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Thread: SATA Ports and Settings




  1. #1
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    Default SATA Ports and Settings

    Board: ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M
    BIOS: American Megatrends Inc. P1.10 04/19/2012
    16278 Megabytes Usable Installed Memory
    CPU:
    3.40 gigahertz Intel Core i5-3570K
    ST1000DM003-9YN [Hard drive]
    ST1500DM003-9YN16G [Hard drive]
    Patriot Torqx 2 64GB SSD
    DTSOFT Virtual CdRom Device [Optical drive]
    SAMSUNG DVDWBD SH-B083L [Optical drive]

    SATA setup
    ----------------
    SATA_0 ST1000
    SATA_3 Patriot SSD
    SATA_2 DVD
    SATA3_A1 ST1500

    Installed OS Windows 8 on ST1000 HDD
    SSD and ST1500 are blank drives

    Want to install Windows 7 on SSD and dual boot with Windows 8

    All drives are visible in BIOS but the SSD drive is not visible either in Windows 8 or using diskpart.
    Tried EaseUS Partition Master but this does not see SSD either.

    Can someone please help me with this? I find the BIOS settings for SATA (RAID, AHCI, etc. confusing)

  2. #2
    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: SATA Ports and Settings

    Your board has two, independent SATA controllers, one is part of the Intel Z77 chip, the other the ASMedia ASM1061 chip. The Intel SATA controller provides better performance and stability. The SATA ports are labeled like this:

    Intel: SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III): SATA3_0 and SATA3_1 (two SATA III.) SATA 3Gb/s (SATA II) SATA2_2, SATA2_3, SATA 2_4, SATA2_5 (four SATA II). Total of six.

    ASMedia: SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III): SATA3_A0 and SATA3_A1. Total of two.

    So I'm not 100% certain where the drives besides the ST1500 are connected.

    If the SSD is new and never used, it must be Initialized in Windows Disk Management before it will be recognized by Windows. You may want to format the SSD in Disk Management, or just allow the Windows 8 installer to format it.

    If the SSD has already been Initialized and formatted, then triple check the SATA data and power cable connections.

    If you are not familiar with RAID, then just use AHCI mode, the default setting for both controllers. That will provide the best performance. Using IDE with any drive results in lower performance than AHCI.

    When you install Windows 8, connect the SSD to either of the Intel SATA III ports (SATA3_0 and SATA3_1). Then disconnect all the other drives during the Windows 8 installation (except the DVD drive if being used). Otherwise Windows may put part of the installation on another drive (the Master Boot Record), which is inconvenient if you want to remove the other drive, since the PC will no longer boot without it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: SATA Ports and Settings

    Thanks, Parsec, for your explanation of the SATA connectors. I do understand RAID in principle, which is why I don't understand why the system builder would use this for single drives and not just use AHCI mode for all three drives.
    The SSD is not visible in disk management nor can diskpart see it. I will pull it out and see if it can be read by another PC. Something really odd here.
    Windows 8 is already installed and would be a major pain to reinstall all apps and data. I will make an image of that drive since no backup exists!
    Sata connectors are:

    SATA3_0 = ST1000 HDD
    SATA3_1 = 64GB SSD
    SATA3_A1 = ST1500 HDD

    If I invoke the Intel RAID utility I see two physical disks:
    port 0 = ST1000 HDD
    port 1 = SSD

    There is a green asterisk next to port 0 the drives do not appear to be part of a RAID set but If I unplug the SSD, Windows 8 will not boot as though I had broken a mirror. Are these drives in some way connected? That does not make sense me.
    Last edited by billyg1943; 05-07-2013 at 09:28 AM.

  4. #4
    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: SATA Ports and Settings

    As I said earlier, the Intel and ASMedia SATA chips/controllers are independent and separate, they cannot be used together for RAID. The ASMedia chip does not support RAID on its own either. What you see in the Intel RAID utility is normal, since it can only work with drives connected to the Intel SATA ports. The Intel utility will not try to detect drives connected to other SATA controllers, since the two controllers are not compatible, which is also typical/normal.

    The "green asterisk" next to the drive is really a "green light" with a check mark in it, which means the drive is functioning fine and ready to (go) use. If the SSD is listed in the Intel RAID utility, but does not have the green light and check mark, something is not right with it. I'm not 100% sure what is wrong with it, but I have an idea. You did not mention if the SSD is listed in the RAID utility, and if it is, if it does not have a green light on it too.


    Yes, those two drives are connected, but not in a RAID array. Your failure to boot problem after removing the SSD is a known quirk of Windows. As I also said earlier, if you had two or more drives connected to the PC when you installed Windows 8, the Windows installation program will put a small but important part of Windows on a drive other than the drive you chose to install Windows on. That important part is the MBR, or Master Boot Record, which is needed to boot Windows. If the drive with the MBR on it is removed, Windows can no longer boot, since the MBR is now missing. I'm 99% certain that the MBR was put on the SSD, since what you described fits this scenario perfectly. You removed the SSD, and Windows 8 can't boot.

    You can fix this problem easily if you have a Windows 8 installation disk. First remove or disconnect the SSD, and any other drives besides the ST1500 HDD, except the DVD drive of course. Boot into the Windows disk, and choose Repair, and follow the prompts. If you don't have a Windows disk, let me know and we'll try another method.

    The other thing that is possibly aggravating things is connecting (installing) your Windows drive (ST1500) to the ASMedia SATA controller, and the MBR ended up on the SSD on the Intel controller. If the Intel RAID utility thinks the SSD is not Ok, that is caused by it finding the MBR on the SSD, but it can't find the rest of the OS that is on the ASMedia controller.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: SATA Ports and Settings

    Thanks, again, Parsec.
    That is a diabolical quirk with Windows 8! Would be good if it gave you a choice or some kind of warning that it was going to put boot tracks on another disk.
    The SSD does not have a green light in the Intel RAID Manager. This might explain why I have to press F11 at boot up and select the drive I am actually booting from. The SSD drive may be faulty?
    Also, when I use F11 to select boot device I see two entries for the Windows 8 drive. I forgot to make a note of this but I'm sure at least one of these mentions RAID. What could this mean?
    In any case, I will disconnect the SSD drive and try to do a repair install. I have a bootable Win8 installer on a USB stick. I'll let you know how I go but may take a few days as I don't have access to that PC right now.
    Last edited by billyg1943; 05-08-2013 at 08:17 AM.

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