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PCI to SATA Confusion

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January 11, 2010 3:15:39 PM

Hi-

I am a first time builder trying to build a little home server/NAS. I am inheriting a small Intel Atom330 mobo from a friend. This board has 2 on-board SATA interfaces and 1 PCI slot.

I would like to use 2 SATA hard drives and a SATA DVD drive for my server/NAS.

My question and confusion is about options for a PCI- to Sata controller and operating system choices.

I do not need any RAID function from the PCI to SATA card I simply want to be able to add additional SATA interfaces to the Mobo.

Most PCI to Sata cards I have seen require drivers and have some type of RAID function built in. This seems to limit the operating system that the card can be used with. If I do not use the inherent RAID function of the PCI to SATA card will I still be limited to the listed compatible operating systems and be able to attach a DVD drive and hard drive to the card? Or does the operating system always require a driver to interpret the card input and not simply see it as another native SATA interface?

I guess I am wondering why a card will have limited operating system compatibility if I don't use the RAID function and only want it to increase the number of SATA interfaces.


Thank you in advance

More about : pci sata confusion

January 12, 2010 5:09:57 AM

Laser1 said:
I am a first time builder trying to build a little home server/NAS. I am inheriting a small Intel Atom330 mobo from a friend. This board has 2 on-board SATA interfaces and 1 PCI slot.
I would like to use 2 SATA hard drives and a SATA DVD drive for my server/NAS.
My question and confusion is about options for a PCI- to Sata controller and operating system choices.


I have been very succesful with NASLite. Depending on what you want there are two options: NASLite-2 or NASLite-M2. The latter is also a DAAP server, making it very useful as a iTunes media server. I use NL-2, also for streaming, but to PC. It is very fast.

Installation of the OS can be done on a very cheap Transcend IDE 40 pins vertical flash module, leaving the hard drives for storage only. The OS needs something like 16MB. So, if you buy the smallest module, you're fine. Also you have the option to boot from USB, if that would be your preference.

As for your SATA needs, there are several options. Since NASLite uses the 2.6 Linux kernel, most hardware will work. Take a look at the hardware reference guide . However only hardware RAID is functional. I suppose you have a D945 motherboard, with little room. That rules out a 3Ware 8006-2LP, because it is longer than a PCI slot.
A non-RAID card supported by the OS is the Promise SATA300 TX4, giving you 4 extra SATA connectors.

The NASLite forums are very active and helpful.

PieterB
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a c 415 G Storage
January 12, 2010 6:00:03 AM

The OS always requires a driver - it's really just a question of whether the driver is included on the OS disc or if you need to install it from the disc that comes with the card.

Most of these inexpensive PCI-to-SATA adapters advertise themselves as "RAID-capable", but in reality there are no RAID functions in the hardware - they're all built into the driver. You can install the card and the driver and use then as plain SATA ports without any problems.

I have one of these cards - although I've never tried attaching a SATA DVD drive to it I'd be surprised if it didn't work.

You also have the option of getting an external DVD drive and connecting it via a USB port.
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January 12, 2010 2:38:48 PM

PieterB and sminial, Thank you both for these helpful answers.

PieterB- I do have the D945 mobo and will look into the NASLite as you suggest. I have also considered FreeNAS as well so I will investigate both options in more detail now.

sminial- Very helpful. I was hoping the card would just translate itself so the OS would just interpret the input as native SATA input. The USB-DVD may be the way to go.

Thank you both again.
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January 12, 2010 3:49:23 PM

Laser1 said:
I do have the D945 mobo and will look into the NASLite as you suggest. I have also considered FreeNAS as well so I will investigate both options in more detail now. I was hoping the card would just translate itself so the OS would just interpret the input as native SATA input. The USB-DVD may be the way to go


NASLite will give you 4 native SATA ports after installing the Promise card. According to the datasheet it also supports Serial ATAPI devices, i.e. dvd drives.

You only need the dvd drive when installing NASLite, or flashing firmware, BIOS.

If you have more questions regarding hardware, NAS or NASLite go to the NASLite forums. People are very helpful.

PieterB


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a c 415 G Storage
January 12, 2010 11:11:13 PM

Laser1 said:
I was hoping the card would just translate itself so the OS would just interpret the input as native SATA input.
It should do that once you've installed the driver that comes with the card.
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January 13, 2010 5:34:00 AM

sminlal said:
It should do that once you've installed the driver that comes with the card.


That is generally true for Windows. With a Linux distribution, or server OS like NASLite, the driver is already present in the installer. Everytime the server boots, the software probes for hardware present, and chooses drivers accordingly.

Of course there's a lot of hardware which is supported by Windows the same way.

PieterB
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January 13, 2010 6:35:11 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. Very helpful. I did a little more digging and found another potential solution (maybe a little crazy though).

I am wondering if I could attach my 3.5" Sata drive to a USB to Sata bridge, power the drive off of my power source and just run the bridge to a USB port on the back of my box?. This will allow me to avoid the PCI to Sata card and all potential driver problems? This is the bridge I found: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 13, 2010 6:54:17 AM

Laser1, there's no driver problem if you use Linux (NASLite or any other 2.6 kernel software) and a card like the Promise card, which is in the Linux supported hardware list. Believe me.

I wouldn't go for a crappy SATA2USB. Slow and vulnerable, and therefor dangerous. A card gives you at least 150MB/s, combined with your gigabit NIC, assuming you have a gigabit switch, means a very fast server. I do about 45MB/s between server and workstation, measured with DiskWriggler.

PieterB

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January 13, 2010 7:08:11 AM

Second thought: if it's about the price, there's a lot of second hand stuff....
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a c 415 G Storage
January 13, 2010 11:32:30 AM

Laser1 said:
I am wondering if I could attach my 3.5" Sata drive to a USB to Sata bridge, power the drive off of my power source and just run the bridge to a USB port on the back of my box?. This will allow me to avoid the PCI to Sata card and all potential driver problems?
I think you're a little overly paranoid about the PCI-to-SATA card myself. I really don't see any reason it wouldn't work just fine for you.

A USB bridge should work, but it will be slower than a SATA card. It would probably be adequate if you're going to use it for the DVD drive, but I'd avoid using it for a hard drive.
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January 13, 2010 1:58:01 PM

Price is always a concern and I just don't want to be locked into hardware/driver. Reading over the forums, I see alot of people having problems with the breaking of compatibility after updating the OS for new features or the kernel and I'd like this NAS to be rock solid for years if possible. This is where my concern is coming from. But I guess if I pay for NasLite, that will be less of an issue as I will partially be paying for PCI driver support. Again, I am new to all this and reading some of the forum posts made me want to avoid having to deal with extra drivers if possible. But at some point you have to dive in....
Thanks again for all your insight.
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January 13, 2010 4:15:46 PM

Go to NASLite forums, and repeat your questions there....
NASLited is very cheap, but rock solid.
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January 19, 2010 11:42:52 PM

Best answer selected by Laser1.
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