This is one of those “I spent far too long Googling and didn’t find anything useful, so I’ll post myself in the hope that it helps someone else” posts…
I’ve got an Asus A7V600-X motherboard in this here machine, and recently one of my SATA hard drives began misbehaving (it lost its partition info, although the data were all intact). Time for a new hard drive.
I bought a 250GB Western Digital drive, plugged it in, booted to a Linux live CD in order to copy the data from the old drive and… nothing. No sign of the new drive at all. I rebooted and found it wasn’t even appearing at the BIOS level.
My initial thoughts were that the drive was dead, but booting with the same Live CD and plugging the drive into an external SATA=>USB adaptor showed that the drive was available and could be formatted and used with no problems.
I started looking at BIOS updates, but none of the fixes in newer BIOS versions claimed to address any SATA or hard drive issues. I built this machine with no floppy drive, so updating the BIOS would be a pain to do – so I spent a bit more time searching in the hope that my problem didn’t lie with the BIOS at all.
I’m glad I did. It seems that the problem is actually that the Southbridge chip on the motherboard (VIA VT8237) can’t handle SATA II drive speeds (300 Mb/s) – and that they don’t auto-negotiate down to SATA I speeds (150 Mb/s) 🙁 The answer to the problem was therefore to add a jumper to the drive to force it down to the slower speed. Actually finding a spare drive jumper in the house was another matter entirely – but when I finally did, the drive appeared in the BIOS and everything went according to plan. In fact I’m writing this post from within the Linux Live CD environment as my data is being copied in the background 🙂
This problem probably affects other motherboards with the VIA VT8237 chipset. There’s more information (including jumper settings for common hard drives) in the FAQs on the Asus support site, but unfortunately it’s not possible to link directly to the specific FAQ, so you’ll need to search for it yourself.