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Can't Boot Off SATA Card

Posted on 2009-06-28
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I had Windows XP installed on a hard drive, I removed it & inserted another HD then installed Windows XP on it, planning to dual boot them. All my drive sockets are full so I installed a PCI SATA card & attached the drive, it shows up in Windows but I can't boot off it. I tried re-installing Windows, I pressed F6 to install the Silicon Image driver for the SATA HD from a floppy. I then tried to install the driver for the SATA card by removing the Windows CD & inserting the manufacturers mini CD but Windows kept searching the Floppy drive.I thought of transferring the drivers to a Floppy Disk but the files are too big.

I plugged the drive back into the motherboard SATA socket it was installed in, booted into Windows & installed the latest SATA card drivers, then plugged it back into the SATA card. I disconnected all other hard drives & booted & I got: "Disk boot failure, insert system disk & press enter". I have tweaked everything I can in the BIOS, why can't I boot off this card? The card supports RAID but I am not using RAID, does that make a difference? While booting I pressed F4 to enter the RAID configuration utility but I couldn't see anything to tweak.

There wasn't an option to set Add In Cards as first boot device but under Add In Cards, I set an option to boot from PCI slot device & still couldn't boot off the SATA card. When I rebooted, PC got to Windows desktop & froze, I rebooted again, it hung for a long time then I got "Disk boot failure, insert system disk & press enter".

I booted Puppy Linux off a USB stick, when I mounted the Windows drive a Linux warning said "Fix NTFS file system". Fortunately I had backed up boot.ini, so I replaced it & was able to boot back into Windows. While in Linux I had made a copy of the "bad" boot.ini & it is identical to the backup, so what was wrong with it? Maybe the boot.ini on the new SATA drive needs editing so it can be booted.

VIA VT6421A 3 Port SATA Serial ATA + 1 ATA PCI Controller Card

Specs:
Motherboard - Abit AN7
CPU - AMD Athlon XP, 1666 MHz (12.5 x 133) 2000+
BIOS - Phoenix - AwardBIOS v6.00PG
HD #1 - WDC WD300BB-00AUA1 (27 GB)
HD #2 - Maxtor 6E040L0 (38 GB)
HD #3 - WDC Raptor (160 GB) - Drive I'm trying to boot
RAM - Crucial 767 MB
BIOS - Phoenix Award v6.00PG 06/13/2005
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Question by:Ajak
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Expert Comment

by:Kavostylin
ID: 24733602
Your BIOS probably wont support the boot from the PCI card.

Alot dont.
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24733731
How can I be sure? I emailed ABIT tech support but got no reply. Promise SATA cards are supposed to boot anything but they are pricey & I don't want to throw good money after bad.
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Assisted Solution

by:Kavostylin
Kavostylin earned 20 total points
ID: 24733755
I would suggest doing the following.

1. Check to see if there is a BIOS setting that will allow you to boot from PCI card
2. Run the BIOS update

KAVO
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24733922
There is no SATA option in the boot order but under Add In Cards, there is an option to boot from PCI slot device, It didn't work. According to ABIT website, I have the latest BIOS version.
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24734121
here all drivers, downloads and FAQ's :  http://www.viaarena.com/http://www.viaarena.com/
did you try booting on a clean disk ? without OS?
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Accepted Solution

by:
Vatharian earned 60 total points
ID: 24734366
If this is sata controller based on VIA chip, there's great probability, it won't have its own BIOS, I mean the card itself doesn't have boot code. Booting from offboard controller means that mobo's bios initialises and calls the offboard BIOS and lets it do its work. If this is possible try grabbing any SCSI controller or IDE at least (for example with Silicon Image SIL0680 chip) and look for card's bios during the boot process. If the bios shows, then it's your controler's (or controller's manufacturer) fault. Judging from chipset, Abit AN7 should be able to boot from PCI card. It is possible to incorporate your card's bios into your mobo's BIOS, so it will behave like the controller is mounted on the mobo, but it's risky process as it involves hand-editing the BIOS binary. Faster, and probably more reliable solution would be to buy new controler, one with BIOS. From my experience, try Adaptec. 2 port, used one should go as low as 20$.
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24734424
"If this is possible try grabbing any SCSI controller or IDE at least (for example with Silicon Image SIL0680 chip) and look for card's bios during the boot process"

I don't understand the above, I will return the card to Amazon & buy an Adaptec.
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Expert Comment

by:Vatharian
ID: 24734463
I mean, try inserting any other hard disk controller, like SCSI, IDE on PCI, and when computer boots up, the controller's BIOS should pop up. If not, it means, that the mobo doesn't support booting from PCI.

However this is highly unlikely.
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24738297
I don't have any controller cards lying around but if I press F4 on boot-up, a control panel pops up for configuring RAID, is that the SATA card BIOS?
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24738418
The card also has an IDE socket.
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Expert Comment

by:Vatharian
ID: 24738780
Yes, it is boot bios. Then it MUST boot from it! In BIOS, in boot sequence, write down all device that are listed (like SATA/IDE disks, CDroms, lan, etc. There should be either PCI, or SCSI setting, or directly name of a disk that is connected to the controller.
Completely different thing is - does the controller acutally sees in that raid config panel your disk?
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Assisted Solution

by:ChuckFickens
ChuckFickens earned 25 total points
ID: 24744964
Am I missing something here?

The obvious answer to me is leave the system drives plugged into the motherboard and plug one of the extra drives into the PCI card.

Also if I've read this right you have installed windows and then swapped it to the new card and expected it to boot, this won't work, you will have to install windows with it plugged into the PCI card for it to work.

if your having problems with getting the drivers for the card to be used during the windows install then download the following

http://www.nliteos.com/

which will allow you to integrate  the drivers for your card onto a custom windows CD
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24751907
Here is the boot sequence:

CDROM
HD
LS120 (Tried it)
FDD
Disabled
LAN
USB-CDROM
USB-ZIP
USB-FDD
ZIP100/ZIP250

Here are the card BIOS options:

Create RAID set
Delete
Rebuild Mirrored Set
Resolve Conflicts - No conflicts exist!

The SATA HD connected to the card, does not show up in the card BIOS, the other drives do.

I have 3 HD's in Mobile Racks: SATA HD 1/SATA HD 2/IDE HD 3, the SATA HD attached to the card is inside the PC case. I thought of swapping them around but this configuration, allows me to remove a particular drive without having to open the case. I think I will swap them anyway because that is the logical thing to do, however I would still like to learn how to boot off a SATA card, for the future.

I did try re-installing Windows but couldn't get it to load the card drivers off the manufacturers CD. I have tried slipstreaming with nLlite before but it failed, I'll give it another go.
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24791940
I got the information below here: http://www.computerhope.com/forum/index.php/topic,87053.0.html

"PCI's standard bandwidth is 133MB/sec, SATA is 150MB/sec, and SATA II is 300MB/sec. In other words, the original SATA standard saturates the PCI bus, so there's no point in having a SATA II card."

I'll just swap drives & use the PCI SATA for storage, what I really need is a new Motherboard.
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24791984
The pop-up wasn't the Mylink SATA card BIOS, it was the utility for the SiliconImage Motherboard SATA driver. After I installed an Adaptec 1210SA SATA card, I noticed a boot prompt "press Ctrl A to enter Adaptec configuration utility".
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24792991
>>   the original SATA standard saturates the PCI bus   <<  completely wrong ! it means only it can handdle transfer speeds that high.  your disk won't come near it - you're lucky to reach 80-90 MB/s
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24796248
WD VelociRaptor:

Transfer Rates: Buffer To Host (Serial ATA) - 3 Gb/s (Max)
Physical Specifications: Interface - SATA 3 Gb/s

Specs: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?driveid=499
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24800128
I swapped the SATA drive cables over, the old drive (WD Caviar) shows up in the Adaptec SATA PCI card BIOS but not in Windows Explorer or Device Manager (Adaptec card is in Device Manager), even after uninstalling & re-installing the driver. I swapped the cables back & Windows sees all the drives. What is going on?
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Assisted Solution

by:nobus
nobus earned 20 total points
ID: 24801149
may be they spec it's max  so high; but measure a transfer speed; you'll see other speeds !(but i do agree it is a very fast drive !)   :   http://www.desktopreview.com/default.asp?newsID=334
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24818919
I phoned Western Digital tech support & asked them why Windows could see the Velociraptor HD & not the Caviar. They said that the Velociraptor was setup for Raid & suggested I try a non Raid card. I decided on the Promise SATA-300TX2-Plus.

http://www.promise.com/product/product_detail_eng.asp?product_id=138
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Author Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 24857017
The Promise card worked! Using the CD I created a driver Floppy, which I used along with the SiliconImage Floppy after pressing F6 during a Windows install, this gave me the option to install Windows(I didn't, it was a test). I suspect the Adaptec card would've worked as well but I didn't have the installation CD to create the driver Floppy, I tried using the driver files from the Hard Drive but that didn't work.

Anyway, I swapped the cables back & can now see the Caviar as secondary when attached to the SATA card. The original Windows installation on the Velociraptor boots off the Motherboard, so I now have 2 bootable drives. I already have Puppy Linux installed on a USB Stick & if I add the Velociraptor to the Grub bootloader, I should have the option to boot into 3 OS's.

Thanks for the comments, I got there in the end (3 SATA cards later, oh well, off to eBay!)
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Expert Comment

by:nobus
ID: 24860556
if you want  to know your transfer speed , try atto :  http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/123/mirrors.php
have fun !
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Author Closing Comment

by:Ajak
ID: 31597785
The problem is solved.
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