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Unable to Boot Past BIOS when Using MXI Express



Hardware: PXI/CompactPCI

Problem:
After installing my MXI Express hardware onto my desktop/laptop, I am unable to get past the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). Is this a compatibility issue?

Solution:
During the boot up sequence of a desktop/laptop, the system loads the BIOS. An issue can arise at different areas of this sequence that may or may not pertain to a compatibility issue. During boot up you may notice one of the following

What if I Receive an Error Message at the BIOS Screen That Says "Alert. Error initializing PCI Express slot x. NIC failure."?
If you run into this error message at the BIOS, the simple work-around for this problem is to be sure that a powered-up PXI chassis is connected to the MXI controller before powering on the computer.

This is a known issue with some computer BIOSes when using the low-profile version of the NI PCIe-8361 MXI controller with the part number 195315C-01L. The error message is caused by a timeout in the BIOS code due to this repeater based device. The timeout occurs whenever a BIOS performs its power-on self test (POST). The computer sends a request to all devices on its bus and waits for an expected reply. This reply is not sent by a repeater based device unless it has a powered on chassis connected to it. This is because the repeater sends the signal it received from the POST directly to the chassis; therefore, if a powered up chassis is not present, there is no hardware to respond to the message.

Other error messages may also appear if you do not have a chassis connected to your MXI card.  There are situations where no error message is displayed or a more detailed error message is shown.  Both of these situations may still be caused by the repeater on the PCIe-8361 Low-Profile card described above. 

Previous revisions of NI PCIe-8361 (non-low-profile) had a switch that replied when queried indicating that a device was present whether or not a chassis was connected. The switch architecture receives the POST message and responds, but, during regular communication, the controller card actually gathers communication and sends sets or packets to the chassis instead of sending messages directly through. Revision C of the NI PCIe-8361 Low-Profile, however, uses a repeater instead of a switch and cannot respond to the query appropriately unless there is a powered-up chassis connected to it.

The NI PCIe-8361 Low-Profile (MXI Express) controller has been revised to use a switch in newer assemblies. The part number of the board that leverages the switch architecture while still maintaining a low-profile shape is 199042X-01L, where "X" is the letter revision of the board.

Most x1 MXI Express kits now feature this version of the controller. To confirm which revision of the board your kit includes, contact NI support representative with your MXI Express kit part number.
The computer hangs during POST or does not boot into Windows:
This issue is usually related to the host PC's inability to properly allocate or enumerate PCI resources.  Here are some items that you can try to help with the situation. 
  • Confirm that you are using the latest BIOS revision for your PC or Laptop. The manufacturer may have implemented fixes available in new BIOS releases.
  • Contact your PC or Laptop's manufacturer to inquire about  possible BIOS workarounds or BIOS revisions. NI support is available to help explain the situation.
  • Try different PCI or PCI Express slots in the host PC for you MXI interface. The algorithm some BIOSs use has better behavior in some slots than others.
  • Try disabling onboard motherboard resources in your computer's BIOS. Freeing up these resources can increase the available resources for PCI expansion.
  • Try to minimize the PCI bridge depth. If you are daisy-chaining PXI chassis, put the host PXI board in the first segment of your chassis.
  • Try using a single-segment chassis instead of a multi-segment chassis to minimize the additional PCI-PCI bridges. Chassis with more than eight slots have more than one bus segments.
If you are using MXI Express and none of the preceding seem to help, National Instruments offers the NI MXI-Express BIOS Compatibility Software that works around common BIOS limitations.  This software is not guaranteed to alleviate the issue, however, it can resolve those common BIOS limitations that tend to be an issue.  Please read through the readme on the download page for this software, and double-check that you are using supported hardware.

Related Links:
KnowledgeBase 4C5ISO8P: MXI-Express General Setup/Compatibility Issues and Solutions
KnowledgeBase 3UQD1HD8: What is a PCI Bus and How Does it Relate to PXI?
Developer Zone Tutorial: Tips to Help You Successfully Use NI MXI-Express Controllers
KnowledgeBase 4ZMFPKL3: MXI Express Compatibility Supported Hardware
Drivers and Updates: MXI-Express BIOS Compatibility Software

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Report Date: 02/08/2006
Last Updated: 01/13/2014
Document ID: 3U7CI4D8

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