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Thread: Booting Linux from a SATA PCI card - possible?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Default Booting Linux from a SATA PCI card - possible?

    Hi,

    The IDE boot drive in one of my older PCs is starting to develop bad sectors and needs to be replaced. And since IDE drives are becoming harder to find these days, I am thinking of booting from a SATA drive connected to a PCI card instead. The PCI card I plan to use has 2 internal SATA ports, and is based around the SiL 3112A chipset. Linux supports this controller via the sata_sil module.

    Before I go and buy myself a new SATA drive, it occurs to wonder whether it is possible to boot from a PCI card in the first place. Will the BIOS be able to "see" a SATA drive hanging off a PCI card? It's hardly going to be able to boot a kernel sitting on a drive that it doesn't know exists.

    Has anyone done anything like this before, please?

    Thanks,
    Chris

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    As long as it has got a bios chip on you can boot from it. In case it does not (which i had once with a via sata controller) you could mod the bios and add the sata option rom there - but that requires a bit experience.

  3. #3
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    Rather than the 3112A chip, which is sata 1.5 I would suggest spending a couple dollars more and getting a card which uses either the SIL 3124 or 3132, both of which are SataII 3.0.

    Charles

  4. #4
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    Default SATA 1.5 will do fine

    Quote Originally Posted by eslrahc View Post
    Rather than the 3112A chip, which is sata 1.5 I would suggest spending a couple dollars more and getting a card which uses either the SIL 3124 or 3132, both of which are SataII 3.0.
    The card is for an old Pentium III machine whose IDE drive is failing. It is PCI only - and I suspect that anything faster than SATA 1.5 would need PCI Express.

  5. #5
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    Default A BIOS chip is recognisable by...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    As long as it has got a bios chip on you can boot from it. In case it does not (which i had once with a via sata controller) you could mod the bios and add the sata option rom there - but that requires a bit experience.
    Would a BIOS chip provide boot options on the POST screen? Or would it simply "announce" any drive to the BIOS "set-up" screens instead?

    I have an existing SATA card based upon the SiL 3512 chip in another machine that offers me RAID options at boot-up (before the kernel loads). The 3112 card also seems to have RAID capabilities, although I doubt that Linux will be able to take advantage of them without a driver to understand the card's RAID implementation, correct? (I never bothered using RAID with the 3512 card, since I only ever connected a single drive to it.)

  6. #6
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    Aug 2007
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    You don't need to add a raid, you could it only use via dmraid however and only very few distributions support that. But it shows that the card has got a bios on it and it is bootable.

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