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Archived: Using USB Boot Support on a PXI or VXI Controller Prior to Windows XP

This document has been archived and is no longer updated by National Instruments

Hardware: PXI/CompactPCI

What is USB Boot Support and can I use it with versions of Windows prior to Windows XP?

NOTE: The following assumes that the BIOS on the PXI/VXI Controller supports booting from a USB-CD ROM. For example as of March 2003, only the BIOS of the PXI-8171 Series, PXI-8180 Series, VXIpc-870B, and 770 Controllers support booting from a USB-CD ROM. Also, not all USB-CD ROM are USB 1.1 compliant (which is required by all PXI and VXI controllers as of March 2003). See links below.

BIOS support for USB booting is intended primarily for enabling the use of the bootable Recovery CD Media that is provided with your PXI controller. In general, operating system limitations prevent booting from a USB hard drive. For further details read the explanation below.
  1. What is USB Boot Support?
    USB Boot Support in the PXI Controller's BIOS maps modern USB mass storage devices back to the older "INT 13h" disk reading and writing drivers. These routines are only used by real-mode operating systems (like DOS), or during the early "bootstrapping" phase of modern operating systems.

    At some point in its installation, a 32-bit operating system installs its own drivers in place of the older "INT 13h" drivers. Thus, at the moment an operating system decides to start using its own "native 32-bit" drivers instead of "INT 13h," the operating system must have enough of itself and its drivers loaded to begin to successfully read from a disk drive. However, current operating systems do not account for the possibility of the boot device being on the USB bus. In fact, by default, Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, and Linux only handle boot devices on the ATA/IDE bus, and certain SCSI busses. The most common result of trying to install or launch a 32-bit OS from a USB boot device is a blue screen with "INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE" displayed.

  2. Why is a USB Boot option useful?
    A USB boot option is useful for recovery purposes such as 1) Installing an Operating System or 2) Using a Recovery CD.
    1. Installation CDs -You may use your own installation CDs to install operating systems on your PXI controller. However, there may still be some problems from some Microsoft Installation CDs (particularly Windows 2000). National Instruments has been successful in creating Bootable Windows Installations CDs from existing Windows Installation CDs for PXI Controllers for Windows 2000 and XP.

    2. Recovery CDs -A very easy way to reinstall the operating system on your PXI Controller is to use the Recovery Media CD that ships with your controller. However, some of our older PXI controllers only came with a C:\Images directory (see links below for more information).

  3. What about PCMCIA boot as an alternative to USB boot?
    Unfortunately, PCMCIA boot suffers from many of the same deep problems that plague USB boot (the "hand-off" between native 32-bit drivers and "INT 13h" access) In addition to that, this form factor suffers from very slow performance.
    At present, PCMCIA boot does not work with Microsoft operating systems.

Related Links:
Microsoft Knowledgbase 883114 :"STOP 0x0000007B: INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE" error message when you use a USB CD-ROM device to install Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000
KnowledgeBase 2J0CF0LS: Network Installation of Windows from the Recovery Media CD for NI 8175 and NI 8176 PXI Controllers
KnowledgeBase 2IRESL00 : Not All USB CD-ROMs are Bootable with the VXIpc-870B Embedded VXI Controllers
KnowledgeBase 2TFEBOTJ: Boot Options for a PXI Embedded Controller


Report Date: 01/16/2003
Last Updated: 04/15/2016
Document ID: 2TFEBOTJ

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