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Which SATA Controller?

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March 4, 2007 2:50:04 PM

Turns out I misunderstood how many SATA ports I could use on the Asus P5W DH and need one more SATA port. So I'm thinking of adding a PCI SATA controller card.

I'd like two internal ports; no need for external. I do not expect to use RAID on this card. It would be nice if the controller supported hot swap with Windows XP. And I want a reliable card. But one that doesn't cost too much.

I'd appreciate any recommendations.

More about : sata controller

March 4, 2007 6:06:10 PM

How many SATA ports are on the mobo? :) 
March 4, 2007 6:20:50 PM

Quote:
How many SATA ports are on the mobo? :) 

Six, but there's a gotcha on one of them rendering it unsuitable for me.

If you care about the details.... The ICH7R has 4 SATA ports. One of those ports is split into two, termed by Asus EZ-RAID, with a SIL chip to use two disks as RAID0, RAID1, or JBOD. There's also a JMicron JMB363 with one internal SATA port and one eSATA port on the back panel. So that makes six ports. But I don't want to put RAID on the EZ-RAID ports--it's slower than doing RAID on the ICH7R. So I have to configure the SIL chip as a "pass-through" and only one of those EZ-RAID ports is then usable. So the count of usable SATA ports is then five.

I have four internal SATA HD, one SATA mobile rack, and one SATA DVDRW--six ports needed.

Guy
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March 4, 2007 6:32:18 PM

You will need the controller card then, with that many SATA drives :) 
March 4, 2007 6:45:29 PM

Quote:
The Promise SATA300 TX4302 would do nicely. Supports hot-swap and eSATA as well.

Thanks for the suggestion; pricing is good. I hadn't been able to find SATA adapters that weren't loaded with RAID stuff I didn't need, so it's good to know they're out there.

But according to the Promise web page, the TX4302 supports hot-plug only on the eSATA ports, not on the internal ones. I would like hot-plug support on the internal connector, which would be connected to an internal mobile rack.

I've since found some comments on the web about hot-plug with Windows XP. Specifically, Addonics says "Serial ATA hot swap feature works only with controllers basing on Silicon Image chip set from our inhouse testing. Other controllers that are not Silicon Image based may not support hot swap. ... New controllers from Intel and other suppliers may finally correct the problem. ..."

I have been unable to get hot plug to work with either the ICH7R or JMicron connectors on the P5W.

Do you know anything about the Rosewill RC-211?
March 4, 2007 7:22:26 PM

Well, the brand isn't all that important, if you get something with this chipset you'll be fine:
http://www.siliconimage.com/products/product.aspx?id=32

But really you wouldn't go wrong with the latest cards from other prominent manufacturers like Promise and Adaptec, but the Silicon Image-based cards should be cheaper.
March 4, 2007 7:32:10 PM

Quote:
But according to the Promise web page, the TX4302 supports hot-plug only on the eSATA ports, not on the internal ones. I would like hot-plug support on the internal connector, which would be connected to an internal mobile rack.

I've since found some comments on the web about hot-plug with Windows XP. Specifically, Addonics says "Serial ATA hot swap feature works only with controllers basing on Silicon Image chip set from our inhouse testing. Other controllers that are not Silicon Image based may not support hot swap. ... New controllers from Intel and other suppliers may finally correct the problem. ..."


I have several of these cards myself, they do support hot-swap on all connectors (eSATA and internal).

The hot-swap is implemented through the Windows XP removable device manager. Double-click on it in the system tray, select the hard drive to remove, click Stop, it will then tell you it's safe to remove the device from the system.

I use it with my dock/caddy-based removable hard drives and it works great.

The only thing is that no applications can be using the drive (or even viewing a directory on the drive) before Windows will allow it to hot-swap. So usually I have to close all apps before swapping.
March 4, 2007 9:04:39 PM

Quote:
I have several of these cards myself, they do support hot-swap on all connectors (eSATA and internal).

That's great! Is there anything special you had to do to get hot swap working? Does the card come with a driver?

Guy
March 4, 2007 10:52:04 PM

Quote:
That's great! Is there anything special you had to do to get hot swap working? Does the card come with a driver?


The card does come with it's own driver on CD, or you can download the latest from the Promise web site.

Nothing special to get hot swap to work - the driver has that capability built-in.
March 9, 2007 12:39:26 AM

Well, I've tried the Promise card and I've fallen down into a maze of twisty passages.

Motherboard is Asus P5W DH Deluxe. System is all SATA. Board "IDE Configuration" (aka the ICH7R config) is "RAID." I boot off a Raptor on SATA1 and have a RAID0 array on SATA2/3.

When I put the Promise controller in, it competes with the ICH7R's SATA volumes for booting. If there is a drive in the internal rack attached to the Promise controller, it becomes the boot volume--until I shuffle the drive sequence in the BIOS. If I then boot without a drive in the rack, the boot sequence gets all confused and the system tries to boot from the RAID0 volume instead of the Raptor--so I have to shuffle the drive list in the BIOS again.

I need some way to tell the system never to try to boot from the Promise controller, but I don't see any way to do that.

Further, if I boot with a drive in the internal rack, then Windows will never let me remove the drive. It always says the device cannot be stopped right now. If I boot without a drive in the rack, then I can insert a drive and remove it ok.

It seems the only way I can get things to work is always to be sure the rack attached to the Promise controller is empty when I boot. That's not very convenient solution.

Do you have any suggested work around?
March 9, 2007 12:53:02 AM

Hmmm. I haven't run into this problem with my cards, but I do not use them in any system that has a RAID.

It sounds like a BIOS issue with the Asus board, obviously the BIOS should not shift boot order just because drives are present or not.

First, I would look for a BIOS update for your Asus board.

Second, you might be able to configure the Promise card through their WebPAM utility to not install a bootable BIOS. This would prevent the Asus board from seeing it as a bootable device at all.

Last, you might call Promise tech support and see if they have a work-around.

My apologies that the card isn't working as it should for you. Fortunately, if you can't solve the issue, you can probably return it to the vendor you purchased it from and/or exchange it for a different card.
a c 156 G Storage
March 9, 2007 1:11:53 AM

Quote:
How many SATA ports are on the mobo? :) 

Six, but there's a gotcha on one of them rendering it unsuitable for me.

If you care about the details.... The ICH7R has 4 SATA ports. One of those ports is split into two, termed by Asus EZ-RAID, with a SIL chip to use two disks as RAID0, RAID1, or JBOD. There's also a JMicron JMB363 with one internal SATA port and one eSATA port on the back panel. So that makes six ports. But I don't want to put RAID on the EZ-RAID ports--it's slower than doing RAID on the ICH7R. So I have to configure the SIL chip as a "pass-through" and only one of those EZ-RAID ports is then usable. So the count of usable SATA ports is then five.

I have four internal SATA HD, one SATA mobile rack, and one SATA DVDRW--six ports needed.

Guy
Welcome to my world(right down to the pass thru on the sil easyraid thing).....gonna be fun when i get more sata drives....but i still have an old promise sata card....most cards run near the same in a non raid environment....
March 9, 2007 2:24:45 AM

No apology necessary. I knew there were risks dealing with something unknown I hadn't done before.

Anyway, the card goes back. Too many issues to deal with.

Guy

[EDIT: Removed comment about video -- it was a coincidental misbehavior of another component.]
March 9, 2007 3:13:21 AM

Yo, SomeJoe, just wanted to update you on my TX4302 adventures. You helped me in another thread when I was asking about eSATA solutions. And my apologies to the OP if I am stepping over his thread.

I originally used a Vantec/Nexstar EE (external enclosure) for my WD 2500YS SATA II HDD. I liked the fact that the EE had both USB 2.0 and eSATA connectivity. However, the EE would only work in USB mode, and after running through all sorts of tests to determine what was at fault, I RMA'd the EE to NewEgg for a replacement. Needless to say the replacement was also a failure. I am hearing that the EE doesn't support SATA II, but it's clearly advertised that it does. Thankfully, NewEgg gave me a full refund even though its (NewEgg's) refund timeframe expired.

I then purchased an IcyDock MB559US-1S. At nearly $60, it's pricey, but it looks absolutely fabulous, it's quiet, and it works! There were some weird times when the Promise controller wouldn't recognize the EE when booting. Something else that was odd was that when I stopped the device using the stop hardware thing, it wouldn't come back on when I plugged it back in.

Oddly enough, all of those issues have seemed to resolve themselves and everything is working Okie Dokie.
!