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OS Newbie
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Joined: 26 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:42 pm    Post subject: Need to select a PCI SATA controller card Reply with quote

I have several old rack-mount computers just gathering dust. They were Windows 2003 Server machines back in the olden days. I'd like to turn them into Gentoo Linux servers to play with.

I was never happy with the SATA controllers that were built into the motherboards (Asus P5B-VM v1.02G, in case anybody is familiar with them). So before I try bringing them up under Linux, I thought that I'd ask whether or not anyone here is familiar (and happy) with any particular PCI SATA controller card(s). I don't need (nor want) the card to do any RAID functions. I just want to simply and reliably attach some SATA drives. These systems will serve to provide archive file storage for the network.
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russK
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a 4-port card based on a marvell 88SE9235 that has been working well.
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eccerr0r
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've found most of the onboard SATA controllers the exact opposite - generally pretty good. Just that some do not support AHCI (i.e. hotplug) or legacy emulation correctly.

The only PCI SATA controller I'm using now is a Silicon Image based 4-port card that I'm using JBOD and running MDRAID on them. It's only SATA 1.5Gbps, but then again the PCI slot is kind of saturated anyway. I mix the onboard controllers with the SiI board to try to squeeze more bandwidth because the PCI bus needs to also deal with GbE.

I also have a VIA based 2+1 card that I don't like much, seems unstable in some machines.
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Jaglover
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some ASUS P5 boards had AHCI disabled for some weird licensing reason, to enable it one had to flash in a custom BIOS.
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mike155
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have (had) Asus P5M2-M, A8R-MVP and P8C WS mainboards. Onboard SATA controllers work(ed) perfectly fine, but I had to enable AHCI in BIOS setup.
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 6:54 pm    Post subject: Thanks for your input Reply with quote

Thanks, guys, for your input.
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NeddySeagoon
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OS Newbie,

If you mean 32 bit 33MHz PCI, don't go there. The maximum theoretical bus bandwidth is 133MB/sec. Even one SATA1 drive can use all of that.
That's the bus, not the card. Later systems often had several PCI buses to try to address this bottleneck.

The on board SATA controllers often ran at 66MHz and had a PCI bus to themselves, so performance was much better.
The same chip sets were used in both situations too.

Do use AHCI mode if you can. Compatibility mode was often crippled. It was only provided to allow Windows users to install the AHCI drivers before switching away from it forever.
Horrible things like no DMA and only a reduced number of SATA actually working were a few of the features of compatibility mode.
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eccerr0r
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing I didn't have any luck with is a IDE to SATA bridge. While the ones that convert a PATA drive to a SATA drive works, the one that converts a PATA controller to a SATA controller was not stable at all... so don't go this route.
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steve_v
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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2019 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had nothing but grief with cheap 2 and 4-port PCIE and PCI-X HBAs over the years. The LSI SAS2008 I have now (AKA IBM M1015) is quite nice, and was quite cheap. 8x PCIE, 4x compatible IIRC, 8 SAS or SATA ports.

As for PCI cards, I used a PCI-X HBA in a 32bit slot for a while, way back when a 300GB disk or 6 was cutting edge and eyewateringly expensive. It was indeed slow, but then so was the CPU and network, so it didn't really matter.
These days even a single "green" or mobile drive will likely saturate the PCI bus.
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