AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

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AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:45 am

Hi. I just did a reformat of my system, which has the following specs:

AMD Phenom II X4 925, MSI 785GM-E65 (785G + SB710), 4 x 2GB Apacer DDR3-1333, Sapphire ATI HD5670 1GB, TP-Link TL-WN781N Wifi adapter, WD Green Power 1TB SATA, a couple of LG optical drives, ACBel 610W Power Supply, Windows 7 x64 SP1.

Prior to reformatting, I was using Microsoft's built-in AHCI drivers. I was thinking it's been a while since AMD's AHCI driver issues were publicized and maybe it's about time they finally have good AHCI drivers for my SB710. To measure performance I used PassMark's PerformanceTest 7 64-bit. I once recorded my scores using MS's AHCI drivers, and now compare them with the results with AMD's AHCI drivers (I used the latest driver posted on game.amd.com).

PassMark PerformanceTest - Diskmark

Microsoft AHCI Driver - 536
AMD AHCI Driver - Range from 419 to 519

I wonder why the variance between the test runs are significant. Still, I remember having scores as low as 300+ with AMD's previous AHCI drivers, so I guess this is a huge improvement. However, I notice that games now take noticeably longer to start with AMD's drivers.

Any similar experience with AMD's current AHCI drivers? Thanks.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:54 am

I have an SB710 mobo and am using the Windows 7 driver. My transfer rates peak at about 85 MB/s, which is pretty unspectacular. My previous SB600 based mobo had a peak transfer rate of about 60 MB/s if I remember correctly, so at least it is going in the right direction.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 9:08 am

I had done some benchmarks of my own -- though nothing in depth -- on a similar setup. Here are the results if you're interested: viewtopic.php?f=36&t=69025#p978670

If there's one thing to be said about AMD's AHCI driver performance it's this: It's unpredictable.

Or, to paraphrase Zapp Brannigan from Futurama, "The hardware is willing, but the drivers are weak". :D
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:21 pm

The drivers seem to be better, but without the newer southbridge the difference is negligible at best. I would stick with Microsoft's stock.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 3:53 pm

Flying Fox wrote:The drivers seem to be better, but without the newer southbridge the difference is negligible at best. I would stick with Microsoft's stock.

I'm patiently waiting for the new chipset, and its disk controller performance will determine whether or not AMD will remain in my computer. I've absolutely had it with SATA performance on the AMD platform. :D
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:31 pm

flip-mode wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:The drivers seem to be better, but without the newer southbridge the difference is negligible at best. I would stick with Microsoft's stock.

I'm patiently waiting for the new chipset, and its disk controller performance will determine whether or not AMD will remain in my computer. I've absolutely had it with SATA performance on the AMD platform. :D

I'm using my SB750 platform fine with the PhII X4 965. The only issue I see is in benchmarks, of course as long as I stick with the stock drivers.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 7:31 pm

Flying Fox wrote:I'm using my SB750 platform fine with the PhII X4 965. The only issue I see is in benchmarks, of course as long as I stick with the stock drivers.
That's typically true. If I did lots of large transfers then it would be more serious, but it common usage it's no big deal. And yet, after 5 years of having it's own chipset division...
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:05 pm

I'm pretty consistently getting 110 MB/sec with Linux's software RAID-1, on motherboards with the AMD 710/750 southbridge. I can live with that...
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:14 pm

flip-mode wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:The drivers seem to be better, but without the newer southbridge the difference is negligible at best. I would stick with Microsoft's stock.

I'm patiently waiting for the new chipset, and its disk controller performance will determine whether or not AMD will remain in my computer. I've absolutely had it with SATA performance on the AMD platform. :D


Really? What sata issues to you have? I have a SB 750 (giga 790GP-UD4H) I left the bios in ide mode and my WD blacks will transfer disk to disk at 80 to 95MB/s depending on the files, which is the about the limit of the disks and I am usually in the top 8 first people into a 35 man css pub.

But I have never tried sata mode.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:24 am

axeman wrote:Who knows, maybe hot-swapping is worth more than NCQ after all, at least on desktops.

Well, it is certainly worth it if you want to use an external eSATA drive for backup. Especially if you don't have USB3 ports (or a USB3 external drive).
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:26 am

I've had it. After trying the AMD AHCI (v11.3) drivers, I'm going back to Windows 7's stock AHCI drivers. Games take way too long to start up. I don't know why this is happening. I always do the usual things when I reformat my PC, like disable file indexing, disable System Restore (aka System Protection in Win7), and install the same drivers (everything except the AMD AHCI drivers of which is the topic of this thread).

Games take like, 20 seconds to start up when they only require a few seconds before. I don't know if AMD's drivers have a direct relevance to this, but this is the only change I did when I did the reformat. I've installed WIndows 7 many times and this is the only time this has happened. Tried to uninstall AMD drivers via Device Manager, and Windows 7 had to restart several times before they were properly removed (or were they?). After that, the games still took too long to start and scores in PassMark were pretty much the same, so I don't now if they really were removed completely. Maybe something was changed or left behind. I'm gonna try a reformat again and this time, not install the AMD AHCI drivers. I'll post again after the reformat. Good thing it's Holy Week and i'm not busy.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:54 am

Note that disk caching can have a huge effect on application load times. If you're trying to get clean data on game load times, you need to reboot (or at least do something to force the disk cache to get flushed) before each test.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:49 am

Ok I did a complete reformat again, and this time I didn't install the AMD AHCI drivers. Now I'm really baffled.

Games still took too long to start. I don't know why this is happening. I scanned for viruses, rootkits, defragmented the drives, checked my WD hard disk using WD's SMART tool (although it completed too long. Before, it only takes 1:57 now it takes more than 6 minutes!), disabled file indexing, disabled System Restore, loaded the same drivers, updated to SP1. I have no idea why games and hard disk performance is so slow. I notice, however, that Task Manager reports 33% RAM usage, while before it's just around 17%. Could a process be slowing things down? Thing is, I didn't install anything new...

Please help. Thanks.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:01 am

I would expect a new, clean install of Win7 64 with a reasonably decent disk with drivers to boot within a minute. Try a full disk check (I do chkdsk /f /v /r at the admin console, and I realise that the necessity of some of those switches is debatable, but I think /v actually produces greater output in the log), perhaps. Also, if you have a spare disk to try, that's worth a shot.

Anything interesting in the event log?
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:57 am

Thanks for the replies, folks. I really appreciate it.

Axeman: AHCI has always been turned on in the BIOS prior to the reformat. Prior to the reformat I was using the AHCI drivers built inside Win7. It never gave me any trouble similar to what I'm having right now.

Anyway, I did ANOTHER fresh reinstall of everything. I installed AMD's Southbridge driver first then the Catalyst Drivers. To test which step of the reinstall process is botching things up, I installed Thief Deadly Shadows right after all the drivers were installed, and ran it every time I did something that may change the system. And guess what? I realized that when I tried to connect to our home network that's when the slowdowns started to occur. When I disconnect from the network the game runs fast again. How fast? When I'm disconnected, it takes 2 seconds from double-click to game intro. When connected, it takes as long as 40+ seconds! Who wouldn't notice that crazy delay?

I also noticed that when I try to connect to our network for the first time after an OS reinstall, it asks me for the group password to one of our computers. That never seemed to have happened before. Does anyone here think there's a virus on the loose on our home network? AVG doesn't catch and report anything though.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:59 am

Try pulling up your network adapter properties, and watch the number of packets being received and sent. Is there a lot of network activity even when the system is idle?

Yeah, it could be some sort of malware on the network; or a network configuration issue of some sort; or it could even be that the game itself is doing something strange when it sees the network connection.

Does the problem affect all games, or just certain ones?
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:02 pm

axeman wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
axeman wrote:Who knows, maybe hot-swapping is worth more than NCQ after all, at least on desktops.

Well, it is certainly worth it if you want to use an external eSATA drive for backup. Especially if you don't have USB3 ports (or a USB3 external drive).


Exactly my point. If you aren't going to need the hot-swapping, perhaps fighting with AHCI (at least on AMD southbridges) isn't worth your time; just turn it off and see if performance is acceptable.

I did not need to fight. I just let Windows 7 install its stock AHCI and that's it.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:00 pm

On this new motherboard (SB850), I actually tried to install AMD's drivers, but they seemingly refused to install anyway. Device Manager still says it's using Microsoft's driver.

I can't complain though. I have two "aging" SATA hard drives for example, and backing up a large folder of thousands of files totalling 9 gigs or so - from one to the other - took less than two minutes. Much faster than my previous AMD boards. At one point when copying a single massive file, transfer speed averaged around 95 MiB/s, and while I'm sure SSD people will scoff at that, I'm perfectly happy. We're talking about an inexpensive 250 GB WD and 500 GB Samsung from years back.

My only problem was that I did have to bing the necessary registry hack first, because I've used IDE mode with my previous motherboard for a looong time, so simply enabling AHCI caused a series of bluescreens. But fixing it required editing a single registry key and two quick reboots, which I consider painless overall, and then I was good to go.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:25 pm

Meadows wrote:At one point when copying a single massive file, transfer speed averaged around 95 MiB/s, and while I'm sure SSD people will scoff at that, I'm perfectly happy.


I have an SSD and don't scoff at that. Until prices are close to HDD prices and faster transfer protocols from external media are the norm, there is always going to be something that is slower than my system SSD. Totally okay with that and getting those kind of speeds from mechanical HDs is just fine with me.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sun Apr 24, 2011 2:51 am

ronch, I'm eager to know what the conclusion to this situation is :D

Once I saw a machine acting really strangely because of a defective on-board NIC (I'm not suggesting that this is the case here), IIRC it was acting like it was low on RAM (lots of disk I/O), but wasn't, but rather than programs eventually starting up, they simply wouldn't. Eventually explorer would just grind to a halt.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sun Apr 24, 2011 4:50 am

Ok, I did another reformat (I think this is the 4th or 5th...). I think there's another driver that MIGHT be the culprit. I remember downloading and trying AMD's Southbridge driver 11.3. Now I went back to game.amd.com and downloaded an older driver (because I seemed to have deleted my old Southbridge driver version in light of having downloaded 11.3). I went and downloaded Southbridge driver v10.5.

So I did the reformat, and now my system is ok again. Can it be the Southbridge driver? I think all it does is add "AMD PCI Express (3GIO) Filter Driver" under System Devices in Device Manager, and even so, I think the date is similar to what is installed if I used v11.3 (not too sure, though). Another thing, is that I remember pressing "cancel" when Win7 asked me which things I wanted to share with the home network when I tried to connect to our Wifi for the first time after reinstall. I almost surely just uncheck everything everytime I install Win7 before (been using Win7 for almost a year now and did lots of reinstalls already). I kinda hope it's just the Southbridge 11.3 messing things up, but if that's the case I would advise everyone to keep off AMD's newest Southbridge driver. Heck, I really don't know.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:01 am

If its SB850 its fine, use the AMD driver, otherwise use the windows ahci driver and if it's SB600 don't use AHCI at all. Pretty simple, this topic has been beaten to death. As for the AMD southbridge driver, there is really nothing it brings to the table. The reference Microsoft drivers do a fine job, you're just play with fire at that point. This goes for the Intel drivers as well, for example Intel RST 10 disables OCZ ssd flash utilities.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:47 am

After so many reformats, I've narrowed down the possibilities as to why programs start slow.

1. AMD AHCI Driver - Not using it anymore. AHCI is ON in the BIOS.
2. AMD Southbridge Driver - Using an old version - 10.5
3. AMD Catalyst Graphics Driver - Using an older version - 10.12
4. Windows Updates - Slowdowns occur even if I didn't update Windows at all.
5. Malware - Scanned with updated trial versions of both AVG and Kaspersky; none found.

I notice that programs take significantly longer to start when I'm connected to the internet via wifi. I don't know if my adapter is at fault. I don't notice these slowdowns before. Certainly programs don't start right away but it never took this long (6-8 seconds vs 2 seconds in UT2004, about 10 seconds vs 3 seconds for Thief Deadly Shadows). Could it be a faulty wifi card? It seems to work properly though.
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Thu Apr 28, 2011 4:48 pm

ronch wrote:I also noticed that when I try to connect to our network for the first time after an OS reinstall, it asks me for the group password to one of our computers. That never seemed to have happened before. Does anyone here think there's a virus on the loose on our home network? AVG doesn't catch and report anything though.


Any progress on this particular point?
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Re: AMD AHCI Drivers Fixed?

Postposted on Thu Apr 28, 2011 5:45 pm

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