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Is SATA RAID essential on a Gigabyte GA-8S661FXM-775 motherboard?

By Poppa Bear
Sep 27, 2010
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  1. I'm reloading XP Home onto a fairly old hyper threading Gigabyte GA-8S661FXM-775 motherboard.

    Included in the driver downloads from Gigabyte for this particular mobo is a SATA RAID driver. After Windows was up and running, when I checked the Hardware in Device Manager, there was a yellow question mark indicating that drivers were needed. Consequently I ran the SATA RAID drivers and the question mark went away, so obviously this was an integral part of the mobo as I had no other programs or hardware installed.

    When I opened the SATA RAID program from the shortcut in the Notification area, I had no idea what it's about. I've tried to read up on the technology of it, but I'm afraid it's beyond me. Can anyone advise me in very simple terms:

    1. Exactly what SATA RAID does?

    2. Is it essential to the proper running of the motherboard?

    3. Are there any dangers inherent in the use of it?

    With unknown quantities I prefer to leave them out unless they are really needed.

    Any help would be appreciated, but please keep it really simple. Thanks PB
  2. JMMD

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,177

    You can read about RAID here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID

    No it's not needed for the motherboard to function. Some motherboards have standard SATA ports and some RAID SATA ports.
  3. Poppa Bear

    Poppa Bear TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 266

    Hi JMMD. Thanks fro your quick reply and the info provided.

    The mobo is mainly IDE, but has two SATA ports. Will it be possible run a DVD burner or a 2nd storage Hard Drive on the SATA ports without RAID being loaded?
  4. JMMD

    JMMD TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,177

    Yes. The only time you would need to use a RAID driver is if you were doing some hardware raid via the motherboard.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,658   +878

    Whether or not you install RAID drivers, is partly dependent on the OS in this machine. With XP, the SATA drivers must be installed to run you HDDs in their native mode, "AHCI".

    In XP, if you choose not to install the SATA drivers, then the motherboard BIOS must be set to IDE emulation. The BIOS normally gives you these two choices, either "AHCI" (SATA). or IDE.

    With Windows 7, SATA drives can be run as AHCI, with drivers that Windows will supply.

    RAID drivers normally have a mode called, "JBOD", which stands for "just a bunch of discs". This allows you to run SATA as SATA, but not have your drives in a formal RAID configuration.

    In direct answer to your question, there would be very little difference in speed between SATA and IDE operation, especially if we're talking about mechanical HDDs. Only SSDs would be able to take advantage of the full speed of the SATA buss (300Gbs), and then most likely only when they're reading, rather than writing.
  6. Poppa Bear

    Poppa Bear TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 266

    Wow, I'm impressed. I had no idea what JBOD meant even after reading the blog from the shortcut from JMDD. Thanks for all that information Capn. The HD and read only DVD optical drive are both IDE, and there are two IDE belt sockets on the mobo, plus one for floppy. There are two SATA sockets.

    I uinstalled SATA RAID and it's detecting the SATA ports at start up, but I can't find IDE emulation in the BIOS, nor AHCI/IDE option.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,658   +878

    I'm a Virgin, But Then This is a Very Old T-Shirt.....

    Which is my way of saying that if your board actually has 2 80 pin IDE busses, it is sort of getting on a bit.

    I found the SATA AHCI/IDE mode under the heading, "integrated peripherals". This is in a Gigabyte board with an "Award" BIOS, albeit a rather new one (H55). If your board provides a SATA controller it should also provide the IDE option. If it doesn't, you'll have to reinstall XP, and do the "Press F-6" thing to install your SATA drivers from a floppy.

    Don't concern yourself with the RAID issue, you won't need it to run SATA HDDs, once the driver is installed. (Redundant Array of Independent Discs). RAID is either used for speed, RAID "0", (Data is stripped across multiple discs), or RAID "1" which mirrors data across 2 drives as a sort of backup plan. With 2, 1TB drives in RAID 1, you would accordingly only have 1TB of available storage.

    You have to learn to think of SATA (AHCI) and RAID, as 2 separate entities. RAID can be setup using pure old fashioned IDE drives also. I think that many of the "RAID" drivers are a compound solution, with AHCI being installed, along with the capability for RAID. In Intel chipsets, the I/O controller hub, (southbridge), is designated with the letter "R" if it is RAID capable. IE; "ICH7 or ICH7R in the board's specs.

    If you're just trying to get this thing up and running with IDE opticals and HDD, then this discussion is sort of moot.

    If you can't find an IDE setting in BIOS and you'd like to install SATA HDDs also, then it is not. You must install the SATA drivers along with Windows.

    Some additional info, for whatever it's worth. Many of the lower line chipsets that are currently available, have SATA controllers, but without RAID capability. So the drives can run as SATA (AHCI), but a true RAID array cannot be formed. In the case of Win 7, it will find and install its own generic AHCI drivers, so that no other action need be taken on the part of the installer. This was one of the reasons touted to move away from XP, because of this native SATA support in the new OSes.
  8. Poppa Bear

    Poppa Bear TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 266

    Thanks for all that input. I'm actually setting up a PC for friend who was given the PC with an XP Home sticker but no OS installed. It has an IDE read only DVD drive and HD. I tried to buy an IDE burner for her but all the stores I tried only had SATA, unless you wanted to pay twice the price for an IDE. This means anything added in the future will probably be SATA, so I'm trying to cover all bases.

    I went into integrated peripherals in the BIOS and did find SiS Serial ATA --> options of RAID or IDE, but couldn't find AHCI. And yes, it is a bit on the older side... like me! LOL!

    It's interesting that I reloaded XP Pro recently for a friend who works in the north west of West Australia, and it was a similar scenario. That is, IDE HD and DVD read only. I installed a new SATA DVD read/write burner, and while it shows up in My Computer, and can burn DVDs, I cannot set it to boot the Windows CD. I have to use the read only DVD.

    I'm probably a bit out of my depth in this discussion, and in this case may have to just get Windows installed, but I'd like to at least get a SATA DVD write/rewrite installed with this Gigabyte board.
  9. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 8,426   +217

    Technically, it's 40 pins with 80 wires and that would refer to the IDE cable.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,658   +878

    My bad. But if there are two IDE sockets on the board, it's getting on a bit, as I said.

    This may be just a question of changing the boot order. If the optical drive is visible and usable in Windows, then all that needs to be done is to go into BIOS (yet again) and place the SATA drive first in the boot order.

    When you attempt to enter BIOS, there may be a set of function key options displayed, if so, choose "Boot Menu".

    As to to your, "RAID, IDE but no "AHCI" conundrum, remember that in the era of this board, SATA drivers had to be installed separately, (but during) the OS install. so the "JBOD" (RAID) option would be the best choice for those desiring SATA operation, but not a true RAID array. As I also mentioned, the SATA and RAID drivers are generally a "compound solution", offering SATA and RAID in one package.

    The term "ACHI" really didn't come into popular use, until SATA HDDs became the norm, rather than the exception, and the Windows OS, (both Vista and Win 7), was able to supply drivers to run this mode natively. (Advanced Host Controller Interface) Also bear in mind, that ATI still refers to SATA as SATA, while Intel uses the term AHCI to denote native SATA operation.
  11. Poppa Bear

    Poppa Bear TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 266

    In the second PC mentioned, in which I had installed a SATA DVD burner, I did try to change the boot order, but it didn't have a dedicated "Boot Menu". Under "Advanced BIOS features", it lists various bootable devices and each one can be changed by highlighting the entry and pressing "Enter"; and then choosing one of the available devices. Unfortunately the SATA option did not appear in any of the boot order options shown.

    In other words, it was shown in "My Computer" in the GUI of Windows but not in the boot order options.
     
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 10,658   +878

    This may be either nitpicking or reaching but, are you certain the drive did not appear as either an "ATAPI" or "IDE" device? I'm thinking that if if wasn't actually running as SATA, it wouldn't be listed as SATA. This is also true of SATA HDDs running under IDE emulation. They appear in the BIOS poll as "IDE" devices, and are further listed as slave and master. Reasonably speaking, if Windows was aware of the drive, then the BIOS had to be aware of it also.

    That being said, herewith the disclaimer: your results may vary, or possibly your hardware may produce different results.
  13. Poppa Bear

    Poppa Bear TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 266

    The first PC I reloaded with XP Pro was an AOpen MX4SG-4DN hyper-threading. I'll try and summarize as briefly as possible the BIOS options. I could only find one entry in Integrated Peripherals that referred to SATA.

    1. Standard CMOS features

    IDE Channel 0 Master > (Hard Drive) ST380011A Detected
    IDE Channel 0 Slave > None
    IDE Channel 1 Master > None
    IDE Channel 1 Slave > Sony DVD ROM
    IDE Channel 2 Master > None
    IDE Channel 3 Master > None

    2. Advanced BIOS features

    - Removable device priority > Floppy (no other options)
    - Hard Disk boot priority > 1. STST380011A (HD) 2. Bootable add in cards
    - CD ROM boot priority > Ch1S: Sony DVD ROM (no other options)
    - 1st, 2nd & 3rd boot priorities all have the same options as follows:
    • Removable hard disk
    • CD ROM
    • LAN
    • Disabled
    • Enabled
    3. Integrated Peripherals

    -IDE HDD Block mode > Enabled
    -On chip Primary PCI IDE > Enabled
    -On chip Secondary PCI IDE > Enabled
    -12 other IDE entries which are all set to > Auto

    - On chip IDE device > Serial ATA > Auto.

    This entry has the following options:
    • Disabled
    • Auto
    • Combined Mode
    • Enhance Mode
    • SATA Only

    - Serial ATA Port 0 Mode SATA 1 Master (Grayed out)
    - Serial ATA Port 1 Mode SATA 2 Master (Grayed out)

    The only change made to the default optimal BIOS settings was to enable DVD ROM as 1st boot priority, and set the On chip IDE device to Serial ATA & Auto, which enabled the ASUS DVD burner to run on the GUI of Windows, but not on boot.

    Update:1. By setting "On chip IDE device" > Serial ATA > SATA only, the ASUS DVD burner now comes up as a bootable option, but the DVD ROM is no longer offered as an option, and Windows won't boot.

    2. The only other way to show both optical drives as boot options was to set it to "Combined mode", but once again Windows won't boot.

    3. Finally tried "Enhance mode", and while this shows both optical devices as options in: Advanced BIOS features > CD ROM boot priority > SATA burner set as first boot priority. Even so, it will not boot off the SATA burner.

    Have to confess I don't really understand the implications of this. I have not been able to find a combination of settings that will boot off both optical drives, and still boot Windows.

    Update: I finally found a work around to enable it to boot off either the IDE or SATA optical drives. The "On chip IDE device > Serial ATA" is set to Auto. The IDE optical device had been running off No 2 IDE socket on the mobo. By using only one IDE belt and running the IDE burner as slave off the same IDE belt as the HD from IDE socket No 1, the PC can boot off Windows CD in either burner.

    I'm totally at a loss to explain why that is so. However, all that matters is that it works. Thanks for all the help.


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