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AHCI supported by chipset but option missing in BIOS

This is a discussion on AHCI supported by chipset but option missing in BIOS within the Hard Drive Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Hi, I just bought a Dell Inspiron 530 that came with 2 SATA drives (Samsung Spinpoint) in a non-RAID config.


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Old 11-15-2007, 03:56 AM   #1
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Hi,

I just bought a Dell Inspiron 530 that came with 2 SATA drives (Samsung Spinpoint) in a non-RAID config. According to the chipset (G33 and ICH9R) AHCI and NCQ are supported but to my surprise the BIOS only has the two options IDE and RAID, no AHCI.

Tech support told me that choosing IDE would still use the AHCI capability of the controller but after installing XP successfully without any supplementary SATA drivers (and seeing atapi.sys being loaded for my controller in device manager) I seriously have my doubts. I even did a second install of XP using a slipstreamed installation CD including the ICH9R AHCI driver to double check but the result was the same (atapi.sys used for the controller).

I still want to use AHCI in a non-RAID setup as it's technically possible and would give better performance. Are there any steps I could undertake, e.g. switching RAID on in the BIOS and just not setup any RAID volumes? (As far as I understand the controller implicitly uses AHCI when RAID is enabled.) I rather ask first before messing up the data on my 2nd HDD...

Many regards

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Old 11-15-2007, 08:53 AM   #2
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Hello and welcome to the TSF. If I'm not mistaken, (and I could be wrong) AHCI is only for SATA drives not PATA. The only version of XP to support AHCI is XP Media Center Edition, (it is fully supported in Vista and later versions of Linux). Just because the chipset supports AHCI does not mean that Dell enabled it in their bios, if it was supported you should have seen an option for it in the bios. Unless Dell puts out a bios revision that enables AHCI support I don't think there is anything you can do about it unfortunatly. Also if you manage to find a way to enable AHCI, any previous installation of XP on the drive will no longer be seen and will have to be reinstalled.

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Old 11-15-2007, 09:26 AM   #3
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Hi and thanks for your reply.

Yes, AHCI is for SATA only and not natively supported by XP. However, you can load a 3rd party SATA driver from a floppy disc during XP's setup routine (by pressing F6) or use a slipstreamed installation disc.

Dell's BIOS is crippled BUT it allows you to select RAID, which should enable AHCI support on the controller. Then, with RAID enabled, it should be possible to just use the 2 HDDs separately in SATA mode - that is without creating any RAID volumes. I'm just a little scared to try it out without having some more background info or proof that it will work as I have some 200GB of (unbackuped) data on my second HDD ;)
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Old 11-15-2007, 09:39 AM   #4
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I'm afraid I'm not more proficant with AHCI than the basics. Your fear of loosing the data is well founded as it is known that enabling AHCI on a drive that was previously non AHCI enabled will cause all data to be lost, wheather or not that will affect the second drive on the same system I honestly don't know, but I suspect it will. Hopefully some here on the forum will see this thread who can answer your question in detail will chime in.
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