Thursday, October 1, 2009

Windows 7 Issues with JMicron JMB36X Controller in AHCI mode

I had a lot of issues when setting up a RAID controller when installing Windows 7 a few months ago, and today I had more problems trying to get an IDE drive to work in the same machine. The ASUS P6T motherboard has two hard drive controllers: one Intel ICH10R SATA controller for the 6 red SATA ports, and one JMicron controller for the two orange SATA ports and the single IDE connection. When I installed an old IDE hard drive to the JMicron controller, it was recognized in Windows but I was never able to format the drive. It kept saying that the window needed to be refreshed or that I needed to reboot the machine.

After trying a few times with no progress, I decided to check and see if there was any updated drivers on the ASUS website. Turns out there was a recent BIOS update for the JMB322 firmware, so I download it to a jump drive, rebooted the computer and used the EZ Flash 2 utility built into the BIOS to run the update (I love this feature!) After changing the ICH10R settings back to RAID and setting the volume to be the primary hard drive and default boot device I was able to load back into Windows, but now there was another issue: There were two JMicron JMB36X devices listed in the device manager and only one of them was working.

I tried removing both of them, thinking that one was a duplicate, but they both were detected again and one of them always listed “This device cannot start. (Code 10)” as the error message. The BIOS settings had the JMicron controller setup as AHCI mode, but no matter what I tried I could not get it to work. I even tried the latest drivers right from the JMicron website, but still nothing.

Finally I tried changing the JMicron Controller settings from AHCI to IDE, and it started working again. This time I could detect the drive and the formatting worked just fine. Seems like the P6T motherboard still has a few bugs to work out specifically with the SATA and IDE controllers when using Windows 7 64bit edition. If I had to do it again I would probably ditch the hardware RAID array and instead buy an SSD drive for much better performance and a lot less headaches trying to set things up.

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