Unfortunately for most Intel users, when it came down to obtaining drivers for Windows 7, some users were left in the dirt with no support and no mention of support from Intel. However, thanks to a quick eye over at Icrontic, we now know that Intel has now released an entire beta suite of GMA, ACHI/SATA, and chipset drivers. It seems as though Intel is finally beginning support for Windows 7, even though AMD has been doing it for months.
And as always, there’s a pretty dire disclaimer:
These drivers are provided to facilitate any initial system evaluation with Windows 7* and are not considered “production quality”. These drivers are provided on AS IS basis with no further responsibilities on fixing issues reported to Intel Customer Support.
Interestingly enough, it seems as though Intel has released an x64 and x86 version of every driver, but for every version of Windows 7. That means that Intel has provided drivers for the Ultimate/Enterprise, Professional, and Home Premium (and for now, RC1) along with a universal driver for just “Windows 7.”
Icrontic describes this as a “hit and miss process:”
These are going to be hit and miss for users with older integrated adapters, as many of them were retired long ago. Owners of a mobile or desktop product featuring the 910, 915, 945, 946, 963, Q965, G965, 965 Express, G/Q4x or G/Q3x chipsets are in luck, however, as an official Windows 7 driver is available for your adapter.
This driver provides support for high-capacity & fault-tolerant Serial ATA (SATA) RAID 5 arrays and high-performance & fault-tolerant SATA RAID 10 arrays on select Intel® 4 Series, 3 Series, 965, 975X, 955X and 945 chipset-based platforms. It provides support for high-performance SATA RAID 0 arrays & redundant SATA RAID 1 arrays on select Intel® 4 Series, 3 Series, 965, 975X, 955X, 945, 925, 915 chipset-based platforms. It also provides AHCI support on select Intel® 4 Series, 3 Series, 965, 975X, 955X, 945, 925 and 915 chipset-based platforms, as well as on Mobile Intel® 915/910 chipset-based platforms.
Note: Intel® RAID Technology requires the Intel® ICH9R/ICH9M-E/ICH10R SATA RAID controller hub, Intel® 82801HR I/O controller hub (ICH8R), Intel® 631xESB/632xESB I/O controller hub, Intel® 82801GR/GH I/O controller hub (ICH7R/DH), Intel® 82801FR I/O controller hub (ICH6R).
The Intel® Chipset Device Software installs the Windows* INF files. The INF files inform the operating system how to properly configure the chipset for specific functionality, such as USB and core PCI.
This download is intended for use with Intel® Desktop Boards.
Icrontic also provided drivers that are slipstream friendly:
You might note that these AHCI/SATA drivers come bundled in an executable which puts the kibosh on using them during the Windows 7 install. This isn’t a deal-breaker as Microsoft provides generic AHCI/SATA drivers for just such an occasion, but we busted ‘em loose so you can use Intel’s goods during the install routine. Grab the drivers from this link: Right here!
On a side note, Intel users may not have been left in the dirt, as a post on the Microsoft Partner Blog reveals:
Intel and Microsoft have a relationship that spans more than 20 years. Our collaboration today is in full swing across many fronts, but today is a day where we are very excited to see the RTM of Windows 7. Intel began working with Microsoft at the very beginning of the Windows 7 development process. In that process, we saw unique opportunities to optimize Windows 7 for Intel processor technology, to deliver PCs that are more powerful and easier to use. Our technical collaboration focused on multiple areas, including performance and responsiveness; energy efficiency/power management/battery life; and graphics and multi-media.
Just to elaborate on better performance and responsiveness. Working with Intel, Microsoft implemented a new feature called SMT parking, which provided additional support for the Windows 7 scheduler for Intel Hyper-threading Technology, enabling better performance on hyper-threaded, multi-core Intel processors. This will help users get the maximum benefit from multi-tasking. Also, Intel and Microsoft jointly analyzed the boot/shutdown/sleep/resume times on Intel platforms during the development of Windows 7 to identify opportunities to optimize Intel drivers and BIOS as well as Windows 7. Our mutual goal was to provide the most responsive compute experience possible. Another key part of the performance and responsiveness was our collaboration to optimize Intel Solid State Drive technology for Windows 7.
So if you’re using these new drivers provided by Intel, feel free to drop a line in the comments describing your experience so far.