blog.plee.me About software, technology and random things

8Jun/092

Asus P5B and the broken JMicron SATA/PATA controller

Hey there!

Yesterday, while I was trying out my new hard drive, I noticed that it apparently took ages to defragment. Not only that, but it also took away a major amount of resources. Funnily enough, the CPU usage didn't show up at all in the task manager (I'm using Windows XP x64 Professional). However, the mouse cursor was lagging behind and whenever I played audio or video - be it a YouTube video or an actual video in VLC - it lagged there as well.

So what could it be?

(Skip to the bottom to see the conclusion 🙂 )

My first guess was that there was a hardware failure. Probably with the new hard drive because my others all worked, right? Technically it was unlike for my new hard drive to be damaged though as I formatted it the day before (with TrueCrypt) and it showed around 90 MB/s of formatting speed.

After a series of rebooting and benchmarking via HD Tune (also in Windows Safe Mode) I realized that at the start (basically the first time after a bootup) the hard drive worked fine with an average of about a 100 MB/s transfer rate. However, at around 60%+ it sunk drastically to a minimum of 1.4 and a maximum of 1.5 MB/s. It stayed there till the end of the benchmark and for every following one (until you rebooted).

Next thing I did was to change the BIOS settings for the JMicron SATA/PATA Controller from Enabled / IDE to Enabled / AHCI. After the Windows bootup it recognized a new Primary IDE channel, Secondary IDE channel, Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller and one of my two optical drives (why only one? Don't ask me :D). The hard drive didn't show up at all - neither in the Disk Management nor in the Device Manager. A change from Enabled / AHCI to Enabled / RAID (with "no raid" in the JMicron settings) did the same thing: recognition of new channels and no new hard drive.

The first run with an HDD on the JMicron controller.

Every other run following the first one with an HDD on the JMicron controller.

For reference - this is what a healthy drive usually looks like:

This is what a healthy HDD usually looks like in HD Tune.

When I looked that the Device Manager I found that there were two SATA controllers in the IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers category. One was the Intel(R) ICH8 2 port Serial ATA Storage Controller - 2825 and the other one was the Intel(R) ICH8 4 port Serial ATA Storage Controller - 2820. My main / old hard drives are all hooked to the 4 SATA ports on the lower half of the P5B, some of them using an eSATA to SATA cable. So that had to be the 4 port SATA controller, which worked fine. Thus, the 2 port controller was the one controlling the eSATA port in the back pane - and making trouble.

The moral of the story is that obviously the JMicron SATA/PATA Controller doesn't do his job on the ASUS P5B at all. So, in case you're looking for more SATA ports, you're going to have to buy a new SATA controller.

I myself will be settling with SATA and eSATA for my biggest drives and using USB for my smallest one.

Cheers 🙂

   
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