Saturday, February 3, 2007

The most troublesome JMicron Controller

I have 2 almost identical computers based on the ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP motherboard with the most troublesome JMicron Controller onboard. One does not have to search the Internet far to read about the many problems facing users of the JMicron Controller.

I managed to avoid this problem on Nighthawk by moving my SATA optical drive (Plextor PX-755SA) from the JMicron Controller to the onboard Intel ICH8R Controller.

Unfortunately, this option is not available to me on Blackbird since I already have 6 SATA-2 disk drives connected to the Intel ICH8R Controller. I had no choice but to connect my SATA optical drive (Samsung SH-S183L) to the JMicron Controller. The JMicron Controller Mode is configured as "AHCI" in BIOS on both Blackbird and Nighthawk.

The problem?

Since installing Vista Ultimate x64 (RTM Build 6000) on Blackbird last November 17, 2006, my Samsung SH-S183L DVD-RW optical drive has not been recognized as a writeable device by Vista. It can be used to read CDs and DVDs, but it cannot be used to burn CDs or DVDs.

Installing the JMicron Driver Version dated 10/5/2006 did not fix the problem.

I was excited when ASUS officially released not just 1, but 2 JMicron drivers yesterday!

The new problem: which new driver to use? I am getting really frustrated with companies that do not make any attempt to improve communications with their customers. I think I'm computer-savvy and if I'm experiencing difficulties trying to decide which driver to use, just imagine the challenge faced by the user with little or no computer experience. It really does not take that much effort for ASUS to provide more information to assist their customers.

I downloaded both versions and installed the JMicron Driver Version dated 12/5/2006. The driver installed without any problem and required a restart.

No luck. My Samsung SH-S183L DVD-RW still is not recognized by Vista as a writeable optical drive.

I then installed the JMicron Driver Version, forgetting to uninstall Version first. The installation failed.

It is curious that the device driver installation failed, but I was also informed that a second JMicron JMB36X Controller is "Ready to Use."

In fact, Device Manager clearly shows 2 JMicron JMB36X Controllers under Storage controllers, one working properly and the other one with a problem.

Another error message was displayed indicating "Windows encountered a problem installing the driver software for your device. Windows found driver software for your device but encountered an error while attempting to install it. JMicron JMB36X Controller. This device cannot start. (Code 10)"

Yet another message was displayed stating "Your devices are ready to use. The software for this device has been successfully installed. ATA Channel 0 Ready to use. ATA Channel 1 Ready to use."

What the heck?!

My Samsung SH-S183L DVD-RW was still not recognized by Vista as a writeable optical drive. I decided to check the Device Manager on Nighthawk for comparison.

This exercise provided me with a hint to a possible explanation of the problems related to the JMicron Controller.

The JMicron Controller has a split (or dual) personality. On the one hand, it is a legacy IDE Controller and it appears to handle this role with few or no problems. On the other hand, it is also an AHCI/RAID Controller. I believe this dual personality is the source of the many problems users are experiencing with the JMicron Controller.

I deleted the "2" JMicron JMB36X Controllers from Device Manager and started over. Vista automatically detected it and installed the Microsoft Driver Version 6.0.6000.16386 dated 6/21/2006 for the ATA and IDE Channels. Vista also installed the JMicron Driver Version dated 10/5/2006 for the JMicron JMB36X Controller which appears under Storage controllers in Device Manager.

This did not solve my problem (I did not expect it to since this was the "original" state of Blackbird).

Next step was to replace the driver for the "JMB36X Standard Dual Channel PCIE IDE Controller" with the JMicron Device Driver dated 9/16/2006 which I downloaded last night as part of the JMicron Device Version I also did not expect this to solve my problem since I am using a SATA optical drive. In fact, it did not fix my problem.

The Solution

I updated the JMicron JMB36X Controller under Storage controllers in Device Manager to use the Standard AHCI 1.0 Serial ATA Controller driver. This removed the JMicron JMB36X Controller from Storage controllers and added the Standard AHCI 1.0 Serial ATA Controller under IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers in Device Manager.

Since I am not using IDE devices, I disabled the JMB36X Standard Dual Channel PCIE IDE Controller.

Next step was to uninstall the "TSSTcorp CD/DVDW SH-S183L SCSI CdRom Device" under DVD/CD-ROM drives in Device Manager.

The final step was to "Scan for hardware changes" in Device Manager which detected and added the "TSSTcorp CD/DVDW SH-183L ATA Device" under DVD/CD-ROM drives in Device Manager.

Problem solved! I can now burn CDs and DVDs with my Samsung SH-S183L DVD-RW optical drive in Vista Ultimate x64 (RTM Build 6000).

In summary, use the default Vista drivers instead of the JMicron drivers if you are experiencing problems with devices attached to the JMicron Controller.

No comments: