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About SATA Hard Drives and Controller Modes

Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, also known as Serial ATA or SATA, enables mass storage devices, such as hard drives and optical drives, to communicate with the motherboard using a high-speed serial cable over two pairs of conductors.
    Figure : Example of SATA connections on a hard drive
    Hard drives with SATA data cables and connections
  1. Power cable
  2. SATA data cable
Figure : SATA connector cables
Sata connector cables
Figure : SATA ports on the motherboard
SATA ports on the motherboard
Selecting which SATA port to use
If you are installing a single SATA hard drive, it is best to use the lowest numbered port on the motherboard (SATA0 or SATA1). Then use the other ports for optical drives.
If you are installing multiple hard drives, but installing the operating system on only one drive, use the lowest numbered port on the motherboard (SATA0 or SATA1) for this drive. Then use the next lowest numbered port for the second drive, and so on.
If you are installing multiple hard drives and using RAID mode to increase storage space or create a backup disk, connect one of the drives to the lowest numbered port (SATA0 or SATA1), then connect the remaining drives to ports on the same controller.
SATA Controller Modes
Serial ATA (SATA) controller modes determine how the hard drive communicates with the computer. You can set a SATA hard drive to function in one of three controller modes: IDE, AHCI, or RAID. Enabling RAID mode also enables the AHCI features.
IDE mode is the simplest mode. In IDE mode, the hard drive is set to run as an IDE or Parallel ATA (PATA) hard drive.
Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) mode enables the use of advanced features on SATA drives, such as hot swapping and Native Command Queuing (NCQ).
RAID mode allows several hard disk drives to function as one storage area (the array) to provide either data redundancy (backup security) or faster performance (striped reading/writing data from or to the disk drives).
 note:
HP recommends setting the SATA Controller Mode BEFORE installing the operating system. Changing the mode after installing the operating system can prevent the system from booting.
The following sections describe the different SATA Controller Modes.
IDE
IDE mode is the simplest mode. In IDE mode, the hard drive is set to run as an IDE or Parallel ATA (PATA) hard drive. A hard drive in IDE mode has the least available features. In general, a hard drive performs more slowly in IDE mode. IDE mode provides better compatibility with some older hardware. If you want to install only one hard drive and do not wish to use the advanced SATA (AHCI) features (such as hot swapping and Native Command Queuing), select IDE mode when installing a hard drive.
Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI)
Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) mode enables the use of advanced features on SATA drives, such as hot swapping and Native Command Queuing (NCQ). AHCI also allows a hard drive to operate at higher speeds than in IDE mode.
 note:
If you are installing Windows XP, you may need to have the SATA controller driver when installing a hard drive using AHCI mode.
RAID
Use RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) mode when you want to use more than one hard drive, either to increase storage space or create a backup disk. RAID technology allows several hard disk drives to function as one storage area (the array) to provide either data redundancy (backup security) or faster performance (striped reading/writing data from or to the disk drives).
In RAID mode, the SATA controller enables both AHCI and RAID functions when the computer boots.
If you are installing multiple hard drives and using RAID mode, connect one of the drives to the lowest numbered port (SATA0 or SATA1), then connect the remaining drives to ports on the same controller. On some motherboards the SATA ports are color coded. Connect the drives to ports of the same color.
 note:
If you are installing Windows XP, you may need to have the SATA controller driver when installing a hard drive using RAID mode.
Setting the controller mode in the BIOS
Use one of the following sections to set the SATA Controller Mode for a hard drive.
Troubleshooting SATA Controller Mode problems
The following errors can display if the SATA Controller Mode is set to the wrong setting. Refer to the section that matches the issue on your computer for instructions on resolving the problem.
STOP 0x0000007B INACCESSABLE_BOOT_DEVICE error message
If the computer displays the STOP 0x0000007B INACCESSABLE_BOOT_DEVICE error message after you change the SATA Controller Mode to use either Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) or RAID, the disk driver in Windows 7 and Windows Vista is disabled. This driver must be enabled before you change the SATA Controller Mode of the hard drive.
To automatically resolve problems with the STOP 0x0000007B INACCESSABLE_BOOT_DEVICE error message, click the Microsoft Fix it Solution:
Err1Err3 or Stop Error 07xb error message
If Err1Err3 is shown or a blue screen opens displaying a Stop Error 07xb when starting the computer, the Sata Controller Mode BIOS setting is set to the wrong setting.
To resolve this issue, refer to the HP support document, Stop Error 0x7B or Err1Err3 when Starting the PC.

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