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Win XP x64 and SSD

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#1
blamm64

blamm64
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Hi,

My first post. I've read around regarding slipping SP2 for XP x64, and also for integrating drivers for SATA. I've Intel chipset ICH10R, so I followed the advice for installing Intel drivers for Rapid Storage and Software Installation Utility (called Software Device Utility now, I believe). I also installed the drivers for Dell LSI adapter, no RAID. The machine is Dell T7500 dual quad X5570s.

I have to two non-SSD drives hooked to the Dell LSI controller, and two SSD drives (Intel x-25M 160 GB each) hooked directly to mobo SATA ports 1 and 2 (CD is on SATA 0). I know my Intel chipset ID, so I chose that while integrating. I wiped (Active Killdisk for Windows) all drives, partitioned (offset sector 2048 for alignment) all drives. One partition each drive. Set one partition active, the partition on SSD on SATA 1.

The nLite slipstream went smoothly. I chose not to do too much tinkering, deleted no components, etc (deleted a few languages). The original disk was Dell XP x64 SP1. I did not fool around with unattended install.

During the windows install, everything appeared to go fine. I did not "F6" since everything was already integrated for the SATA SDDs and two other HDDs. I saw the LSI driver and both Intel drivers I integrated flash as the installation progressed (great!). I chose to install to the "first" SDD. I chose not to format at all since it had already been done with Killdisk. Everything loaded fine (a few ESC were necessary since I did omit a few languages). Received no errors during the initial part of install. Time to reboot, LSI controller found the two HDDs as usual, the two SSDs also showed up, MPT BIOS (Dell) also showed, just like always, now time to boot to SSD, "ntldr" not found. Oh crap.

I went back to Killdisk to take a look at what got loaded where. The WINDOWS directory was loaded onto the SDD. ntldr was installed to the first HDD. Oh crap.

What I'm trying now: Disabled LSI controller in BIOS. Set BIOS to where only one (SATA 1) of the two SATA SSDs is in the boot sequence (first is CD/DVD on SATA 0, the two SDDs are on SATA 1 and 2). BTW, I was able to flash the firmware for the SSDs to the latest using that configuration. Went back into Killdisk and wiped both SSDs (after killing their partitions). Repartitioned the two SSDs (again with initial offset of 2048 sectors). Then quick formatted to NTFS (they all were NTFS the first time).

Now I'm going back to the box and try the install again. I'll let you know what happens and if it's still wrapped around the axle I'll re-post to this thread and CRY FOR HELP!

By the way I need the sector offset to align them since XP does not. I read on a server forum you cannot go wrong with 2048 sector offset, even though I've read in a lot of other place 128 sector initial offset is sufficient. That is needed to keep the wear of the SSDs minimal.

-blamm64


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#2
blamm64

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Okay, I'm apparently in a world of hurt.

I disabled SAS controller in BIOS so the two HDDs would not show up. Back in Killdisk the SSD on SATA 1 showed as 80h, and the one on SATA 2 showed as 81h. After I wiped those two SSDs, I partitioned them both, labelling 80h C and labelling 81h E (Killdisk disc was already in drive "D"). I partitioned with a 128 sector offset at the beginning. Killdisk let me do it, but briefly complained the MFT did not agree (Killdisk writes a new MFT after overwriting and before (of course) partioning). So the two SSDs were ready once again to receive Windows XP x64 slipped with SP2, Intel Rapid Storage drivers, Intel Software Installion Utility drivers, and the Dell LSI SAS controller driver. During the OS install all those drivers once again appeared. After the initial driver load in OS install the two SSDs showed up as being available to install OS to. I thought maybe having AHCI enabled in BIOS might be a problem but since Windows install saw them I knew the slipped Intel drivers enabled the Win XP x64 install to see them.

Now, when OS install presented the available drives it listed 80h as drive letter D and id 2, and 81h as drive letter C and id 2, just the OPPOSITE as they were configured in Killdisk. This was the first intimation something was amiss. So I went ahead and chose what OS install saw as drive D since I knew id 1 corresponded to 80h (drive 0 with letter C in Killdisk). Since I had already quick formatted the SSDs in Killdisk I chose the option to install "as is".

OS install then apparently intalled and rebooted. In BIOS I had already eliminated everything except SDD 80h (SATA 1 in BIOS) and the CD (SATA 0 in BIOS) from being able to boot to (oh, and I set 80h as active in Killdisk when I was wiping and partioning prior to yet another OS install attempt), with CD first and SDD SATA 1 second. After the Dell splash screen cursor just sat there (no SAS controller "dialog" since I had it still disabled), and then ... ntldr not found. CRAP!

Went back into Killdisk to take a look, once again of what was where. 80h was now lettered D, and 81h was now lettered C! 81h (the not active partition) had the WINDOWS directory in it, and 80h (now D) had ntldr, ntdetect, and boot.ini in it! The main point is ntldr WAS there in D (80h, what OS install saw as id 2, this is cRaZy), the active partition, so why the heck wasn't it being found?

WTH is up with that?

MY NEXT ATTEMPT will be: Pull the plug on EVERYTHING except the CD and SSD on SATA 1. Pull the plug on both HDDs on the SAS controller. Re-enable the SAS controller in BIOS. This is getting ridiculous (due I know to mostly my ignorance). Try the install again (after once again wiping everything, and repartioning).

If that does not work. Keep all the above plugs pulled (literally, physically unplug all drives except the SATA 1 SSD and the SATA 0 CD/DVD), and pull the plug of SSD on SATA 1 and put it in HDD slot on the SAS controller! (remember, I will have the SAS controller enabled from BIOS for the attempt before this one).

Also, has anyone been through this already? Even if you have not, if you have any ideas, besides telling me to give up and go to Windows 7 64, then it would be much appreciated. I had Win 7 64 bit on that machine before, but I really hated the loss of control, and it was definitely NOT as "fast" as XP x64 is capable of (I have practically the same box where I work, but it's XP 32 bit with no SSDs, it has two SAS drives on the SAS controller, but it is XP, and I know for a fact it is a whole lot faster running the same apps compared to running them on Win 7 64; no timing data or anything like that, I can literally see the difference with the "un-aided" eye as it where, and I will go down and die before I adopt Win 7 64 in the near future ... maybe after SP ten million or so). As the Linux guys say, "80+ million lines of code and Microsoft still cannot get it right".

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

-blamm64

#3
Kurt_Aust

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On my motherboard (Gigabyte EP45-DS3R) that also uses the ICH10R controller, XP x64 installation will fail if I attempt to do it via a SATA attached DVD drive, I have to use an IDE attached DVD drive.

#4
blamm64

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On my motherboard (Gigabyte EP45-DS3R) that also uses the ICH10R controller, XP x64 installation will fail if I attempt to do it via a SATA attached DVD drive, I have to use an IDE attached DVD drive.


Are you writing that the Windows setup apparently succeeds but then once "everything" is (apparently) loaded it fails, or are you writing that Windows setup fails in the first place? In my case Windows setup apparently succeeds but then fails on reboot ("ntldr not found").

I don't think I even have any IDE, which may only reveal how ignorant I am. I see no plugs that appear to be IDE anywhere in sight. Maybe if I attach the CD/DVD drive to the integrated SAS controller instead of directly into one (of three available) SATA ports on mobo it might succeed?

I also think that maybe Killdisk is too dumb to correctly write the MBR. From what I can gather, Killdisk writes a "default" MBR when you ask to overwrite ("kill") a partition and so when I attempt to create a partition (using Killdisk) with other than a 63 sector offset Killdisk complains. So what I did was get Killdisk to create the 128 sector offset partition and then let Windows setup do a quick NTFS format in hopes Windows setup would write the MBR correctly. That did not work either ... .

I just have this un-substantiated feeling the MBR Killdisk writes is at least part of the problem.

If it is the CD/DVD drive on SATA that's the problem, do you think if I could find the drivers for it and slip them into installation it might solve the CD/DVD-on-SATA problem?

I'm getting more and more clueless instead of the other way around.

-blamm64

#5
Kurt_Aust

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In my case setup will fail partway through with a BSOD, so while the symptoms aren't the same, the underlying cause might be.

I would suggest trying installation with the DVD drive attached to the SAS controller and seeing if that gives you a better result.

#6
blamm64

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Well, short story: Problem solved.

Longer story: I left the CD/DVD drive attached to SATA 0 (not to the SAS controller). Before, I had the SSDs attached to SATA 1 and SATA 2. I physically unplugged all HDDs and one SSD. I plugged the remaining SSD to the SAS controller. I "killed" the one partition on the SSD, and then let Killdisk create a partition with it's "dumb" default offset of 63 sectors. I found out Killdisk (Windows version 5.0) is not "smart" enough to write a correct MBR, it will always write a "typical" MBR (which is first 63 sectors offset), regardless of how you tell it to create the partition.

I slipped drivers for: Intel Rapid Storgae Technology, Intel Software Installation Utility, Dell-LSI SAS integrated controller, nVidia FX 4800 video, and the Broadcom Extreme NIC.

The installation went without a flaw, no BSODs. I instructed Windows setup to format the one partition NTFS, quick format.

Aftet the install, I used diskpar to investigate the partition, and sure enough the first hidden sectors numbered 63.

I plugged in all HDDs and the remaing SDD (which had been "killed" and was therefore unallocated). I used diskpar (command line within Windows) to create 128 sector offset partitions on the two HDDs and the one (non-system) SSD. I used Windows (XP x64) to quick NTFS format with allocation unit size 4096 bytes the one partition on each of the two HDDs and the one non-system SSD.

I rebooted to Killdisk and killed the (brand new) Windows partition on the sytem SSD. Shut down computer. I physically swapped the two SSDs on the SAS controller, and left the killed one unplugged, and unplugged the two HDDs. So then I had only one SSD attached to SAS controller, partitioned with 128 sector offset.

I re-installed Windows XP x64 with the same slipstreamed CD (I bought a new Windows XP x64 with SP2 CD). Again went flawlessly. Now I have Windows XP x64 installed on an SSD with 128 first hidden sectors. Perfect for the SSD. With Windows back in action, I used diskpar to create one 128 sector offset partition on the unallocated SSD, and used Windows to create a quick formatted NTFS 4096 allocation unit size on the newly created single partition. That drive claims the pagefile.

It's fully functional and the speed increase over Windoze 7 64 bit is noticeable, but, again, I've performed no hard and fast benchmarks, nor do I intend to.

BTW, I did find a single IDE cable in the dell box, but ended up not needing it.

-blamm64




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