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Old Promise Cards and pre-48bit LBA

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June 23, 2011 3:33:31 AM

Not exactly a high priority topic, but wondering if someone has experience/knows of tools and techniques to aid me here.

I have an old WD Caviar 160GB HDD partitioned into 5 chunks (all less than 127GB). Currently, all partitions except the first one are blank (as I backed up all files to SATA2). Upon the MBR of this disk resides a GRUB bootloader that will load an XP partition on SATA drive 1 or a linux partition on SATA drive 2. Removing this disk causes Windows XP to directly boot and skips the boot loader. I absolutely will not install a bootloader onto either of my current SATA drives, as I have data and operating systems residing on there and the last time I tried to set up GRUB, I managed to wipe out XP. I'd prefer to not do that again:p 

I have an even older Promise Ultra 66 Card (a PCI card that has connectors for 2 (E)IDE/(P)ATA/(U)DMA/whatever other acronyms they were throwing around at the time for the same exact thing). Apparently it was made in a time that people thought you'd never need more than 128GiB capacity, and advertised that it could handle more than 8 whole GB.

My last partition of the WD HDD is severed (when connected to the PU66) in the sense that when Windows boots, it doesn't recognize the file system type on that final partition, nor the correct capacity (throwing errors in the event viewer left and right and slowing my system to a halt). When I have this same drive plugged into my motherboard's onboard IDE slots, everything functions correctly, but I cannot connect my optical drives. With my current cabling, I don't believe I can reach the Promise card with my CD/DVD drives, but I can reach the onboard slots.

So, questions:
1) can I use an old tool like WD data lifeguard's DDO (dynamic drive overlay) to functionally extend this drive's recognition beyond 128? Or does that only work on motherboards whose BIOS only supports up to 128? Is there a limitation to operating system compatibility of DDO systems such that I wouldn't be able to use it in XP?
2) can I install such a tool without destroying my MBR grub boot loader - in other words, whatever the DDO does, can it do that in a GRUB-compatible environment? I'm willing to reinstall GRUB on this disk if I need to, but ultimately I want to get both to work together at the same time.
3) Are data seek times, HDD temp, etc significantly impacted by using a DDO system?
4) Do promise-type cards restrict file systems to FAT32? I could have sworn that some of my partitions were NTFS, as some drives (via DOS) have a "Recycler" folder and others a "Recycled" folder, but maybe this was due to the OS of initial install rather than the FS.

I'm sure I can buy a longer cable and connect my CDs/DVDs to this ultra66 card but
5) Will the data transfer rate become a bottleneck on this slower system, or are optical drives so completely limited in spin/seek speed that this would never be an issue on UDMA 66 or even 33?
6) Will the CDs/DVDs be prone to more errors during burning than via a direct motherboard connection? Will I have to slow my CD spin rate down (52x?) while writing? DVD?
7) Do all blue/black/gray IDE cables support the highest rate of IDE/DMA/ATA transfer, or are some capped at 66 or 100 or something?

Obviously, another option (as I'm low on capacity on my SATAs) is to buy an additional SATA drive and scrap the IDE non-optical drive (and load GRUB here). So, I'm not completely out of options here, but in an ideal world I'd like the IDE drive to run off the Promise card, have all 160GB accessible and have the GRUB bootloader present and have the optical drives connected directly to the MB. Repartitioning is definitely an option (I don't really need 5 chunks), and although I'd prefer to not lose my data on this drive, it ultimately doesn't matter as I have backups of the files contained onboard (and 4 of the partitions are already blank).
June 24, 2011 1:36:13 AM

ignore questions 1-4. There's really no point in me running an actual harddrive at half the data transfer as max, as I'm sure reads from a HDD are quicker than DVD.

Thus, I have the CDs off the promise card (I had to move my PCI devices around a bit) and the harddrive (I had to swap 2 of those bays) off of the board slot. 5-7 still apply.

Promise BIOS says it will not load Ultra 66 as "no drives are attached" but I think that only refers to HDD. Hopefully it gives my optical disks full speed.
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