The smart status is enabled in bios. Any software, even from WD, that is run to check smart status causes the system to freeze/hang. If smart status is disabled in bios, the software runs fine.
The question is, is this a problem with the OS, the chipset driver on the MB (Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-SLI), the hard drives, or the software (seems all software that checks smart freezes the system, e.g. Sandrasoft utilities, wd software, activeSmart, etc..)