Home > Hardware and Software > Upgrading at work… will the Vista be beautiful?

Upgrading at work… will the Vista be beautiful?

September 15, 2006

I’ve noticed over the past month that months of testing, installing and uninstalling, and other random tasks that I’ve pummeled my machine with have caught it in a quagmire of registry and dangling file issues.  So, what better to do with a bit of slower time than clean it off?  What’s even better?  Why not try out the new Vista RC1.   Beta 2 was a bit quirky for me–hardware issues–but many seem to be having a good run with RC1.

Well, in following of Scott Hanselman’s diary of his Vista upgrade, I figured I’d do something similar as I upgrade my work machine to Vista RC1 x64.  I took a different approach, since I’m a somewhat mobile user via VPNs and my laptop, as everything is stored on various network locations–my desktop only houses the tools.  So, I opted for a fresh install over an upgrade.

Why would I care about Vista?

We’re preparing for rollout almost as soon as it becomes ready for the enterprise.  Again, why?  Not my call.  Plus, I’d rather hose up this machine before I hose up my home computer.  Hah.

14 Sept 2006 

8:15 AM – the 4GB DVD download began.  O_o;

3:30 PM– Still going, 50% or so… 148Kps ftw.  Note, we’re on one of the largest network pipes in the state.  I’m assuming the MSDN download site is a bit hectic. 

15 Sept 2006 

10:30 AM – Out of meetings and the DVD is burned.  Copying last changes to network drives so I can keep truckin’ via my laptop.

10:40 AM – The DVD boot up, a change from Beta 2 that loathed my Dell Precision 670’s SATA raid controller when it attempted to detect my hard drives.

10:45 AM– Extracting, copying, and first reboot complete. w00t.  We’ll see if it boots up or BSODs like Beta 2 would.  I have my XP Pro DVD in hand.

10:59 AM– Hmm, wow.  Just logged in for the first time after it “determined my system’s benchmarks” and I’m now waiting for it to “Prepare my desktop.”  Now that I’m into the graphical environment… Scott is right.. the default video drivers are HORRID for acceleration.  That’ll have to be fixed.  Oh, and I notice my second monitor isn’t working.  Mouse, keyboard, and such seem to be there though.  More to come.

11:40 AM– Well, still working on video performance.  It’s HORRIBLE, even with the 96.33 forceware drivers.  I totally disabled Aero and it still dragged along–sorta like Acceleration isn’t turned on somewhere.  Oh, and the fact that it blanks the screens for a couple seconds EACH time it feels it needs to authorize a program is sorta annoying.

The system is a Dell Precision Workstation 670, dual Xeon 3.70Ghz with 4GB ram, Quadro FX 4400, RAIDed SATAs in 0, CreativeLabs sound card, and DVD writer and reader.  Vista picked up EVERYTHING except, oddly enough, my sound card–even the media slots attached to my montor (24″ dell widescreen) and the USB 60GB drive I had attached to the monitor.

My computer rating so far, a 2.0.  Out of what?  That’s, of course, dragged down by the video performance rating that I’m working to fix.  Oh, and I’d take a screenshot of this beauty 2.0 given it wouldn’t crash when I tried… Oh, and how slow am I talking?  I’m talking I can type a LOT faster than the characters appear on the screen.. using hunt-and-peck with my eyes closed.

My PC’s rankings:

  • Processor: 5.2
  • RAM: 4.5
  • Graphics: 2.0 (nVidia Quadra FX 4400 PCIe — not a GeForce 7950 Quad SLI, but it kicks nicely)
  • Gaming graphics: 3.3 (512MB PCIe video cards are 3.3?!)
  • Primary hard disk: 5.9

12:25 PM– Quirks.  Wierd video quirks.  My video card is on the list of approved video cards; however, every small thing seems to cause another odd thing.  Taking a print screen locked up the system.  Running in Aero Glass mode, oddly enough, SPEEDS UP the system.  How?  No idea.  My assumption is that it’s offloading the rendering to the 3D portion of the video card… which leads me to believe the acceleration issue isn’t specifically the card, but the 2D rendering.  Oh, and Safe Mode?  Video performance is AMAZING because it’s using the standard VGA adapter driver.  *sigh* Woot for 1024x768x16-bit. 

1:20 PM– Well, it appears that the video driver is disabling hardware acceleration.  I found a registry hack for it, but it doesn’t appear to work.  That sorta explains what I was thinking earlier… but… not really.

Forceware 96.33 Disables Hardware Accelleration?

 So far, video is my only issue… though 2-3 seconds per minimize or maximize… or dragging that causes it to lock for 5-10 seconds is unacceptable.  I’m curious… is this because I’m running x64?  I doubt it because the drivers are specific to the x64 environment… and I can’t fathom that this type of performance is acceptable–even for testing.

2:00 PM – So, in comparison, I’m curious why the differences… and am actually leaning towards the x64 factor.  Scott’s machine, a Pentium 4 3.0 with 2GB ram, scored over DOUBLE my ranking.  But, his video card, an ATI, seems to have working drivers.  I can test both theories at home–I have a 3.73Ghz Extreme processor at home (so x86) and both an ATI X800 PE and an older Nvidia 5950 Ultra card that I can test.  I’m reinstalling x86 Windows XP Pro SP2 on the machine now.  I figure I’ll get another slower day and can try it again with the x86 version–ahh dreams of someday seeing all of my memory.

I don’t blame any, at this point, issues on Vista or it’s architecture. The fact that it runs super fast in safe mode, with the standard VGA adapter, points that it is probably something to do with the current Forceware from nVidia.  I’ll know more after my attempts this weekend at a rebuild on my home machine.

Odd quirks discovered:

  1. Locking the machine seems to … lock the machine.  When you Ctrl-Alt-Del back in, it sits and spins at ‘Welcome’.  But something is hitting the CPU VERY hard… after 2-3 minutes of waiting, all of my fans kicked into 100% (aka the jet engine took off).  Hard reboot required.
  2. Disabling the UAC, User account control, which is supposed to prevent the annoying prompt for permission on EVERYTHING, doesn’t seem to disable it.  Meh…
  3. I can’t vouch on the performance of much else due to the video issue… 😦
  4. Usability is pretty slick once you get used to it.  I found I could find most everything, but the learning curve will be VERY shallow for many users who have used Windows for a long time.

First glance opinions:

  1. The gadget side bar is a cool concept… but I’ll always have it off.  Not my dish… I love screen room.
  2. Aero Glass is slick… I hope whatever system I’m on (not this laptop though) can run it. 
  3. The 3D task flipper… uh, I’m not even sure I can get it to “work” right.  Very slick… but… why?!
  4. Network throughput.  Fast.  Period.  Wow, what changed… I need to techNet this one.

That’s about it for now.  I’ll post a full run from my home ones when I get a chance.

Categories: Hardware and Software
  1. John Kattenhorn
    November 25, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    Hi Dave,

    I’m really interested in finding out how you got the Dell Precision 670 working using Vista.

    I’m trying to install 64Bit RTM version and the install cannot find any drives in my machine. The machine has the Dell CERC 1.5/6Ch SATA RAID controller in it. I’ve tried using the Windows 2003 64Bit drivers and this does seem to allow the Vista install to see the drives and the install completes however it’s now stuck in an endless booting, crashing , booting loop.

    Logging into Safe mode indicates that crcdisk.yss is the last thing that loads before the the machine reboot’s itself.

    Any pointers or ideas would be really useful.



  2. November 27, 2006 at 6:48 am

    Good morning, John!

    You’re very correct–the RTM doesn’t seem to recognize the 2003 or XP 64-bit controller drivers. I had that EXACT same problem. I gave it a few tries, and then just reinstalled XP Pro SP2.

    Addressing that post, which focused on a Beta release, I knocked it back to x86 and didn’t have too much of a problem (the XP 32-bit drivers worked). As it describes, I had a few other untolerable issues in regards to video performance with the 670’s Quadra video card and ended up switching back to XP within about a week.

    Since then, I haven’t attempted to install Vista on the 670 until I see Dell put out a few driver builds specifically for Vista. I’ve also, frankly, been in the middle of a few projects and didn’t want to risk it. =)

    I just did a quick check of Adaptec’s website (who manufactures most of the CERC’s) and don’t see any mention of Vista yet on their site–which is strange since they’re usually a strategic partner.

    I expect, however, in the next few weeks, to see manufacturers begin releasing drivers–MSDN drops also mean that volume and enterprise customers now can access Vista and roll it out. If I see anything, I’ll be sure to post it!



  3. Lane
    December 1, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    You and John have the same hardware I just finished bricking with the RTM. I have tried to use the latest Adaptec drivers and got Vista to install, but upon reboot (once) or spontaneously (once) the boot sector will apparently disappear, leaving me without any OS at all (I first installed Vista as a dual-boot with WinXP). I don’t know why it would survive several reboots and then die this morning, or why it died once while in low-power mode (if it was; I wasn’t watching it at the time). Either the drivers need some major work (I suspect so), or Vista is the overhyped junk I always suspected it would be (well, I’m actually sure of that, but I’m not sure that’s the cause of this particular disorder).

  4. December 1, 2006 at 3:46 pm


    Now that’s a new one! Which drivers did you use on Adaptec’s site? I’ve tried all the SATA RAID controller drivers and no dice.

    On the flip side, I have RTM running on a Dell XPS Gen 4 with an Intel-based RAID controller and it works flawlessly–I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a real drag to not be able to upgrade the 670 though.

  5. Lane
    December 1, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    the version info says:

    Title : Serial ATA:Adaptec SATA HostRAID Controller Driver
    Version : A07
    OEM Name : Adaptec
    OEM Ver :
    Computers : Precision – 470, Precision – 670
    OS : Windows 2000, Windows XP
    Languages : Chinese-S, Chinese-T, English, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
    Created : Tue May 23 00:42:18 CDT 2006

    Don’t remember the path I used to get to it, sadly. I seem to remember getting to them from Dell, but that might be a ghost memory (I do softwrae QA, so I install a lot of OSes..it’s easy to get ethem confused).

  6. Ken
    March 20, 2007 at 2:31 am

    Did you ever find the driver for the CERC SATA 1.5/6ch card? I keep checking Dell’s site, but nothing there yet 😦

  7. March 20, 2007 at 5:55 pm


    Not yet, though I need to check the memory fix first to ensure that it isn’t that which was crashing out because of the 4GB of ram (see for more info: https://tiredblogger.wordpress.com/2007/02/26/dell-710-vista-memory-nvidia-and-more/). My hope is, our first week back to the office, to try it out. It could always recognize the drives using the drivers from Dell, but BSODed on reboot. After working with the XPS, I think that BSOD was from memory, not the SATA card. I’ll update the post when I know more.

  8. Ken
    March 21, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    The CERC 1.5/6ch drivers cause a BSOD on boot every time – if the stop code you got was 0x7B, it’s because of the CERC drivers.


    If you instead see stop code 0xA, it might be the memory issue you ran into…

  9. March 28, 2007 at 9:26 am


    Ahh, that MSFT site was VERY helpful. March 15th, huh? Pretty new too.

    I took their advice, but bypassed dealing with Dell.

    I downloaded a fresh copy of the driver from Dell (for x64 Windows XP). The filename is R111012.EXE.

    After extracting it, I removed the driver that the MSFT article references, afamgt.sys.

    Then I removed references to it in cercsr6.inf, the setup kicker for the driver. Anything that references afamgt.sys, adding AFAMgt as a service, etc.

    After that, I tossed it on a Jump Drive, tossed in the x64 Vista, and loaded it up. It didn’t balk, detected all of my drives. I’m currently at the desktop and installing Visual Studio 2005.


    Here’s a paste in of my cercsr6.inf file:

    ; DELL CERC SATA 1.5/6ch
    ; This INF installs the x64 miniport and its coinstaller.
    ; Copyright 2004 Adaptec, Inc. All rights reserved.
    ; This software contains the valuable trade secrets of Adaptec or its licensors.
    ; The software is protected under international copyright laws and treaties.
    ; This software may only be used in accordance with the terms of its accompanying license agreement.

    Signature = “$Windows NT$”
    Class = SCSIAdapter
    ClassGUID = {4d36e97b-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}
    Provider = %ADPT%
    CatalogFile = cercsr6.cat

    ExcludeFromSelect = *

    1 = %disk1%, raidisk1,

    cercsr6.sys = 1
    cerccin.dll = 1

    cercsr6.sys, cercsr6.sys, ncercsr6.sys, 0x00000000

    cerccin.dll, cerccin.dll, ncerccin.dll, 0x00000000

    cercCoInstFiles = 11
    DefaultDestDir = 12

    ; ===============================================================
    ; =================== Table of contents =========================
    ; ===============================================================
    %ADPT% = ADPT, NTamd64

    ; Windows XP 64-bit & above (64-bit) ;
    %cercsr6.DeviceDesc% = cerc_inst, PCI\VEN_9005&DEV_0285&SUBSYS_02911028

    ; Block Windows 2000 and all other 32-bit Windows versions ;
    ; empty

    ; ==============================================================
    ; =================== Install Sections =========================
    ; ==============================================================

    ; Install section for the Scsiport miniport ;
    CopyFiles = DeviceDriverFiles
    CopyINF = cercmgt.inf

    AddService = cercsr6, %SPSVCINST_ASSOCSERVICE%, cerc_Service_Inst

    CopyFiles = cercCoInstFiles
    AddReg = cerc_CoInstallers_AddReg

    ; ==============================================================
    ; ================== Service install sections ==================
    ; ==============================================================

    DisplayName = %cerc_ServiceName%
    StartType = %SERVICE_BOOT_START%
    ErrorControl = %SERVICE_ERROR_NORMAL%
    ServiceBinary = %12%\cercsr6.sys
    LoadOrderGroup = SCSI miniport
    AddReg = cerc_Parameters_Inst

    ; =======================================================
    ; ================== Registry sections ==================
    ; =======================================================

    ; Filter driver registry additions ;

    ; Coinstaller registry additions (same one for all drivers) ;
    HKR,,CoInstallers32, %FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_MULTI_SZ%, “cerccin.dll, XxxCoInstaller”

    ; Hardware-specific registry additions (under Parameters subkey) ;
    HKR, “Parameters\PnpInterface”, “5”, %FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_REG_DWORD%, 1
    HKR, “Parameters\Device”, “NumberOfRequests”, %FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_REG_DWORD%, 254
    HKR, “Parameters\Device”, “UncachedExtAlignment”, 0x00010001, 14

    ; ======================================================
    ; ================== Strings sections ==================
    ; ======================================================

    ADPT = “Adaptec”
    disk1 = “DELL CERC SATA 1.5/6ch Windows XP/2003 x64 Device Drivers”
    cercsr6.DeviceDesc = “DELL CERC SATA 1.5/6ch RAID Controller”
    cerc_ServiceName = “DELL CERC SATA 1.5/6ch RAID Miniport Driver”

    ;========== Handy macro substitutions (non-localizable) ==========
    COPYFLG_FORCE_FILE_IN_USE = 0x00000008
    FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_SZ = 0x00000000
    FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_EXPAND_SZ = 0x00020000
    FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_MULTI_SZ = 0x00010000
    FLG_ADDREG_TYPE_REG_DWORD = 0x00010001

  10. Patrick
    May 18, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I was having difficulty booting Vista PE for my deployment environment on machines with this CERC card. I took the poster above’s advice and commented out the offending sections of the INF on the normal Server 2003 x86 driver and it all works fine now. Many thanks!

  11. October 9, 2007 at 2:22 am

    I have a dell precision too, i would like to install the windows XP vista.
    I have the same troubleshoot as you, then i made what you said.
    But, problem, it doesn’t work. The xp vista installer tell me that the driver is not compatible. And, now, I do not still see my hard drives!
    I bought windows vista XP business.
    In my dell i have two 300 go scsi hard drives in raid 0, i don’t have any SATA disk.
    Somebody can help me?
    Thanks for reading.

  1. February 28, 2007 at 3:43 pm
  2. March 28, 2007 at 10:11 am
  3. January 22, 2008 at 8:58 pm
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