Does anyone know id it is possible to boot from a drive (HDD or SSD) attached to a D945GNT system board using a PCIe SATA card?
For this to be possible, you need to purchase a PCIe SATA add-in card that includes an Op-ROM (Option ROM, typically a small flash device) that provides a BIOS-level driver that the BIOS can use to operate the SATA controller on the card (i.e. to see what HDD/SSD/SSHD drive(s) are attached to it and read from these drives). With a desktop board this old (9 generations and 10 years out of date), there is the distinct possibility of compatibility issues with thoroughly modern PCIe add-in cards, so I would look for try-before-buy opportunities...
Hope this helps,
Many thank for your posting. That was very helpful.
I agree that the D945GNT system board is getting pretty old - and I should upgrade it sometime - I'm just trying to delay the upheaval, given that changing the board would involve changing the memory and processor as well!
Just to enlarge upon my last response:
I've got a system with a D945GNT system board with all four SATA ports occupied by four 1TB hard drives configured as two RAID 1 pairs. One pair is used for Windows 7 Pro 64 bit, applications and data and the other for backups.
I'm planning to add a 480 GB SSD to try to improve performance and am assessing the configuration options - with a high priority being data security.
One possibility is to add the SSD using a PCIe card and then use it for such things as the Windows page file and other odds and ends; or, alternatively, to install Windows on it and boot from there, on the grounds that, even though it wouldn't be part of a RAID, having only the Operating system on it wouldn't create a great risk of data loss..
I am also thinking about the HIghPoint Rocket Cache PCIe cards as a possible alternative - using a pair of the current HDDs with the SSD to create a hybrid cached virtual drive.
Eventually, of course, I should replace the system board and get all-round improvement that way - but, as I mentioned, I'm trying to delay that day!
I'd be interested in any comments.
Ok, let me be brutally honest and put things in perspective. Your box is 9 generations and 10 years out of date! The cheapest current generation Celeron and Pentium processors - which I hate working on because they are so slow (ok, I am a little spoiled) - will still have significantly more compute power than your ancient PC! In addition, your system is 10 years old and parts are going to start failing (if they haven't already). Don't band-aid this puppy, it's time to replace it.
My recommendation would be to look at one of the NUCs. You can choose from models with Core, Pentium or Celeron processors, depending upon the compute power you want. I recommend a model with a Core i3. The latest NUC models have an M.2 socket for an internal SSD and a bay that you can add a 2.5" HDD into. There are 2TB 2.5" HDDs available. There are also 1TB (and soon 2TB) SSHDs available (HDDs with SSD caching for performance). If you have a system with a Core processor, you can use Intel Smart Response Technology (an offshoot of Intel's Rapid Storage (RAID) Technology) and dedicate a portion of your SSD to be used as a high-speed cache for your HDD. I wrote an article on this (see here: ).
To build a system, you need the NUC itself plus one (or better two) DIMMs of RAM plus the SSD and HDD. These NUCs have USB 3.0 support; you can also purchase an external USB 3.0 HDD to use as your backup medium (I bought a 5TB unit on sale for US$130 a few months ago).
Yes, this will be costly if all at once. Here's a quick breakdown I did for someone else:
NUC Unit: US$289 - http://www.amazon.com/Intel-NUC-NUC6i3SYH-BOXNUC6I3SYH%C2%A0Silver-Black/dp/B018NSAPIM Amazon.com: Intel NUC NUC6i3SYH
RAM: 8GB - US$40 - http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Single-PC4-17000-SODIMM-260-Pin/dp/B015HQ9TGW Amazon.com: Crucial 8GB Single DDR4 2133 MT/s (PC4-17000) SODIMM 260-Pin Memory
SSD: 240GB - US$85 - http://www.amazon.com/ADATA-USA-Premier-0-85-Inch-ASP900NS38-128GM-C/dp/B00LBDGREI Amazon.com: ADATA Premier Pro 256GB M.2 2280 SSD
HDD: 2TB - US$92 - http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Spinpoint-2-5-Inch-Internal-ST2000LM003/dp/B00MPWYLHO Amazon.com: Samsung Spinpoint 2TB HDD
Backup HDD: 2TB - US$95 - http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Portable-Hard-Drive-WDBU6Y0020BBK-NESN/dp/B00DULWSXI Amazon.com: WD Elements 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive
The total is US$600 (build it yourself). This is a kick-a$$ system. You can find turnkey versions (with RAM, SSD, etc. already installed) and you can save going with a Celeron/Pentium processor, smaller SSD, etc.
Hope this helps,
Many thanks for your posting.
I appreciate your interest in the matter.
You are right about the D945GNT system board - I put this system together in November 2005, just over ten years ago; and you are also right abut likely failures - the original board failed in January 2014.
At that time, I looked into the possibility of upgrading the whole machine but what finally put me off was the realisation that current system boards only appeared to have one PS/2 port - and I wanted to hang on to my original IBM M Series keyboard and PS/2 mouse, which meant I needed two PS/2 ports.
So I took the easy route and sourced a replacement D945GNT board which has been working fine ever since - except, of course, for the fact that the system as a while is now pretty sluggish by current standards.
I read your comments on the NUC with interest, but I'm not sure it would suit my purposes.
For a start, there seems to be fairly limited drive support - which means I would lose the security of RAID 1 on all the drives. Also, the very neat-looking box they come in seems very attractive compared to a bulky tower - except for the fact that I would need an external box, or boxes, for additional hard drives and, also, for an optical drive, which probably would leave the desktop even more cluttered that it is now.
My guess is that I should probably stay with a desktop or tower configuration to get all I need when I eventually get around to putting together a new system.
Has Intel stopped making ATX system boards?
In the meantime, I'm still interested in configuration options for that SSD!
You can use your PS/2 keyboard and mouse with modern systems. There are adapters (less than $20) that will, well, adapt (pun intended) these devices to operate over USB.
Yes, the NUCs aren't the right solution for everyone. It is certainly true that external drive chassis and external ODDs - if you actually need them - can take up enough space that it make a single tower chassis look more convenient. Regardless of what you pick, the important thing is to get away from unreliable hardware (because of its age), not to mention the compatibility issues that will exist.
There is nothing that you need to configure, per se. If you have a PCIe SATA card that has an OpROM (and thus supports booting from it) and this OpROM is supported by the board's BIOS (had to include this caveat considering the age of your BIOS), you should be able to hook up a SSD and boot from it. I looked on Amazon for a card that might work. Unfortunately, in most cases, their descriptions do not indicate whether boot support is actually included. Here are links for those I found that did:
Again, the caveat, I have no idea whether your board will actually support one of these cards. The only way to know may be to get one and give it a try...
Intel exited the motherboard business three years ago. The last boards it produced utilized the 8 Series chipset and supported 4th generation Intel Core processors. The group that produced these desktop motherboards back then transitioned over to the production of the NUC and Compute Stick products. I was a member of this organization from its inception until my retirement last year.
Intel stopped manufacturing desktop motherboards since 2013; however, there are plenty third party motherboards with Intel® chipset in the market.
From http://ark.intel.com/ http://ark.intel.com/ you will find available all our products including the processors. I suggest you a 5th or 6th generation, they are fully prepare for Windows® 10.
The website provides with the specs of each processor and tested motherboards with it. Review the example.
Many thanks for your posting.
I have wondered about the PS/2 adaptors - do they need any kind of software driver? I was a bit concerned that they might not work when booting into the BIOS or DOS.
I think I'll probably give the Sedna card a go, as it seems to be the most convenient without any need for cables.
There is a powered version available which doesn't seem to even need a SATA power connector.
As for compatibility, I'll probably just have to try it and see.
I hope the retirement goes well!
The PS/2 adapters require no additional driver support; the standard Windows keyboard drivers support them just fine. As well, provided that Legacy support is enabled in the BIOS (which supports the detection and use of USB-based keyboards), they work just fine in BIOS Setup as well.
Just a quick comment on expectations. PS/2 was quickly working its way towards oblivion without much of a whimper, but then a resurgence occurred as a result of the gaming community. Because of the additional layers of software necessary for USB, response to keystrokes can be (for lack of a better description) "mushier" than PS/2 (their description, not mine). For hard core gamers (that's not me, old f@rt, remember), this is seen as a problem because it can slow reaction times. As a result, PS/2 ports are being consistently supported in the gaming class of motherboards. Now, does this apply to you? My impression was that you wanted the comfort and feel of your older IBM keyboard. This being the case, for typing in general, you shouldn't notice any difference (touch wood).
I opened by USB bin and looked at what I could see. I found no less than 5 of these PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse to USB adapters! They're from 3 different manufacturers, Airlink, HP and Belkin. Why so many? It was cheaper to use these and my old KVM than it was to purchase a newer USB-based KVM. I didn't have to make the switch until I really needed DVI support (over VGA). It's too bad it would cost more to ship one of these to you than it would to purchase one (I am on U.S. west coast)...
Many thanks for your posting.
The last time I checked, I noted that quite a few system boards seemed to still have al least one PS/2 port, even if they didn't have two.
So, at least I should e able to use the keyboard without an adaptor. My original PS/2 mouse has started giving problems, so I'm using a later (still PS/2) mouse and could probably persuade myself to change it for a USB mouse, if I had to.
The keyboard is the important thing though - modern keyboards are pretty horrible, flimsy things.
I'll probably investigate further when I find time to seriously consider building a new system again.
Yea, you certainly can wait if you have the performance that you need. At some point, so you'll know, I would suggest that you get one of the PS/2 to USB dongles/adapters and try your keyboard (and mouse) with it to see whether the difference in responsiveness is noticeable to you. I have heard some folks say that their typing is affected by the difference in responsiveness. I can't feel any difference, but I am not a trained typist; I learned by doing it a lot (over my 35+ year career as a Software Engineer). That way, you will know whether you need to look for a board with a PS/2 port or not (these days, the boards that include them are often the higher-end, higher-cost Gaming boards)...
P.S. You must *hate* using the laptops of today with their chicklet keyboards...
Many thanks for your posting.
That sounds like a good idea - getting a PS/2 to USB adapter and trying it out with my present system, just to see how it works.
I've never tried a laptop - but their keyboards certainly look as if they'd be pretty horrible to use!
I've ordered one of those Sedna SSD adapter cards, but it's coming from Hong Kong, so could take a couple of weeks before it arrives. I'll be able to check it out then.
I have now tested a Sedna PCIe SATA III SSD Adaptor with a PNY CL4100 480 GB SSD drive into an Intel D945GNT system board running Windows 7 Pro 64 bit and there are three main points to make about it:
1. Physically, this adaptor is excellent. The SSD fits very securely onto the PCIe card and uses the cards inbuilt SATA power and data connectors - this is a huge improvement over having to fit the SSD into a standard drive bay and then run cables between whatever PCIe SATA card is used and the SSD and also run a power cable from the PSU.
If you want to just add a single SSD to a system,. this is by far the neatest solution.
2. As far as booting from the SSD when it's in this adaptor card is concerned, it works very well. I formatted the SSD, installed Windows 7 Pro 64 bit on it and the system booted up from it very well. So, again, is you're happy with a single, non-RAID SSD, this is an excellent solution.
3. The big problem that arose though was that, having installed this card, I couldn't boot from anything else. It simply would not let me boot up into my original configuration (4 physical HDDs attached to the D945GNT system board and configured as two RAID 1 pairs).
I tried going into the BIOS and changing the boot order of the drives, so that my original configuration should have booted before the SSD - but, whatever I tried, the SSD in its adaptor card always took precedence when it came to actual booting. The only way I could find to enable me to boot again from my original configuration was to take this card out of the system altogether - which is what I've done.
And, incidentally, it's impossible to install the drivers for this card into my original Windows configuration because I can't boot into that configuration with the card installed and I the drivers won't install without the card installed!
All of this means that you can't use this adaptor card just to add a single SSD for use as a non-boot drive - it has to be the boot drive, at least on my system.
I've tried emailing the manufacturers technical support for advice but, a week on, I haven't been able to get any response from them.
I'd be interested in any comments, in case I've overlooked anything.
Most adapters like this (i.e. that have an Option ROM (OpROM) that provides a BIOS driver to support booting) have a special key sequence (for example, CTRL-I, which is what Intel's RAID OpROM uses) that can be used to enter a dialog that allows you to configure how this boot feature will work (if at all). Usually, if the OpROM produces an on-screen banner, this key sequence is identified in the banner. Check for this capability. Note that you may have to reconfigure the BIOS to allow this banner to be displayed (I can't remember if the feature allowing OpROM output to be disabled existed as far back as this board's BIOS, however). They may also say something about it in the (likely scant) documentation that came with the adapter...
Hope this helps,
I can't find any way of configuring this PCIe SSD adaptor card.
The on-screen banner at start-up gives no key sequence and there's no documentation, either printed or on the driver disc, that comes with the card.
I've tried a few key combinations, such as Ctrl-I (which, as you say, invokes the Intel RAID configuration) and Ctrl-S and F2 (which invokes the system board BIOS) but I can't find anything that has any effect.
This, coupled with the fact that I have still been unable to get any response from the manufacturers, leads me to think that this card is non-configurable and that it will only function as the boot drive, overriding any other drives in precedence - unless, of course, it's just a matter of the combination of this SSD adaptor card with my Intel D945GNT system board.
I have now removed the Sedna SSD adaptor and installed a StarTech PEXSAT32 2 port PCIe SATA adaptor - this seems to work well, without any problems, allowing the attached SSD to be used as an additional drive.
Therefore, I think there is a problem with the Sedna Adaptor inasmuch as it will only function when attached drives are used as a boot drive.
Yea, I was not able to find any configuration capability either. Too bad. But, I will stick with it as I definitely want the SSD to be my boot drive.