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Re: Re: Corrupt data - RAID sata_sil 3114 chip

Hello again,

For the sake of context and in case it got lost in the shuffle, I wrote this post last night: http://lists.debian.org/debian-user/2009/01/msg01928.html

Now, after several days of troubleshooting involving ext3-fs errors, formatting problems, inexplicable read-only filesystem mounts, and unbelievably bad drivers, my final diagnosis is that basically any product based on the Silicon Image 3114 chipset isn't worth bothering with. I'm returning mine.

The particular expansion card I purchased was the Syba SD-SATA-4P, also known as SiI 3114RAID, and I was trying to use it with four different 250GB Western Digital WD2500JD-00GBB0 and WD2500JD-75FYB0 drives. (I had two Syba identical cards and I was trying to use them in two identical Dell PowerEdge 1650 servers.) Over the course of my travails, I tried to make the Syba card work with CentOS 4.4, CentOS 4.7, CentOS 5.2, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows XP SP3. I had no idea what I was up against. After talking to Michael of Syba technical support, I came away with the impression that it was all my fault, for I had made certain assumptions in purchasing the card, and these assumptions are what led me astray.

My first assumption, which Michael corrected, was that the expansion card was designed to be used in servers. He said that instead, Syba was targeting consumers, and that servers weren't really their bread and butter, so to speak. I found this odd given that this isn't exactly a digital photo printer we're talking about--it's a PCI SATA adapter with 4 internal ports.

My next assumption was that "PCI 2.2 compliance" meant that the card was actually compliant with the PCI 2.2 specifications. According to http://www.pcisig.com/specifications/conventional/conventional_pci/2_2_checklist.doc, requirement EE5 on the Expansion Card Electrical Checklist is that the edge connector key correctly reflects the signaling supported. On the Syba card, it simply doesn't. While the card is keyed both for 3.3V and 5V PCI slots, implying support of either voltage, according to Michael, the card will *only* work in 5V slots--the kind he said were more typically found in consumer systems, and the kind that aren't available in my Dell PowerEdge 1650 systems.

A third assumption I made was that the Silicon Image drivers for Linux actually worked on Linux. They don't, as many of the people on this thread can attest. Michael said that the Syba (really, Silicon Image) Linux drivers only work up to version 2.6.9 of the kernel, and that later versions are not supported. (He also said that their engineers were "probably" working on an updated version.) In any event, none of the Red Hat drivers on the CD-ROM that came with the product are recognizable by Red Hat or CentOS from what I can tell.

Yet another assumption I made was that even if I couldn't get the card to work on my Dell PowerEdge systems because of their 64-bit 3.3V PCI slots and my apparently foolish desire to run a modern Linux kernel, I could still get it to work on Windows NT or XP. Depending on whether I corrected for capitalization errors in the TXTSETUP.OEM file supplied with several versions of the 32-bit driver, Windows NT 4.0 setup said either that a file was either missing or of an invalid type. The card was actually recognized by Windows XP, the latest 32-bit SiI SATARAID5 drivers worked, and I could copy data to my drives--but then RAID arrays that should be have been in good shape fell apart spontaneously on reboot, and no matter what, I couldn't boot off any of the connected drives. Also, after I ran it the first time, the mysterious (and impossible-to-use) SiI Windows software kept showing a bizarre 1K "partition" that visually appeared to be equally as large as my other 232GB partition in each drive.

Therefore, I think it's safe to say that the Syba SD-SATA-4P and the corresponding Silicon Image 3114 chipset have a fairly narrow appeal: they work in 32-bit 5V PCI slots only, on consumer systems only, which are running only the following operating systems that I own: none.

I hope this helps someone... I just wish I knew of an inexpensive (under $50) and reliable PCI-to-SATA adapter so I could put some of my hard drives to use in these servers!


Aaron Greenspan
President & CEO
Think Computer Corporation


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