Once the drives are attached, the disks can be configured into an array from the Fastrak BIOS. A BIOS is a small program that runs when the computer is powered on, to bootstrap the system. The test motherboard is an Asus A7N8X Deluxe with a Silicon Image 2-port RAID controller built-in. First the motherboard BIOS runs, then the Promise FastTrak controller BIOS, and finally the Silicon Image controller BIOS. Under normal conditions, the BIOSes detect the drives that are attached and their RAID configuration, if any. The RAID configuration is stored on a special sector on the disks, and so the drives can be temporarily disconnected without losing the array configuration. Drive arrays can even be exchanged amongst different Promise controllers.

SATA drive controllers are typically recognized as SCSI devices by the motherboard BIOS and by Windows XP. When multiple drive controllers are installed, boot order is determined by the BIOSes. The A7N8X can control the order of booting a SCSI device and an IDE device, but it can not control the order of booting different SCSI devices. It always boots from the FastTrak before the Silicon Image, regardless of the PCI slot in which the FastTrak is installed. This means one can not boot a drive off the built-in Silicon Image controller if an array is defined on the FastTrak controller. Other motherboards may have more fine-grained control over boot order.

To access the Fastrak BIOS, one presses Ctrl+F during bootup. A short menu is presented where one can create an array. Creating an array is a simple matter of choosing the RAID level, and then assigning drives. Creating a RAID 0+1 array is the only tricky thing. One must first assign four drives to a new array, and then the option for RAID 0+1 becomes available. All these details and more are documented in the user manual.

The FastTrak shipped with BIOS version It is necessary to flash this BIOS to the latest version, which is This procedure is simple enough, and requires just a regular boot disk. The drives being installed are four Western Digital "Raptor" 36GB 10k RPM SATA-150 drives. A procedure for setting up the board can be summarized as follows:

  • Download the all the latest files for the SX4 from the Promise website.
  • Create two MS-DOS boot diskettes.
  • Copy the memory tester to one boot disk and the latest BIOS to another.
  • Plug in the card into the computer with the memory module inserted.
  • Boot off the memory tester disk and run the memory test.
  • Boot off the flash BIOS disk, and backup the old BIOS, and install the new BIOS.
  • Copy the latest driver to another floppy disk. (See the driver issues section.)
  • Connect the LED cable to the controller.