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AHCI and Windows 9x

- - - - - AHCI SATA

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23 replies to this topic

#1
rloew

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I have been doing some further research on using Hard Disk Controllers in AHCI Mode with Windows 9x.

First I have a warning.

On at least two Computer, I observed that Disk I/O is corrupted when running on a Computer with AHCI enabled and an odd Start Address is requested while in Virtual Mode. I have not seen corruption but the risk is there.
IOS.VXD does two Reads in Virtual Mode. One to check it's Safe List and one while loading DRVSPACX.VXD. These occur during Boot.
EMM386 cannot be used with AHCI Enabled as COMMAND.COM will crash.
I have written a small mitigation Program to correct this issue.

There are a number of possible AHCI scenarios which I have listed as follows:

1. AHCI Only Controller with Direct Protected Memory Interface.

The Marvell based HighPoint card, I previously posted about, falls into this category.
As is, no Windows 9x recognizeable Drives can be present. Windows 9x will crash before it even has a chance to load Drivers.
If the BIOS or Card can be modified to use Interrupt 15 or other supported Method then it may be more useable. See Scenario #2.
The HighPoint Card had a Patchable Option ROM so I could modify it.
Otherwise a compatable MBR or DOS DDO AHCI Driver is needed to allow Windows to Boot. I do not know if any exist.

2. AHCI Only Controller with Compatable Protected Memory Interface.

An AHCI Controller of this type can boot Windows 9x, but see Warning above.
I know of no AHCI Driver for Windows 9x so it will run in Compatability Mode at best
Also, I have noticed that some of the earlier AHCI Drivers miscompute the size of the Hard Drive if it is larger than 2TiB and can lockout parts of the Drive well below the 2TiB limit.

3. Switchable AHCI Controller with Direct Protected Memory Interface.

As in Scenario #1, Windows will not boot using this Mode as is. Otherwise read Scenario #4.

4. Switchable AHCI Controller with Compatable Protected Memory Interface.

If the BIOS allows you to switch to Native Mode and you can do so without causing unresolvable issues with other OSes, do so, it will make things much easier and safer.
Many newer Motherboards use AHCI when in RAID Mode so this may not help.
If there is no BIOS Option or you will mess up another OS continue reading.

This is the Scenario for my Warning above.
If your Computer is not at risk, or you use my mitigation program, you may be able to run Windows 9x in Compatability Mode.

I have developed a DOS DDO that switches the Controller to Native Mode and replaces the BIOS Driver. I am still running tests so I have not published it yet.
In conjunction with my SATA Patch and a modified INF File, I have been able to run Windows 98SE in Protected Mode from a Motherboard started in AHCI Mode.

5. Switchable AHCI Controller with Native Mode Default.

If it correctly reports the Native Mode Class Code then it can be treated like any other SATA Controller.
If it reports the AHCI Class Code, as at least one JMicron PCI-E SATA Card does, a modified INF File will be needed.
Either way, my SATA Patch will be needed for proper operation with Windows 9x unless a specific Driver is available.

EDIT: I have reduced the severity of my Warning as the serious corruption issue I originally warned about was traced to a TeraByte Plus Patch I was using for my 6TB Test Drive. I have corrected the Patch and haven't seen corruption even without mitigation.

Edited by rloew, Yesterday, 07:37 PM.

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#2
MrMateczko

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Is the ESDI_506.PDR working correctly in your experiments? Is this what you mean by Protected Mode?



#3
Nomen

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Is there any value in running (or attempting to run) win-9x on a motherboard with AHCI bios, given the likely situation that there will almost certainly be no win-9x drivers for (some/most/many/all) motherboard components - north/south bridge, onboard graphics, PCIe video cards and other controllers, etc. ?

#4
MrMateczko

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Many mobos like ASRock's P4i65G (and other mobos with chipsets like Intel 865/VIA P4M800) have an AHCI mode as well as Win98 drivers, so it's not completely useless.



#5
rloew

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Is the ESDI_506.PDR working correctly in your experiments? Is this what you mean by Protected Mode?

Yes.
Running in Protected Mode means using a Windows Driver, in this case my Modified ESDI_506.PDR, rather than Virtualizing the BIOS or DOS Driver.

@Nomen
Someone using Multiple OSes or using an Add-On Card may need AHCI support even in systems with better 9x support.
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#6
Nomen

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Sorry - I was confusing AHCI with UEFI - along the lines of a motherboard with UEFI bios (or operating in UEFI mode instead of regular "BIOS" mode - what-ever that's called) would be very incompatible with Win-98 in a number of ways.

Regarding AHCI - would it be correct to say that if on any given system running 9x/me, that if access to a connected SATA drive is NOT facilitated by ESDI_506.PDR, then that *must mean* the SATA controller is operating in AHCI mode?

Does AHCI mean that the SATA drive is not appearing to the system as an IDE/PATA drive?

If so, then what exactly is the problem with Win-98 and AHCI? Are there problems if the controller is a SIL3112 or 3114? Or any other SATA-1 type controller?

Or does this quest to improve Win-98 compatibility with AHCI pertain only when the SATA controller in question is a type 2 or 3?

#7
rloew

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UEFI is out of the question. It runs in 64-Bit Mode or in 32-Bit Mode is some systems. It doesn't support Real Mode. A CSM (Compatability Support Module) is needed to run Windows 9x in a UEFI System. The other issue is GPT. It should be possible to modify DOS and Windows 9x to use GPT but CSMs generally do not support it so there is little need.

The original ESDI_506.PDR only supports "Legacy Mode" which is used in Motherboard PATA Controllers and sometimes SATA Ports 4 and 5.
My modified ESDI_506.PDR supports "Native Mode" using I/O Registers. SATA Controllers normally use Native Mode whether in IDE, RAID or AHCI Mode.

IDE and older RAID Modes use I/O Registers so they are compatable with my modified ESDI_506.PDR.
AHCI and Newer RAID Modes use FIS structures in DMA Memory. A significant Driver rewrite would be needed to support this.
My new project allows me to start up in AHCI Mode, switch the Controller to use I/O Registers, and replace the BIOS Code to support the change.

To not use ESDI_506.PDR, either a system is running in Compatability Mode or it is using a specific Driver.
Even old IDE PATA Systems may use a specific Driver. VIA provides their own Drivers for their Chipsets. I've already found bugs in their Miniport Driver.

Since the Class Code is supposed to be different for Controllers in AHCI Mode, Windows 9x will not normally detect any Drives connected to it.
The warning I posted in Post #1 relates to Compatabilty Mode operation.
My project includes an INF File that allows Windows 9x to recognize these Drives.

I don't think the type of SATA Controller is an issue. AHCI provides enhanced performance in newer Operating Systems that support it.
By providing better support in Windows 9x and avoiding crashes or corruption, I make it possible to Multi-Boot without having to switch Modes when switching OSes.
There are also BIOSes that force AHCI Mode even though the Controller is switchable.

Edited by rloew, 17 May 2015 - 07:10 PM.

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#8
Nomen

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I'm simply asking if by using the on-motherboard SATA controller in "Native" or "Sata" mode (and NOT in IDE/legacy/PATA mode) - is that the same as saying "AHCI" mode. ?

Or to ask that question another way: If I know that I am NOT using ESDI_506 to access my SATA drives in Win98, does that mean I therefore must be using AHCI mode. ?

#9
rloew

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The terminology used in BIOS Setup can be ambiguous.

PATA vs. SATA is the Physical Interface. It cannot be changed.
Legacy vs. Native is the Controller I/O Interface. Legacy Mode uses known fixed Ports and Two Interrupts, so only one can exist. Native Mode uses variable Ports and One Interrupt.
IDE vs. AHCI determine the mode of access, I/O Register vs. FIS Memory Structure. RAID is an usage indicator and may be either Register or FIS based but is listed as a separate Mode.

If an option is listed, it must be AHCI or possibly RAID for the AHCI FIS Structures to be used. Native Mode does not imply AHCI.

I answered your Second question before. You can be in ANY Mode and still not use ESDI_506.PDR.
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#10
Nomen

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> If an option is listed, it must be AHCI or possibly RAID for the AHCI FIS Structures to be used.
> Native Mode does not imply AHCI.

In a situation where Native Mode does not imply or does not mean AHCI, then what else can it mean other than emulated IDE/PATA? Is there a third meaning or interface type?

> I answered your Second question before. You can be in ANY Mode and still not use ESDI_506.PDR.

How can a SATA controller be set in the BIOS to emulated/PATA mode, and NOT be accessed through ESDI_506 by win-98? (other than the obvious case where you removed the file from use by win-98). Regardless if the original or a modified version of ESDI_506 is availble to the OS, in what circumstance would win-98 choose to use another driver to access a SATA drive if the SATA interface is set to Emulated/PATA mode in the bios?

Can the Intel SATA drivers (from the IIA package) be used if the bios is set to Emulated/PATA mode?

I'm trying to understand how a Native/Sata mode bios setting does not imply (or is not equivalent to) AHCI mode.

Can AHCI be utilized or invoked even if the bios is set to emulated/PATA/legacy mode?

#11
netbookdelgob

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Well for me, on a netbook with AHCI enhanced mode, windows 9x boots fine without problems. Im dual booting with xp.

 

Intel ich7 sata controller (There is no driver for 98, win 98 recognizes it as Standard ide).



#12
rloew

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@Nomen

There is no "Emulated" Mode. SATA uses a superset of the PATA Protocols.
You cannot choose between PATA and SATA. They use separate connectors and Controllers.
Legacy Mode and Native Mode determine the Port assignments. It is not an interface type. The Class Code is not changed.
There are two Interface types. IDE and AHCI. RAID uses a third Class Code but appears to work as either IDE or AHCI depending upon BIOS.

Unmodified Windows 9x will use ESDI_506.PDR for all drives in IDE Mode. ESDI_506.PDR does not properly handle Native Mode so it can crash or hang.
If you add a more specific INF File, then Windows will use that driver.

I'm not familiar with the IIA Package. The IAA Package has drivers for specific Controllers. I don't know if any SATA Controllers are included. If so, read the documentation.

AHCI uses Memory Mapped I/O so it technically is neither Legacy nor Native but a limited Native Mode Register set is usually present. Either Legacy or Native Mode can be used for IDE.
The available combinations are as follows:

PATA Drives:

Legacy IDE
Legacy RAID (IDE Interface)
Native IDE
Native RAID (IDE Interface)

SATA Drives:

Legacy IDE
Legacy RAID (IDE Interface)
Native IDE
Native RAID (IDE Interface)
AHCI
RAID (AHCI Interface)

Only one Legacy Dual Controller (4 Drives) is allowed. This can be PATA, SATA or one Channel of each.
BIOSes will often limit your choices.
BIOSes generally use the term "Native" to refer to Native IDE Mode usually when there is a Legacy Option. They explicitly use "AHCI" for AHCI Mode.
BIOS Options are one word so the context determines the actual mode.
"RAID" is ambiguous. You have to actually test to see if it uses AHCI or not.
If a Controller is switchable, it is possible to write a Driver that can switch it to AHCI Mode.
I have done the reverse.

Edited by rloew, 18 May 2015 - 12:55 PM.

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#13
rloew

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Well for me, on a netbook with AHCI enhanced mode, windows 9x boots fine without problems. Im dual booting with xp.

Intel ich7 sata controller (There is no driver for 98, win 98 recognizes it as Standard ide).

You are running in Compatability Mode. This is useable but performance is reduced.

Apparently your BIOS does not have the bug that corrupted my Hard Drive.
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#14
netbookdelgob

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Sorry if im wrong, in the bios is set as AHCI mode, not compatible.



#15
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You are running in Compatability Mode. This is useable but performance is reduced.

Apparently your BIOS does not have the bug that corrupted my Hard Drive.


Can you provide an application (runnable in true DOS) to identify that bug?
There's a lot of users nowadays running in Compatability Mode.

#16
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rloew said:

> There is no "Emulated" Mode. SATA uses a superset of the PATA Protocols.

When you set the bios to IDE/Legacy for the SATA controller, aren't you telling the controller to cause SATA drives to appear to the installed OS as an IDE/PATA drives? Aren't you telling the SATA controller to pretend that it's an IDE controller? Does none of that qualify as a form of emulation?

> You cannot choose between PATA and SATA. They use separate connectors and Controllers.

Do you really think I don't understand that SATA and PATA are physically different? Did I really have to explain what I keep on saying about the bios EMULATING an IDE/PATA controller/drive?

> Unmodified Windows 9x will use ESDI_506.PDR for all drives in IDE Mode.

If a SATA drive is not in "IDE Mode" (and it is not in Raid mode) - then what mode is it in?

Is it in AHCI mode?

Does Native/Sata mode = AHCI? That's all I'm trying to get an answer to.

If my win-98 system is not using ESDI_506 to access my SATA drives, and if I know the drives are not in DOS/compatibility mode, then I must be accessing the drives through AHCI - yes? Which nobody running win-98 should have any problems doing if the controller is SIL3112 or 3114 or potentially any SATA-1 type controller.

If (as I suspect) anyone can run win-98 with Sata drives under AHCI if the controller is Sata-1 type (because I believe there are win-98 drivers for all SATA-1 controllers) then I suspect your AHCI project is for people with SATA-2 or SATA-3 controllers. If this is true, then I would submit that anyone with a SATA-2 or SATA-3 controller on their motherboard would also have many other aspects of the system that win-98 is not compatible with at the driver level.

#17
rloew

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You are running in Compatability Mode. This is useable but performance is reduced.

Apparently your BIOS does not have the bug that corrupted my Hard Drive.

Can you provide an application (runnable in true DOS) to identify that bug?
There's a lot of users nowadays running in Compatability Mode.
Unfortunately not at this time.
I have not been able to reproduce the problem in DOS. I know it has to do with DMA Writes to odd addresses because it goes away if I guarantee even byte access. I will have to setup a special Drive to run further tests as I have to reload Windows after each attempt.

The problem appears to be limited to only a few BIOSes at most as no one seems aware of it.
Anyone running in Compatability Mode does not have the bug as it trashes the system immediately. I posted the warning in case someone who was running their system in IDE Mode decided to try using AHCI.
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#18
LoneCrusader

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When you set the bios to IDE/Legacy for the SATA controller, aren't you telling the controller to cause SATA drives to appear to the installed OS as an IDE/PATA drives? Aren't you telling the SATA controller to pretend that it's an IDE controller? Does none of that qualify as a form of emulation?


You are telling a SATA (Native) IDE controller to limit its functions to only those functions available to a PATA (Legacy) IDE controller. Both SATA and PATA are IDE. SATA is Native, PATA is Legacy. Legacy vs. Native are the key terms of importance here, not IDE vs. SATA. SATA is IDE, but a more advanced type not supported by the original ESDI_506.PDR. This is why rloew said that terms used in various BIOS'es are ambiguous - they don't clearly establish Legacy vs. Native and don't always use the same standard terminology for a given mode setting.
 

If a SATA drive is not in "IDE Mode" (and it is not in Raid mode) - then what mode is it in?


Again SATA is IDE - Native IDE. I assume when you say IDE mode you mean Legacy PATA mode.
 
Most likely Native Mode. Possibly AHCI depending on BIOS settings and whether or not an AHCI controller is even present. A board can have PATA/SATA connectors and NOT have any AHCI capability at all.
 

Is it in AHCI mode?


Most likely not. See above.
 

Does Native/Sata mode = AHCI? That's all I'm trying to get an answer to.


No.

Edited by LoneCrusader, 18 May 2015 - 05:58 PM.


#19
rloew

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rloew said:

> There is no "Emulated" Mode. SATA uses a superset of the PATA Protocols.

When you set the bios to IDE/Legacy for the SATA controller, aren't you telling the controller to cause SATA drives to appear to the installed OS as an IDE/PATA drives? Aren't you telling the SATA controller to pretend that it's an IDE controller? Does none of that qualify as a form of emulation?

No to all. Windows 9x may not know the difference between PATA and Legacy/SATA but a more advanced Driver as in newer Windows still can use the additional features.

> You cannot choose between PATA and SATA. They use separate connectors and Controllers.
Do you really think I don't understand that SATA and PATA are physically different? Did I really have to explain what I keep on saying about the bios EMULATING an IDE/PATA controller/drive?

You kept comparing them as if they were interchangeable.

> Unmodified Windows 9x will use ESDI_506.PDR for all drives in IDE Mode.
If a SATA drive is not in "IDE Mode" (and it is not in Raid mode) - then what mode is it in?
Is it in AHCI mode?

Yes for conventional Controllers. There is also SCSI, USB, Firewire etc.

Does Native/Sata mode = AHCI? That's all I'm trying to get an answer to.

No. It is in "IDE Mode".

If my win-98 system is not using ESDI_506 to access my SATA drives, and if I know the drives are not in DOS/compatibility mode, then I must be accessing the drives through AHCI - yes?

No. This is impossible without additional Drivers.

Which nobody running win-98 should have any problems doing if the controller is SIL3112 or 3114 or potentially any SATA-1 type controller.

I'm not sure about the SIL3112 or 3114 Controllers but the SIL 3512 Controller runs in IDE Mode but reports a SCSI Class Code. A SCSI to IDE Driver is required and is provided.

If (as I suspect) anyone can run win-98 with Sata drives under AHCI if the controller is Sata-1 type (because I believe there are win-98 drivers for all SATA-1 controllers) then I suspect your AHCI project is for people with SATA-2 or SATA-3 controllers. If this is true, then I would submit that anyone with a SATA-2 or SATA-3 controller on their motherboard would also have many other aspects of the system that win-98 is not compatible with at the driver level.

No. The SATA-1 Controllers you refer to most likely run in IDE Mode but do not report the IDE Class Code so that the ESDI_506.PDR Driver is not used. The Drivers are Controller specific and use the PCI Device ID to match the Controller. Anyone who has a Controller specific Driver does not need my AHCI Program or my SATA Patch, but I doubt that they are getting AHCI.

Edited by rloew, 18 May 2015 - 07:26 PM.

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#20
rloew

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@Dencorso

I tested a hunch I had. The bug occurs in Virtual Mode.
The easiest way to test for the bug is to run EMM386.EXE from your C:\CONFIG.SYS File.
DOS should crash when it tries to run AUTOEXEC.BAT if the bug is present and the C: Drive is connected to an AHCI mode Controller.
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#21
dencorso

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You mean that there's no risk in running true DOS from a drive in AHCI mode as long as one runs in Real Mode only?
That's good news, indeed! OTOH, on going to Virtual Mode, the bug, if present, should trash DOS at once, and may result in damages to the FAT FS on any connected drive, right?

#22
rloew

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You are safe from this bug in Real Mode. An even more poorly written AHCI BIOS is another story.
I discovered the nature of this flaw because I corrupted my experimental Windows with a Driver Replacement I was working on. Then I noticed that DEBUG would not run.
I was not aware that many DOS and Windows Disk I/O Calls were on odd boundaries.

On my system, with EMM386 loaded, DOS crashed before any damage could be done. There is no guarantee that damage cannot occur.
If the Boot Drive is not in AHCI Mode, then DOS and probably Windows will run and damage could occur to AHCI Mode Drives.

Edited by rloew, 18 May 2015 - 09:03 PM.

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#23
Nomen

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Would the program "HD Sentinel" (hdsdos.exe) found here: http://www.hdsentine...entinel_dos.phpbe of any use in exploring these AHCI issues?

I ran it on my system and for my sata drives it reported both drives as:

Interface: S-ATA II
ATA Information
ATA Revision: 7
Maximum UDMA Mode: 150 MB/s (6)
Active UDMA Mode: 150 MB/s (6)
ATA Control Byte: Valid

Serial ATA Features
S-ATA Compliance: Yes
S-ATA I Signaling Speed (1.5 Gps): Supported
S-ATA II Signaling Speed (3 Gps): Supported

There is nothing in the lengthy report indicating AHCI status (unless it goes by another name) so I don't know if that can be determined by anything in the report generated by this program.

The SATA controller on this win-98 system appears in Device Manager under the heading "SCSI Controllers" as Silicon Image Sil 3512 SATARaid controller. There's nothing obvious in the properties of that object, nor for the properties of the SATA disk drives themselves, that indicates AHCI status.

I have a "Silicon Image SATA Controllers" control panel applet, which again says nothing about AHCI status - but it does tell me that the current transfer mode is "Ultra DMA mode 6" and the ATA version is "ATA/ATAPI-8".

The BIOS on the SATA PCI card (accessible by pressing control-S or F4 during boot) only seems to give the ability to configure RAID sets, with no option to set operating mode (IDE/legacy/native etc).

#24
rloew

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HDSDOS appears to be written to obtain Hard Drive information. Apparently it has been updated to be able to do so through an AHCI Controller.

SATA cards with Windows 9x Drivers generally use the SCSI Interface, probably to avoid any issues with ESDI_506.PDR.
None of the Cards I have tested offer any option to change Mode nor do they identify the Mode they are in.
If they are providing a Driver then there is no reason to support different Modes.

I did some more research and determined that the Odd Address Writes that caused the Corruption I saw were in one of my TeraByte Plus Patches. This may be another reason why others haven't reported Corruption.

There are still at least two Odd Address Reads in Virtual Mode that may cause problems in some cases and EMM386 still doesn't work, without my workaround, due to Odd Address Read issues.
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