14 Replies Latest reply on Apr 6, 2010 2:30 PM by Mitchb

    Will Toolbox work without AHCI?


      I've just installed an X-25V (FW: 02HB) with Win7x64 on a system with an Nvidia 680i SLI MoBo Chipset.  This is an older Dell XPS 720 with the awful Dell BIOS which won't let me set AHCI/IDE within BIOS.


      The Nvidia Nforce Storage Controller takes over as the default Storage Controllers for all of the SATA connections (SSD is on SATA-0, two DVD Roms are on SATA-1 and SATA-2, and Storage HDD is on SATA-4.  SATA-3 and SATA-5 are empty.)  When I try to uninstall the Nvidia Storage Controller so I can have the default Windows 7 driver take over, it auto-installs the NVIDIA controller on reboot. So the first question: is there a way to override the Nvidia Storage Controller and have Windows use it's driver (with AHCI support) instead. EDIT:  or can I install the Intel RST driver that has shown up in a few threads? Can I just use that Driver in place of the Nvidia driver?




      Figuring that I wouldn't be able to get TRIM running since I couldn't get AHCI turned on, I decided to try the Toolbox instead.  When I open up the ToolBox it shows me the SSD on the list at the top (as well as the 2 Partitions of my HDD) and all the buttons in the lower section are there, but I can't click on any of them.  I thought it was a .NET 3.5 Framework thing, and installed the latest, but that doesn't seem to be it? This is a brand new Win7 install...is there something else I'm missing for the ToolBox buttons to work? (Java, Flash...??) or does the Toolbox need AHCI to work too?


      Related to all of this, I did try to do the FW update before installing everything and when I ran the CD installer it told me that no SSD was found on my system - even though it shows up in BIOS under SATA-0. So for now I appear to be stuck with FW 02HB.


      Regardless of these difficulties, the drive is running really well - but I'd like to either get TRIM up and running or at least have access to the Toolbox to be able to avoid longer term R/W degradation.

        • 1. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

          1. nForce 680i chipsets do not fully support AHCI. Are you sure, that your Dell XPS 720 has an nForce 680i chipset?

          2. If you are sure, that you don't have any RAID Controller within the "Storage Controllers" section, you should be able to replace the "NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controller" by the "Standard Dual Channell PCI IDE Controller" from within the Device Manager, because both are compatible.

          3. The Intel SSD Toolbox works with and without AHCI, but it will not work, if your SSD is connected to a SATA Controller, which has been set to "RAID" Mode.

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          • 2. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

            Fernando - Thanks for the pointers - as for your questions:

            1- Definitely sure I'm running the 680i chipset (I purchased the Dell XPS 700 originally, then Dell made a big deal about upgrading all of the early adopters who ended up with the low end Nvidia 500 series chipset in the XPS 700.  Free motherboards were shipped and now I'm running the 680 - see PC Wizard Screen Cap (processor should say Q9650 - its not supported by BIOS so it doesn't read properly): Computer.jpg


            As for the 680i chipset itself, PC Wizard says that there are 4 controllers - 1 IDE and 3 SATA. Screen Cap (Controller 4 is cropped from the image, its the same as # 3):

            Disk Controller List.jpg

            2.  Even though PC Wizard says "Mode: RAID", I'm definitely not running anything in RAID mode - have double checked BIOS which lets you turn on SATA drives in regular or RAID...everything is in regular mode.

            I thought that maybe the SSD is hanging off the IDE Controller, but when I look at the controller list in Device Manager

            Device List.jpg

            it shows the following for the first of those 3 SATA Controllers:

            Controller Detail.jpg


            I can't edit the Transfer Mode - the only thing I can toggle is the command queuing - which I've turned off (another forum member's suggestion)


            So as for # 3 - I'm not sure what's going on with the Toolbox - RAID is definitely not enabled, but whenever I run the ToolBox it doesn't let me select any of the items in the list.


            Let me know if you think of anything else,

            • 3. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

              Your screenshots show some informations, which I do not really believe:

              1. It is a fact, that NVIDIA's MCP55 chips do not support the AHCI standard features. So it seems impossible for me, that you will be able to run your SSD in "AHCI" mode.

              2. The PC Wizard shows your NVIDIA MCP55 SATA ports as running in "RAID" mode. If this would be true, it would explain why you are not able to use the Intel SSD Toolbox (doesn't work with SSD's being in a RAID.

              On the other hand I cannot see any NVIDIA nForce RAID Controller within your Device Manager, but this Controller is absolutely necessary for any drive, which is running in "RAID" mode.

              3. What you may try is the following:

              Open the Device Manager, do a right click onto any of the listed NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controllers, choose the "Update driver softwsre" option and look for devices, which are shown as compatible.

              If the device named "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller" should be listed as compatible, take it.

              Attention: You have to replace all listed "NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controllers" by the "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller", before you are going to reboot.

              After a reboot Trim will be supported automaticly by the MS IDE driver named PCIIDE.SYS. Furthermore you will be able to use Intel's SSD Toolbox.


              Good luck!


              • 4. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                Thanks again for taking a look.

                It gets even more strange!  Apparently I'm already running the Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller!  That's in addition to the 3 SATA Controllers.  I now have the cables configured so that the SSD is on the first (which controls SATA-0 and SATA-1)  The two DVD-Rs are on the second (SATA-1 & 2) and the storage drive is on the third).   The Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller doesn't show up anywhere on the list of devices to replace the Nvidia controller with. 


                As for the RAID, I'm still scratching my head about that one... I checked BIOS *again* last night and its definitely not turned on in BIOS.

                IDE Controller.jpg

                • 5. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                  @ Bilsko:


                  Your screenshot of the Device Manager makes it very clear, that RAID has not been enabled.

                  So you should be able to replace all "NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controllers" by "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controllers".

                  Only this way you will get the full Trim support.

                  • 6. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?



                    I have exactly the same problem that "Bilsko" has. Almost the same set up aswell. A nForce 570-chip. I have gone so far with this I´m about to replace my nForrce-MB with a new Intel-based MB.


                    I don´t have the option of replacing the "NVIDIA nForce Serial ATA Controllers" with "Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controllers".


                    When updating to latest firmware I had to put the disk in another computer that had a Intel chip.


                    We must be some ppl with this problem. My X25-M 160Gb needs to be TRIMED!!



                    • 7. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                      I have an XPS 720 with a 680i-based mobo/clunky nvidia SATA hardware and was in the same boat as you guys.  Performance was fine, but I had no Trim support, no SSD Toolbox, and firmware had to be upgraded using a different machine.


                      To bypass the restrictive nvidia hardware, I ended up purchasing a $29 ASUS U3S6 PCI-E add-in card to control my SSD.  This ended up working out very well; once the SSD was connected to the new controller, my BIOS allowed me to select it as a boot device instead of the mobo's controller.  I left my bulk storage drives connected to the motherboard's SATA ports.


                      The U3S6 has 2 SATA 6G ports and is based on a Marvell 9123 controller.  This controller is picked up by Windows as a standard AHCI device and works fine with the MS AHCI drivers.  Intel's SSD Toolbox is now 100% functional and I assume Trim is working as it should since I'm using the MS drivers.


                      There are other add-in cards on the market based on the same controller that would do the same job.  Whatever you get, just make sure it will work with the standard MS AHCI drivers.

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                      • 8. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                        xact - thanks for the tip.  I'm looking into the ASUS card right now (also nice to have USB 3.0 for whenever that comes around too).  One question on the BIOS setup - I'm assuming that since the SSD isn't plugged directly into the MoBo, it doesn't get the same Boot status as HDDs plugged into the SATA controller. You said that BIOS allowed you to select it as a Boot device; does it just show up on the list of devices like booting from USB or LAN?



                        I assume that since its PCI-E, that its connecting to the Southbridge at at least 500 MB/s -  so there shouldn't be any throughput bottlenecks there right?  My understanding is that SATA connections are typically around 300 MB/s anyways, so the PCI-E isn't slowing down the data transfer any more than the standard SATA connection would anyways.


                        Finally, I assume that there are no cable issues with the SATA-II cable from the SSD into the SATA6 ports on the card - the SATA connections have the same form factor for SATA-II on the SSD and the SATA6 on the card right?

                        • 9. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                          Once a drive is plugged into the add-in card, the BIOS will recognize it as a boot candidate and will add it into the BIOS' "boot sequence" list along with your mobo-connected drives, mobo RAID, CD-ROM, USB, etc.  So it is treated no differently than any other potentially bootable hardware.  From the boot sequence list, you can enable/disable it as a boot device as well as move it up/down the priority list.  (Obviously, you will want to place it at or near the top.)


                          Other than adding roughly one second to the boot sequence, I haven't found a downside to running the ASUS card.  If you look up reviews, you'll find the device is actually PCI-E 4x and uses a bridge chip in order try to obtain enough bandwidth for 2x SATA 6G and 2x USB 3.0 devices... so it should be able to handle a single SATA II SSD with ease.  (I installed mine in the 720's bottom 16x slot.)  It is also cheaper than the other single-function/1x cards on the market, so seemed like a no-brainer to me.


                          Remember that you'll want to enable Windows' AHCI driver before switching your boot drive.  Do this either A) by installing the card, booting (let Windows detect hardware), then shutting down and switching cabling/boot priority... or B) by editing the registry key in Windows before installing the card and then reconfiguring the cabling/BIOS.

                          • 10. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                            xact - thanks for the followup.  Sounds like this is a no-brainer.  Going to get the card. $25 on Amazon - just slightly cheaper than Newegg, so I'm going to get it.  Will follow your instructions to make sure the AHCI drivers are enabled. Will try the first setup you recommend -  although I think at some point while tinkering with the original install I actually did change the registry value for the AHCI driver.

                            Will probably take a week or so to get the card shipped, I'll post once I've done everything to update.

                            • 11. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                              I tried Xact's recommendation using the ASUS SATA6 board to bypass the NVIDIA SATA controller and it works great.  AHCI enabled and Toolbox running just fine.

                              • 12. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                                Following your example I installed a U3S6 on my XPS 720. It worked just great! Thanks for sharing.

                                • 13. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHCI?

                                  Hi Bilsko/ Smal/ Xact,


                                  Would any of you guys mind running an AS SSD Benchmark? I’m interested to see what the Marvell 9123 controller does to performance. I recently tried an Adaptec 1220SA as part of a temporary trouble shooting exercise and it nearly halved my overall AS Benchmark score in comparison to ICH9.

                                  It’s possible to obtain a screen shot or just the text results of the benchmark via Edit>Copy



                                  • 14. Re: Will Toolbox work without AHC

                                    Hello, I am using Micron's C300 256gb drive on a Dell 730 with an NVidia 790i Ultra chipset. I boot through an Asus U3S6 card mounted in a PCIe x 16 slot. I have limited  software installed on my PC at the moment, so I cant give a screen shot, but the drive benchmarks in ATTO at ~370/210mb/s. Here is an AS SSD bench I just took.






                                    as-ssd-bench C300-CTFDDAC256M 4.6.2010 3-47-39 PM.png