08 Mar 2007 10:01 am
UPDATE – 15 Apr 07: I’ve now had time to apply the registry tweak suggested by Intel to address this issue. For me, it works! I can now use my Maxtor drives in the system with zero iastor errors.
Note that I have NOT tried to install Vista using the higher-numbered ports on the ICH8R controller, so I don’t know whether that part of the fix works.
Here’s what my registry looked like before the fix (click on the thumbnail for a full-sized view):
FLASH UPDATE – 2 Apr 07: Finally the vendor community has stopped pointing fingers at each other and recognised the problem – well, sort of.
Special thanks to commentor Håkan Andersson for linking to this page on intel.com. In summary, Intel claims that Microsoft made changes to the Vista installation process that resulted in some disc power management features being activated for desktop PCs as well as for laptops. Desktop drives that don’t correctly implement the power management features then cause probles such as we have all experienced (and as are set out in the many fora linked below).
Intel suggests a number of workarounds. I haven’t yet tried any. My initial comments on the workarounds are:
- if available, install updated firmware for the device
- I have latest firmware on my motherboard, and it makes no difference
- I have installed latest firmware to my Maxtor HDDs and it makes no difference
- switch to IDE mode in the system BIOS
- this is not a viable workaround if you actually want to use the RAID features of the controller (which features are not available in IDE mode)
- attach the device(s) to ports 3-5 on the Intel® 82801HR/HH/HO I/O controller hub (ICH8R) or port 3 on the Intel® 82801GR/GH I/O controller hub (ICH7R)
- not a viable workaround if you have more than three HDDs (I have 5)
- delete the iastor(v) Parameters registry key by using (listed steps)
- this suggestion holds the most promise — perhaps it disables the unnecessary power management features.
If you try out Intel’s suggestions, please post your results as a comment.
Update – 19 Mar 07: after many hours of work I have uncovered strong evidence of a conflict between certain Maxtor hard drives and the Vista/ICH8R combination. The symptms of the conflict are listed below.
I have COMPLETELY removed the problem from my system by replacing ALL Maxtor drives with other brands (I avoided Seagate as my supplier says that, since Seagate bought Maxtor, the Maxtor drives are just rebrands).
I have received new firmware from Maxtor and will install it when I get a chance, to see whether it helps.
For more details, see (especially) the first of the Asus threads listed below, and also the Microsoft TechNet thread.
Intel, we have a problem!
All around the web, PC users installing Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system are striking problems when they try to use hard drives in RAID (Redundant Array of Independent/Inexpensive Discs) arrays.
The problems appear on PCs in which the hard drives are connected to Intel’s Matrix Storage controllers. It’s not completely clear which products are effected. Here is the list of members of the Matrix Storage product family:
- Intel® 82801HR/HH/HO I/O controller hub (ICH8R) – RAID and AHCI
- Intel® 631xESB/632xESB I/O Controller Hub – RAID and AHCI
- Intel® 82801GHM I/O Controller Hub (ICH7MDH) – RAID only
- Intel® 82801GBM I/O Controller Hub (ICH7M) – AHCI only
- Intel® 82801GR I/O Controller Hub (ICH7R) – RAID and AHCI
- Intel® 82801GH I/O Controller Hub (ICH7DH) – RAID and AHCI
- Intel® 82801FR I/O Controller Hub (ICH6R) – RAID and AHCI
- Intel® 82801FBM I/O Controller Hub (ICH6M) – AHCI only.
These controllers are widely used on motherboards based around the various Intel chipset families. The chipsets are:
- Intel® G965 Express Chipset
- Intel® P965 Express Chipset
- Intel® Q963 Express Chipset
- Intel® Q965 Express Chipset
- Intel® 5000P Chipset
- Intel® 5000V Chipset
- Intel® 5000X Chipset
- Intel® 975X Express Chipset
- Intel® 955X Express Chipset
- Intel® 945 Express Chipset family
- Mobile Intel® 945 Express Chipset family
- Intel® E7230 Chipset
- Intel® 925X Express Chipset family
- Intel® 915 Express Chipset family
- Mobile Intel® 915 Express Chipset family
- Intel® 910GL Express Chipset
- Mobile Intel® 910GML Express Chipset
It’s quite possible that not all of these chipsets are effected.
Problems appear to be evident for all types of RAID configuration (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 10, RAID 5) supported on these controllers.
So, what’s the problem?
Symptoms vary, but all of the following have been observed (not all at once!):
* It’s not possible to do a ‘clean install’ of Windows Vista. The installation often freezes with the Microsoft copyright notice on the screen, and with the green progress bar (sometimes known as the ‘Cylon Eye’) moving across the screen.
* It’s not possible to complete a Vista upgrade from Windows XP. The first part of the upgrade process appears to go OK (‘hosted’ by Windows XP) but when the PC reboots to let Vista take over and complete the process, the system freezes with symptoms similar to the above.
* Some users get repeated ‘STOP ERROR’ failures – often with error code Stop: 0x0000007b.
* Some users see system random system slow downs and freezes. Error logs show that this is because of ‘iastor not responding’. (Iastor is Intel’s driver for the RAID controller.)
* Some users have seen random data corruption and/or reboots (BSoD).
In most cases, evidence seems to point to the Intel RAID drivers as the root cause of the problem. There is some evidence of conflicts and/or incompatibility between the Intel controller and certain Marvell Yukon LAN controllers – but this is not always the case.
Motherboards manufactured by Asus and Gigabyte are impacted, as are those used by Dell in various systems. Other manufacturers’ products may also be hit.
Many users have reported problems to Intel and/or their motherboard manufacturer. So far, Intel and Asus seem to be having difficulty reproducing the fault in lab conditions. The various players seem reluctant to acknowledge the existence of a widespread fault.
There is no ‘silver bullet’ fix.
Many workarounds have been suggested. Different workarounds work for different people. For some users, no workaround seems to provide a solution that allows the RAID array to function under Vista.
Strong evidence suggests that the early Vista builds (Beta builds – prior to RC builds) worked OK, and that the problem has crept in recently.
In almost every case, the systems worked fine under RAID when using Windows XP. This seems to suggest a software error rather than hardware problems.
In almost every case, reconfiguring the Intel controller to work in IDE mode (this reconfiguration must be made in the motherboard’s BIOS settings) allows Vista to be installed and work fine. However, for most users this is only a short term workaround. There’s a reason to use RAID (speed increase under RAID 0, redundancy under RAID 1) – and it’s not possible to enjoy those RAID benefits in IDE mode.
I’ve collected all the active discussions of this problem that I can find on the web. Please add a comment if you find another, and I’ll put it on the list.
Microsoft TechNet: this is the motherlode, folks. A very long and detailed discussion of the problem, spanning Asus, Gigabyte and Dell products. Many workarounds discussed.
Dell Forums: a discussion about the problem as manifested on Dell systems. Some evidence here that the problem is exacerbated when SATA optical drives are also connected to the Intel controller.
Tom’s Hardware: a discussion of the problem appearing on Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6 motherboards.
Asus forums: a thread regarding the problem on P5B Deluxe Wifi-AP motherboards.
Asus forums: as above, but for P5B Deluxe.
Kapersky Labs forums: initially, these folks thought they had an antivirus problem – but they soon figured out it was Intel RAID!
Microsoft Windows Vista Community: an online interaction with a real MS support person – pointing to bad drivers (on P5B Deluxe).
Discussion on Lockergnome: possible workaround.
Intel support form: fill in your details here and report the problem to Intel (again).
Intel download page for latest drivers (select your OS from the list)
If you find anything useful (links or resources) that I should add here, please leave a comment.