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PCIe SATA Controller to bypass system limitation

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March 26, 2011 7:13:33 AM

I'm needing some advice on a subject I'm not very familiar with. My system seems to have a limitation for hard disk sizes that I'm trying to find a workaround to.

I have a Sun Ultra 40 (2006) which has been a beast for survival going on 5 years, however, when the machine was designed, it only accommodated hard drives up to 500GB in each slot (4 total) when using the standard SATA setup, and up to 2TB when configured as a RAID array (0,1, or 5). For most of its life I've used the 250GB hard drive, added another 300GB HD to hold my games, and another 300GB HDD to use for my hackintosh for OS X testing. After constantly seeing my hard disks constantly fill up, then I backup to Amazon and delete, I decided it was time to upgrade to a high capacity disk that will let me keep kicking for a few more years, especially since not much has improved in terms of CPU speed.

This is where I ran into the forgotten limitation of my motherboard. The system doesn't support my recently purchased 2TB hard drive, a Seagate Barracuda LP(yes, I know it's slow, but is was cheap and better performing than the WD Greens). I can use almost all of the drive, but the last 900GB won't format and can't be read from or written to. At first, I thought it was the drive, then after an RMA, receiving another drive and re-reading the documentation, I realized that is was either the mother board, the SATA controller, or the bios; the documentation doesn't point to what's causing the limitation.

When I tried to enable the RAID array, neither Windows 7, XP x64, nor Fedora 11 would boot. The only OS that would boot is the hacked-together OS X Snow Leopard. To make matters worse, when the RAID controller is enabled, the DVD-ROM won't read any of the Windows boot install discs (XP 32bit nor 64bit, Vista Business, 7 Professional). The only disk it will read is one with FreeDOS on it, so I can't even re-install with the nVidia or Sun RAID drivers. I also let the support contract and warranty expire almost a year ago since the machine is already depreciated.

For now, I've turned to attaching the 2TB HD to an enclosure and using it as an external hard drive. It works fine this way and I can use the entire disk, but I want to boot off of this drive and use it to replace the other drives, with the exception of the OS X drive. So, this brings me to my question, can I use a PCIe SATA/RAID controller to go around my motherboard/built-in controller's 500GB disk size limitation?

I want to make this workstation last a little bit longer before purchasing a new one. I can't get any help from Oracle without an expensive service contract, and they've raised the price of the contracts so much that it's cheaper to get another workstation from Dell or HP for more value, nor can I find any workstations that come close to the quality and longevity this machine has provided.

Any and all help is appreciated.

System Specs:
Sun Ultra 40 Workstation
nVidia nForce Professional 2200
8GB RAM
nVidia GTS 250 & Quadro FX 3500 (was a great card in '06!)
2x AMD Opteron 280 @ 2.4GHz

The rig was original and still is for work, I just play a few games in my free time, so having the best of the best in terms of hardware isn't as important as having the most reliable, since I still program on the thing.
July 12, 2011 9:12:17 AM

Dear Yeshuawatso,

Having the same problem, I would appreciate it greatly if you could tell me if you found a solution.

Yours,
Maxime
July 12, 2011 12:12:41 PM

Have you contacted Sun / Oracle about this? There should be a BIOS update to that system that will fix that issue. To put it simply, they didn't design the BIOS to recognize LBA numbers that high and thus any attempt to access that region will fail.

For add in cards, its 50/50. They card may support access to the disk in AHCI mode, but chances are your Sun system won't boot off it without a BIOS update.

If your having trouble getting the BIOS from Oracle PM me and I'll get it for you.
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July 18, 2011 9:36:12 AM

Dear Palladin9479,

Thank you for this information. I have not contacted Oracle directly about this issue.

Maxime
March 24, 2013 11:39:05 PM

palladin9479 said:
Have you contacted Sun / Oracle about this? There should be a BIOS update to that system that will fix that issue. To put it simply, they didn't design the BIOS to recognize LBA numbers that high and thus any attempt to access that region will fail.

For add in cards, its 50/50. They card may support access to the disk in AHCI mode, but chances are your Sun system won't boot off it without a BIOS update.

If your having trouble getting the BIOS from Oracle PM me and I'll get it for you.


I am also stuck without drivers for a Sun Ultra40 M2 which was purchased long ago. I am unable to find any link for the download of the driver ISO. I am at an academic institution where there is almost no possibility of contacting the original seller, and getting them to install the drivers. Heck I don't even know if there's a support contract still alive.

Please please tell me where to get the ISO?

Thanks
Milind
a c 379 G Storage
March 25, 2013 5:11:14 AM

I'm not sure that would work anyhow. Even if you can get the computer to recognize the drives, the OS's still have limitations.

Q. Can Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008 read, write, and boot from GPT disks?

A. Yes, all versions can use GPT partitioned disks for data. Booting is only supported for 64-bit editions on UEFI-based systems.


http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardwar...
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