SATA controller went south

posted on 06:00 PM on Monday 03 November 2014

So the Sonnet Tempo SATA E2P died. It was throwing lots of errors when reading causing it to freeze. At least the system did not go under. The card was connected to two Hotway ProBoxes so that brought down half of my storage capacity. In short really bad.

So off I went looking for a new Sil3132 and I got one off Newegg. This was a Syba SD-SA2PEX-2E which was cheap and from the reviews seem to work well. With shipping, it was about $60 which if it did work would be cheap. Delivery took about 3 workings days via DHL as promised and once I plugged it in and booted up the machine, everything went back to normal. So so happy.

ZFS found all the disk and constructed the 2 raidz1 perfectly. No data lost which is one of the nice things about software RAID unlike hardware raid requiring the same or a similar controller which for enterprise might not be an issue but for poor me definitely a cost issue. So the part even shipped from Newegg was reasonable given that it worked well. The package was well packed but the box and the card looked to be of poor quality. It was a bit disheartening to see that at first but it worked. The only other small issue was that the card did not sit in the casing properly which meant that the screw could not be screwed on.

Having external disks connected via ESATA is actually pretty high performing. Given that the SIL3132 is only connected to a PCI-E 1x slot, I could read about 180MB/s and write 120MB/s which is pretty good. Certainly fast enough to saturate the 1Gbp ethernet network that I use. So it is quite cost effective since the card is only $60 and can connect 2 ProBoxes (each up to 8 drives). Imagine 6TB x 8 x 2 = 96TB for the cost a total cost of about $7000 (16 6TB drives (16 x $380), 2 ProBoxes (2 x $400) and 1 ESATA card ($60)).