A8N-SLI Deluxe : using SATA_RAID connectors just for extra SATA drives (not RAID) ?

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Toto, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. Toto

    Toto Guest

    I'd like to build a PC with seven or eight SATA Drives, without any RAID.
    No doubt I can use 4 Drives on the SATA1 to SATA4 connectors (supported by
    the NVidia chipset).

    But, even after downloading & reading the manual, I'm not sure I can use
    the SATA_RAID1 to SATA_RAID4 connectors (supported by the Sil3114
    controller) just for adding 'ordinary' drives, without activating any kind
    of Raid.

    Can someone help me ?

    Toto, Sep 21, 2005
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  2. Toto

    Paul Guest

    If you look here,


    you can see this driver. I believe this tiny download is the
    key to running individual disks.


    There is also a driver link on this page:

    Paul, Sep 21, 2005
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  3. Toto

    Toto Guest

    (Paul) wrote in
    Thanks a lot, Paul, I've DL what you suggest. But as I just want to know
    IF this configuration is possible (I haven't got the Mobo yet), I can't
    test these drivers...
    Can you (or someone else) just confirm me it's POSSIBLE to run individual
    disks on these SATA_RAIDxx connectors ? Your Silicon Image Link suggests
    it's possible, but...

    Then I'll buy the mobo & use the drivers you suggest...
    Toto, Sep 21, 2005
  4. Toto

    Paul Guest


    "The Sil3114 S-ATA Controller option controls the state of the
    controller chip itself. The SATA option allows the tied SATA
    ports to act as stand alone ports, while the SATA RAID option
    enables the RAID hardware BIOS. Note that SATA drives will
    operate in both stand alone and RAID mode with the Sil3114 S-ATA
    Controller option set to the SATA RAID setting."

    That is the best quote I can find on the topic.

    Paul, Sep 21, 2005
  5. Toto

    Toto Guest

    (Paul) wrote in
    That's it ! Thanks a lot, Paul...
    Toto, Sep 21, 2005
  6. Toto

    Leadfoot Guest

    I have six SATA hard drives 4 on the Si3114 (red) as JBOD or individual
    drives and 2 on the Nvidia SATA ports (black) No raid required

    Works great, might buy 2 more hard drives
    Leadfoot, Sep 23, 2005
  7. Toto

    milleron Guest

    I presume that you use the RAID utility to set up a JBOD for each of
    the single drives attached to eh SI3114 connectors (assuming you don't
    want to span any of them).

    After reading the terribly scanty documentation at the SI3114 download
    page, I'm deducing that by flashing the controller with the IDE BIOS
    (as opposed to the RAID BIOS), that one might be able to simply
    connect independent SATA drives to the Silicon Image controllers
    without having to go through the hassle of the JBOD setup. Can anyone
    tell me if this is the case? Is it, in fact, possible to flash the
    SI3114 independently of the motherboard BIOS? I ask because the tiny
    readme accompanying the SI Flash utility says it's for use with SI
    "add-in cards." It warns against trying to use it with Macintosh
    cards but says nothing at all about SI3114 controller chips built into
    motherboards, so I'm reluctant to try it without confirmation that
    it's meant for this purpose.


    milleron, Sep 23, 2005
  8. Toto

    Paul Guest

    When the SIL3114 is used on an add-in PCI card, there are two
    files that can be used for flashing. There is an IDE file and
    a RAID file. I think the SIL3112 may have had the same kind of
    option. (Hardware-wise, the 3114 is just a couple of 3112's
    glued together. Software is what makes it all work.)

    On a motherboard, the thing that is a file in the previous case,
    is just a module buried in the BIOS flash image. That means
    you cannot "flash" just that small portion of the BIOS. (A
    BIOS file is a collection of compressed modules, in a sense
    it is a tiny flat file system. The DMI, ESCD, boot block,
    and microcode cache are exceptions and are not packaged quite
    the same way.)

    You would have to use a BIOS modification tool, to extract the
    old module, and install whatever new module you happen
    to have. The module has to have a format suitable for launch
    by the motherboard BIOS. For example, I have a tool called
    MMtool, that I use to extract and decompress modules inside
    an AMI BIOS (to see, in fact, what version of RAID BIOS is
    included with various versions of BIOS). I think that tool
    can also insert a module, but I've never tried that.

    Quite a while ago, I tried to modify an Award BIOS (with a
    different tool), but there were a couple of details about the
    way Asus sets up the BIOS, that caused the status display of
    the tool I was using, to show garbage. I was not about to take
    the output of that tool and try flashing a motherboard with it.

    To give an example of the capabilities out there on the
    Internet, there are people who have installed the 4.2.50
    SIL3112 RAID BIOS into A7N8X BIOSes. That was because Asus
    was not including that version in their release BIOS, choosing
    to use 4.2.47 instead. So there are people who have succeeded
    at doing this stuff. If I had a BIOS Savior for every board I
    owned, I wouldn't mind being more adventurous.

    Paul, Sep 24, 2005
  9. Toto

    Leadfoot Guest

    Yes I believe it was in the Si3114 BIOS setup screen
    Leadfoot, Sep 24, 2005
  10. Toto

    Toto Guest

    Is the 'JBOD' set up that difficult ? And can you confirm that in the JBOD
    mode, you can really use the "single' disks separately (I had read
    somewhere that in this 'bunch of disks'mode, you write the same thing on
    all the 'single' disks -probably misunderstood...). Because flashing the
    bios sounds difficult for me...
    Toto, Sep 24, 2005
  11. Toto

    Leadfoot Guest

    No it was pretty straughforward with the Si3114 With the nvidia controller
    I thought you needed the raid enabled. It turns out that you want raid
    disabled if you want the nvidia controller to treaat each disk as a
    separate drive. Spent three days figuring that one out.

    And can you confirm that in the JBOD
    With Si3114 they are single disks acting separately I believe its called
    RAID ten. With Nviidia in raid mode it can go either way

    .. Because flashing the
    Well it's bios within a bios

    So far no one has come out with a hacked BIOS in any form for the A8N-SLI
    Leadfoot, Sep 24, 2005
  12. Toto

    Paul Guest

    Leadfoot, have you been able to set up disks individually ?

    There are some threads where people claim to have trouble with this.


    The claim is, that at one point the A8N-SLI had an option to set the
    SIL3114 to IDE mode, versus RAID mode. I don't see that option in
    the manual, so perhaps it was only in early versions of the
    actual BIOS ?

    You cannot download a datasheet for the SIL3114, but for the
    SIL3112 I did get a datasheet. On that chip, there is a pin
    called "IDE_CFG", used for IDE-RAID config.

    "When PCI_RST_N is deasserted, this pin is an output and represents
    flash memory address bit 0. During reset, it is sampled to configure
    Mass Storage class or RAID mode in the PCI Class Code register. A
    high on this pin sets Mass Storage class, a low sets RAID mode. The
    configuration state is latched internally when PCI_RST_N is
    deasserted. This pad is internally pulled high to enable Mass
    Storage class if left unconnected."

    Now, _if_ that pin existed on the SIL3114, it could be driven by a
    GPIO on the motherboard, under BIOS control. Or, it could be set
    permanently to RAID mode. In any case, if people are having trouble
    installing the "vanilla" IDE driver for the SIL3114, this might
    be the reason. If the IDE driver is installed, and that pin is
    sampled in RAID mode, then the enumeration of the 3114 would
    indicate "RAID mode", and the installer could not work.

    In RAID mode, the options I could see are: setting a single disk
    to a RAID 0 stripe of one disk, or using JBOD. I thought one
    of the side effects of using JBOD, was an OS like WinXP might
    deal with the disk in "dynamic disk" mode, and for some third
    party tools, this can cause problems.

    So, there appear to be a few unanswered questions about SIL3114
    on A8N-SLI, such as whether it ever really supported the
    vanilla IDE driver, and why Asus would remove it, if the
    ability to do that was present. Since there is only one
    motherboard BIOS module available for SIL3114, that module
    would have to deal with such a pin in both states, so that
    should not be an issue. (And, BTW, _all_ the BIOS files I
    checked for A8N-SLI Deluxe have the same 5139.bin module to
    control the SIL3114 chip in the BIOS. That has never been
    updated apparently, but neither do I see changing that
    making any difference.)

    Without a datasheet for the SIL3114, I cannot be 100% certain that
    the same kind of pin exists, but architecturally, the SIL3114 is
    just two SIL3112 chips slapped together. So the same pin
    should exist somewhere on the chip. The SIL3114 has more pins than
    the SIl3112, so it is not possible to guess at which pin it is.

    Paul, Sep 24, 2005
  13. Toto

    milleron Guest

    In fact, the download of the flashing tool at SI does include a
    separate program to modify BIOS files. Their scanty documentation
    describes a BIN file that is intended to be inserted into a
    motherboard BIOS file, but the corresponding firmware download seems
    to contain only an rXXXX.bin (RAID) file and a bXXXX.bin (IDE) file
    for flashing PCI cards. Unfortunately, it does not include the
    XXXX.bin file one would need to actually utilize their UpdBIOS utility
    to modify a motherboard BIOS. This stuff is way over my head and
    something I'd not try even WITH a BIOS Savior. It irks me to realize
    that Asus could easily provide an A8N-SLI BIOS that would allow users
    to connect single SATA drives, apparently including SATA optical
    drives, to the SI3114. What a silly, customer-hostile decision to
    leave it as a RAID-only controller!
    I'd be assuaged if I knew for sure that it's easy to connect them as
    single-disk JBOD "arrays," but I don't have a couple of SATA drives
    lying around with which to perform the experiment.

    milleron, Sep 25, 2005
  14. Toto

    Leadfoot Guest

    I have 6 sata drives and have each drive on the Si3114 as it' s own array
    i.e 4 JBOD arrays with one drive in each array.

    Works great
    Leadfoot, Sep 26, 2005
  15. Toto

    milleron Guest

    That's very good to know. You don't perchance have an optical SATA
    drive in that group, do you? I don't really see how you could
    configure one as a JBOD, but I thought I'd ask in case there's a way.


    milleron, Sep 26, 2005
  16. Toto

    Leadfoot Guest

    You must have a plextor, only SATA one I've heard of and have never tried
    Leadfoot, Sep 26, 2005
  17. Toto

    Paul Guest

    There is actually a download with all three files in it.
    Look for the 5.0.39 BIOS version on the SiliconImage website.
    The 52KB file is the motherboard one, while the two 128KB
    files are the add-in card versions.

    And, if you are tired of fighting problems with Plextor
    SATA, there appear to be adapters that will convert a
    SATA drive to an IDE host.


    One of those devices is based on this chip:


    Apparently, that chip can convert a SATA disk to an IDE host,
    and by changing a mode pin, it can also do a PATA disk to
    a SATA host.

    Paul, Sep 26, 2005
  18. Think I've read that the flash utility shouldn't be used with motherboard
    based chipsets as they have custom bioses to make them work on that
    motherboard and need to be updated by the manufacturer.

    Best Wishes
    Thomas Andersson, Feb 5, 2006
  19. No, RAID 10 (ten) is a combination of RAID 1 and 0 using a pair of striped
    disks that are mirrored (using 4 disks and losing half the volume for

    Best Wishes
    Thomas Andersson, Feb 5, 2006
  20. I've got my Asus DVD connected to the onboard SATA ports using a SATA->ATA
    adapter and it works like a charm without any setup (I have a A7N8X-Deluxe
    though adn don't know if SATA on that is raid).

    Best Wishes
    Thomas Andersson, Feb 5, 2006
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