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Old 10-11-2004, 02:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Setting up SATA hard drive - config information

Setting up SATA Drives and Raid Arrays
-reposted from old moderator

I have seen many posts on this forum regarding problems setting up SATA drives and Raid Arrays on the motherboard. Most of the time the problem is jumper settings, errors in setting up the Raid array, or failure to install the drivers during the setup process. Below I will attempt to explain the correct way to install you SATA/Raid hard drives. This article is based on using either Windows XP or Windows 2000.

First we will cover new Raid and Non Raid installations, and then proceed to converting an IDE hard drive that has an operating system already loaded to work on SATA controller. At this point we need to clarify a few things that can and can not be accomplished using the SATA controllers.

1. You CAN use just one SATA controller at a time.
2. You CAN put one HDD on each SATA controller, and use them as two separate drives.
3. You CAN NOT boot from the SATA 2 controller.
4. You CAN create a Raid0 or Raid 1 array with a HDD on each controller (Using two identical drives is the best way)
5. You CAN NOT expect an increase in HDD speed when using IDE to SATA converters as these IDE drives are going to be either 33/66/100/133 mps data speed rates. Just putting an adapter on them will not make them to work at the 150 mps speed that SATA can do.

Setting Up Your Raid Array

Lets get started installing you new SATA configuration. In most cases remove all the jumpers from your hard drives, weather it’s a SATA drive or an IDE drive. Some IDE hard drives have the option of a jumper for “master with no slave present”, this works too in most cases. If you using SATA hard drives then hook up the power to them and install the SATA cables. If you are using the IDE to SATA converters then install the converters to the back of you IDE drive, install the power and the SATA cables.

You need to decide at this point if you want a Raid0 (Striped) array, Raid1 (Mirrored), or not to use the Raid function and just use the SATA ports to install one or two drives. Raid0 will give you much more performance and speed by combining both hard drives into one, thus enabling your system to draw information from two drives simultaneously. The down side to this is that if one of your hard drives should fail, you lose all your data and must reinstall everything once the defective drive is replaced. The best advice I can give is to do regular backups when using Raid0. The Raid1 option is where all data is written to both drives simultaneously. The good part about this is if one of your hard drives should fail, you can replace it and your data will stay intact. All you have to do is rebuild your array in the SATA bios and you are off and running again. The downside of course is performance, as all data is written twice. Remember that two identical drives are required for best performance weather using Raid0 or Raid1. If you plan on setting up a Raid array, then follow the steps below.

1. Boot your system and hit the F4 key to enter the Raid Configuration BIOS.
2. Once there you should see both of your hard drives listed near the center of the screen.
3. Choose create RAID set, choose either Striped (Raid0) or Mirrored (Raid1).
4. You should know that the default setting for a stripped array is 16k, many people suggest this setting for best performance, but you can set it any way you like from here. If 16k is what you want then no adjustment is necessary.
5. After choosing either Striped or Mirrored, the utility will ask you if you are sure, press “Y” to confirm your selection.
6. Exit the Utility.

If you are going to be using just one drive attached to the SATA 1 controller or a drive on both SATA controllers (no raid) then there is no need to enter the SATA bios, it should recognize your hard drives when you boot up. You may hit F4 when you see the option upon boot just to take a look that both your drives are seen by the silicon SATA bios, but it’s not necessary. If you do plan on setting up a Raid array, then of course use the F4 option and follow the steps outlined above.

NOTE Some users have reported non boot issues while using a Raid Array with BIOS version D21 or later on Rev. 2 boards. The Silicon Image Bios was updated in the D21 Bios release and has caused problems for many Raid users. It is suggested to continue using BIOS D20 until a fix for this problem is implemented.

Setting Cluster Size

Well, its time to make another decision as to the cluster size for your new Raid array. If you decided not to use the Raid function then you can choose to skip this section or you can set a cluster size on your non-raid setup. Setting a different cluster size for a single hard drive on a SATA port is not really necessary, but you can if you want to. At this point in the game if you start loading Windows, and format your new array, Windows will use the default cluster size of 4K, and there is no option to change it.. Remember that we have previously set the Stripe array at 16K while in the Raid configuration utility. If you let Windows Setup format your drives, you are going to end up with a 16K stripe and a 4K cluster. There have been many articles about what to set your Stripe and Cluster size at, but what ever you choose, my suggestion would be to make the Stripe equal to the Cluster. Since we have previously set the Stripe at 16K we are going to want to set up the cluster the same way. How you ask?? Well, you could go and buy a software package that will do it for you or we can do it another way, from within Windows. Follow the steps below for setting your cluster size in Windows.

1. Beg, borrow, or beg some more to get you hands on an extra IDE hard drive drive that is big enough to hold your copy of windows.
2. Install your IDE hard drive to IDE 1 slot and set it to Master.
3. Leave your newly created Raid array alone; leave both drives attached to your SATA ports.
4. Enter BIOS.
5. Set first boot device to CD Rom and set the onboard SATA to enabled.
6. Boot from CD rom and do NOT hit F6 to load 3rd party drivers.
7. After booting from CD Rom, load windows on your IDE drive. I would go into more detail but I’m sure you know how to install Windows on an IDE hard drive or you probably would not be reading this.
8. Once Windows is installed, get to the desktop.
9. Go into device manager and you will probably see one of those yellow question marks next to the Mass Storage Controllers. Go ahead and install the SATA drivers at this point and reboot. Don’t worry about any other drivers, because were only using this drive temporarily. We only loaded the SATA drivers so we can access your Raid array from Windows.
10. Once you are back in windows, go to control panel, Administrative Tools, Computer Management. In the left window click once on disk management (near the bottom). In the bottom right window you should see a list of all the drives you have attached to your computer. Find your Raid array there, right click on it, choose format. A window will pop up asking you to label it, what file system you want, and the allocation unit size. You can label it anything you want, such as “MY DRIVE” or whatever you want, leave the file system at NTFS, and set your allocation unit size to 16K (This is your cluster size). Proceed to format the drive. NOTE: you can also create any partitions you want prior to formatting from here as well. Just make sure you format all partitions using the 16K allocation unit size (cluster size).
11. After the format procedure is finished, shut down the computer; remove the IDE drive that we just used to format your Raid array. Install all of your CD roms, setting them to the appropriate master/slave configuration, and any other NON hard drives you have on your IDE ports. It is important not to have any other IDE hard drives attached to your computer as we move on to the next step of loading Windows on you’re newly created and formatted Raid array or single SATA drive. You can install your IDE hard drives after Windows is loaded on to the Raid Array or single SATA drive

Installing Windows

Loading windows on a Raid array or any SATA drive can be a frustrating experience if the correct procedure is not followed. Follow the steps as I outline them below and you should be off and running in no time. Remember to remove any IDE hard drives!!

1. Start your computer and hit the delete key to enter BIOS.
2. Place your Windows CD in to your CD Rom device.
3. While still in BIOS, set your first boot device as CD Rom. Make double sure you’re onboard SATA is enabled also. Exit saving changes.
4. Your system will boot from the CD Rom, keep an eye on the bottom of the screen! When you see an option of pressing F6 to load third party drivers, DO IT!! You need to be paying attention because the F6 option is the first thing that comes up on the bottom of the screen, and it doesn’t stay there very long.
5. Windows will continue to load a bunch of generic drivers and come to a point where it tells you that you have chosen to install third party drivers. At this point grab the floppy disk that came with your motherboard and put it in your floppy drive. Follow the on screen instruction from there. You will notice after Windows reads the driver information from your floppy you will have several driver options to choose from, choose the Silicon 3112 driver for the appropriate version of windows you are loading. Continue on and windows should see your hard drive. When you see your hard drive or Raid array listed, choose it as the drive that windows should install on. DO NOT FORMAT IF IT’S YOUR RAID ARRAY OR SINGLE DRIVE THAT WE PREVIOUSLY FORMATTED WITHIN WINDOWS!! YOU WILL LOSE YOUR 16K CLUSTER SIZE IF YOU DO!! Windows should see your hard drive as formatted and ready to install on.
6. From this point on is like any other Windows install.
NOTE: If your using two hard drives without a raid setup, windows may see them both. When you get to the part where it asks you to select where you want to install windows, make sure you choose the one that is on the SATA 1 controller. It should be the one listed at the top. If it only shows one of your hard drives, don’t worry, it will show once you get windows loaded and you can initialize it later.

Converting an IDE drive to work on SATA

While converting an IDE drive to work on a SATA controller may not give you a performance boost, it will free up some room for other devices to be installed in your IDE controllers. If this is a new install then follow the procedures above. If you have a working copy of Windows installed on an IDE drive, and would like to convert it to work on a SATA controller, follow the steps below.

1. Restart your computer and enter BIOS.
2. Make sure the SATA controller in enabled in BIOS. If it was not, boot back into windows after enabling it and load the drivers for it. The drivers are on the floppy disk that came with your motherboard, use the Silicon Image 3112’s for the appropriate version of windows your running. If it was enabled in BIOS, check in device manager that the drivers are indeed loaded for it.
3. Once you are sure the drivers are installed in windows, turn off your computer.
4. In most cases, remove all jumpers from the IDE hard drive or set to master with no slave present.
5. Make sure to re-jumper your remaining IDE drives as you have just removed a device from the IDE chain.
6. Install the converter and power to the back of your IDE hard drive and install the cable, make sure you plug it into the SATA 1 controller
7. Start the computer and hit delete to enter BIOS.
8. Change your first boot device to the SATA controller, exit saving changes and the system should boot from your converted IDE drive.

Hopefully this guide will make the process of setting up Raid Arrays and SATA drives a bit less painful, Good Luck to All!!

Special thanks to Lvcoyote...over at Abit forums for this superb writeup!

**Note** This writeup was done for Abit's NF7-S series your options and controller may differ but the same procedures apply.


Posted by: DAVID_15

what if u got the sata drivers on a disk with the mobo??? do i have to get the drivers off the mobos site??? or do i do something with the disk that come with the mobo???


Posted by: HoLoCroN


Sweet tutorial, good job!!

David_15, You can always check the manufacutrers website for driver updates, if they are the same version just use the disk, you you see a newer version of the driver, go ahead and use the website's version.

You will probably have to create a floppy disk with the new drivers so keep one handy!


Posted by: DAVID_15

so insted of putting the floppy when it says, do u just take the windows xp cd out and put the disk that come with the mobo in (the disk has all sorts of drivers on there and other stuff) should i just get it off the site to save time with taking the window xp cd?? can u tell me if this is the driver is it just ''RAID DRIVER" if so which 1 im thinking its the 1.40 meg so it could fit on a floppy



Posted by: apokalipse

....only if the driver CD is also on CD and you don't have any other CD/DVD drives


Posted by: mdshort

Will SATA boot if its part of your motherboard?


Posted by: ekÆsine

good work on the SATA tutorial Dave. we needed this very much, but what took so long? you may want to provide a link to the abit thread


Posted by: trottintrails

I recently installed XP Pro onto my SATA drives Raid0 and everything works except for the fact that the computer hangs at the "Verifying DMI Data...." message in bios. Then after about 4 minutes the operating system magically boots. I have tried everything to make this work and can't seem to find an online tip about how to fix it. PLEASE HELP. I reinstalled from scratch and still not working.


Posted by: john cecil


Most motherboards come with drivers on cd nowadays so what do you do when it asks to put a disk in the floppy drive for third party drivers.

Thank you



Posted by: trottintrails

I was sooo fed up with the trouble I was having setting up my SATA drives on my Gigabyte 7VAXP-Ultra, that I bought a new motherboard.

Put SATA drives in, chip, ram, hard drive, CD-rom...Machine fired up, no boot drivers neede, installed OS...Now all my troubles are history!

In case you are wondering, I bought an Asus A7N8X-Deluxe.

To make a long story short if you are having trouble, ditch the old board and buy a new one.

Larry is offline  
Old 10-15-2004, 05:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 10

I have tried to setup a new Sata drive, but no matter what i do, my comp refuses to detect my cdroms or my other hdd's at the same time. When i purchased the sata, there wasnt any drivers to install at all. Are you saying that i need some drivers?
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