1620 & "Multiword DMA mode"--anyone w/this problem?



I’ve just put in a 1620 on an add-in Adaptec ASH-1233 IDE controller, which is based on the Sil 680 chipset. The Adaptec “auto-detects drive types and fine tunes to optimal performance” (from the box). IOW, the card decides how to set the DMA mode for a particular drive, and there are no settings the user can change.

The problem: the Adaptec thinks the 1620 should be set at “Multi-word DMA Mode 2”, not “Ultra DMA Mode x”, which results in a burst rate of only 13 MB/s. I had the 1620 originally set up as Master, and a Lite-on 1693S as Slave. The Lite-on was getting 24 MB/s burst rate. Adaptec tech support said the card was working properly (I gave them a fully detailed explanation of the issue), and to separate the drives onto their own channels. I did that, and changed the cable on the 1620 for good measure.

Now the Lite-on blasts a burst rate of 33 MB/s–faster than any of my other 4 drives–but the 1620, which is now sitting alone on the primary channel, still only manages 13 MB/s burst.

My mobo BIOS settings are correct.

Has anyone else seen this problem on their 1620? If not, I figure I either have a problem drive, or there’s something about the drive that the Adaptec card doesn’t like. I’ve emailed BenQ about it, but I don’t have much hope that they’ll tell me anything other than “It’s your controller card” (tho I hope to be proved wrong). The little bugger does rip DVDs pretty fast, tho–I saw it get up to 10x on the last one.

Anyway, if anyone has seen this behavior before, please let me know. Thanks.


It’s best to use a PCI CONTROLLER CARD for just hard drives. There seems to be some compatibility issues when using it with a dvd burner. I’ve tried using a PROMISE PCI CONTROLLER CARD with my dvd burners but they didn’t function correctly. I didn’t see a need to purchase a SIIG controller card since I have SATA’s connectors on my motherboards. I think zevia uses a SIIG controller card on his pc or pc’s.


The description for the SIIG SC-PE4B12 : “Auto-detects drive types and fine tunes to the best performance for each Ultra ATA drives”, sounds a whole lot like the description for my Adaptec–I wonder if they are the same Sil680 chip? Either way, it sounds very much the same in that, if the card thinks the drive should be in Multiword mode, there’s nothing you can do about it.

It’s just odd that, on that same Adaptec card, I have a Lite-on 1693S, and it is in Ultra DMA Mode 4, and gets a 33 MB/s burst rate. I don’t understand why the card can’t/won’t detect the BenQ properly. It also won’t detect the BenQ’s “ATA version” at all–calls it “unknown”. But it finds the ATA version of the Lite-on just fine: ATA/ATAPI 5.

I’m working w/Adaptec to see if there’s anything they can do–doesn’t look like it so far. Their latest suggestion is to move the card to a different PCI slot.

BenQ did reply–and said they couldn’t handle the problem via email… I have to call in to them, which may take me a couple of days to get to.

If anyone else has any ideas, let me know.


I ran into a similar problem with the same chipset. Turns out my Benq, LG, and 2 NECs didn’t want to co-operate with this card for firmware flashing or being in the correct DMA mode. So, I out the aformentioned drives on my motherboard’s ide connectors. Then my 3 liteons and one hdd on the Sil 680 card. The liteons dont have any problems for me on this card. Then my yamaha is on a promise controller, which works fine for reading. Then my other hdd is on mobo sata and the last hdd is on my motherboards terciary ide connector. In short, put your benq on the motherboard.

Also, I noticed a problem for me booting with this card. The sata controller is also SiL and the 4rd and 4th ide’s are ITE. Only way was to have my boot drive on the SiL680 . Otherwise is would lockup after post at “verifieing DMI pool data”.

Hope that helps you out. Also you might try downloading the utility here . It might be compatible with your card, maybe not but it displays some useful info for my card.


That does help me out. I was beginning to wonder if it was just certain drives… Unfortunately, the other drives you mentioned that have problems w/the Sil chipset–NEC and LG–are the other drives that I have. So, to put the BenQ on the mobo IDE, I’d have to dump either the NEC or the LG, not something I’d want to do.

The BenQ does rip DVDs very fast, tho, even w/the Sil issues, so it just may be my ripping drive.


@kwkard: An additional note… After what you said about having trouble flashing fw on the Sil680 card, I thought I’d better try it. I hadn’t yet upgraded my stock B7U9 fw to the newest V9, so I tried it. It did work, fortunately, so at least I can do that.

The fast burning issue may never become an issue for me, anyway–When I have 8x media (like the 14 million Verbatim/MCC 003 I currently have), I burn at 4x, at least for movies. And like I said, the 1620 rips really fast compared to my NEC and LG–about 10x–so it may just be my ripper of choice, and occasional burner, depending on how it scans.

I’ll run a test w/CD Speed, and see just how fast I can get it to go, and still produce a decent scan.

In the meantime, I may look into getting a different PCI IDE card–any suggestions for one that will actually work w/all DVD burners? :slight_smile:


Well supposedly the ITE chipset is good for them, but the one built into my motherboard doesn’t like opticals.

How many total drives do you have? Why can’t you just put your hdds on the controller card and the opticals on the motherboard?


This thread may give you some ideas. :slight_smile:

BTW, I’ve also tryed a PCI ad-on-card with SiL 0680A chipset. No luck sofar with my DVDRW´s. :sad:


I have 4 total (internal IDE) drives. My NEC 3520 and LG 4163 are using the single onboard IDE controller. My mobo is the Intel 925XCV–it only has one IDE controller port, i.e just one single channel, the Primary channel.

The mobo also has 4 SATA ports. All these ports are in use by my SATA HDDs. No matter how great my lust for multiple DVD burners, there is no way on this earth that I would give up the performance gains I’ve gotten from SATA HDDs. Plus, that would mean that I would have to buy new IDE hard drives. And new SATA ODDs.

I do wish Intel had put two IDE channels on the mobo, instead of just one. I guess this is one of those “transition” mobo’s, where we are all heading to fully SATA, and eventually dumping IDE. But we ain’t there yet, and I wanted to build a new system, so this is what I got. Bugger. :frowning:

So this is the long answer to your question. (Have you guys ever been able to accuse me of brevity?)

The only reason I added the damn controller card in the first place was that I just had to have more burners. (Like two wasn’t enough.) What I’m going to do is play around w/the config, and see if maybe the LG would be more cooperative on the controller card, and switch the BenQ to the onboard controller. This is Adaptec’s latest suggestion as well, and I have to try it to satisfy them anyway. Besides, I want to know myself.

I know you said that you had problems w/LG on the Sil680 chip, but I remember you also saying that you couldn’t flash the fw on drives on that card/chipset. I was able last night to flash the BenQ, so maybe just shifting around my drives will help. If it does, I will post back here in this thread w/my findings.


A little more info: I was able to flash the benq fine, but the LG locked up my system when I tried to flash. The nec flashed, as well, but it wouldn’t get out of MWDMA 2.

I know what you mean about just having to have more burners. I’m still shopping for more, even though there is no way to fit them in my system without some major case modding as well as yet another controller card. Yeah, like 8 burners isn’t enough, lol.


Ah yes, the definitive IDE controller thread. I have indeed read thru it. What I took away from it–and I may be wrong, so don’t hesitate to let me know about it–is that getting a particular card to work w/particular drives depends on:

  1. The mobo’s onboard IDE controller chipset
  2. The add-in card’s chipset
  3. The relationship between the onboard and add-in chipsets–i.e., wedded bliss, or an episode of “Cops”
  4. The individual ODD(s)
  5. Possibly the individual ODD(s) f/w
  6. Cable quality
  7. ODD position on cable
  8. Cable position on card
  9. My hair color and penis size…

…And much, much more. :stuck_out_tongue:

I know I’m being a bit facetious, but perhaps only a bit. A lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into that thread, for which I am surely grateful, but in the end, what I took away w/me is that it is still a crap-shoot. Unless someone who has my exact setup has already gotten their brand of card to work w/my mobo and drives, I would just have to keep ordering cards from Newegg until I hit the sweet spot. While I am very addicted to the “sport” of buying and playing w/DVD burners, not so thrilled w/the thought of a paying $10 to return a $25-30 card that didn’t work out.

Which is why I bought the one from CompUSA. Gone are the days when the local computer store had racks of cards to choose from. Indeed, gone are the local computer stores. CompUSA had exactly two IDE cards for sale: the one I got, and one w/their brand, which looked a bit shaky. I’d always had good luck w/Adaptec, so I went w/them. Oops.

I still have yet to find the time to get on the phone w/BenQ before they close for the day–maybe tomorrow. I’ll post back here if they have any helpful suggestions.


I went to that link, and got a whole page of Silicon Image BIOS and driver updates. Did you update your card w/any of these? I’m very tempted. Even tho my card is rebadged by Adaptec, the chip is very clearly labelled as Sil0680ACL144, as you can see if you follow my link in my first post here in this thread. What do you think–flash or not?


:frowning: :frowning: :frowning: Drat!

I went ahead and tried updating the Sil’s f/w, but it was already current–v. 3.2.10. If you call f/w dated 2003 current.

I also checked the XP drivers–they too are current, at v., dated 2002.

SilI really doesn’t seem to work too hard at updating things.


Fortunately, that’s an easy question.
Cross-flash the BenQ to the “L” version of the external firmware.
Use the .cvt file and the windows based flasher utility.
Now, it is at ATA66, just like the Lite-On is an ATA66, and this may convince your drive controller to enable ATA66/UDMA mode 4.

Update the BenQ to the latest external firmware after removing the rip-lock from the firmware with mediacodespeededit.
Try it.
If it doesn’t work, use a recommended external case for the BenQ. :wink: All better!
If this still doesn’t work (and that is SO unlikely), cross flash it back, using “T9” in the .cvt file format.

  • In fact, using the external enclosures, you may be able to get rid of the controller card that is causing you so much trouble.

*Drives go together in “families” with the technology leader as the master drive. For a factory BenQ at UDMA33 and a factory Lite-On, the Lite-On at ATA66 is the master.

But, there’s a catch/trick.

*The “33” speeds are misleading. Here’s a short bit:

ATA33 (like the Sony 52x CDRW) and lower drives work on a 40 wire cable and the master goes at center point.

UDMA33/UDMA2 (BenQ), ATA44-48/UDMA3, ATA66/UDMA4 (Lite-On), ATA100/UDMA5, and ATA133/UDMA6 work on an 80 wire cable and the master (higher numbers) goes at the end point.

Due to master positions on the cable, these two differing families of technology may not share any cable. Otherwise there will be either two masters or two slaves, which is a non-working configuration.

With any hardware change involving cable type or drive “family” then it is necessary to clear the CMOS or blank the controller memory. Otherwise the controller will be stuck onto the previous configuration that does not work with the new hardware change.

*Multi-Word DMA 2, which is ATA33, will not affect read speeds of optical drives. However, it will cause decreased quality of writing when mistakenly used to control UDMA33/UDMA2 and higher spec drives.

*If you experience 8x or lower speeds (as you described), then your drive is actually using basic, slow PIO mode. In your case, Windows is trying to fix it by engaging software-based DMA.

An external case will offer better performance. One of the firewire plus USB models is recommended because you need the USB to flash and the firewire connection offers best performance.



Wow! Thanks for all the info–I’m still trying to absorb it all.

I quoted your last line, because when I was getting ready to add more burners, I debated between using an internal add-in card, or an external enclosure. I ultimately went w/the card, because I already have a bunch of external stuff cluttering up my desk (3 Maxtor One-Touch’s, and a Plextor 708UF, plus countless other devices like routers, cable-modems, PDA’s…you get the idea).

But now it seems like your suggestion may be the way I have to go. So, in your experience, what brand/model of enclosure works well w/the BenQ 1620? And yes, I do know about the external enclosures thread, but it makes my head spin to try to read all that, so I thought maybe you could cut to the chase for me. Thanks.


On another note, I did indeed seperate the BenQ and Lite-On drives onto their own channels on the card. The BenQ is Master on the Primary channel, and the Lite-On is Master on the Secondary channel. I must be misunderstanding you, because this sounds to me like the BenQ should now be working properly. (But it isn’t.) What am I not getting that you are trying to tell me? Sorry I’m not understanding this fully.


I did contact BenQ, and the tech I spoke to said it was the first he’d heard of this problem. He said he would talk to his manager on Monday, and forward my issue to the engineers in Taiwan. However, as he put it, he said he would be “pleasantly surprised” if the Taiwan engineers responded in a timely manner.

Adaptec wanted me to test the BenQ on the motherboard’s IDE controller. I did this, and even set up as a slave (to the NEC 3520 on that cable that is Master) XP set the BenQ at UDMA-2, which is certainly acceptable. I just don’t get why the Silicon Image/Adaptec card can’t come to this same conclusion (tho I think the answer is probably in Danielwritesback’s explanation–my brain is still reeling trying to absorb all that info!). :bigsmile:

BTW, speaking to tech support at BenQ was a refreshing experience. Those of you who read my initial posts on my two dead Plex 716’s know what I’m talking about.


Did you ever get this sorted out? I have the same situation now, 1620 on Adaptec shows in Multiword DMA.