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Sunday, October 3, 2010

nVidia nForce SATA RAID for NT5.2 Windows

Introduction:The problem:

None of the Pre-Vista Windows Operating Systems do contain drivers, which are able to detect and to use any nForce RAID Controller. Unless the suitable nForce Sata/PataRAID drivers are separately presented by the user, the OS installation fails, because the OS Setup doesn't find the RAID device and its partitions.
The traditional way to provide the needed drivers is the F6/floppy method, but this method has some severe disadvantages:
  • A floppy drive is needed, but not available at many actual desktop computers and notebooks.
  • Floppy disks are the worst data storage media regarding the file integrity. Bad floppy disks are the main reason for corrupted driver files. 
  • Even if you load the correct nForce driver and the RAID is detected by the Setup, the OS installation may end with a BSOD or endless reboot loops.
    The reason for this phenomenon is the fact, that the MS Operating systems prefer to install the MS IDE Controllers and drivers instead of the special NVIDIA nForce S-ATA/P-ATA ones, which are absolutely needed for Sata/PataRAID systems. At the beginning of the installation procedure (during the TEXTMODE part) the loaded nForce textmode drivers are accepted and able to detect the SataRAID/PataRAID Controller, but after the first reboot - during the hardware installation part of the installation - the correctly detected nForce S-ATA-/P-ATA Controller may be replaced by the absolutely wrong MS Standard Dual Channel PCI IDE Controller. The consequence is a system crash at the last reboot.
The better alternative is the integration of the needed textmode drivers into a bootable OS CD. Only this way the user can be sure to succeed with the installation of the OS onto an nForce RAID array. Nevertheless the developers of the driver integration method had to solve the above specified problem (see point 3). Until 2005 the correct installation of the needed Controllers and drivers needed addtional manual work of the user. They only succeeded after having created special folders and edited some SIF and/or OEM files.

The solution:
The safest and easiest way to get the problematic nForce textmode drivers properly installed is to integrate them by using a tool like nLite. All actual versions of nLite (Since v1.0 Final) have incorporated a special method, which guarantees the successful OS installation onto any nForce RAID system (if the user observes some rules layed down below). The replacement of the correct nForce Controllers and drivers by the "wrong" MS IDE ones will be prevented by the incorporated suppression of the MS IDE drivers during the hardware detection part of the OS installation.
- fully automatic method (without creating new directories or editing SIF or OEM files)
- support of not digitally signed textmode drivers
- without restriction of any kind during the use of nLite

Here is the way how to do it

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