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  1. #1
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    HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Not sure if this has been posted before, but I managed to successfully enable AHCI mode after installing Windows. Here's how...

    AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) is present on newer Intel chipsets such as 975X (ICH7), P965 (ICH8), and P35 (ICH9). AHCI mode is enabled in the BIOS and 3 settings are commonly available: IDE, AHCI, and RAID. The last two (AHCI and RAID) require a driver floppy and the F6 method when installing Windows XP otherwise the hard disks won't be detected.

    AHCI mode brings 3 main advantages:

    1. Supports NCQ (Native Command Queuing) allowing SATA drives to accept more than one command at a time and dynamically reorder the commands for maximum efficiency.
    2. Supports hot plugging of devices
    3. Supports staggered spin ups of multiple hard drives at boot time


    However, in the real world the performance difference isn't huge.

    The problem is that if you installed Windows in IDE mode (ie you didn't use F6 and supply a driver disk), then simply changing the BIOS setting to AHCI mode and rebooting will cause Windows to fail and will require a repair install. Most people have been advising to reinstall Windows if you want AHCI enabled.

    I managed to enable AHCI on Windows XP Professional for a Gigabyte P35-DS4 (ICH9R) without needing to reinstall. This should work on any P35 ICH9 based board:

    1. Go to Intel's download centre and download the latest version of the Intel Matrix Storage Manager (7.6.0.1011, 8/2/2007 at time of writing) for your OS:

    http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Prod...=2101&lang=eng

    Keep this file as you'll need it again in step 4.

    2. Run the installer with the -a switch to extract the files. This will NOT install the software, just extract the files. Follow the prompts as if you were installing the software:

    Code:
    iata76_enu.exe -a
    The above should extract the files to \Program Files\Intel\Intel Matrix Storage Manager. There are two folders, \Drivers and \Drivers64 for 32-bit and 64-bit OS's, respectively.

    Copy the file IaStor.sys from the Drivers folder to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\

    3. copy the following registry file to your desktop (copy and paste into notepad) and save as ahci.reg

    Code:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\CriticalDeviceDatabase\pci#ven_8086&dev_2922&cc_0106]
    "Service"="iaStor"
    "ClassGUID"="{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}"
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor]
    "Type"=dword:00000001
    "Start"=dword:00000000
    "Group"="SCSI miniport"
    "ErrorControl"=dword:00000001
    "ImagePath"="system32\\drivers\\iaStor.sys"
    "tag"=dword:00000019
    "DisplayName"="Intel AHCI Controller"
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor\Parameters]
    "queuePriorityEnable"=dword:00000000
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor\Enum]
    "0"="PCI\\VEN_8086&DEV_2922&SUBSYS_B0051458&REV_02\\3&13c0b0c5&0&FA"
    "Count"=dword:00000001
    "NextInstance"=dword:00000001
    4. Double check you've copied the IaStor.sys file as part of step 2. Now do the following:

    • Run the ahci.reg file to add the entries into the registry
    • Reboot the computer and enter the BIOS - DO NOT allow it to start Windows yet.
    • Change the setting for the on board Intel controller to AHCI, save and exit BIOS
    • Boot into Windows


    When Windows loads it will detect a new hard disk - cancel the wizard for installing the new hardware and run the Intel driver installer you downloaded in step 1.

    Reboot the system again and you're good to go

    Now, under Device Manager > IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers you should see Intel(R) ICH9 SATA AHCI Controller listed.

    Hope someone finds this useful - I wanted to do this as I needed AHCI mode to dual boot Linux and I didn't have a floppy drive on the machine to allow me to install Windows XP in AHCI mode. This is one area Vista has moved forward - it will allow you to install drivers from devices other than A: such as a USB pendrive or CD.

    If you want to enable write caching, see einshem's tip here:

    http://forums.pcper.com/showthread.p...5&postcount=23

    Quote Originally Posted by einshem
    2. All this process worth nothing if you forget at the end to go to device manager, double klick your hard-drive(s) under "disk drivers", go to "policies" tab and mark "Enable write caching for this disk" (I recommend adding this to the guide)
    EDIT: Here is a Registry file that should work for 975X and P965 based boards:

    Code:
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\CriticalDeviceDatabase\pci#ven_8086&dev_2821&cc_0106]
    "Service"="iaStor"
    "ClassGUID"="{4D36E96A-E325-11CE-BFC1-08002BE10318}"
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor]
    "Type"=dword:00000001
    "Start"=dword:00000000
    "Group"="SCSI miniport"
    "ErrorControl"=dword:00000001
    "ImagePath"="system32\\drivers\\iaStor.sys"
    "tag"=dword:00000019
    "DisplayName"="Intel AHCI Controller"
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor\Parameters]
    "queuePriorityEnable"=dword:00000000
    
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\iaStor\Enum]
    "0"="PCI\\VEN_8086&DEV_2821&SUBSYS_B0051458&REV_02\\3&13c0b0c5&0&FA"
    "Count"=dword:00000001
    "NextInstance"=dword:00000001
    Last edited by Ned Slider; 01-31-2008 at 10:57 AM.

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  2. #2
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Thank you very much for this guide. You just saved me day.

  3. #3
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by dryang View Post
    Thank you very much for this guide. You just saved me day.
    You're welcome, and welcome to the forums dryang

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  4. #4
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Is this only available on Intel chipset?

  5. #5
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Wow THANKS! Worked perfectly with my P5B Deluxe even on XP 64bit!

  6. #6
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by HKPolice View Post
    Wow THANKS! Worked perfectly with my P5B Deluxe even on XP 64bit!
    Thanks for the feedback

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  7. #7
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Ned, I know this works from IDE mode to AHCI mode but does it work for RAID mode as well?
    Ryan Shrout
    Owner, PC Perspective
    rshrout -at- pcper -dot- com
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  8. #8
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan View Post
    Ned, I know this works from IDE mode to AHCI mode but does it work for RAID mode as well?
    That's a good question and I'm afraid I don't know the answer.

    I think Mjölnir may have mentioned something about RAID in conversations we've had about this, so I'll ping him to take a look at this thread. He may be able to give you a better answer

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  9. #9
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan View Post
    Ned, I know this works from IDE mode to AHCI mode but does it work for RAID mode as well?
    IMHO, drivers for AHCI can be treated the same way as drivers for RAID controllers can be treated.

    You can boot the Windows disk using any controller in legacy mode and enable AHCI/RAID on another controller, then when Windows loads, just point the driver search to the relevant drivers (I prefer to extract them rather than run packed EXE files) and that should automatically do the same thing that Ned has suggested above - sets up the device and any relevant services. Shut down, move the drive to the RAID or AHCI controller and all should be sweet.

  10. #10
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Did not work for me. I still get a BSOD with AHCI enabled from BIOS.

  11. #11
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Just a quick reminder for everyone on NCQ. It provides no performance benefit whatsoever in a typical desktop PC. In fact having it enabled usually imposes a small performance penalty, although it too is pretty small. It is only in enterprise environments, in which access patterns are far more random than in windows, and spread out all over the surface of a drive, that any real-word benefit is derived.

  12. #12
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    I still want it. My new Inspiron emits a very annoying high-pitched noise, and I suspect putting the hard drive in AHCI might solve it.

  13. #13
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Quote Originally Posted by Knocks View Post
    I still want it. My new Inspiron emits a very annoying high-pitched noise, and I suspect putting the hard drive in AHCI might solve it.
    What controller are you using. You might need to extract the driver files, take a look in the inf file and hack the registry entries for your chipset - that's basically what I did

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  14. #14
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    ICH8M. I tried your second reg file, not the first one.

  15. #15
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    Re: HOWTO: enable AHCI mode after installing Windows

    Does not work for me.
    Dell Precision 390 -- 975X Express chipset.

    Machine starts booting and reboots immediately after displaying the Windows logo.

    Help will be appreciated.

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