Old PC and new technologies

Hi,
I’m new in this forum and don’t know where to start with my question…
I have as 3rd PC a fairly old Dell Dimension 8400 running XP home and I am tempted to use a spare single Samsung 830 SSD 64GB for the OS and basic programmes.
It is one of the first SATA PC (gen 1 1.5 GB) but I hope the SSD could still improve performances a bit.
the MB uses Intel 925XE chipset and Intel 82801FB ICH6 southbridge. BIOS is bespoke but Phoenix provided.
Dell has stopped any update many years ago, so I am a bit helpless there.
so, here are my questions:
1. Is there an updated ROM suitable for my BIOS (REV A09) and will I benefit from it?
2. which driver should I use to update the existing 2004 editions?

thanks in advance
Carlo

@ elisw:

Hello Carlo,
welcome at Win-RAID Forum!
I don’t think, that it will make much sense to update any PCI ROM modules of your ICH6 Chipset mainboard BIOS, because the actual ROM modules probably will not work with the old hardware.

If you should mean the SATA driver, I am not sure, that you will be able to use any Intel one.
Please have a look into the XP Device Manager of your Dell PC and search for the listed SATA Controllers, which will be either within the "IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers" or within the "SCSI and RAID Controllers" section, and post us the names of the Controllers.

Regards
Fernando

from HWiNFO32 report:

Device Name: Intel 82801FB ICH6R - SATA Controller [B1]
Original Device Name: Intel 82801FB ICH6R - SATA Controller [B1]
Device Class: Serial ATA Controller
Revision ID: 3
Bus Number: 0
Device Number: 31
Function Number: 2
PCI Latency Timer: 0
Hardware ID: PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&SUBSYS_01771028&REV_03

[System Resources]
Interrupt Line: IRQ20
Interrupt Pin: INTC#
I/O Base Address 0 FE00
I/O Base Address 1 FE10
I/O Base Address 2 FE20
I/O Base Address 3 FE30
I/O Base Address 4 FEA0
Memory Base Address 5 DFFFFC00

[Features]
Bus Mastering: Enabled
Running At 66 MHz: Capable
Fast Back-to-Back Transactions: Capable

[SATA Host Controller]
Interface Speed Supported: Gen1 1.5 Gbps
Number Of Ports: 4
External SATA Support: Not Capable
Aggressive Link Power Management: Capable
Staggered Spin-up: Not Capable
Mechanical Presence Switch: Not Capable
Command Queue Acceleration: Capable
AHCI Status: Enabled
AHCI Version: 1.00
Ports Implemented: 0, 1, 2, 3

Driver Manufacturer: Intel
Driver Description: Intel(R) 82801FR SATA AHCI Controller
Driver Provider: Intel
Driver Version: 4.5.0.6515
Driver Date: 29-Jun-2004
DeviceInstanceId PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&SUBSYS_01771028&REV_03\3&172E68DD&0&FA

Hope this helps!
thanks Fernando

@ elisw:
Thanks for your reply and the HWINFO32 report.
Please check nevertheless the “IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers” section of the XP Device Manager, if there is an Intel SATA AHCI Controller listed.
If yes, I recommend to install the modded 32bit version of the Intel MSM AHCI driver v8.9.8.1005, which you will find >here<. The driver itself is dated 04/05/2010. You can update the Intel SATA driver either
a) directly from within the Device Manager by doing a right click onto the listed Intel SATA AHCI Controller, choosing the “Update Driver Software” option, using the “Have Disk” button and navigating to the iaAHCI.inf of the downloaded and unzipped 32bit driverpack or
b) by running the SETUP.EXE of the “Intel MSM Drivers & Software Set v8.9.8.1005 mod by Fernando”.
Before you are going to update the driver, you should check, if there is already any Intel Matrix Storage Manager software installed. Open the Control Panel and hit the “Add/remove Software” option. If there is such software listed, uninstall it, before you run the installer of the newer Intel MSM package v8.9.8.1005.

unfortunately the old PC is in another town at my parents, so it will take some time before I could check the device manager… but I am pretty sure it is an Intel controller and seen as such from XP.

Are there any performance optimization advantages in running the setup files instead of manually updating the drivers? As I previously wrote, all this is in order to install XP home on the 64GB Samsung 830, so any unnecessary files will take useful space off an already tiny drive.
Actually, a nLited install of XP SP3 home edition would be even better…

The question is not, if there is an on-board Intel SATA Controller (it surely will be), but the important question is: “To which SATA mode (IDE/AHCI/RAID) has the Intel SATA Controller been set within the BIOS?”, because the DeviceIDs of the Controller are totally different in IDE, AHCI and RAID mode:

  1. If the SATA Controller is running in “IDE” mode, you don’t need to load (F6) or integrate any special Intel storage driver. The XP Setup will not even accept any of them. In this case Windows XP will use the on-board generic MS IDE driver named PCIIDE.sys.
  2. An Intel ICH6 SATA Controller, which is running in “AHCI” mode, needs an Intel AHCI driver named iaStor.sys for the device named "“Intel(R) ICH6R SATA AHCI Controller” (for Desktop PCs) or “Intel(R) ICH6M SATA AHCI Controller” (for Mobile Systems = Notebooks).
  3. If an Intel ICH6 system should be set to “RAID” mode, the correct SATA Controller name would be “Intel(R) ICH6R SATA RAID Controller”. It will work with the same driver (iaStor.sys) as the SATA AHCI Controller, but by using a totally different information file (iaStor.inf instead of iaAHCI.inf).

No. The installation of the Intel MSM or RST Software doesn’t have any positive impact on the performance.

You are totally right. If the Intel SATA Controller should run in AHCI or RAID mode, I recommend to create an nLited XP SP3 CD with integrated “32bit Intel MSM textmode driver v8.9.8.1005 mod by Fernando” according to >this< guide. When you get the nLite textmode driver integration popup window, you should just enable the in-use Intel ICH6R/M SATA AHCI/RAID Controller of the system (see above).

Currently the HDD is a SATA II Maxtor 320GB (seen as SATA I from the SB) and I am positive the setting in BIOS is AHCI, although the DVD drive is IDE (not sure this could be a problem when fresh installing the nLited version of XP).
Other problem is I don’t have the XP home installation disc, as Dell had provided all the install files (plus some garbage) in a hidden partition of the HDD.

It depends on the sort of DVD drive. Some optical drives have problems, if they are run in AHCI mode, others not. That is why it is often better (and faster) to create a bootable USB flash drive containing the OS image, but your old PC may not support this boot option.

You can use any original XP CD with integrated SP3 (maybe burrowed from a friend) as source, but you have to insert your personal XP CD Key, which is attached to your Dell system. Only possible disadvantage: Ypu may have to activate the OS by telephone.

the Dimension 8400 is really old, but was somewhat cutting edge technology a decade ago
its BIOS does support USB boot (once the USB stick has been formatted properly), along with AHCI and RAID.
Now I just have to find an original XP home CD with SP3 to nLite it onto a USB key…

Bad news.
I finally got hold of the Dimension 8400 and the controller as seen by Windows Device Manager is NOT the model previously mentioned and recognised by HWInfo…
It is seen as Intel(R) 82801FR SATA AHCI Controller.
Driver file (iaStor.sys) is from Intel and version is 4.5.0.6515.
BIOS is set as AHCI/RAID.
is there any update available (either BIOS or AHCI driver)?

@ elisw:

Please give me some additional informations:

  1. Which are the HardwareIDs of the on-board Intel SATA Controller (right click onto it > “Properties” > “Details” > “Property” > “HardwareIDs”).
  2. Do you have the actual BIOS for the Dell Dimension 8400? If yes, give me the link.

ID hardware:
PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&SUBSYS_01771028&REV_03
PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&SUBSYS_01771028
PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&CC_010601
PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&CC_0106
bios:
http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/e…n&categoryId=BI

@ elisw:

Thanks for the infos.
After having checked everything I don’t see any possibility to update anything regarding the Intel AHCI Controller - it is simply too old and outdated since several years.

to be honest I just “forced” the install of your 8.9.8.1005 modded driver (manual driver choice) and it seems to work.
Passmark disk benchmark score has gained about 3% .

OK, I had added the DeviceID DEV_2652 and named it “Intel(R) ICH6R SATA AHCI Controller (added by Fernando)”, because the original Intel MSM driver of the v8.x.x.xxxx series don’t support ICH6R systems. It is fine, that this driver works for you and gave your system even a minimal performance boost.
Nevertheless this will be the end of the update options.