Drives

Hard drives and optical drives are generally straight forward with concern to installation. The main concern is setting the default drive settings according to their perspective locations. Your A7N8X Deluxe is natively capable of 4 hard drives and 2 or 4 (depending on Hard drive type used) CD/DVD/CDRW/DVDRW drives simultaneously or any combination there-in. You have 2 SATA, and 2 IDE ports available for this purpose. The IDE ports support up to 4 IDE devices and the SATA ports support up to 2 SATA drives. Thus, allowing for a total of 6 drives contained in one PC at the same time. (definitely multi-media friendly)

Installation- With concern to the O/S - On a new system build it is highly recommended that you perform a complete reformat. The reasons for this are due to the hard drive and the motherboard. With a new motherboard install, the drivers that allow the motherboard and Windows to communicate must be reinstalled, among many other drivers. It is usually much easier (and safer) to simply reformat.

IDE- The main concern with the IDE drive usage is to make sure the drives master/slave settings are correctly set. Failure to to this correctly may result in a system that will post but not boot to Windows. To perform this you must change the jumper(s) on the back of each perspective drive to properly reflect this setting as you choose. The reason for these settings are so that the perspective drives can be assigned the appropriate device identifier with in the system Bios and the Windows environment, that is to say the motherboard needs to know which drive does what, it's priority, and it's function.

For IDE based hard drives your primary IDE port should include the Hard drive your main Operating System will be installed to and be set to the master position*. (this does not apply for users with SATA drives that will replace IDE hard drives) As for the primary slave drive it should be your CD drive or DVD drive. For the secondary IDE port you should install your (recordables) CDRW and or DVDRW, the reason for this is because certain software may look at the CDRW or DVDRW as a hard drive, as well Windows may at times also do this (due to certain types of software). It is best to keep CDRW and DVDRW (recordables) on their own IDE port, you may use any combination of master/slave setting for these drives. However, only one drive can be set as master and the other as a slave. You cannot have two slave or two master set drives on one IDE port. Finally, once you have your O/S installed, verify that DMA is selected and that Digital audio extraction (if your drives support these features) are selected, to verify this use the device manger to inspect and or change the settings as necessary.

For information on installing Windows and or partitioning and formatting use the "Windows" link for more information.

Honorable mention from amdmb users-

*Of special note for Western Digital users- "Modern Western Digital hard drives can be tricky when you have only one device on the primary channel. You must NOT set the jumper to the MASTER position because the drive will not boot. Set the jumper to SINGLE or CABLE SELECT"

As posted  and advised by Old Dude from the amdmb forums, thanks Old Dude!

Ok everyone I prevailed on Senor Panadero to apply his recruitment skills- we now have a SATA guide for you-

SATA Drives- Written by TonyInSeattle from the amdmb forums

SATA Installation Guide

This guide will cover installing SATA hard drives with the ASUS A7NDX motherboard using the onboard Sil 3112A controller.

You will need the latest BIOS. 1004 for boards prior to rev 2.0 and C1005 for boards rev2.0. Uber BIOS versions are fine as well and you have the advantage of incorporating the latest SATA BIOS as well. They can be downloaded here:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/michael.mcclay/

Prior to installation, ensure you have the correct drivers. Currently (7/17/2003) the RAID drivers .29 & .33 are recommended. When you extract the files to the root on the floppy, it should contain the following files:

readme.txt         SI3112R.INF       SI3112R.MPD           Si3112r.sys            Siisupp.vxd              SIWinAcc.sys          TxtSetup.oem

With system powered down, install hard drive and connect cables. Ensure hard drive jumpers are configured correctly. It is recommended that you disconnect other hard drives until after OS is installed on SATA drive(s). If your hard drive has both a SATA and molex power cable, use one, do not connect both.

Enable SATA controller by moving jumper SATA_EN1 to pins 1 & 2.

Set boot up sequence in BIOS under Advanced BIOS Features to floppy, SCSI and CDROM.

If you are only installing one SATA hard drive, ignore the SATA RAID BIOS configuration utility.

If your going to create a RAID with multiple disks press "CRTL S" or F4. This must be done prior to installing XP. Here you must create your RAID set. RAID 0 (striping) is more for performance and RAID 1 (mirroring) is more for data security. If configuring a RAID 0, ensure that you back up important data with either another hard drive or some other write capable media (CD, DVD, floppy, etc...). Remember though you may never have a hard drive problem, if you lose one drive, all data will be lost. RAID 1 will back up data but you will only have the storage space of the smaller drive. Please keep this in mind when configuring your system based on your needs.

Select Create RAID Set

Choose either striped or mirrored set. You then have the choice of auto or manual configuration. Chunk size is 16 as default. Manual gives you the choice of different chunk sizes and source and target drives.

Press "Y" to confirm and CRTL E to escape. System will now reboot and you should see your drives show up during the SATA bios screen.

If you don't have your OS disk in your CDROM drive you should get a disk boot failure. Insert your OS disk and reboot. If you did have OS disk in you should boot from CD and notice at bottom of screen it says "Press F6 if you need to install third party RAID or SCSI driver". You will have to press quickly so be ready. You will then load XP set up files and then come to a screen where Windows could not determine your mass storage device and to press "S" to specify additional device.

Press "S" and you will be prompted to insert hardware driver disk in floppy drive. Insert driver disk and press "Enter". For the RAID drivers as we recommend, you will have a choice of Windows XP/Server 2003 or NT 4.0 and 2000. Select your OS and press "Enter". Windows setup will now state that it will load support for the Silicon Image SATA RAID controller. Press "Enter" to continue. Windows will now load its normal setup files. 

You are now ready to setup, press "Enter" again. Press F8 for license agreement. You will now come to the partition setup screen. NOTE: If you already partitioned drives either NTFS or FAT32 you can skip partition and load XP. If you did not previously partition, create a partition or partitions to your preference and then select partition to install XP in.

After Windows has partitioned and/or copied files, you will then be prompted to remove floppy and restart. Click yes on any files that XP has not certified Logo processing. As writing out some of the XP install process may seem redundant, it goes to show you that once you load the SATA drivers, this becomes a typical install and should not intimidate you.

 

FAQ

Is SATA a dead standard? While anything is possible, it appears that SATA is going to be the standard for storage devices. Hard drives are here and popular, optical drives will appear before end of year.

Aren't SATA drives just regular hard drives with converters? For the most part yes, I would expect some hybrid hardware for some time.

Do converters cause a bottleneck on the PCI bus? This has been suspected and talked about and for good reason, it is a converter after all, but for the most part I doubt it. The Marvel 88i8030 is capable and scalable to future SATA standards. I suspect the PCI bus to be the biggest bottleneck. I have noticed even better performance with Intel's ICH5R implementing an independent bus. I suspect this will be the trend as will PCI Express. Keep in mind too that we will need faster hard drives to take advantage of improved bandwidth or larger RAID setups.

If I use an adapter to hook up my hard drive to the SATA controller will my performance improve? Highly doubtful. With a single hard drive, not a chance. All test that I have seen show that even in a RAID 0 setup, using SATA drives or PATA drives with adapters give about the same performance.

Do you recommend the Western Digital Raptor? Yes, they are fast drives and work well in single or RAID configurations. If storage space is your biggest priority then you should avoid the Raptor drives or get a single Raptor for OS, apps, etc... and get another larger drive for your system requirements.

 

SATA Links:

Western Digital: http://www.westerndigital.com/en/

Maxtor: http://www.maxtor.com/en/index.htm

Seagate: http://www.seagate.com

Silicon Image: http://www.siliconimage.com/home.asp

Asus A7n8X Dlx Download page: http://www.asus.com.tw/support/download/item.aspx?ModelName=A7N8X%20Deluxe

nforcershq BIOS download sticky: http://www.nforcershq.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15505

Zip file .29 drivers compliments of Nom: silicon_v10029.zip