One of the more popular motherboard chipsets, outside of the usual Intel set, is a chipset manufactured by a Taiwanese company known as VIA. Many manufacturers of budget-line workstations and servers use VIA chipset motherboards. However, Windows 2000 users have often reported problems with machines that use the VIA chipset, even when VIA-written drivers are loaded into the computer. Many of the problems enumerated with the VIA chipset and Windows 2000 are documented, and can be worked around with a little care.

The main issue that is reported by Windows 2000 users is problems with VIA IDE controllers, which are usually integrated onto the motherboard. Some minor problems can arise if the secondary IDE channel is disabled in hardware; because the computer does not know how to query the controller correctly, the disabled channel shows up as "enabled" in the Device Manager. This is of course misleading, especially if someone tries to plug a device into the secondary controller chain and get it to work. Also, if the secondary controller chain has been shut off in an attempt to free up an IRQ for another purpose, Windows 2000 will not free up the IRQ, since it assumes the device is in use.

To get around this problem, open REGEDT32 and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class, and look for a subkey whose first digits are 4D36E96A. Look under that subkey for subkeys with the names 0000, 0003

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and 0006. In each one of those, insert the following keys and REG_DWORD values (in parentheses):

MasterOnConfigOffset (0x40)
MasterOnMask (0x02)
SlaveOnConfigOffset (0x40)
SlaveOnMask (0x01)

These values force Windows 2000 to recognize that the second controller has been disabled and to allow its resources to be reallocated.

Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter.

This was first published in September 2002

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