No, the firmware above is newer than the one that shipped with your laptop, mine included the clock and DJ functions but needed updating - compare version numbers first - and even if you don't use RAID your drives still use the raid controller to do even ATA (normal) modes.
My setup is identical to yours and suffered the very similar issues (except the bit about the flexicable). Although if your laptop is not even booting to the hardware detect screen (where the RAM does its check and lists CPU speed etc...) then one of you fundamental components (CPU, RAM) is broken - most likely the RAM - if your HDs don't detect is should still allow for booting to a cd.
One more test could be to remove all but one of you SO-DIMMS and see if that boots - try a couple of sticks. You may find it will boot then.