SATA Drives and F6

Many of the 64–bit machines being built and sold today come with Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives, which is a good thing – SATA is a better technology than standard IDE(Integrated Drive Electronics) or ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). Some day maybe we’ll blog about why SATA is better — there are lots of advantages, but right now I want to talk about what SATA might mean to you if you’re trying to install Windows XP Professional x64 Edition on your computer.

On most computers and motherboards today that support x64 processors, the controller that connects to the SATA drives is also a RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) controller. Even if you’re not using the RAID functionality of the controller, you still can run into a problem when you go to install x64 Edition – in most cases, there are no built in drivers to support the drives.  You’ll put the CD in the drive, boot to the CD, and it will go through all the process of loading its drivers and then give you an error message:

Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed in your system

This means you’re going to need to install drivers before Windows can be installed. To do that, you need to:

1.) Download the latest drivers from the manufacturer – either of the computer or motherboard, or of the specific RAID/SATA controller you are using.

2.) Copy the drivers to a blank, formatted floppy disk. (Some OEMs have a program that will format and copy the drivers all in one step, some don’t.)

3.) Reboot your x64 computer with the installation CD in the CD-ROM drive, and when the screen first turns blue, press the F6 key repeatedly. (OK, OK, I know, it only takes once. But it’s just like when you’re waiting for an elevator — everyone knows it comes faster if you press the up or down button repeatedly.)

4.) Now, when setup can’t find drivers for your controller, it will prompt you to put a disk in the floppy drive to load additional drivers.

For more on this, see the Microsoft Knowledge Base article:

314859 - Limited OEM driver support is available with F6 during Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 setup

Finally, a comment to those of you who have used one set of drivers during the beta or CPP period, and now are having problems. Microsoft made changes after RC1, and drivers that were good enough during the beta might not work correctly in the final product. (VIA RAID controllers definitely have this problem, because I got nailed with it!) If you use F6 and install your drivers, and everything seems to go OK, but then when it reboots at the initial GUI setup screen or fails with a Stop 0x0000007B error, this is a sure sign of incorrectly decorated INF files. You’ll need to download updated drivers from either your OEM or my favourite – For more on this, see Changes for Vendor-provided Storage Drivers Loaded Using F6.

Charlie Russel
Microsoft MVP for Server, Security and Tablet PCs
Windows Expert Zone Columnist and author of >25 books on computers, operating systems and enterprise environments


5 Responses to SATA Drives and F6

  • anonymous says:

    I have the Maxtor SATA DiamondMax Plus 9 and I have installed xp on it before but I have already formatted and partitioned it using fdisk. Like I have done millions of times before but I get that error: Setup did not find any hard disk drives installed on your computer" And I have installed the drivers for it. I have done everything you have said but no avail. Any help would be most apreciated

  • Charlie Russel says:

    If the install says it can’t see your HD, you haven’t gotten the correct driver loaded. Make sure you have downloaded the correct 64-bit driver from your motherboard mfg or the mfg of the controller and copied the necessary files to floppy. I’d suggest posting complete motherboard and system information to the newsgroup and we can help there.

  • anonymous says:

    Thank you for such a fast reply! I really appreciate that. Well my motherboard is the Abit KV8-MAX3, and the MAXTOR DiamondMax Plus 9. I have the floppy I used before when I installed XP on it, but I am trying to install Server2003. Here is the list of drivers on the floppy:

    Intel 82801ER SATA RAID Controller for XP & 2K

    Silicon Image SiI 3112 SATA RAID Controller for XP

    Silicon Image SiI 3112 SATA RAID Controller for 2K

    Silicon Image SiI 3114 SATA RAID Controller for XP

    Silicon Image SiI 3114 SATA RAID Controller for 2K

    VIA Serial ATA RAID Controller for XP

    Via Serial ATA RAID Controller for 2K

    which one do I choose or can I not do this for Server2K3.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  • Charlie says:

    Your list is all 32-bit – drivers you need to download the new 64-bit drivers. But blogs are NOT a great way to deal with ongoing support questions. Please go to the news:// newsgroup and post a question there.

  • Anonymous says:

    Then why did they work before?