Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Asrock wasted precious several hours of my time

Motherboard manufacturers compete in terms of no of functions they have. In the process of cramming all kinds of functions even in low end mobos, they just don't pay attention to the quality aspect of what they do.

After several months of running ok, a computer I had it assembled (AMD Sempron, Mobo: AsRock K8Upgrade-VM800) for a friend of mine starting giving BSOD, slowness etc. Not having faith in anybody locally in his location to fix, I had it shipped to Bangalore to have a look.

Boot up at my location, it came up properly. Looking at the event log it has a bunch of following errors several times since the date he complained:

Event Id: 26
Source: atapi

The driver has detected that device \Device\IdeIdePort0 has old or out of date firmware. Reduced performance may result

Event Id: 51
Source: disk

An error was detected on device \Device\Harddisk0\D during a paging operation

Event Id: 9
Source: atapi

The device \Device\Ide\Ideport0 did not respond within the timeout period.

XP didn't let me finish a Acronis True Image backup complete. It would fail close the end of the backup job. I bought TuffTest just for this and ran the CD-ROM based diagnostics. The surface test gave disk time out errors after 20 mins or so.

Suspecting disk first, moved the disk alone in another AMD Sempron based machine with different Asus motherboard, the disk worked properly and the Acronis Backup running on top of Bart PE just went fine as well as much faster than the time it took (40 mins) before it failed on the other machine.

Now that disk is ruled out and backup is done moved the disk back to the original machine to further troubleshoot. While playing with BIOS settings, I bumped into the SATA Operation Mode option which was set to "RAID". The XP was using it as a IDE disk though. Changed it to "Non-RAID" at BIOS, booted XP again came back fine. It still took 40 mins to do Acronis Backup but went through just fine. So is the TuffTest surface analysis test.

Works but slow. Found that this is due the transfer mode for disk is running in PIO mode only though the disk is capable of DMA mode. Tried all kinds of solutions like messing with registry changes etc to let XP recognize it as DMA disk. So, the first conclusion to make is, though operating as RAID at BIOS, it still allows the OS to recognize the disk as IDE albeit at a much slower PIO mode. Installed the AsRock supplied disk drivers. Still no luck.

I found a RAID driver in their website and literally has to reinstall over the current XP to change the disk driver to the RAID one. All of a sudden, the speed of disk became DMA mode. So, the Mobo guys only allow full speed DMA mode under RAID driver only.

By not doing either of the following, they really wasted a lot of my time.

1. RAID is the default so force the XP to recognize this as a RAID device and ask for the driver during install time. This would have avoided me unknowingly thinking that disk is IDE and everything is fine.
2. If allow the dual mode of recognizing RAID as IDE when only one disk is present, then let the drivers access it in full speed DMA mode.

1 comment:

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