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Re: Does SATA ICH7 south bridge work?

On Fri, 16 Dec 2005, Berni Elbourn wrote:
> Can you confirm if ICH7 chipset works reliably on Debian with Linux 
> software raid?

Yes.  And it will support hotplugging too, when the kernel finally gets
SATA client hotplug support.  You will need a recent kernel, but that's
almost the rule for good SATA support right now.

I *think* you may need to use the Debian testing installer to get Debian to
natively install to the SATA disks, but that shouldn't be much of a bother.
You can always boot any reasonable live-cd and use that to bootstrap Debian

> Trouble is that although Evesham are fine supplier they are not a Linux 
> shop...the server is described as a "200NH using an ICH7 south bridge", 
> It is one of those systems with the sata raid controller built into the 
> motherboard.

The ICH7 is among the best non-RAID SATA controllers you can find, and it
will give you the best possible data link speed to the memory and processor
BUSes you can get in an Intel-based board.  If you are really interested
into knowing what problems it has, find out the chip revision and get the
Intel ICH7 specification update, which lists all known errata for every chip
revision in the wild.

> Also can you recommend a reasonable cost Sata card that does work 
> production style with Debian...so that if the above does have problems I 
> have a rescue plan.

The better 3ware SATA RAID cards and the top SATA RAID controllers from
BusLogic and Intel.  Notice none of them are "consumer SATA PCI adapters",
these are usually crap and so much worse than an ICH7 it ain't funny, so I
wouldn't know how to recommend one to you that doesn't suck (they exist, but
I never found any.  Not that I searched them for long).

Hint: find a board, get the SATA controller chip part number, look it up in
the libata docs.  If it is not listed as full NCQ, PM and hotplug capable,
it is not good enough.  If it is not SATA 300 capable, it might malfunction
with some SATA 300 disks (e.g. the Intel ICH5 and ICH5R which may lockup if
the SATA 300 disk tries to negotiate SATA 300 before it tries SATA 150 --
see Intel ICH5 specification update).

  "One disk to rule them all, One disk to find them. One disk to bring
  them all and in the darkness grind them. In the Land of Redmond
  where the shadows lie." -- The Silicon Valley Tarot
  Henrique Holschuh

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