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Here is something that has been bugging me for a long while. Modern chipsets support AHCI for hard drives which amongst other things is supposed to support hot swappable drives. In Windows this means you can plug a drive in any time and use it. The flip side is you should be able to unplug it anytime after dismounting it (Safely Remove Hardware).

But so far I have only had this successfully work with nVidia chipsets (nForce4 mainly) and some JMicron SATA controllers. On Intel chipsets I can plug a drive in but it never shows up in the Safely Remove Hardware list in Windows. And just un-pluging a drive can lead to all sorts of nasty problems.

Note that I always install the Intel drivers rather than using the Microsoft drivers and I have tried this using Server 2003/2008, Vista & 7.

So does Intel (ICH9/10) chipsets properly support hot swappable SATA?

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AHCI support also depends on the mainboard BIOS as well as AHCI-aware chipsets, and some BIOSes may default to an AHCI-disabled mode. – quack quixote Nov 5 '09 at 4:52

Looks like it should, in theory: see the Intel Matrix Storage Manager's list of AHCI-capable-chipsets.

But there are a couple other requirements that may not be in place:

  • The Intel® Matrix Storage Manager software must be loaded.
  • OEMs/motherboard manufacturers must correctly enable hot swap capability in the system BIOS.
  • The system must include an Intel® chipset using a controller hub that supports AHCI.
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There is the hot swappable SATA feature on the ICH10. It works great for me with a ASUS P5Q-E motherboard using an Intel P45 chipset.

I have a removeable harddisk with a rack in the computer (review here). Outside the computer it's a USB external harddisk but once inserted in the rack, it's connected via SATA to the motherboard. Using Safely Remove, I can "eject" it (logically) and extract it from the rack (spring loaded mechanism). Works great and gives me the best of both worlds: USB2 for on-the-go use, SATA when at gome.

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