Tag Archives: IDE

V-Link Data 2X Support From The Tech ARP BIOS Guide!

V-Link Data 2X Support From The Tech ARP BIOS Guide!

V-Link Data 2X Support

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

V-Link Data 2X Support : A Quick Review

In VIA chipsets, the IDE / SATA controller (known as the VIA DriveStation) is linked to the south bridge chip using a dedicated V-Link bus that offers twice as much bandwidth as the PCI bus.

However, there are occasions where it may cause data corruption as well as boot failures with some storage disk drives. This is where V-Link Data 2X Support comes in.

The V-Link Data 2X Support BIOS feature controls the operation of the V-Link bus between the VIA DriveStation and the south bridge chip.

It is slaved to the Serial ATA Controller BIOS feature. If the Serial ATA Controller BIOS feature is disabled, this BIOS feature will be grayed out.

When enabled, the V-Link bus connecting the VIA DriveStation to the south bridge chip will run at full speed, delivering 266 MB/s of bandwidth.

When disabled, the V-Link bus connecting the VIA DriveStation to the south bridge chip will run at half speed, delivering 133 MB/s of bandwidth.

It is recommended that you enable this BIOS feature for maximum performance from storage devices attached to the VIA DriveStation. However, if you experience data corruption or boot problems, disable this BIOS feature.

 

V-Link Data 2X Support : The Full Details

In VIA chipsets, the IDE / SATA controller (known as the VIA DriveStation) no longer runs off the PCI bus. To ensure maximum performance, it is linked to the south bridge chip using a dedicated 8-bit, quad-pumped V-Link bus running at 66 MHz.

This V-Link bus offers twice as much bandwidth as the PCI bus, allowing data transfers of up to 266 MB/s.

In addition, the IDE/SATA controller does not need share this bandwidth with any other device, as it would have to, if it was on the PCI bus.

However, all is not peachy with the use of the faster V-Link bus.

There are occasions where it may cause data corruption as well as boot failures with some storage drives.

This issue only affects storage drives connected to the VIA DriveStation. It does not affect drives connected to third-party IDE/SATA controllers because they use the PCI bus.

This is where V-Link Data 2X Support comes in. It controls the operation of the V-Link bus between the VIA DriveStation and the south bridge chip.

It is slaved to the Serial ATA Controller BIOS feature. If the Serial ATA Controller BIOS feature is disabled, this BIOS feature will be grayed out.

When enabled, the V-Link bus connecting the VIA DriveStation to the south bridge chip will run at full speed, delivering 266 MB/s of bandwidth.

When disabled, the V-Link bus connecting the VIA DriveStation to the south bridge chip will run at half speed, delivering 133 MB/s of bandwidth.

It is recommended that you enable this BIOS feature for maximum performance from storage devices attached to the VIA DriveStation. However, if you experience data corruption or boot problems, disable this BIOS feature.

 

Recommended Reading

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IDE Bus Master Support from The Tech ARP BIOS Guide!

IDE Bus Master Support

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review of IDE Bus Master Support

The IDE Bus Master Support BIOS feature is a misnomer since it doesn’t actually control the bus mastering ability of the onboard IDE controller.

It is actually a toggle for the built-in driver that allows the onboard IDE controller to perform DMA (Direct Memory Access) transfers.

When this BIOS feature is enabled, the BIOS loads up the 16-bit busmastering driver for the onboard IDE controller. This allows the IDE controller to transfer data via DMA, resulting in greatly improved transfer rates and lower CPU utilization in real mode DOS and during the loading of other operating systems.

When this BIOS feature is disabled, the BIOS will not load up the 16-bit busmastering driver for the onboard IDE controller. The IDE controller will then transfer data via PIO.

Therefore, it is recommended that you enable IDE Bus Master Support. This greatly improves the IDE transfer rate and reduces the CPU utilization during the booting process or when you are using real mode DOS. Users of DOS-based disk utilities like Norton Ghost can expect to benefit a lot from this feature.

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Details of IDE Bus Master Support

The IDE Bus Master Support BIOS feature is a misnomer since it doesn’t actually control the bus mastering ability of the onboard IDE controller.

It is actually a toggle for the built-in driver that allows the onboard IDE controller to perform DMA (Direct Memory Access) transfers.

DMA transfer modes allow IDE devices to transfer large amounts of data from the hard disk to the system memory and vice versa with minimal processor intervention.

It differs from the older and processor-intensive PIO transfer modes by offloading the task of data transfer from the processor to the chipset.

Previously, this feature is only available after an operating system that supports DMA transfers (via the appropriate device driver) is loaded up.

But now, many BIOS come with a built-in 16-bit driver that allows DMA transfers. This allows the onboard IDE controller to perform DMA transfers even before the operating system is loaded up!

When this BIOS feature is enabled, the BIOS loads up the 16-bit busmastering driver for the onboard IDE controller. This allows the IDE controller to transfer data via DMA, resulting in greatly improved transfer rates and lower CPU utilization in real mode DOS and during the loading of other operating systems.

When this BIOS feature is disabled, the BIOS will not load up the 16-bit busmastering driver for the onboard IDE controller. The IDE controller will then transfer data via PIO.

Therefore, it is recommended that you enable IDE Bus Master Support. This greatly improves the IDE transfer rate and reduces the CPU utilization during the booting process or when you are using real mode DOS. Users of DOS-based disk utilities like Norton Ghost can expect to benefit a lot from this feature.

Please note that since current operating systems (i.e. Windows XP) load up their own 32-bit busmastering driver, this feature has no effect once such an operating system loads up. Still, it is recommended that you enable this feature to improve performance prior to the loading of the operating system’s own driver.

 

Recommended Reading

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Multi-Sector Transfers from The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

Multi-Sector Transfers

Common Options : Disabled, 2 Sectors, 4 Sectors, 8 Sectors, 16 Sectors, 32 Sectors, Maximum

 

Quick Review of Multi-Sector Transfers

The Multi-Sector Transfers BIOS feature speeds up hard disk drive access by transferring multiple sectors of data per interrupt instead of using the usual single-sector transfer mode. This mode of transferring data is known as block transfers.

There are a few available options, from Disabled and a few different multiple sectors option to Maximum.

The Disabled option forces your IDE controller to transfer only a single sector (512 bytes) per interrupt. Needless to say, this will significantly degrade performance.

The selection of 2 Sectors to 32 Sectors allows you to manually select the number of sectors that the IDE controller is allowed to transfer per interrupt.

The Maximum option allows your IDE controller to transfer as many sectors per interrupt as the hard disk is able to support.

Since all current hard disk drives support block transfers, there is usually no reason why IDE HDD Block Mode should be disabled.

Therefore, you should disable IDE HDD Block Mode only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0). Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you select the Maximum option for significantly better hard disk performance!

The manual selection of 2 to 32 sectors is useful if you notice data corruption with the Maximum option. It allows you to scale back the multi-sector transfer feature to correct the problem without losing too much performance.

 

Details of Multi-Sector Transfers

The Multi-Sector Transfers BIOS feature speeds up hard disk drive access by transferring multiple sectors of data per interrupt instead of using the usual single-sector transfer mode. This mode of transferring data is known as block transfers.

There are a few available options, from Disabled and a few different multiple sectors option to Maximum.

The Disabled option forces your IDE controller to transfer only a single sector (512 bytes) per interrupt. Needless to say, this will significantly degrade performance.

The selection of 2 Sectors to 32 Sectors allows you to manually select the number of sectors that the IDE controller is allowed to transfer per interrupt.

The Maximum option allows your IDE controller to transfer as many sectors per interrupt as the hard disk is able to support.

Since all current hard disk drives support block transfers, there is usually no reason why IDE HDD Block Mode should be disabled.

However, if you are running on Windows NT 4.0, you might need to disable this BIOS feature because Windows NT 4.0 has a problem with block transfers. According to Chris Bope, Windows NT does not support IDE HDD Block Mode and enabling this feature can cause data to be corrupted.

Ryu Connor confirmed this by sending me a link to a Microsoft article (Enhanced IDE operation under Windows NT 4.0). According to this article, IDE HDD Block Mode and 32-bit Disk Access have been found to cause data corruption in some cases. Therefore, Microsoft recommends that Windows NT 4.0 users disable IDE HDD Block Mode.

Lord Mike asked ‘someone in the know‘ about this matter and he was told that the data corruption issue was taken very seriously at Microsoft and that it had been corrected through the Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2. Although he could not get an official statement from Microsoft, it is probably safe enough to enable IDE HDD Block Mode on a Windows NT 4.0 system, just as long as it has been upgraded with Service Pack 2.

Therefore, you should disable IDE HDD Block Mode only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0). Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you select the Maximum option for significantly better hard disk performance!

The manual selection of 2 to 32 sectors is useful if you notice data corruption with the Maximum option. It allows you to scale back the multi-sector transfer feature to correct the problem without losing too much performance.

 

Recommended Reading

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PIO Mode from The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

PIO Mode

Common Options : Auto, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4

 

Quick Review

This BIOS feature allows you to set the PIO (Programmed Input / Output) mode for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to Auto lets the BIOS auto-detect the IDE drive’s maximum supported PIO transfer mode at boot-up.

Setting this BIOS feature to 0 forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 0 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to 1 forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 1 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 2 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to 3 forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 3 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 4 for the IDE drive.

Normally, you should leave it as Auto and let the BIOS auto-detect the IDE drive’s PIO transfer mode. You should only set it manually for the following reasons :-

  • if the BIOS cannot detect the correct PIO transfer mode.
  • if you want to try forcing the IDE device to use a faster PIO transfer mode than it was designed for.
  • if you want to force the IDE device to use a slower PIO transfer mode if it cannot work properly with the current PIO mode (i.e. when the PCI bus is overclocked)

Please note that forcing an IDE device to use a PIO transfer rate that is faster than what it is rated for can potentially cause data corruption.

 

Details

This BIOS feature allows you to set the PIO (Programmed Input / Output) mode for the IDE drive. Here is a table of the different PIO transfer rates and their corresponding maximum throughputs.

PIO Data Transfer Mode

Maximum Throughput

PIO Mode 0

3.3 MB/s

PIO Mode 1

5.2 MB/s

PIO Mode 2

8.3 MB/s

PIO Mode 3

11.1 MB/s

PIO Mode 4

16.6 MB/s

Setting this BIOS feature to Auto lets the BIOS auto-detect the IDE drive’s maximum supported PIO transfer mode at boot-up.

Setting this BIOS feature to 0 forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 0 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to 1 forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 1 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 2 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to 3 forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 3 for the IDE drive.

Setting this BIOS feature to forces the BIOS to use PIO Mode 4 for the IDE drive.

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Normally, you should leave it as Auto and let the BIOS auto-detect the IDE drive’s PIO transfer mode. You should only set it manually for the following reasons :-

  • if the BIOS cannot detect the correct PIO transfer mode.
  • if you want to try forcing the IDE device to use a faster PIO transfer mode than it was designed for.
  • if you want to force the IDE device to use a slower PIO transfer mode if it cannot work properly with the current PIO mode (i.e. when the PCI bus is overclocked)

Please note that forcing an IDE device to use a PIO transfer rate that is faster than what it is rated for can potentially cause data corruption.

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Fixed Disk Boot Sector – The BIOS Optimization Guide

Fixed Disk Boot Sector

Common Options : Normal, Write Protect

 

Quick Review

The Fixed Disk Boot Sector BIOS feature provides rudimentary anti-virus protection by write-protecting the boot sector.

If this feature is enabled, the BIOS will block any attempt to write to the boot sector and flash a warning message. This protects the system from boot sector viruses. Please note that it offers no protection against other types of viruses.

If this feature is disabled, the BIOS will not block any writes to the boot sector.

This feature can cause problems with software that need to write to the boot sector. One good example is the installation routine of all versions of Microsoft Windows, from Windows 95 onwards. When enabled, this feature causes the installation routine to fail.

Many hard drive diagnostic utilities that access the boot sector can also trigger the system halt and error message as well. Therefore, you should disable this feature before running such utilities, or when you intend to install a new operating system.

 

Details

The Fixed Disk Boot Sector BIOS feature provides rudimentary anti-virus protection by write-protecting the boot sector.

If this feature is enabled, the BIOS will block any attempt to write to the boot sector and flash a warning message. This protects the system from boot sector viruses. Please note that it offers no protection against other types of viruses.

If this feature is disabled, the BIOS will not block any writes to the boot sector.

This feature can cause problems with software that need to write to the boot sector. One good example is the installation routine of all versions of Microsoft Windows, from Windows 95 onwards. When enabled, this feature causes the installation routine to fail.

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Many hard drive diagnostic utilities that access the boot sector can also trigger the system halt and error message as well. Therefore, you should disable this feature before running such utilities, or when you intend to install a new operating system.

Please note that this BIOS feature is useless for storage drives that run on external controllers with their own BIOS. Boot sector viruses will bypass the system BIOS with such anti-virus protection features, and write directly to the drives. Such controllers include additional IDE, SATA or SCSI controllers that are either built into the motherboard or part of add-on PCI Express or PCI cards.

 

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ATAPI 80-Pin Cable Detection – The BIOS Optimization Guide

ATAPI 80-Pin Cable Detection

Common Options : Host & Device, Host, Device

 

Quick Review

The ATAPI 80-Pin Cable Detection BIOS feature was incorrectly named because it actually refers to the 40-pin, 80-conductor IDE cable. Despite the misleading name, the IDE cable does not have 80-pins. The 80-conductor cable only adds 40 additional ground wires to the 40 ground wires already nestled between the 40 signal wires.

The ATAPI 80-Pin Cable Detection BIOS feature controls whether both IDE controller and IDE device should be allowed to detect the type of IDE cable used.

When set to Host & Device, both the IDE controller and the IDE device will be able to detect the type of IDE cable used.

When set to Host, only the IDE controller will be able to detect the type of IDE cable used.

When set to Device, only the IDE device will be able to detect the type of IDE cable used.

The higher Ultra DMA transfer modes will only be allowed if the 80-conductor cable is used and detected by the system. Otherwise, the system defaults to slower transfer modes, even if you set the drives to use the faster transfer modes.

It is recommended that you leave this BIOS feature at the default setting of Host & Device. This ensures that the system will never incorrectly detect a 40-conductor cable as an 80-conductor cable, preventing data corruption.

 

Details

The ATAPI 80-Pin Cable Detection BIOS feature was incorrectly named because it actually refers to the 40-pin, 80-conductor IDE cable. Despite the misleading name, the IDE cable does not have 80-pins. It actually uses the same 40-pin connector as the original 40-conductor IDE cable. In fact, it is electrically and logically similar to the 40-conductor cable.

The 80-conductor cable only adds 40 additional ground wires to the 40 ground wires already nestled between the 40 signal wires. These ground wires reduce cross-talk between the signal wires and improve signal integrity. They allow the cable to reliably support transfer rates of 66 MB/s and 100 MB/s. Hence, these 80-conductor cables are essential if you want to use those higher transfer rates.

The 40-pin, 80-conductor cable was first introduced with the ATA/ATAPI-4 standard but was not mandatory until ATA/ATAPI-5 was introduced. You must use the 80-conductor cable if you intend to use the faster 66 MB/s and 100 MB/s Ultra DMA modes. Using a 40-conductor cable will force the system to revert to slower Ultra DMA modes.

Both IDE controller and IDE devices (e.g. hard disk drives, DVD writers) can detect 80-conductor cables by checking if Pin #34 of the interface is grounded. 80-conductor cables have this pin grounded while 40-conductor cables do not.

The ATAPI 80-Pin Cable Detection BIOS feature controls whether both IDE controller and IDE device should be allowed to detect the type of IDE cable used.

When set to Host & Device, both the IDE controller and the IDE device will be able to detect the type of IDE cable used.

When set to Host, only the IDE controller will be able to detect the type of IDE cable used.

When set to Device, only the IDE device will be able to detect the type of IDE cable used.

The higher Ultra DMA transfer modes will only be allowed if the 80-conductor cable is used and detected by the system. Otherwise, the system defaults to slower transfer modes, even if you set the drives to use the faster transfer modes.

It is recommended that you leave this BIOS feature at the default setting of Host & Device. This ensures that the system will never incorrectly detect a 40-conductor cable as an 80-conductor cable, preventing data corruption.

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You should only change this BIOS feature to Host or Device if the IDE controller or the IDE device cannot correctly detect the 80-conductor cable. In other words, this is a workaround for situations where the IDE controller or IDE device cannot correctly detect 80-conductor cables.

You must be sure, though, that you have 80-conductor cables installed before changing this BIOS feature to Host or Device. Both 40-conductor and 80-conductor cables are similar in length and width. They even use the same 40-pin connector.

However, 40-conductor cables are made up of 40 thicker wires, while 80-conductor cables are made up of 80 thinner wires. 80-conductor cables also have colour-coded blue, gray and black connectors.

 

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32-bit Transfer Mode – The BIOS Optimization Guide

32-bit Transfer Mode

Common Options : On, Off

 

Quick Review

This BIOS feature allows you to command the IDE controller to combine two 16-bit hard disk reads into a single 32-bit data transfer to the processor. This greatly improves the performance of the IDE controller as well as the PCI bus.

Therefore, it is highly advisable to enable 32-bit Transfer Mode. If you disable it, data transfers from the IDE controller to the processor will only occur in 16-bits chunks.

 

Details

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This BIOS feature is similar to the 32-bit Disk Access BIOS feature. The name 32-bit Transfer Mode is actually a misnomer because it doesn’t really allow 32-bit transfers on the IDE bus.

The IDE interface is always 16-bits in width even when the IDE controller is on the 32-bit PCI bus. What this feature actually does is command the IDE controller to combine two 16-bit reads from the hard disk into a single 32-bit double word transfer to the processor. This allows the PCI bus to be more efficiently used as the number of transactions required for a particular amount of data is effectively halved!

However, according to a Microsoft article (Enhanced IDE operation under Windows NT 4.0), 32-bit disk access can cause data corruption under Windows NT in some cases. Therefore, Microsoft recommends that Windows NT 4.0 users disable 32-bit Disk Access.

Lord Mike asked ‘someone in the know’ about this matter and he was told that the data corruption issue was taken very seriously at Microsoft and that it had been corrected through the Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2. Although he couldn’t get an official statement from Microsoft, it’s probably safe enough to enable 32-bit Disk Access on a Windows NT 4.0 system, just as long as it has been upgraded with Service Pack 2.

Because it realizes the performance potential of the 32-bit IDE controller and improves the efficiency of the PCI bus, it is highly advisable to enable 32-bit Transfer Mode.

If you disable it, data transfers from the IDE controller to the processor will only occur in 16-bits chunks. This degrades the performance of the IDE controller as well as the PCI bus.

As such, you should disable this feature only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0).

You can also find more information on the Windows NT issue in the details of the IDE HDD Block Mode feature!

 

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IDE Detect Time Out – The BIOS Optimization Guide

IDE Detect Time Out

Common Options : 0 to 15 or 0 to 30, in 1 second steps

 

Quick Review

Motherboards are capable of booting up much faster these days, with the initialization of IDE devices now take place much earlier. Unfortunately, this also means that some older IDE drives will not be able to spin up in time to be initialized! When this happens, the BIOS will not be able to detect those IDE drives and make them available to the operating system even though there’s nothing wrong with them.

This is where the IDE Detect Time Out BIOS feature comes in. It allows you to force the BIOS to delay the initialization of IDE devices for up to 30 seconds (although some BIOSes allow for even longer delays). The delay gives your IDE devices more time to spin up before the BIOS initializes them.

If you do not use old IDE drives and the BIOS has no problem initializing your IDE devices, it is recommended that you leave the delay at the default value of 0 for the shortest possible boot time. IDE devices manufactured in the last few years will have no problem spinning up in time for initialization. Only older IDE devices may have slower spin-up times.

However, if one or more of your IDE devices fail to initialize during the boot up process, start with a delay of 1 second. If that doesn’t help, gradually increase the delay until all your IDE devices initialize properly during the boot up process.

 

Details

Regardless of its shortcomings, the IDE standard is remarkably backward compatible. Every upgrade of the standard was designed to be fully compatible with older IDE devices, so you can actually use the old 40 MB hard disk drive that came with your ancient 386 system in your spanking new Intel Core i7 system! However, even backward compatibility cannot account for the slower motors used in the older drives.

Motherboards are capable of booting up much faster these days, with the initialization of IDE devices now take place much earlier. Unfortunately, this also means that some older IDE drives will not be able to spin up in time to be initialized! When this happens, the BIOS will not be able to detect those IDE drives and make them available to the operating system even though there’s nothing wrong with them.

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This is where the IDE Detect Time Out BIOS feature comes in. It allows you to force the BIOS to delay the initialization of IDE devices for up to 30 seconds (although some BIOSes allow for even longer delays). The delay gives your IDE devices more time to spin up before the BIOS initializes them.

If you do not use old IDE drives and the BIOS has no problem initializing your IDE devices, it is recommended that you leave the delay at the default value of 0 for the shortest possible boot time. IDE devices manufactured in the last few years will have no problem spinning up in time for initialization. Only older IDE devices may have slower spin-up times.

However, if one or more of your IDE devices fail to initialize during the boot up process, start with a delay of 1 second. If that doesn’t help, gradually increase the delay until all your IDE devices initialize properly during the boot up process.

 

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DRDY Timing – The BIOS Optimization Guide

DRDY Timing

Common Options : Slowest, Default, Optimize

 

Quick Review

The DRDY Timing BIOS feature determines how quickly IDE or Serial ATA devices in the system can be readied for their next command, after executing a read or write command.

When set to Default, the IDE or Serial ATA device will retain its default DRDY timing.

When set to Slowest, the IDE or Serial ATA device will use a slower DRDY timing. This increases the time for the device to be ready for the next command, after it completes its task.

When set to Optimize, the IDE or Serial ATA device will use a faster DRDY timing. This decreases the time for the device to be ready for the next command, after it completes its task.

For maximum performance, you should set this BIOS feature to Optimize. This allows for faster access to the IDE and Serial ATA devices, improving their performance.

However, if this results in crashes or data corruption, you should revert to the Default setting. You should only set this BIOS feature to Slowest in rare occasions where the IDE or Serial ATA device actually requires a longer time to be ready.

 

Details

When an IDE or Serial ATA device executes a read or write command from the host controller, it sets the BSY (Busy) status bit so that the host controller knows that it is busy and cannot accept another command. Once the device has completed its task, it will set the BSY bit to 0, signalling that it is no longer busy.

However, the host controller cannot send the subsequent command to the IDE or Serial ATA device until that device sets the DRDY (Drive Ready) bit. The time from when the drive ceases to be “busy” until it becomes “ready” is known as the DRDY timing. The shorter the DRDY timing, the faster the drive is available for further commands, improving its performance.

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The DRDY Timing BIOS feature determines how quickly IDE or Serial ATA devices in the system can be readied for their next command, after executing a read or write command.

When set to Default, the IDE or Serial ATA device will retain its default DRDY timing.

When set to Slowest, the IDE or Serial ATA device will use a slower DRDY timing. This increases the time for the device to be ready for the next command, after it completes its task.

When set to Optimize, the IDE or Serial ATA device will use a faster DRDY timing. This decreases the time for the device to be ready for the next command, after it completes its task.

For maximum performance, you should set this BIOS feature to Optimize. This allows for faster access to the IDE and Serial ATA devices, improving their performance.

However, if this results in crashes or data corruption, you should revert to the Default setting. You should only set this BIOS feature to Slowest in rare occasions where the IDE or Serial ATA device actually requires a longer time to be ready.

 

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IDE HDD Block Mode – The BIOS Optimization Guide

IDE HDD Block Mode

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review

The IDE HDD Block Mode BIOS feature speeds up hard disk drive access by transferring multiple sectors of data per interrupt instead of using the usual single-sector transfer mode. This mode of transferring data is known as block transfers.

When you enable this feature, the BIOS will automatically detect if your hard disk drive supports block transfers and set the proper block transfer settings for it. Depending on the IDE controller, up to 64 KB of data can be transferred per interrupt when block transfers are enabled. Since all current hard disk drives support block transfers, there is usually no reason why IDE HDD Block Mode should be disabled.

Please note that if you disable IDE HDD Block Mode, only 512 bytes of data can transferred per interrupt. Needless to say, this will significantly degrade performance.

Therefore, you should disable IDE HDD Block Mode only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0). Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you enable this BIOS feature for significantly better hard disk drive performance!

 

Details

The IDE HDD Block Mode BIOS feature speeds up hard disk drive access by transferring multiple sectors of data per interrupt instead of using the usual single-sector transfer mode. This mode of transferring data is known as block transfers.

When you enable this feature, the BIOS will automatically detect if your hard disk drive supports block transfers and set the proper block transfer settings for it. Depending on the IDE controller, up to 64 KB of data can be transferred per interrupt when block transfers are enabled. Since all current hard disk drives support block transfers, there is usually no reason why IDE HDD Block Mode should be disabled.

However, if you are running on Windows NT 4.0, you might need to disable this BIOS feature because Windows NT 4.0 has a problem with block transfers. According to Chris Bope, Windows NT does not support IDE HDD Block Mode and enabling this feature can cause data to be corrupted.

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Ryu Connor confirmed this by sending me a link to a Microsoft article (Enhanced IDE operation under Windows NT 4.0). According to this article, IDE HDD Block Mode and 32-bit Disk Access have been found to cause data corruption in some cases. Therefore, Microsoft recommends that Windows NT 4.0 users disable IDE HDD Block Mode.

Lord Mike asked ‘someone in the know‘ about this matter and he was told that the data corruption issue was taken very seriously at Microsoft and that it had been corrected through the Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2. Although he could not get an official statement from Microsoft, it is probably safe enough to enable IDE HDD Block Mode on a Windows NT 4.0 system, just as long as it has been upgraded with Service Pack 2.

Please note that if you disable IDE HDD Block Mode, only 512 bytes of data can transferred per interrupt. Needless to say, this will significantly degrade performance.

Therefore, you should disable IDE HDD Block Mode only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0). Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you enable this BIOS feature for significantly better hard disk drive performance!

 

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SATA Mode – BIOS Optimization Guide

SATA Mode

Common Options : RAID, SATA or AHCI, IDE

 

Quick Review

The SATA Mode BIOS feature is similar to the SATA Operation Mode BIOS feature, but with different options available. It controls the SATA controller’s operating mode.

When set to SATA or AHCI, the SATA controller enables its AHCI functionality. However, its RAID functions will be disabled and you won’t be able to access the RAID setup utility at boot time. You can find more information on AHCI in the SATA AHCI Mode BIOS feature.

When set to RAID, the SATA controller enables both its RAID and AHCI functions. You will be allowed to access the RAID setup utility at boot time.

When set to IDE, the SATA controller disables its RAID and AHCI functions and runs in the IDE emulation mode. You won’t have access to the RAID setup utility.

If you intend to create or use a RAID array, you should set this BIOS feature to RAID. The BIOS will load the RAID setup utility which you can access at boot time.

If you do not wish to create or use a RAID array but would like to make use of the SATA controller’s AHCI features, you should set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI. This skips the loading of the SATA controller’s RAID functions, which speeds up the boot process.

Even if you do not intend to use a RAID array, it is recommended that you set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI, even if you do not intend to use features like hot-plugging. This is because switching from the IDE emulation mode to AHCI mode is often problematic.

On the other hand, the IDE mode allows for maximum compatibility with older hardware. Even with the proper SATA driver installed, it is possible for a system to crash while installing or booting up an operating system. Disabling this BIOS in such cases will normally resolve the issue.

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Details

The SATA Mode BIOS feature is similar to the SATA Operation Mode BIOS feature, but with different options available. It controls the SATA controller’s operating mode. There are three available modes – IDE, SATA or AHCI and RAID.

When set to SATA or AHCI, the SATA controller enables its AHCI functionality. However, its RAID functions will be disabled and you won’t be able to access the RAID setup utility at boot time. You can find more information on AHCI in the SATA AHCI Mode BIOS feature.

When set to RAID, the SATA controller enables both its RAID and AHCI functions. You will be allowed to access the RAID setup utility at boot time.

When set to IDE, the SATA controller disables its RAID and AHCI functions and runs in the IDE emulation mode. You won’t have access to the RAID setup utility.

If you intend to create or use a RAID array, you should set this BIOS feature to RAID. The BIOS will load the RAID setup utility which you can access at boot time.

If you do not wish to create or use a RAID array but would like to make use of the SATA controller’s AHCI features, you should set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI. This skips the loading of the SATA controller’s RAID functions, which speeds up the boot process.

Please note that both RAID and SATA/AHCI modes require you to load the SATA controller driver during the Microsoft Windows XP installation routine. When you load the Windows XP installation routine, the following message will appear on screen :

Press F6 if you have to install a third-party SCSI or RAID driver.

At this point, press the F6 key and insert the floppy disk containing the motherboard’s SATA controller driver. Once the driver is loaded, the Microsoft Windows XP installation will proceed as usual. This step is not required if the SATA controller is set to SATA or AHCI and the operating system has native support for AHCI.

Even if you do not intend to use a RAID array, it is recommended that you set this BIOS feature to SATA or AHCI, even if you do not intend to use features like hot-plugging. This is because switching from the IDE emulation mode to AHCI mode is often problematic. For example, switching from IDE mode to AHCI after installing Microsoft Windows 7 in IDE mode will result in a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD).

On the other hand, the IDE mode allows for maximum compatibility with older hardware. Even with the proper SATA driver installed, it is possible for a system to crash while installing or booting up an operating system. Disabling this BIOS in such cases will normally resolve the issue.

 

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Delay IDE Initial – BIOS Optimization Guide

Delay IDE Initial

Common Options : 0 to 15

 

Quick Review

Motherboards are capable of booting up much faster these days. Therefore, initialization of IDE devices now take place much earlier. Unfortunately, this also means that some older IDE drives will not be able to spin up in time to be initialized! When this happens, the BIOS will not be able to detect that IDE drive and the drive will not be accessible even though it is actually running just fine.

This is where the Delay IDE Initial BIOS feature comes in. It allows you to force the BIOS to delay the initialization of IDE devices for up to 15 seconds. The delay allows your IDE devices more time to spin up before the BIOS initializes them.

If you do not use old IDE drives and the BIOS has no problem initializing your IDE devices, it is recommended that you leave the delay at the default value of 0 for the shortest possible booting time. Most IDE devices manufactured in the last few years will have no problem spinning up in time for initialization.

But if one or more of your IDE devices fail to initialize during the boot up process, start with a delay of 1 second. If that doesn’t help, gradually increase the delay until all your IDE devices initialize properly during the boot up process.

 

Details

Regardless of its shortcomings, the IDE standard is remarkably backward compatible. Every upgrade of the standard was designed to be fully compatible with older IDE devices. So, you can actually use the old 40 MB hard disk that came with your ancient 386 system in your spanking new Athlon XP system! However, even backward compatibility cannot account for the slower motors used in the older drives.

[adrotate banner=”4″]Motherboards are capable of booting up much faster these days. Therefore, initialization of IDE devices now take place much earlier. Unfortunately, this also means that some older IDE drives will not be able to spin up in time to be initialized! When this happens, the BIOS will not be able to detect that IDE drive and the drive will not be accessible even though it is actually running just fine.

This is where the Delay IDE Initial BIOS feature comes in. It allows you to force the BIOS to delay the initialization of IDE devices for up to 15 seconds. The delay allows your IDE devices more time to spin up before the BIOS initializes them.

If you do not use old IDE drives and the BIOS has no problem initializing your IDE devices, it is recommended that you leave the delay at the default value of 0 for the shortest possible booting time. Most IDE devices manufactured in the last few years will have no problem spinning up in time for initialization.

But if one or more of your IDE devices fail to initialize during the boot up process, start with a delay of 1 second. If that doesn’t help, gradually increase the delay until all your IDE devices initialize properly during the boot up process.

 

Support Tech ARP!

If you like our work, you can help support out work by visiting our sponsors, participate in the Tech ARP Forums, or even donate to our fund. Any help you can render is greatly appreciated!