were changing the IDE config to AHCI or RAID. When I did that, the boot screen showed the rest of the drives (which it didn't before), but then it wouldn't boot all the way. It would get up to where the login for windows should show, then reboot.

So back to searching. People mentioned that AHCI and RAID modes just create longer boot times, need special drivers, and/or don't make a difference unless you have a specific reason to do so. Buuuuut, my other drives aren't even recognized by the bios if I don't.

So I'm really out of ideas. I'd like to have my main C drive, the cd drive, and 4 other drives for storage, even a RAID if I can figure this out.

Thanks for any help you may be able to provide. I'm going crazy over this!!

More about : sata slave madness

March 4, 2010 3:39:05 AM

have you tried disk management or some partition software which can help you to attribute the active dirve and slave drive

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March 4, 2010 4:25:05 AM

They aren't showing up in the disk management, nor the bios, so I need to figure out why the bios doesn't even see them before I get into windows. I found some newer drivers for the sata controller on asus' website so I'll give that a go tonight.
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a c 357 G Storage
March 4, 2010 4:26:29 PM

First point is detection in BIOS. You have six SATA ports on the mobo, and have tired to connect to them five HDD's and one optical drive. I can't get the ASUS site to send me the manual for your mobo easily, so I'll go with general procedures. The optical drive and the HDD you are using as the C: boot drive probably should be connected to the first two SATA ports, usually named SATA_0 and SATA_1 (but could be there's no 0). HOWEVER, there could be an exception. IF your mobo is set up to provide RAID operations on only certain SATA ports and you plan to use that feature, make sure you connect the drives intended for RAID use to the appropriate ports.

Next enter BIOS Setup and check all the SATA ports. Make sure they all are Enabled. If you have NO IDE devices you might as well Disable those ports if you can. On the SATA ports, near where you Enable them, check their port Mode setting - things like IDE (or PATA) Emulation, AHCI, RAID, etc. Here's how to set those, depending on your OS.
1. If you have Win XP or earlier, you have to deal with the fact that it does NOT know how to use anything but IDE ports without having extra drivers installed. In that case, you have a couple of choices to make. The simplest is to plan to have the devices you might boot from (the optical and C: drives) set to IDE (or PATA) Emulation mode. That has the BIOS fool Win XP into believing these devices are older IDE units and XP is happy to use them. The alternative is to set the port modes to AHCI and then to use the Windows Install procedures at the very start of the installation of Win XP to add in the driver necessary to use AHCI devices. My guess is you already have a Windows installed on your C: drive in some mode and you do NOT want to change that now. Anyway, once that setup for two bootable devices is done, you can set the modes of all other SATA ports to AHCI. Then, AFTER Windows XP is installed, you load into it the AHCI driver so that it CAN access those four SATA ports for to use the drives on them for data storage. The only restriction then is that you cannot BOOT from drives on one of those ports, but that's not a problem.
2. IF your OS is Vista or Win 7, all the stuff above does not matter. Those OS's DO have built-in support for AHCI, so you would set ALL of your SATA ports to that mode and let your OS use them all that way.

So now you have six devices connected to SATA ports, they have been Enabled, and their modes are set. Your BIOS should be able to see all of the devices. If not, start checking data and power cables, or swapping connections to ports to determine whether the problem is the port, the drive, the cable, or whatever. You must get to having the BIOS able to see all six correctly.

Once that's working, look elsewhere in BIOS for the Boot Priority Sequence and be sure it is set right. I recommend you have it try the optical drive first, then the one you are using as your C: boot HDD, and then NO other options allowed. Save and Exit BIOS Setup and it should boot into Windows from your C: drive.

If you have not already added the AHCI driver to Windows do it now so that it can access the four units set that way. Reboot after this to ensure that Windows is so enabled.

At this point with new empty drives hooked up and all those settings made, BIOS Setup should be able to see all the drives, and Windows should be able to boot and see your C: drive and your optical drive. However, it is unlikely you will see any sign of the other four units in My Computer. The ONLY place you may see them is in Disk Management, and even there only in one particular place. In Disk Management look at the LOWER RIGHT pane. It scrolls so you can see all of the devices. You should see your four new SATA devices there, but all of them will be just Unallocated Space. For each one you must RIGHT-click on it and Partition it (Create a new Primary Partition and set its size (probably all available space) and set it NOT bootable - you don't plan to boot from them). Then you must Format each such Partition created, choosing the NTFS File System. You can be thorough and use a Full Format on each, which will take several hours per drive, or you can use Quick Formats on them for fast results. Sometimes, depending on the OS in use, the two steps (Partition and Format) will all be done within one Wizard, or will be called Initialize the Drive or something similar.

After you have done these steps you must reboot for the Registry to get it all right. Ideally at that point all the drives will be seen in My Computer as empty units just waiting patiently for data.
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March 4, 2010 5:18:15 PM

VERY thourough explanation, Paperdoc. Thank you. I dont mind reinstalling windows at this point. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with XP and really need to get this thing up and running, so I'll run out and get a floppy drive (still kinda pissed I cant boot from USB on XP) and install the AHCI drivers. The main issue I'm having that I can't follow past is the fact that 2 of my SATA ports are completely invisible to the BIOS. I thought it might have been a jumper on the mobo or something, but no.

After talking with Asus tech support, he's under the impression that the IDE controller is on its way out. I don't fully understand, but basically I should be able to see and use all ports of the mobo when the ATA config is set to IDE. However, the AHCI and RAID are part of a different controller (right...?) so that's why they're visible to the bios, but it doesn't boot cause I need the updated drivers. I could use nLite and slipstream (which I have NO clue what that is, sounds complicated...), but it seems like wayyyyyy more work and room for error than running out and getting an internal floppy drive for $15.

I found a good link on Asus' website (finally) and it seems like there was a few folders I never saw in the supplied server software disc, which has the AHCI and RAID drivers. I'll give those a go, cross my fingers.

Thanks again Paperdoc... the info is very helpful, if not for this mobo, then the next!
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a c 357 G Storage
March 5, 2010 1:52:01 PM

If you're preparing to re-install Win XP using a floppy drive for drivers, that process is relatively simple. It uses a facility built into Windows Install routines for many past versions - I suspect it first was introduced to allow for SCSI adapters and drives, but it's quite generalized. VERY early in the Install routine you boot from your optical drive, it asks whether you want to install any extra drivers for devices; if you do, you must press the "F6" key. If you fail to press that, it will wait and then time out and proceed. But if you press F6 it enters a sequence that instructs you to inert the diskette containing the requisite driver in the floppy drive and it will load that driver from there. (As you have realized, it only accepts drivers from this device.) It then comes back to the same place to let you add more drivers if necessary. When you have no more you tell it to go on.

To use this, read up the details in your mobo's manual. Usually it will give you good instructions on where the drivers are found, which ones you will need for which situations, and how to load them onto a floppy diskette in preparation.
What Windows Install does is load them into itself in RAM so that it does have access to the hardware device for the full Install process, and later ensures that they are on the boot device (hard drive) AND are noted properly in the Windows startup files no they will be loaded at the very beginning of all future boot-ups. In essence, it makes those drivers a part of Windows itself, but only for this instance of it on this machine. Of course, once that driver (for example, for a AHCI device) is loaded, it works for ALL such devices, not just the boot device.

I am still concerned, though, that you say your machine cannot see all six SATA devices in the BIOS. That has absolutely nothing to do with Windows and its drivers. Adding the right Windows drivers will NOT make available a device that the BIOS cannot see.

AHCI does not pertain to any IDE device - it is a part of the SATA specification system. So having or not having IDE devices, or an Enabled IDE port, should not affect AHCI devices at all. Well, EXCEPT that on some motherboards the BIOS and chipset was set up so that some of the ports were kind of either - or without overlap. That is, you could have two IDE ports, OR you could have two extra SATA ports, but not both. And the AHCI thing is available only on the SATA ports.

It certainly is true that some motherboards provided RAID only from ports operated by a particular chip (either the main southbridge, or a different chip), and not on all ports. So I would not be surprised to learn that your mobo only allows RAID on a group of four ports run by one particular chip.

Now, the link between RAID and AHCI is more confusing. They are completely separate things. However, some mobo makers linked them in such a way that to get AHCI device operating mode, you actually had to set the mobo options to use a RAID mode on the SATA ports, and then load a driver (sometimes even one unified driver) that provided both functions, even though the do not need to be linked. Others kept the two functions separate. For example, on a machine used in my family's retail store with a RAID1 array, I had to load (as part of the Win XP Install) TWO drivers - one for AHCI port mode, and one for RAID use of the drives. But even if you find yourself pushed into setting RAID as an option and loading a unified driver, I have never seen a system that then forces you to use a RAID array. They all simply make RAID a possibility and default to NO RAID use; you have to deliberately use built-in tools to create a RAID system if you want it.

I urge you to pursue the matter of ensuring ALL of your HDD units are visible in the BIOS. Maybe (I can't look at your mobo manual) the group of ports managed by a separate chip is actually configured in BIOS Setup in a different screen, and not in the same place as your first few ports. Keep looking for some way to see them all. One other clue to seek: as the machine boots up and shows you all the on-screen messages from the POST sequence, there are usually notes about each hard drive device it finds connected to ports. If those flying messages show you five HDD's and one optical unit, then the BIOS IS seeing them somewhere.

Slipstreaming is a very useful technique for some situations. You are right to say it seems a bit complicated, but you can learn and do it - I did. For your simple need, which is to load drivers for AHCI or RAID devices during the Install, using Slipstreaming to avoid the necessity of floppy drive use does seem excessive. However, there is one place where the technique is almost necessary - I doubt this is your case. IF you have only the very first version of Win XP on your Install Disk with no subsequent Service Packs included, you are missing a really important feature - the ability to use hard drives over 137 GB (by the HDD maker's way of counting). There are ways to live with that, but they are not as good as the right way. The "right way" is to use an Install disk that DOES have a more modern version with at least Service Pack 1 included. If you don't already have that, one way to get it for free is to update your old-style Install disk by slipstreaming so that you have a more recent version of XP to work with. As I said, I expect this is NOT your situation.
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