fozzy8900
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XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

I recently purchased a XPS-8900. It works beautifully except for one very serious issue: the BIOS doesn't detect my eSATA PCI adapter, a Syba 2 Port eSATA II PCIe x 1 Controller (SD-SA2PEX-2E).

I need a port multiplier compatible eSATA adapter to access my data, about 20TB of storage, hosted in two eSATA disk enclosures. The enclosures are worth hundreds of dollars by themselves so simply replacing them (e.g. with USB  ones) is a non starter.

The symptoms are identical to this XPS-8500 issue which was fixed via a BIOS update (A09).

I tried upgrading from the factory BIOS (v2.0.1) to the latest one (v2.0.3), but that did not fix the problem. The PCIe adapter is still not discovered by the BIOS.

Anyone else experiencing this ?

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10 Replies
RoHe
6 Indium

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

Similar problem reported in this thread by Av8rTrav.

Do you know your card is compatible with Win 10? Only says it's compatible with: Windows 2000 / Server 2003 / Server 2008 / XP / Vista / Windows 7 here, and elsewhere.

You might want to contact Syba to see if they have any guidance.

Ron

   Forum Member since 2004
   I am not a Dell employee

speedstep
6 Thallium

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

For non payment of fee to microsoft SECURE BOOT must be OFF and CSM must be ON.  This applies to all cards including storage and usb and video etc.

Further complicating this is that 64 bit versions of windows REQUIRE WHQL drivers or they dont load.

Further complicating this the PCI-E version aka 3.0 does not downclock for older 1.0 cards so unless the card can handle 60 percent faster clock it will not be seen.   Fitting into the slot connector is not a guarantee of operation EVER.


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fozzy8900
1 Nickel

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

This is not an Operating System issue (Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, or whatever else).

The BIOS itself, whose job is to discover the hardware and prep things up for the OS, reports PCIe slots 3 (x4) and 4 (x16) as unpopulated even when the card is plugged in.

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fozzy8900
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RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

Yeah, I already have Secure Boot disabled. That thing only causes trouble. And I also have legacy BIOS ROM enabled.

Still, the BIOS sees nothing in slots 3 and 4.

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fozzy8900
1 Nickel

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

Also the card works just fine in my aging XPS 9000.

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speedstep
6 Thallium

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

The many year old XPS 9000 does not have UEFI bios.  Does not have PCI-E 3.0 bus.

Secure Boot OFF is not an indication that CSM is on and Legacy Option Roms are enabled.  These are separate settings. Some old cards do not work and will NEVER work.


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fozzy8900
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RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

The UEFI vs CSM debate is irrelevant to this issue.

Both provide a boot environment and an API to the boot loader and the Operating System to interact with the hardware. While they do come into the picture when dealing with boot loader and OS related problems, they do not when dealing with basic discovery of devices connected to the PCIe bus. The discovery process is driven purely by the PCIe specifications and protocols (which are independent of the platform and the BIOS framework) and happens long before UEFI or CSM are invoked to proceed with the later boot stages.

Secure Boot is a subset of UEFI and is therefore also irrelevant to this issue.

Secure Boot is about establishing a chain of trust ensuring that the software bits loaded during the boot process (UEFI drivers, boot loader, kernel, ...) come from trusted a source and have not been altered since they were signed. Components not involved in this chain like a TV tuner card or a disk controller not connected to a boot drive are unaffected. All the devices on the PCIe bus, the ones relevant to the software bring up (e.g. disk controller of the boot drive) or the ones not relevant (e.g. TV tuner card, ...) need to be discovered and identified _before_ UEFI and Secure Boot can even know what they are.

The issue at hand is that they're not even discovered at the PCIe level as reported by the BIOS itself (not the boot loader, not the OS).

PCIe has been designed (very carefully and with much effort) to be fully backward compatible, precisely so people can upgrade their systems progressively and incrementally, without having to throw away all their existing hardware when a new component comes into the picture. As a result, by design PCIe 1.x and 2.x cards can be plugged in PCIe 3.0 slots and operate correctly. They just operate at their native 1.x or 2.x speed, not the 3.0 speed. In many cases, PCIe is even forward compatible i.e. a PCIe 2.x or 3.0 card can be plugged in a 1.x or 2.x slot and function correctly.

I am willing to acknowledge that some cards may be victims of ambiguities in parts of the early PCIe specs or of poor implementation of these specs. But dismissing an issue involving different PCIe gens, with no further evidence, is like saying that PCIe is backward compatible except when you use an older version. It's absurd.

Finally, I have indeed filed a Service Request with Dell.

But I thought that someone in the community might have run into a similar issue and might have relevant information on the matter. This is after all the purpose of these forums, to help each other with constructive comments and actual (i.e. technically correct and relevant) information.

speedstep
6 Thallium

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

Secure Boot REQUIRES certifcate in bios or Hardware and Software WILL NOT LOAD.  NON DELL HARDWARE not working in a DELL isn't going to be supported. Most all X1  pci-e version 1.0 and 2.0 cards will not ever work period end.  Request denied.

That makes UEFI and Secure Boot Absolutely Relevant.  Non UEFI Booting REQUIRES CSM and Option Roms to be enabled. It is possible to have disabled secure boot without turning on CSM and LEGACY Boot and option Roms.  This will result in non booting or POST with 3rd party storage controllers and video cards etc.  

Also making it Relevant.    1.0 pci-e and 2.0 pci-e are too slow for 3.0 pci-e and newer systems do not downclock to the older speeds.  This is also relevant.  3.0 cards that do not support DOS VESA mode 103 will have no post and are not related to the speed issue. Drivers that do not have WHQL Certificate will not Load on 64 bit systems.

In windows 7 you could bypass this on boot.  In windows 8.1 and 10 im not aware of a bypass.

 

EFI secure boot prevents computer users from installing their own choice of OS. CSM (Compatability Support Module) is legacy GPT boot.  MBR Booting is long gone which prevents DOS and Linux FAT32 booting. This also prevents USB Flash Drive booting DOS/LINUX while in secure boot mode.

Other Distributions that did not pay to play will not boot  let alone install ELAM will prevent this.  Its windows only forever once UEFI becomes Version CLASS3 with all other OS locked out.


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fozzy8900
1 Nickel

RE: XPS 8900 PCIe 1x support

Blah blah blah.

I'm sure most people find your completely besides the point yet assertive statements, all caps, flashy colored diagrams, and debauchery of gratuitous acronyms very impressive.

Congratulations. You're a RockStar.

I on the other hand am an idiot, my setup is hopeless and I should just give up. Well, that was helpful. Thanks.