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Bus Mastering Drivers

This is the most critical point for users that still run Windows 95, 98 and ME, because the bus mastering is not enabled by default. Thus, if you simply connect your hard disk to your computer it will be accessed only up to 16 MB/s, even if all other criteria we discussed matches. Windows XP automatically enables bus mastering, but the chipset manufacturers claim that using their drivers instead of Microsoft’s you can achieve a better disk performance on your PC.

You will need to install two drivers: chipset driver and IDE (bus mastering) driver. Sometimes these two drivers are available at the same package, as is the case for VIA drivers. Sometimes you will need to download two separated files, as for SiS drivers. Intel call their chipset driver as “Inf Update File”. To download them, you will need to know your motherboard chipset manufacturer and model and download the drivers from the chipset manufacturer website. Your can find out the chipset manufacturer and model using a hardware identification program, such as Hwinfo, Sandra, and Everest. After that, go to the chipset manufacturer website and download the latest version available and install them.

If you go to Windows Device Manager (System icon in Control Panel) you will see something like Figure 4 under System devices before installing the chipset driver. As you can see, the chipset is listed as “standard” (PCI standard host CPU bridge and PCI standard ISA bridge), meaning that the chipset wasn’t detected by Windows.

Bus MasteringFigure 4: Before installing the chipset driver. Notice that the chipset is listed as “standard”.

After installing the chipset driver, the chipset will be correctly listed, as you can see in Figure 5. The standard drivers were replaced with specific drivers. The example on Figure 5 is of a motherboard with Intel 440BX chipset.

Bus MasteringFigure 5: After installing the chipset driver. The chipset is now being recognized correctly.

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Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.