Atamido

Cheap PCIe SATAII controler w/ 4+ ports

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I've received help and nailed down what I'll probably get to replace my current WHS server case. This will expand my capacity to 12x 3.5" drives. But as I only have 6x SATA ports on my motherboard, I'll need to get a controller card to add more drives. As I'm using WHS, any RAID features would be useless to me.

I'm using the Intel DG43NB motherboard, which has:

1 PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot

3 PCI Express 1.1 x1 slots

I just need 6 more SATA II ports, so there are a few combinations of cards I could get. But I'm looking for whatever would be cheapest while providing decent reliability and speed. What 2-8 port cards out there would anyone recommend?

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I did notice the other day that the Backblaze Storage Pod used the same motherboard that I have, and they're using the Syba SD-SA2PEX-2IR 2 port controller. It looks like I could grab this for $19 shipped on ebay. At least I would know that it works with my motherboard.

Of course, Syba doesn't give any indication of the difference between this card and the SY-PEX40015 which I could get for $2 cheaper. They use the same chip and the board appears identical.

And then there is the Syba SY-PEX40030 which is obviously a newer chipset as it supports SATA 6Gbps, and explicitly lists Windows 7 support (which will be important when the next version of WHS comes out). But it costs twice as much.

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I don't think there's too many sata controllers for PCIe 1x, maybe just more of these 2-port cards. It's too bad you didn't get another 16x slot in place of one of those PCI slots. Even if it just had 4 lanes you could still get a nice 4x (or 8x) 8-port ML card for about $100.

I think some PCI-X cards can work in regular PCI slots as long as the voltage is right, although I don't know how much that would affect performance. The Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 sounds like it's pretty popular for some of the larger Norco type systems where people are running OpenSolaris and ZFS RAID-Z/Z2 (like software RAID5 and RAID6). The first comment on http://www.sun.com/bigadmin/hcl/data/components/details/3009.html says it works in a regular PCI slot, but instead of 1GB/sec you only get 150MB/sec. Supermicro makes a PCIe 4x version of this card (AOC-SASLP-MV8) for about the same price.

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Well, Syba does have this one 4 port PCIe 1x card, but the Newegg reviews for that card aren't encouraging. I think I may just try those two port PCIe 1x cards for $20 each. I only need 6 ports, and that'll get me there for $60.

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I ended up getting this SATA2 controller card from Monoprice as I was already ordering a few things from there. Ordering 3 made the price $13.86 each, so $41.58 + shipping (which I was already paying for the other items).

The box says IO Crest, which the homepage for just redirects to Syba. The sticker on the card is for the Syba SY-PEX40015, which uses the Silicon Image 3132 controller. Incredibly, the Windows Automatically Detect Drivers actually found with right drivers on Windows Update and installed them. I've never actually seen that happen before. It installs the SI SATARAID5 drivers.

The drivers properties include a tab to flash the BIOS. The BIOS on the card was version 7.3.13, dated 04-02-2006. The Silicon Image website has new BIOS files for their chipset, so I downloaded the b7703.bin file and flashed to the latest "IDE (non-RAID) BIOS". It's now version 7.7.03, dated 07-01-2009. Upon reboot, it downloaded yet another proper drive from Windows Update labeled SATALink. The drivers are version 1.0.22.3, dated 08-22-2008.

The drives all list as healthy in the WHS console. In the Device Manager drives attached to one of these controllers have "SCSI Disk Device" appended to the end of their names. And under the Policies tab the options are grayed out. So it isn't possible to select "Enable write caching" or "Enable advanced performance" on these drives now.

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