Yet another SATA problem?

Discussion in 'Gigabyte' started by theDude, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. theDude

    theDude Guest

    Hi All,

    I have a GA-K8NXP-SLI mobo with F7h BIOS, and 4 HDD (2 * 160gb PATA
    maxtor diamondmax +9, and 2 * 300gb SATA maxtor diamondmax+10). I am
    (trying to) run WinXP MCE2005. CPU = AMD 3500+ winchester. Mem = 2gb
    Corsair PRO.

    The system has crashed and corrupted the HDD’s 3 times in a row over
    the last 6 months.

    Initially the system was built with the 2 * 300gb SATA disks in a
    mirror as c: drive (RAID 1), and the 2 * 160gb PATA disks as the d:
    drive in a separate mirror (RAID 1). Each time the install went fine,
    and all good for a couple of months. Suddenly the PC would hang
    mid-use, upon hard reset it would not boot and the HDD’s were
    corrupted. (although it was always the 1st disk in the array that was
    completely trashed, I could recover data from 2nd disk thank god!). I
    have tried replacing my HDD’s in between rebuilds, but the same thing
    happens.

    I have given up on the NForce4 RAID system, obviously it is too damn
    buggy to keep using. Furthermore driver updates for the mobo and
    Nvidia RAID are slower than Victoria Beckham at a pie-eating contest.

    So I have decided to rebuild the system minus the RAID and use WinXP
    backup. I installed the system with 4 separate HDD and all RAID
    disabled in BIOS. Installed WinXP (using F6 and Nvidia IDE storage
    driver) onto one of the 300gb SATA disks and all went OK until I
    reboot.

    Now I find that the system will not boot from the HDD unless there is
    a bootable CD in the drive, and I ignore the prompt to press a key to
    boot from the CDROM.

    I have tried changing the Hard Disk Boot Priority in the BIOS in case
    I have wrong 300gb disk specified as 1st, but it makes no difference.
    I have tried Gigabyte support several times, but mostly get a reply
    from someone who barely reads the question I take good time to write,
    and consequently get a noddy answer to a different problem.

    Finally, the questions to you all:
    1. has anyone had the same problem with the RAID corruption? if so how
    did you fix it?
    2. why won’t my PC boot from the SATA disk without a bootable CD in
    the drive?

    A virtual beer for any person who can help!! :)
     
    theDude, Jul 22, 2005
    #1
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  2. theDude

    Russell S Guest

    Sounds like there may be a corrupt master boot record on a hard drive and/or
    no partition on the target SATA boot drive configured as primary-active,
    possibly as a result of boot info remnants from a previous WinXP
    installation on another drive/partition/RAID array.

    Since you've already re-installed the OS once, if you have backups of your
    important data, it would probably be best to go the clean installation
    route, deleting all partitions on all drives, then creating and formatting
    partitions during the clean installation routine. Before doing so, make
    sure you have the latest and greatest of all drivers/software. There was an
    updated version F9 BIOS for this board released today, and updated chipset
    drivers released last week. For your convenience, we sell a system based on
    this motherboard, and all updates can be found on one page at our site:
    http://tastycomputers.com/support/download/dl_4sli.htm .

    Hope you get up and running soon!
     
    Russell S, Jul 22, 2005
    #2
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  3. theDude

    theDude Guest

    In case anyone else has this problem:

    The problem at the end of the day was that I was unfortunate enough to
    buy a Gigabyte motherboard. I spent months with Gigabyte support who
    refused to help beyond "Please reinstall your OS", mostly they
    didn’t even read what i wrote before replying with the above pearl of
    wisdom. BEWARE Gigabyte motherboards!!!

    SETUP BRIEF
    Gigabyte K8-NXP-SLI mobo
    Gigabyte 6600GT video
    2 * 160gb maxtor PATA HDD
    2 * 300gb maxtor SATA HDD
    2gb kingston DRAM
    AMD 64 3500+ Winchester CPU
    WinxP MCE 2005 vanilla (updated)

    I wanted the 160 gb disks mirrored, and the 300gb disks mirrored.
    That’s it. Nothing fancy. This is allegedly possible according the
    feature list on the mobo. It configures OK but read on for the
    problems...

    Specifically there was 2 problems:

    PROBLEM 1. Connecting more than 1 SATA HDD to the Nvidia RAID
    controller causes random unrecoverable crashes which trashes the
    \system32 directory on both disks of a mirrored SATA pair.

    This happened 3 separate times requiring a complete rebuild each time,
    and I replaced the HDD’s during the process. I don’t know the reason
    for the crashes, all i have is a workaround. I have a stable system
    (so far) when I connect one HDD to a Silicon Image controller SATA
    port; and the other HDD to an NVidia controller SATA port. I happen to
    boot off the Nvidia disk, no particular reason for this except that I
    had the Nvidia SATA drivers on a floppy when I installed the OS the
    last time :). This was done initially with RAID completely disabled
    and the system was stable (then note problem 2).

    PROBLEM 2. The Gigabyte BIOS (all versions up to current F9) cannot
    boot from a SATA HDD which is CONFIGURED WITH RAID DISABLED.

    After fixing problem 1, the system would only boot when a bootable
    CDROM was in the drive. If there was no bootable CDROM, the system
    would hang during bootup after verifying DMI when it looks for the
    boot drive. After the problems I experienced with Nvidia RAID in
    problem 1, I disabled RAID in BIOS for all the drives, preferring to
    use them as ’native’ SATA hard disks. The bootstrap code in BIOS will
    not work in this case. The workaround was to enable RAID on the Nvidia
    controller and configure it for ’Spanning’. The same WinXP
    installation without change booted up like it should!


    Now I have 4 disks in WinXP (C: drive to F: drive) which is not what I
    wanted when I purchased the system, but at least it WORKS - touch
    wood! In the end, I suspect that any load on the HDD subsystem pushed
    the buggy-as-hell Nvidia RAID controller over the edge.

    I hope this helps some other poor schmuk who purchases one of these
    crappy Gigabyte motherboards - you won’t get any decent help from
    Gigabyte support! :evil:
     
    theDude, Aug 20, 2005
    #3
  4. theDude

    Muttley Guest

    I'm no guru regarding PC issues, but will answer to the best of my
    knowledge....
    You may think that this is not a "fancy" setup, but compared to the standard
    vanilla PC setups that most people use, having two RAID 1 mirrored arrays
    running on two different RAID controllers in the same PC is a pretty fancy +
    complicated setup by any stretch of the imagination....
    As you may or may not be aware, the on-board RAID controllers are not true
    hardware RAID controllers, and therefore need specific Windows based drivers
    to perform the RAID functions, and as such are vulnerable to corruption
    caused by software conflicts/crashes within windows.
    On the other hand, a fully hardware based RAID controller is transparent to,
    and completely independent of the OS used on the PC, and does not require
    any drivers to be loaded into the OS for it's correct operation. I assume
    this would result in the arrays on a true hardware based controller being
    less vulnerable to software issues within the OS.
    Could be a hardware problem with the nVidia chipset/controller itself, the
    BIOS for the RAID controller, the Windows drivers for the nVidia RAID
    controller.. Could even be a conflict with a driver for a different device
    in the PC. It seems that when the system crashes, (for whatever reason it
    occurs), it results in corrupt information being copied to the array
    disks...
    AFAIK, this is a common issue for drives installed using any add-on RAID
    controllers. (ie. a controller that is additional to the basic MB chipset).
    If the BIOS for the RAID controller is disabled, the drive is not detected
    during boot-up, and is therefore not visible to the BIOS and therefore not
    able to be booted from...... The drive needs to be visible to the standard
    BIOS for it to be bootable, and for it to be visible, the RAID BIOS needs to
    be enabled. One fix I have seen, (similar to what you did), is to enable the
    RAID BIOS, and configure the drives as single disk arrays. I have used this
    method on an older system of mine using a Promise ATA133 RAID controller.

    IIRC, most MB manufacturers recommend that any RAID arrays should not be
    used as a system's boot drive. They recommend a standard single drive on an
    integrated chipset SATA/PATA connection be used as the system drive.
    As I mentioned before, this could be a problem caused by many different
    things, but most likely an nVidia hardware/BIOS/driver issue/conflict.
    It's not really fair to put the total blame onto Gigabyte for this problem,
    they're probably doing the best they can, with the apparently buggy
    hardware/BIOS/drivers provided to them by nVidia. A fair proportion of the
    blame would have to be attributed to nVidia as well... A motherboard built
    by another manufacturer using the same hardware configuration would very
    likely exhibit the same issues / behaviour, as they would only have
    available to them the same hardware/BIOS/drivers provided to them by nVidia
    (most likely rushed into production due to marketing pressures before full
    stability testing is carried out)......

    The Gigabyte support people probably have very little information/experience
    available to them regarding a PC setup in this unusual configuration, and
    can't realistically be expected spend any significant time to diagnose an
    issue that only occurs on your PC once every few months...

    Given the myriad of hardware that is available for use in/with a PC, and the
    resultant thousands of different possible hardware combinations that can be
    created using them, it's little wonder that they (Gigabyte support) cannot
    help when a intermittent problem occurs in one specific combination, such as
    your originally intended Dual mirrored RAID setup.

    Cheers,

    John S.
     
    Muttley, Aug 20, 2005
    #4
  5. FWIW, you should be able to configure your HD's within Windows to do a
    software RAID 1 (mirror).

    I know this isn't what you originally wanted to do, but it's an option.
     
    Timothy Drouillard, Aug 20, 2005
    #5
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