last updated at 04 Jun, 2006 18:41 (2 times)
I ran into a similar problem and it *seems* to be due to a problem with the motherboard's BIOS.
The board I am using is an ASUS A8N-VM CSM - I have also seen similar problems with WindowsXP machines on other Asus A8N series boards.
The problem I noticed is as follows:
(1) Soft reset of the machine (ie: shutdown & restarting, or C-A-D'ing the machine) will cause the motherboard BIOS to misrecognize the drive(s) and/or improperly initialize the drive(s).
This would result in either (a) the BIOS reporting my 160GB drives as 20.5GB (repeatedly this value) or properly report them as 160GB drives but booting to eCS (or WinXP on the older Asus A8N board) would cause Trap errors or blue screens respectively. On the eCS machine, the Trap would appear to be in the SciTech driver, though I have ruled that out for the following reason:
(2) Any time the machine is soft-resetting, if I power off the machine and power it on (I wait for the BIOS splash screen), the machine boots fine.
(3) During the eCS install, I had to use this method (Point 2) to get the install to finish sucessfully - or to be usable on the occassions it did finish. IE: Install Phase 1... System will reboot in 20 seconds... allow it to reboot... at the BIOS splash screen I then power off machine and power it back on... continue to Phase 2 install... repeat procedure at Phase 2 reboot... etc...
(4) During the eCS install when I did NOT follow the above method (Point 2 & 3), the machine either appeared to successfully complete the eCS install and then ran into all sorts of disk corruption problems on the completed install during boot which would result in either one or more of the following: hangs during boot (no Trap) which usually occurred on the eCS BootBlob (eCS), or Traps during boot that indicated the video driver, or CHKDSKs which would invariably find lost files or files in wrong directories (first time I ever saw that on an HPFS CHKDSK), which would usually be URL objects - that were then moved to the FOUND# directories.
(5) On the WinXP machine (older Asus board), the machine would start up, run, and then invariably crash at some time or other during disk access with a bluescreen indicating some randomly different driver or module being the cause.
(6) On the WinXP machine (older Asus board), the machine would sometimes not detect any SATA drives during the BIOS detect routine and get a "no boot drive found" type of error (paraphrased).
(7) The BIOS on both of these boards does not seem to have any sort of "drive reset on soft boot option" making the only workaround I have found so far to be always hard booting the machine (ie: Power off after shutdown, power back on).
(8) I can duplicate this consistently every time.
(9) (Re: Points 3 & 4), I could NOT get the eCS partition to boot properly or remain usable unless I followed the steps in Point 3 even though at times not using the method in Point 4 the installation seemed to go through successfully.
(10) BEFORE any OS was installed on the machine (before the drives were even formatted), I was able to somewhat consistently duplicate the following issues:
- on Soft Reset, machine would improperly report the drive sizes for both 160GB drives (with or without the RAID BIOS option enabled)
- on the older ASUS board, the BIOS SATA detect would often complete it's detection with no drives found (I think it searches for roughly 10-15 seconds).
I hope this helps... if you don't have an ASUS board or one that uses the same chipset (or one with a similiar problem) it is probably irrelevant (unless this is a general SATA design issue that pertains to the SATA standard and newer SATA drives - as opposed to it being an nVidia chipset issue).