Topic Title: AHCI Drivers for XP
Topic Summary: Which to install, and how?
Created On: 04/12/2013 12:55 PM
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 04/12/2013 12:55 PM
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Nobody Important
Peon

Posts: 2
Joined: 04/11/2013

Navigating to the AMD website and selecting:

Find a Driver -> Motherboard / Chipset -> AMD 7-Series Chipsets -> All 7-Series Chipsets -> Windows XP 32-Bit

Leads to this page where the XP Tab lists 'AMD Chipset Drivers' and 'AMD Raid Drivers'

Both are the same size, revision number, and release date, but they do not have the same contents: The 'AMD Chipset Drivers' package contains "amd_sata.sys" nested in "\Packages\Drivers\SBDrv\SB7xx\AHCI_svr\XP\" while the 'AMD Raid Drivers' contains "ahcix86.sys" in the "\Packages\Drivers\SBDrv\SB7xx\RAID\XP\" folder.

amd_sata.sys comes with a ReadMe.rtf, which says it is for Windows Server 2003 & 2008 with no mention of XP aside from its presence in the "\XP\" folder, and the XP Tab on the Website. Attempting to inject this driver during Windows XP installation with an F6 Floppy or via nLite will fail with either a "cannot find amd_sata.sys" or 'No device' error, depending on if nLite imports in textmode. ahcix86.sys on the other hand, will slipstream and\or install just fine, but cannot access S.M.A.R.T.

This isn't ideal, especially on a new drive where it is useful to ensure working order. It also leads to a number of questions:

  1. Is the amd_sata.sys package actually confirmed to be working for Windows XP, or is this an error?
  2. Is there any meaningful difference between ahcix86.sys and amd_sata.sys in practice? I'm under the impression that ahcix86.sys can't access S.M.A.R.T. because it's a raid driver - or inversely, that amd_sata.sys can access S.M.A.R.T. and with similar performance in a non-raid setup.
  3. If it is intended for use with XP, how are you supposed to install it? You need the driver to detect the drive you're installing the driver on, and while it seems to come with a windows installer, you need the driver to install windows before you can install the driver in windows. Neither the N-Lite nor the F6 Floppy method seem to work, and killing my infant grandfather didn't help either.
  4. If windows has already been installed using ahcix86.sys, is it possible to switch to amd_sata.sys (presumably via the installer) without repercussions? I could foresee significant complications if it fails to boot after installing amd_sata.sys the way it does before install, and then can't roll back the driver because it can't detect the drive at all.

(For what it's worth, relevant tech-specs include: ASRock M3A770DE & Jetway X-Blue 78GA3 Motherboards (AMD 770\780 Chipsets) with OCZ Vertex II SSDs. ..and yes, bios is set to ACHI.)

 04/14/2013 05:22 AM
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williamh120
Peon

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Joined: 04/13/2013

OK, do you have a useable floppy disk drive, and a working floppy disk or two?

One of the major pains with Windows XP is the fact that to load supplementary storage device drivers (for modern AHCI SATA support, etc.) you HAVE put these onto a floppy disk, and then when starting the Windows XP setup program, hit F6 the very moment the prompt to load these appears, right at the beginning of the setup program.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oDT40ewh90

Vista and later finally move us into the 21st Century with all of this with their support for using a USB flash drive to supply these drivers.

This is one area in which Windows XP is really starting to show its age.

 

I'm not going to produce a comprehensive response at this stage; I think it would be better to see what your options are first and them take it from there. A floppy disk drive is the simplest option in the circumstances.

 04/14/2013 06:42 AM
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williamh120
Peon

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OK, I've done a bit more investigating (and read your post in more detail!! ) and have downloaded the latest AMD southbridge chipset drivers, which you can get from here:

http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/Pages/raid_windows.aspx#4 (the supplied link should take you directly to the Windows XP tab; copy and paste into your address bar as this doesn't appear to want to post as a hyperlink)

I assume you're not trying to run a RAID array?

If so, just download the AMD Chipset drivers; you won't need the other two downloads.

 

Then:

1. Run the installer program, and allow it to extract the files to your hard drive (I'm assuming you're not posting from either of the machines you've mentioned above)

2. Then cancel the installer program.

3. By default, I would expect the files to be extracted to C:\AMD\Support.

4. Assuming the above and that you are working with 32-bit Windows XP browse to the following folder which should have been created with the extraction: C:\AMD\Support\13-1_xp32-64_sb\Packages\Drivers\SBDrv\SB7xx\AHCI_svr\XP

5. Copy ALL of those files to a blank, formatted floppy disk.

6. Use this floppy disk in the Windows XP installation.

 

Hope this helps.

 04/14/2013 10:46 AM
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black_zion
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Just set it to IDE and forget about it until you move into the 21st century and get Windows 7.

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 04/14/2013 11:02 AM
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Nobody Important
Peon

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Hi william, thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

I do know about pressing F6 during XP setup, the problem is that this doesn't succeed in detecting the drive with amd_sata.sys (which is the one inside the non-raid AHCI driver package you linked to). The raid driver from the same page (ahcix86.sys) works, but it doesn't allow access to S.M.A.R.T.

I went ahead and did some more testing with this:

  1. The Catalyst Install Manager included with the amd_sata.sys download package does not identify amd_sata.sys as a driver for my hardware, while the Catalyst Install Manager included with the ahcix86.sys download package however, does identify ahcix86.sys as a driver for my hardware.
  2. Attempting to run the amd_sata.msi file directly produces the error: "This package is not compatible with the platform of Microsoft Windows you are running. This application will now abort."
  3. amd_sata.inf contains the line "AMD.NTx86.5.2" which according to this page means it only works on 32-Bit Windows Server 2003 or later. While this could probably be tweaked to make it install on XP, I don't think it would help anything because:
  4. Neither ahcix86.sys nor amd_sata.sys appear to implement ATA pass-through for S.M.A.R.T. as this is apparently a well known shortcoming of AMD's AHCI drivers in general.

I'm not sure why they are advertised as XP drivers. Maybe because the OS is similar.



Edited: 04/14/2013 at 01:17 PM by Nobody Important
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