Serial ATA woes

I recently purchased (within 6 months) Abit's IC7 motherboard.  Great board it is.  Originally, I had a couple of IDE drives running with no problem.  I ran out of disk space and decided to upgrade a drive.  Considering my board offered SATA I purchased a Maxtor 160GB SATA hard drive.  I reinstalled Windows Server 2003 with no problems and I was home free.  

About 2 months ago the Northbridge fan started going nuts.  I looked online for some advice and read that cooling the Northbridge is over kill.  So I simply removed my fan.  Is this bad????

Last week windows kept crashing and the mobo would marginally reckonize my SATA drive.  Now my SATA drive doesn't ever come up.  I put an IDE drive back in and windows works again, but still no SATA.  

Do you think my hard drive is bad??? My Northbridge??  My SATA interface??  I am considering buying a PCI SATA adapter card.  I don't know what to do.  Please help.
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The northbridge needs to have a fan on it. These become very hot because they control all of i/o between devices and the processor. If the Northbridge becomes overheated (which it will in time without a fan) it will end up causing problems inside the northbridge that result in loss of usage and/ or recognition of devices on the motherboard (video card, drives etc....)

The northbridge is a combination these days of the southbridge and the northbridge although still called the northbridge. The functions of the Serial ATA are controlled by the southbridge which is contained within the Northbridge.

With using SATA cooling is a must. These drives can generate a lot of heat due to the speed at which they are accessing at.

Since the IDE drives are working it is hard to say if the northbridge is shot or not. The fact that it will not recognize the SATA drive at all now but gradually degraded in recognition of it shows that something was going bad. However the IDE still working contradicts that but it may just be that the Northbridge is partially damaged and partially functioning until a full out failure occurs.

I myself would tend to believe the MOBO's northbridge is shot at this point! I am not sure where you got the information that it is ok to disconnect the northbridge fan and continue running the pc but I would not go back to them for advice. The fan would not be there if it was not needed. Kind of like a car yeah it will function without a fan but eventually you'll overheat and throw a rod.
1. check your sata hd  for noise to see the motor is running.
2. have tried clearing cmos , use manual
3. have your tried using defualt setting or normal setting in bios
4. is bios enabled for sata
5. have you tried checking messageboard for this problem
6. is this your board for one thing that a big cooling fan on north bridge i would think
removing it will cause problems.
7. reinstall that fan.

note :
seems to be alot of issues with sata drives for this board with the bios version
1 risky , but well worth effort is check your board revision # and see
if updating your bios will help your sitution. the reason i say is because
a lot of sata and hd updates. i dont know if thats your board so please be carefull.
make sure you get the right board name and model and revision before downloading
the bios update.

note : flashing your bios can leave your system dead , if done correctly there is no way to
tell until you restart the computer. please follow all instrucion on abits bios installtion
process... also find a tutorial on how to recover on bios updates.

One thing i'd try (assuming i had any friends of course) would be to put the sata drive in another computer and see if its accessible, if so, you can knock the disk out of the equation.

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