Thursday, May 19, 2005

How To Install Windows XP on SATA-II Hard Drive on GA-K8N Motherboard

I recently built a new computer with a AMD Athlon 64 Socket 939 3000 CPU / Gigabyte nForce4SLI GA-K8N Ultra-SLI motherboard, and Samsung 120G SATA-II hard drive. My problem was with setup of Windows XP on the box. Windows XP Home setup would run just fine, install the drivers, format the hard drive, copy the files, but when it went to its first reboot it would start the setup process from step 1 again! I finally tracked the problem down to Windows XP not being able to recognize a Serial ATA-II hard drive on my GA-K8N motherboard. That started a HUGE ordeal on trying get get Windows to install on the SATA hard drive. Below is the process you can use to setup Windows on a single SATA-2 hard drive running on a GA-K8N Ultra-SLI Raid enabled Motherboard. Please note the instructions in the Gigabyte GA-K8N motherboard instructions document are WRONG and the drivers on their CD DO NOT work.

What you will need to install Windows XP on your Serial ATA hard drive and GA-K8N motherboard (other than the stuff listed above).
  • A floppy drive in your computer connected to the FDD cable in your motherboard. (NOTE: this is necessary as Windows XP needs to load the drivers you need from the floppy A: I went out and bought a floppy drive for this.) OR A CD burner to create your own installation CD with the drivers pre-loaded on it. (NOTE: Since I did not go this way I can only point you to a How-To Link about Slipstreaming Windows XP SP2 Installation: Thanks to Rich N. for the heads up on this method)

  • The SATA-II or SATA drivers downloaded from NVIDIA or the Silicon Image SIL3114 drivers OR downloaded from this post and placed on a clean floppy disk. Further in the How To File I have links and descriptions on which driver you will need.

STEP 1 :: If you only are running one SATA hard drive DISABLE RAID in the BIOS

This sounds eaiser than it actually is in the Award Software BIOS. There are many setting in the CMOS Setup Utility page that say RAID but if you disable some of them you also disable the Serial ATA functionality and then you really won't see your hard drive ever.
  • First press the Delete key during post to enter the BIOS setup

  • Second Select the Integrated Peripherals menu item on the Award BIOS main menu

  • Third go to the 6th menu item "IDE/SATA RAID function" on the next menu and click Disabled. This item is Enable by default which I think is silly because it assumes most people go with a RAID array and the book is not all that descriptive in telling you.

  • Fourth go back to the main menu and verify in the "Advanced BIOS Features" menu that your boot order is what you need. Mine is Floppy / CD / Hard Drive.

  • NOTE: On some BIOS's you will need to change the boot order to SCSI or the like because they do not recognize the SATA hard drives as a "hard drive" but as a peripheral. For my setup the BIOS recognized the SATA-II hard drive as a hard drive and I did not have the option to select a SCSI or other type of disk and belive me I tried all the options while debugging.

STEP 2 :: Download the SATA (Serial ATA) or SATA-II Drivers
In step 3 you will need the SATA drivers so we need to get them on a floppy disk.

If you have a Serial ATA hard drive download the Silicon Image drivers from Silicon Image's site or click here to download the SIL3114 SATA drivers I found that work.

If you have a Serial ATA-II hard drive download the NVIDIA SATA-II drivers from NVIDIA's site or click here to download the NVIDIA SATA-II drivers I used.

Place these files on a floppy and have it ready for the next step.

STEP 3 :: Install Windows XP on your SATA hard drive
  • Insert the Windows XP setup CD into your CDROM drive and start/restart your computer

  • Boot from the CD (press any necessary keys your BIOS/Computer might require

  • IMPORTANT STEP When Windows is first installing it will ask you to press F6 To install any Third Party SCSI or hardware drivers PRESS F6 when that message comes up. It will continue on and then in about a minute will prompt you to install the extra drivers.

  • At the install screen press the Key to Install the extra drivers. Insert your floppy you made in STEP 2 when prompted and press Enter.

  • Select the driver you want and press Enter. NOTE: If you have a Serial ATA-II driver then you will need to install 2 drivers, just select the first and press enter then select the second and press enter.

  • Continue with Windows XP instillation.

  • Make sure to remove the floppy before the reboot and keep it handy because you will need it 1 more time during the next install step

CONGRATULATIONS you are almost there. If Windows XP comes up after the initial setup reboot then you have gotten it to recognize your Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive! Hold on though one more got-ya to watch out for.

STEP 4 :: Be Careful when installing your Motherboard provided driver disk.

For my Gigabyte GA-K8N Ultra-SLI motherboard the provided CDROM contains the sound, ect necessary drivers to enable all of the onboard hardware. This CD also contains outdated SATA and SATA-II drivers that if installed will UNDO all your work from above. (Trust me been there done that DOH!)

To prevent the CD from installing bad drivers unclick the box next to installing the SATA drivers when installing the motherboard drivers.

If you do happen to forget this step and install the bad SATA drivers get ready for more painfull work. If Windows reports that you have a bad SATA driver then restart the setup by booting from the Windows Disk and go through STEP 3 but when it asks you during the format drive step if you would like and repair the install click YES. Now you will have replaced the bad drivers with the good one and Windows XP will be OK again.

Hope this helps. This has has been writen for a specific motherboard but the problems have been seen with Serial ATA Windows XP installs on many motherboards and this information should work for most of those also. Just check and see which hardware processors they use for their SATA functionality and therefore which drivers you will need on your floppy disk during the install.

Please let me know if you have any comments or any other tips with your specific setup. I had a horrible time finding accurate information on this so hopefully this "How To Install Windows XP on Serial ATA hard drive" post helps others!