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Alex.Covecube

Successfully Enabled Port Multiplier on eSATA

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cskenney

Wow, thanks for the explanation and for pointing this out. Now where is Diehard to test this out fully?

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ikon

Thanks for dropping by Alex... been a while since we heard from you. And thanks very much for all the info; you've done some great detective work. Alas, I suspect I will never be able to take advantage of it. I don't have an N40L and my server is working so well I'm afraid N40Ls will be obsolete by the time I need to replace my server.

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diehard

You know me so well Chris Ok, I gave it a try. I have a SansDigital 4 bay esata box and WS2012E on a Microserver. Ordinarily I can only see 1 drive. Now with this new driver and a reboot ( BIOS changes) I can now see the 4 drives. SWEET.

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Joe_Miner

I know some people have mentioned that the HP MicroServer N40L does support an eSATA port multiplier, but I thought that I'd mention a few points about my experience with this:

  • The eSATA and all the SATA ports are connected to the Southbridge SB850.
  • The SB850 can operate the SATA / eSATA ports in a number of modes, IDE / AHCI / RAID. These are set up in the BIOS (hit F10 while booting).
    IDE - Legacy mode (I didn't test this).
    AHCI - The standard for SATA drives. No special driver required (but one is available) from AMD. Can use the default Windows driver.
    RAID - Allows you to optionally set up a RAID and requires a special Windows driver. This mode can be used even if you don't have a RAID setup.
  • Switching between AHCI / RAID changes the hardware ID of the SATA controller. This is akin to swapping in a brand new controller. Because of this, the old controller driver in Windows will not recognize the new mode and Windows will refuse to boot. The easiest way to switch this mode if you really need to is to re-install Windows.
  • I've verified that the SB850 supports a port multiplier on both AHCI and RAID. I've used linux to verify this which just works with it out of the box.
  • The default BIOS is configured to, what they call, "combine" the last 2 SATA ports with IDE. You will want to turn this off. Unfortunately the only way to do this is to get the unofficial unlocked BIOS and turn that off in the new chipset section. I've verified that this setting remains even if you later re-flash the official BIOS.
  • The latest AMD SB850 AHCI driver does support a port multiplier. It's difficult to find the correct driver though. The easiest thing to do is to go to http://amd.com and click Support & Drivers > select Motherboard / Chipset > AMD 7 Series Chipset (yes 7 series) > All... > Windows 7 64-bit. You will want the AMD Chipset Drivers (12.10 as of right now).
     
    Download the EXE.
     
    Now I didn't want to risk running their setup and didn't want anything else to be installed besides the controller driver, so this is what I did.
     
    I extracted the EXE using 7-ZIP and found the correct driver in \12-10_vista_win7_win8_32-64_sb\$_OUTDIR\Packages\Drivers\SBDrv\SB7xx\AHCI\W764. Just open device manager and update the driver manually pointing it to this location. This was for Windows Server 2008 R2, so all WHS variants will use the same driver.
     
    I should stress that this is the AHCI driver and not the RAID driver, which I didn't test. Your BIOS must be set to AHCI for this driver to work.
  • There's one more caveat. For some unknown reason, AMD chose to disable the port multiplier functionality in the AHCI driver on any port that's marked as non-removable. By default, all the SATA + eSATA ports are marked as non-removable (or non-hot swappable). Once again, this is a setting that is available in the unlocked BIOS. You will need to enable this for the driver to enable port multiplier support.

So in summary, to get a port multiplier working over the eSATA port, you must:

  • Put the controller into AHCI mode (in the BIOS).
  • Disable SATA / IDE port "combining" (in the unlocked BIOS).
  • Enable the ability to hot-swap on all ports (in the unlocked BIOS).
  • Install the latest AMD AHCI driver (12.10 as of this writing).

I did not test the AMD RAID driver and I don't know whether it supports a port multiplier, so that may or may not work. I do know for sure that the RAID BIOS controller does support a port multiplier because it works in linux.

 

I hope this helps others who are looking to enable port multiplier support on the HP N40L MicroServer.

 

 

Fantastic!! Thanks Alex!!

 

You know me so well Chris Ok, I gave it a try. I have a SansDigital 4 bay esata box and WS2012E on a Microserver. Ordinarily I can only see 1 drive. Now with this new driver and a reboot ( BIOS changes) I can now see the 4 drives. SWEET.

 

For sure! SWEET!!

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cskenney

You know me so well Chris Ok, I gave it a try. I have a SansDigital 4 bay esata box and WS2012E on a Microserver. Ordinarily I can only see 1 drive. Now with this new driver and a reboot ( BIOS changes) I can now see the 4 drives. SWEET.

I knew you had the SansDigital eSata box from an earlier post about it just being a JBOD. This opens up new possibilities for this little box!

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ikon

This makes the N40Ls just that much more versatile. Just think; in the past couple of days we've gotten confirmation of some Kingston RAM that seems to work reliably 100% of the time, and now we have a way to get Multiport eSATA working too. Sweet indeed :)

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jcollison

I might be the only one left on the planet who has not update the bios on my N40L! Got to get on that!

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jsox

Just yesterday I bought StableBit DrivePool and Scanner for the N40L + WHS2011 recently purchased but not yet set up. 8G of Kingston memory is on order (the 16G experience just seemed a bit sketchy to me, perhaps I should have waited...). I had not planned on trying to load the non-HP BIOS. But eSATA multiport seems like too good a reason not to do it. All this is waiting on time around Christmas and New Years, work is too much just now.

 

Question: When the single ESata port supports access to multiple SATA drives is the bandwidth (SATA II I assume) split between the active access events? So if multiple drives in the SansDigital box were being accessed at the same time things slow down?

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ikon

Well, of course, there is only so much bandwidth available on the link, so it has to be shared by all the requests.

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