Changing motherboard chipset (ICH 9) to from IDE to ACHI or RAID configuration

Changing motherboard chipset (ICH 9) to from IDE to ACHI or RAID configuration

(without reinstalling your OS)

I decided it was time to give a 64 bit operating system a go on my machine and took the opportunity to give a few things a tweak – I wanted to run 4GB DDR3, change from SATA in IDE mode on the motherboard to a RAID 0 for Windows / Scratch with other drives standalone and also do some conservative overclocking of CPU, memory and GPU. I also wanted to keep my Windows XP SP3 installation running so that I could fall back to it if I had compatibility issues or needed a 100% working OS while I was putting Vista x64 through its paces.

I managed a fairly conservative overclock of CPU (C2D 6850) to around 3.30 GHz, didn’t achieve much with the memory and got about a 5% overclock on my 8800GT ICH9  chip512. When it came to changing my motherboard’s SATA settings over things got a bit more complicated. If I changed my chipset (ICH 9) to run in RAID 0 – I could choose which hard drives were RAID members and which drives were standalone (non-RAID) but I found that if I loaded up Windows XP which was installed in IDE compatibility mode, it no longerbooted (BSOD) when the chipset was running in RAID mode.

So I faced the problem – how do you boot an operating system that was installed with the south bridge chipset SATA controller operating in a different mode. The ICH9 chipset does IDE,AHCI and RAID modes. I had read around theboards that if you wanted to use RAID you had to install the OS on a RAID configured controller and you couldn’t change the controller mode post-installation because the operating system wouldn’t be able to read the drive to boot.

I saw some solutions online that worked like this

  1. Boot into your operating system using the ICH9 configuration the OS was installed with
  2. Apply manual changes (registry, driver, device etc)
  3. Shutdown to BIOS
  4. Change ICH9 settings in BIOS to desired configuration
  5. Reboot and the changes made just before shutting down allow for reading of HD in new mode, and then any OS changes can be implemented once Windows has booted

I had a few problems with this approach, although I believe it worked for some people. Firstly you are changing the chipset driver of a drive you are currently reading from before the actual chipset has changed it’s settings. Also the registry changes required varied by OS, by exact chipset and I couldn’t be sure I would be applying the correct registry settings. I didn’t want to do a registry hack only to find I’d ‘half’ fixed the ICH9 settings in the OS and no longer be able to read the drives.x38  chipset

I was looking for a safer option. This is what I ended up doing to get Windows XP which was installed in ICH9 IDE mode running on the ICH9 in RAID mode. Note: My motherboard (Asus P5E3 Deluxe Wifi @N has a separate JMircron eSATA controller, an external USB2 drive would also work in this way)

  1. Disconnected Windows XP driver from the ICH9 4 Port Sata
  2. Set up XP Hard drive in an eSATA caddie (external case) – you could use USB2 if you don’t have eSATA
  3. Connected the eSATA drive to the Jmicron controller on the hard drive
  4. Changed BIOS setting to boot of Jmicron eSATA HD
  5. Booted into XP (while not using the ICH9 for the OS drive)
  6. Found the ICH9 controller in device manager, installed drivers for RAID operations
  7. Shutdown
  8. Removed XP OS hard drive from eSATA, reconnected to ICH9 SATA (internal SATA)
  9. In BIOS changed over ICH9 mode to RAID
  10. Booted to Windows XP and no BSOD, XP now running on a RAID configured chipset.

I was pretty happy when I got it all working – no registry hacks and the process is repeatable / reversible if you ever wanted to change modes again. Since then I installed Vista x64 on a RAID 0 with 2 x 7200.11 drives – making for a fast booting OS with a good scratch disc for Photoshop / Premiere Pro. Currently my configuration of drives on the 4 port sata is:-

500GB RAID MEMBER 1/2 (Vista x64, scratch disc)
500GB RAID MEMBER 2/2 (Vista x64, scratch disc)
1TB WINDOWS XP / VISTA 32 OS (non RAID)
750 Storage Drive (non RAID)

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