achi vs sata windows 7 compatibility

recently I purchased a used Dell Precision T3500. Nice machine Xeon processor, 12 GB, came with w7 Pro 64 preinstalled on a 300 GB drive on SATA drive 0. But I wanted to take the old W7 Pro drive out of my old Dell OptiPlex GX280 and just boot up from that. So I removed the boot drive that came with the T3500 and plugged in the SATA boot drive from the GX280.  No joy.  Windows now able to load, tried restoring to an earlier point, no joy, did not want to reinstall Windows.  The bios offered me AHCI with RAID auto-detect, AHCI or RAID only.  I was using auto-detect.  

Is there a basic incompatibility between AHCI and older SATA drives?  Is there some quick fix I could have found?  

FWIW, I ended up using the 64 bit W7 that came with the new computer but that meant I had to spend 4 hours installing all the apps.  I
Sure hope someone has the real scoop on the difference between ACHI and the older SATA operation.  It just seems like the drivers could have been made to detect the difference when booting and causing the W7 correct driver to be loaded.

Hope someone knows more about this than I do.

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I would say if Auto Detect and AHCI don't work, the drive may be incompatible. Did you try AHCI (not clear from above). Also you cannot move the old drive to the new computer because the Windows license is OEM. These cannot be moved between computers. It may be hung up there, but more likely it would seem to be a drive incompatibility if neither BIOS setting works.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
not a drive but a driver incompatibility .. also you can't move oem versions of an operating system from one piece of hardware to another (licensing)
vernonlsAuthor Commented:
Well, I would really like to know more about sata vs ahci compatibility.  I know it did not work, but would like to know the hardware details of why.
On the licensing issue, I can't comment on the legality of it, but I have found that moving windows 7 on a hard drive to a different computer works.  It does not work to duplicate a drive (such as you may want to do to use a larger drive) and then move it. That will definitely cause Windows to detect a licensing violation.  It is OK if you duplicate  a drive onto a larger drive and put it back into the same chassis.  That also does not cause Windows to hiccup.  In my case I really did not care as I have a number of licenses that I could use to bail me out if that should happen.  You can install/reinstall licenses from My Computer/Properties/ChangeProductKey.  Microsoft creates some kind of hardware hashcode based on the drive ID and hardware IDs on the motherboard and you have to break both of them to cause a licensing violation to be detected.

Hope someone else can fill in the details on SATA vs HDCI.

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
SATA uses a different (high speed serial) connectivity method from IDE (parallel) and uses very different drivers. The two are different and not compatible. SATA works at higher speeds than IDE, started with Vista and is now the way to connect disk drives.

As a side note, XP never had SATA drivers so that is why XP needs AHCI compatibility.

If you need really advanced information, Google will be your friend.
vernonlsAuthor Commented:
No, you have got it wrong.  I understand that IDE is different than SATA and actually IDE is properly referred to as ATAPI. SATA works just fine on XP and requires no different drivers as all it really does is to serialize the parallel data delivered to ATAPI drives. The software does not know the difference.  AHCI however seems to be different.  I am just searching for the particulars. You are correct that SATA is faster than the old parallel connector and it also comes in different speeds up to 6 Gbps whereas ATAPI tops out at 133 Mbps. IDE was the original name when it was first developed and it was vendor specific where ATAPI was a vendor independent spec.

Thanks for your help.

David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
IDE and SATA is the connection technology .  SATA controllers can use an emulated PATA or AHCI or RAID interface. PATA uses the underlying AT Attachment (ATA) and AT Attachment Packet Interface (ATAPI) standards. Windows XP SP3 worked fine with SATA drives using the emulated PATA.  AHCI required drivers
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
XP never had and does not have built in SATA drivers which is why people cannot "just" install XP on a machine with a SATA interfaces. Drivers have to be loaded first.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Yet I've successfully loaded windows XP SP3 without adding drivers as long as I set the bios into compatible mode for the hard drives (not AHCI/RAID)
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
So you put your finger on the issue. AHCI Compatibility Mode turns SATA OFF. That is why it loads. SATA came after XP and native XP does not know about it.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
IDE was the original name when it was first developed and it was vendor specific where ATAPI was a vendor independent spec. IDE stands for integrated drive electronics which meant that you didn't need a separate hard drive controller card. The hard drive controller card supported 2-4 drives (the most popular only supported 2 drives) The hard drive manufacturers and the pc manufacturers wanted to cut costs. Most PC users only had (this continues today) 1 Hard Drive so having the 2nd set of electronics was a waste of money.. the original IDE interface cards only had 1 or 2 chips on them until motherboards started integrating them into the motherboard. Support for more than 4 drives was problematic, possible but only the first 4 would be bootable. With the change to IDE the user no longer had the option to low level format the drive (remember debug g=c800:5) and have to type in the defect table and worry about the interleave.  People were getting drives that showed no defective sectors and were happier.. The defects still existed but where hidden from the user.. Actually one would be amazed at how many bad sectors are on modern hard drives and mapped in using spare sectors when you purchase the drive.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
AHCI Compatibility Mode turns SATA OFF it doesn't turn the SATA drives off or disable the SATA controllers.  it is a simple remap into the interrupt 13 interface in the bios. AHCI doesn't use the interrupt 13 bios call.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I may have said it incorrectly (and I do not see it as relevant to the question). XP will NOT install on a native SATA setup and never has. That was my point.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
I have an HP computer on my left and a Dell on my right that are both running Windows XP SP3 and both use SATA drives and I had no problem putting new drives in them.  But I do believe that there is a compatibility setting in the BIOS.  I don't know if it is automatic.  I think this article explains it more clearly.  If you have a SATA connector, all modes will handle a SATA drive... at least a new one.  I think it is possible to have data or drivers on the old drive that are not compatible with a newer system.
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
XP will NOT install on a native SATA setup and never has Define native.. some bios's default is ide-compatible mode and not ahci.  if the bios is set to AHCI in the drive options then yes windows xp will not install without adding a driver that translates the int13 bios calls to the ahci commands
vernonlsAuthor Commented:
I don't agree that installing xp on ahci has never been possible as I believe I have done it, but I am unwilling to let this flame war continue, so let the reader reach his/her own conclusions.  When I asked the question I was after an answer about why there was an incompatibility when it would have been to have been so simple to have a default ahci controller setting that accepted sata commands and behaved as a sata drive/controller should.  And perhaps David Johnson mostly answered that question as - sometimes it does and it varies by manufacturer & bios.  Thanks to all who contributed. vern

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vernonlsAuthor Commented:
Let's stop this flame war.  We just have differing recollections of installation experiences and that it varies by manufacturer.  

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