Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A real scare

Yesterday, Microsoft's much anticipated DreamScene Windows Ultimate Extra was released as a "Preview Beta." Of course, I downloaded it immediately and installed it on Nighthawk. The preview comes with a single "Dream" or video to use as your desktop background. In this video, the rays move from side to side.

No, that wasn't the scare.

Yesterday, NVIDIA also released an updated Beta G80 (8800GTX and 8800GTS graphics cards) driver for Windows Vista x86 and x64. I downloaded Version 100.64 (dated 02/13/2007) last night, but decided to wait before installing it.

Tonight, I made the almost fatal decision to install it on Nighthawk. After uninstalling ForceWare Version 100.59, I installed Version 100.64. The installation completed without a problem.

I experienced problems with the NVIDIA Control panel, so I decided to uninstall and re-install nTune Version The problems I previously documented have not been fixed with ForceWare Version 100.64. In fact, none of the major problems with Version 100.59 have been fixed. I believe that the only reason why NVIDIA release yet another Beta driver is to provide support for their new 8800GTS graphics card with half the memory (320 MB) of the original 8800GTS.

I left Nighthawk on idle while I worked on Blackbird. A few minutes later, I noticed disk activity and high CPU usage on Nighthawk so I switched over to investigate.

I was greeted with a warning message which I've seen and reported before: ".A drive in a RAID 0 volume is failing. Try to back up data immediately"

I have suspected the NVIDIA driver and/or nTune as the cause of this "false" problem, and I am even more convinced now that one or the other is the culprit.

As before, I started the Intel Matrix Storage Console to mark the drive as normal. However, this time, the console would not start successfully. I tried several more times with the same result.

I decided to shutdown Nighthawk and during the shutdown process, Nighthawk died with a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death).

During the warm restart, BIOS failed to detect the second disk drive and the Intel ICH8R BIOS flagged both RAID volumes as "Failed" and BIOS could not detect any bootable device!

I inserted the Windows Vista x64 DVD and booted it to attempt to repair the Vista installation on the RAID volume. Of course, it failed because it could not find the Vista partition.

Panic started to set in by now, but I was still not overly worried. After all, Nighthawk is a test system and at worse, I would just have to reinstall the operating system(s).

I decided to power off Nighthawk to think about the situation and what I was going to do about it.

I decided to start Nighthawk one more time to see what state it was really in. I was surprised to see BIOS detect both drives and I immediately pressed the delete key to enter BIOS setup. I verified that all BIOS settings were correct and restarted.

Vista detected that it was not shutdown normally previously and presented me with different startup options including safe mode. I elected to start normally and Vista started up with a problem.

I am posting this on Nighthawk.

The lesson learned from this scary episode is not to act hastily when confronted with a problem. I was on the verge of deleting and redefining the RAID volumes on Nighthawk. This would have certainly resulted in destroying all the data on the RAID volumes.

I still believe that this problem is caused by the NVIDIA ForceWare driver and/or nTune since this problem has not surfaced on Nighthawk when I boot Windows XP MCE 2005.

No comments: