This Sony Vaio is very old. It has a 32-Bit-only Intel Core Duo T2250 @ 1.73 GHz and only 1 GB of main memory. The original Windows Vista was slow too, so I thought I might as well try Windows 10 as part of the Windows Insider program, thus this is Windows 10 Pro.
Installation and performance
Installation takes ages. But everything takes ages on this laptop. Performance simply isn’t something to expect from this kind of out-dated hardware. The upgrade to 1511 took at least two hours to finish.
Working with the laptop on Windows 10 doesn’t feel any slower than on Windows Vista though. So I think that Windows 10 x32 is a good alternative to Vista x32 on this hardware, but quite honestly I wouldn’t buy Windows 10 in order to replace the existing operating system. Alternatives like verious Linux distributions should do the job as well and are free of charge.
In general Windows 10 hardware support is good on this hardware. Since the T2250 processor doesn’t support the 64-Bit extension you’re left with no choice but to take the x32 (32-Bit) edition of Windows anyhow.
After installation, only two devices lack drivers.
- unknown LPC device ACPI\SNY5001
- unknown PCI device PCI\VEN_104C&DEV_803B&SUBSYS_8212104D
You cannot get any drivers for these devices directly from Sony for this model, the VGN-N21E, because Sony dropped support years ago and – as it is common in the Windows world – driver situation is a mess.
So, for the first device I found a driver for another Sony Vaio, the VPC115FM, for Windows 7 x64. This will not install as Windows 10 blocks installation after it has started, but you can copy the temporary created folder which contains the required driver. First download the driver from here:
Getting the required driver works like this:
- When you try installing this on Windows 10, at some point Windows will stop installation because it thinks the driver is not compatible. You can acknowledge that message.
- Then the Sony driver installation package will show an error message telling you where you can find the temporary folder. In my case this was C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Temp\GLFF261.
- Open Explorer and navigate to that folder. You will have to type the path in directly since the AppData directory is normally hidden.
- Copy the whole folder to another location, like the desktop or your downloads or documents or whatever.
- Now, since you’ve got the needed files, close the error message from the Sony driver installation. This may or may not delete the temporary folder, which was the reason to copy it before closing the installer.
Now we’ve got the driver. You may have noticed that I am using Windows 10 x32 and the driver is for Windows 7 x64. Yes, but in that folder we find a driver for Windows 7 x64 and x32. Since the driver model did not change for this device from Windows 7 to 10 it also works in Windows 10. To install it, open the Device Manager and choose to update the driver, pointing it to the folder we copied in step 4. Done.
Now the second device: a PCI device. The hardware IDs can be used to find the device using your favorite internet search engine. The IDs are: vendor 104C, device 803B, subsystem 8212 104D. Some operating systems, like Linux, write this like this: 104C:803B, subsystem 104D:8212.
Using the internet I found that this is a Texas Instruments Multi Card Reader. Which one remained unclear though. So I did find a Sony driver called “Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Integrated FlashMedia Controller”, but somehow this did not work.
- Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Integrated FlashMedia Controller driver (version 126.96.36.199)
Using the same technique to extract the actual driver one can see that the driver has the filename “ti21sony.sys”. So it can be that it actually is for TI PCIxx21 devices only, not PCIxx12 devices. But it is also possible that this driver is 64-Bit-only.
This did not work out, thus I had to search further… and soon found a driver that worked:
- Texas Intruments Media Card Reader driver (sp43509.exe) (version 188.8.131.52)
Even though this driver is from HP, it worked on my Sony Vaio VGN-N21E. The driver is for x32 and x64 Windows, it is dated 1 April 2009 (no joke!) and it supports “TI-PCI xx12/x515/xx21“ card readers.
After the installtion worked, the naming becomes clearer: it seems to be the subsystem ID. The one in the Vaio VGN-N21E is (104D) 8212. So this will likely be a “TI-PCI xx12” (8212) card reader.
UPDATE: After the Anniversary Update of Windows 10, now version 1607 (2nd of August 2016), the driver for the SD card reader no longer worked. Luckily I found another one here:
- Texas Instruments PCIxx12 Integrated Flashmedia Controller (version 184.108.40.206)
this is a self-extracting archive, from the extraction directory use the driver from \tiinst\Vista32 to update the non-working driver in the device manager.
Now there are no more unknown devices on this Windows 10 Pro x32 installation. At least for the Sony Firmware Extension Parser this seems to be the only effect, since it doesn’t seem to do anything without additional software.
The Media Card Reader driver on the other hand allows the use of the integrated SD card and MemoryStick slots.
I hope that this will help others in their journey to acquire working drivers for their Windows installation on older hardware, as the techniques shown may also work for other devices on other laptops and PCs… with other Windows versions…