Jump to content
RESET Forums (homeservershow.com)
Alex.Covecube

Successfully Enabled Port Multiplier on eSATA

Recommended Posts

wizzbang

I was under the impression they are the same port ran off the same controller, it's just a physical difference. I guess we'll soon see. Regardless as long as one of them eventually multiplies, I'm good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ikon

The Port Multiplier feature is not required by the SATA standard, so most makers don't add it. When they do, as I understand it, they often only enable it for 1 port.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Puulima

Fantastic!! I stumbled (almost literally) onto this posting and am thrilled to hear this is possible.

 

One thing I wanted to inquire about - I'm looking at installing Windows 8 on my N40L - which from everthing I've read is possible. I plan to use it as a Home Server and take advantage of the drive pooling functionality in Win8.

 

Does anyone see any issues with the Port Multiplier functionality working if Windows 8 is the OS?

 

And on the order here - seems like I should be doing all the BIOS stuff before I do the OS install then?

 

If anyone knows of any links, tips, annecdotal notes on running Windows 8 on the N40L - feel free to share. I found a few links that noted it has been installed and works on the N40L.

 

Thanks much

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Joe_Miner

Fantastic!! I stumbled (almost literally) onto this posting and am thrilled to hear this is possible.

 

One thing I wanted to inquire about - I'm looking at installing Windows 8 on my N40L - which from everthing I've read is possible. I plan to use it as a Home Server and take advantage of the drive pooling functionality in Win8.

 

Does anyone see any issues with the Port Multiplier functionality working if Windows 8 is the OS?

 

And on the order here - seems like I should be doing all the BIOS stuff before I do the OS install then?

 

If anyone knows of any links, tips, annecdotal notes on running Windows 8 on the N40L - feel free to share. I found a few links that noted it has been installed and works on the N40L.

 

Thanks much

 

Hi Puulima! Welcome to the Forums!

 

1. I know in message #4 Dieharder tested the Port Multiplier with S2012E so I wouldn't expect Windows 8 to be any problem (they share much the same code) but I haven't heard results from Win 8 specifically.

 

2. It's a lot simpler IMHO if you do the "BIOS stuff" first -- After flashing the BIOS MOD then in the SouthBridge Menu setting the 5th & 6th SATA Ports to AHCI before installing the OS will make it much easier down the road IMHO. (OF course while your at it doing all of the BIOS stuff Alex talked about as well as outlined HERE)

 

3. You could read up on installs with S2012E and S2012 but I think the only issue in Win8 would be Sound since the N40L doesn't have a Sound Chipset but you could add a card for that -- but if you're using it as a Server you really don't need sound :). There are a number of tips/links worth reviewing IMHO here. Don't forget to think about a 3-2-1 backup strategy. You may also find Thurrott's article Repurpose an Old PC as a Home Server useful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Puulima

Wow, and what a welcome, probably the most comprehensive response to any posting I;ve ever made in any forum...thank!

 

Hi Puulima! Welcome to the Forums!

 

2. It's a lot simpler IMHO if you do the "BIOS stuff" first -- After flashing the BIOS MOD then in the SouthBridge Menu setting the 5th & 6th SATA Ports to AHCI before installing the OS will make it much easier down the road IMHO. (OF course while your at it doing all of the BIOS stuff Alex talked about as well as outlined HERE)

 

I'll read that post as well then...sounded like before was best and that's where I am.

 

3. You could read up on installs with S2012E and S2012 but I think the only issue in Win8 would be Sound since the N40L doesn't have a Sound Chipset but you could add a card for that -- but if you're using it as a Server you really don't need sound :). There are a number of tips/links worth reviewing IMHO here. Don't forget to think about a 3-2-1 backup strategy. You may also find Thurrott's article Repurpose an Old PC as a Home Server useful.

 

Definitely don't need sound so no worries there. I'll read the other tips in the other links also...thanks. Funny - I just read the repurposing article not too long ago. That's what I've had for the past few years - but with WHS v1 on an old Dell Dimension 8400. The primary driver to the N40L was the price tag (got it on sale) and the fact I can put 4 drives in it and then attach my 4 drive external enclosure and utilize Win8.

 

Looks like I have some reading to do today...but this forum is awesome and much appreciate the reply.

 

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Puulima

OK, I successfully flashed the new BIOS. At first it stopped at the C:\ prompt and noted "bad command or file name" - so after poking around, I decided to manually run the FLASH.BAT file - that started the FLASH routine and completed successfully. I rebooted and have all the new menu options - so not sure what went wrong in the "auto" running when I booted to the USB drive - but all appears to be good.

 

Next I went to the AMD site to fish for the Chipset drivers. It appears as of TODAY (1/17) they have a NEW version - 13.1 - so talk about timing huh? I could see that the same download package included the drivers for Win 7-64 -AND- Win 8-64 so downloaded it. Here's where I'm stuck - I think I know the answer but want to ask first.

 

Alex's instructions (first posting in this thread) note the following:

 

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.

 

So since I plan to instal Windows 8 on my N40L - I looked at both the W764 and W864 folders to see if they were the same or different. Looks like they are ALL different - file sizes and timestamps - so I''m assuming I should run with the Windows 8 drivers given I will be using Windows 8 - seems like a no brainer.

 

I made all the other BIOS settings changes that should activate the Port Multiplier functionality as well as setting the speed to 3.0 Gbps. So as soon as I confirm I'm on the right path for the Chipset driver I can move forward with my Win-8 install - ACTUALLY - I have to install the OS first before I can update the Chipset Drivers anyways - so a question of clarification:

 

- What exactly will get installed (by default) as the Chipset Drivers when Windows 8 is installed? I'm somewhat new to Chipset Drivers - had to update them on my old Dell 8400 when installing WHS v1 year back - but I'm a little fuzzy as to how the initial Chipset drivers get installed? Assuming its in the OS install? Either way, I will need to update the drivers to this downloaded version 13.1 correct?

 

 

Mahalos to all

Edited by Puulima

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ikon

The installer may, or may not, install any chipset drivers. You can find out by going to Device Manager and looking for the yellow warning markers. It's not uncommon to find chipsets listed there; things like SMBus.

 

And, yes, it does seem like a no-brainer for you to use the Win8 drivers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Puulima

Win8 install went smooth, so did updating the Chipset drivers to the latest version. I added in 3 more drives into the N40L and attached my External Enclosure (Rosewill RSV-S4) with 4 drives and once the OS booted, the 4 drive lights were illuminated. But the OS immediately became sluggish/non-responsive. After some sleuthing, determined one of the drives in the external enclosure was bad. Well windows isn't able to access it but I can access (and copy files from it) using this cool little open source utility called "testdisk" It doesn't seem to have any issues accessing any of the folders or files on the disk and I'm using it to copy the files to a new drive.

 

But here's my issue - I lost another drive in this enclosure earlier (my WHS v1 box wouldn't start on Christmas Day!) and a third drive in a separate individual enclosure. This all seems way too odd to me. Yes, the drives are anywhere from 2-4 yrs old, but to lose 2 the same time and a 3rd a few weeks later? I tested all the drives when I found the initial 2 dead ones and this latest drive was fine.

 

So I'm wondering if my External Enclosure is toasting drives? Not the thread/forum likely for this question - but anybody got any ideas how one goes about testing an external enclosure for problems? Last thing I want to do is load up new drives full of data only to toast them...but I also don't want to ditch the external enclosure unless there's some evidence it's creating the issues. If it weren't for the 3rd drive (separate individual enclosure) dying the same time, I'd probably be pointing a finger at the 4 drive enclosure.

 

Related to this thread: If the Win8 Server sees all the other drives (all 4 drive lights were up once the OS started up - indicating the driver loaded, also, I went into to Computer Management - Drives - and saw the other 3 drives there...but the one dead one seemed to drag the OS to it's knees) - then the Port Multiplier capability s/b working fine correct? IE: should either work or not work at all? I'd like to know if there is some software that I could use to test the enclosure somehow? Perhaps with some older (lower capacity) drives I'm not too worried about losing.

 

And yet another question for the experts: if my allegedly "dead" drive & files are fully accessible via "DiskTest" - but not in Windows - and Windows says the drive needs to be formatted - I'm thinking I can go ahead and re-format (probably a full format) and then test it to see if it works? I'm no drive expert, but seems like some basic File Allocation Table or Basic Partition data got messed up only? Which would seem more logical given 3 "failures" in such a short period of time...perhaps a surge of some sort - or again, a problem in the enclosure?

 

I realize this is a long multifaceted post and appreciate any assistance/direction you folks can offer.

 

Last question: any recommendations on an external eSATA enclosure that holds 4 (or more) drives - and doesn't break the bank?

 

Thanks all!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ikon

Testing an external enclosure? No idea. However, one question: is it on a UPS? That could really help keep the power delivery smooth and clean.

 

Yes, if Disk Manager sees all of the drives individually, then multi-port is working.

 

Have you tried running CHKDSK on the drives? If not, I would.... but, I would clone each drive to a spare first (if it's possible). Also, have you connected any of the suspect drives to another Windows PC?

 

I recommend Lian-Li EX503 enclosures. You didn't say what amount would 'breaking the bank', but they are around $250. I have 2 of 'em, as in the photo (top shelf): http://homeservershow.com/forums/uploads/gallery/album_35/gallery_502_35_361703.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
UhClem

Nice to see that the MicroServer has port multiplier support. My thanks to Alex for exposing this little nugget.

 

I've been messing with it for a few days, and have a few things to report:

 

1) The MicroServer's port multiplier (PM) support is command-based switching (CBS) only. This isn't "bad"; it's just not (quite) as good as it could be. The other mode of PM support is frame-based [aka FIS-based] switching (FBS), which is more time- and bandwidth-efficient. (Results below)

 

2) [With the appropriate BIOS upgrade, and settings] Both the eSATA port and the on-motherboard SATA port have PM support, and can be used concurrently. I don't have the weird cable/connector required to test the caddy SATA ports.

 

I'm running a Linux kernel (v3.2.29). I connected two SansDigital TR4M 4-drive enclosures (they use the Silicon Image SiI3726 port multiplier chip), each containing 4 drives ... plus 4 more drives in the caddies. 12 drives all active and transfering together--a joy to behold. Performance is decent, and should be satisfactory for typical media-serving duties. I'll attempt to quantify:

 

First a general (non-PM-specific) tidbit that Joe_Miner may want to include in the appropriate summary post: (Both my MicroServers are N40L's, but this very likely holds for the 36L & 54L too) The combined sustained bandwidth for the MicroServer's SATA sub-system is ~650 MiB/sec. For example, if I connect 6 x 125 MiB/sec drives (e.g. Hitachi 7K2000 2TB), and crank them all up transferring from their outer (ie, fastest) zone, they all measure in the 105-115 MiB/s range. Crank up only 5 at once, and they all achieve their top speeds.

 

Now, PM-specific performance: with both enclosures holding 4 drives, and all 8 drives powered and recognized/enumerated.

 

When transferring from (or to) only a single drive in an enclosure, that drive will exhibit pretty much the full extent of its performance. The only limitation I could expose was that a fairly fast SSD (Samsung 830) only achieved ~215 MiB/s(vs 250+ when it had a direct [no PM involved] connect). Access time performance was not hampered in the least (mechanical or SSD). All of the above held true when both enclosures were performing the same (single drive each) test concurrently.

 

It is when we operate two or more drives (in the same enclosure) simultaneously where CBS operating mode exposes its inferiority (vs FBS). When simultaneously transferring from two drives (in one enclosure), the transfer rate for each drive is ~60 MiB/s; for 3 drives, ~34 MiB/s each; for 4 drives, ~20 MiB/s each. The same results are obtained even with both enclosures operating concurrently--i.e. no further degradation (with 2 drives transferring in each enclosure, those 4 drives will each achieve ~60 MiB/sec).

 

With all 12 drives trying to do their fastest, the 8 drives in enclosures reach ~16-18 MiB/s each, with the 4 "direct" drives sharing the remaining 500-525 MiB/s.

 

All of the above transfer testing involved files with no fragmentation (essentially no seeking required). For multi-drive (simultaneous) operation, CBS mode PMs can really suffer. This is because, in CBS, only one drive can be acting upon a command at a time, and that command must complete before the next command can be issued to that PM/enclosure. A glaring example of this would be running an Access Time test on all 4 drives at once. Using 4 of my 7K2000s as a test case:

 

These drives have an average access time (seek + latency) of ~13 milliseconds. So a test comprised of 1000 randomly-chosen sectors (LBAs) will take ~13 seconds. And when we perform that test on just one such drive (in the enclosure) it does take 13 seconds. But if we run the test on two drives (in same enclosure) simultaneously, they both complete after 26 seconds; 3 drives, 39 sec; 4 drives, 52 sec.

 

However, those same tests on a FBS mode PM enclosure would all complete after 13 seconds, regardless of 1, 2, 3 or 4 drives concurrently. True multiplexing vs round-robin operation. For data transfers, FBS is only limited by the SATA II connection which is generally good for 230-260 MiB/sec. 3 drives concurrently will each run in the 75-90 MiB/s range; 4 drives 55-65 MiB/s. Yes, FBS sure does sound appealing, but let me warn you: with FBS, the controller AND the driver must be *known* to work properly *with* the PM-equipped enclosure you have. Else it is headaches and heartaches, I promise you. If the CBS provided by the MicroServer can meet your needs (even if not your desires), don't go looking for trouble [you will find it].

 

--UhClem

Edited by UhClem
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×
×
  • Create New...