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adding an AHCI storage controller to existing system

frewballs used Ask the Experts™
I have a Server 2003 box with a sata boot drive.  The OS was installed with the drive configured as IDE.

I want to add some hot swappale sata drives, but know I have to enable AHCI in BIOS.  Changing this will affect my boot drive and cause a BSOD (or so I've read).

Can I simply add another PCI (or PCIx) storage controller that would have AHCI enabled to control the non-boot drives?

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noxchoIT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009

As far as I know your mobo must support AHCI and simply connecting PCI controller will not help here. Even if you have compatible chipset you need in any case install Intel drivers for AHCI. Otherwise the drive in AHCI mode will not be detected.
Here is a good post on enabling AHCI: http://forums.pcper.com/showthread.php?t=444831

The other PCI/PCI-X/PCIe card needs to support hot swap. Most modern hardware RAID expansion cards do.

In this case you can leave the setting in the BIOS untouched as it is, since it affects only the SATA ports that are onboard.
If you have a motherboard with Intel ICH chipset in it, you CAN switch to AHCI even if all your installation was done using the IDE mode.
==> Please follow the instructions below (It worked for me)


Thanks for the help guys.  I looked into the reg change as an option, but for the price of adding on a PCI card, I'm going to go with that and avoid the hassle.

Thanks again,