socket7 new controller card: sata-II / usb / firewire / lan

Discussion relating to Socket 7 hardware.
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DonPedro
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socket7 new controller card: sata-II / usb / firewire / lan

Post by DonPedro » Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:55 pm

I am looking to buy a PCI - addon controller card.

the card should feature:
(ordered by importance)

2 (or more) sata-II ports
usb 2.0 ports
lan port
firewire port

I also would like the card to be able to boot from dvd !!!

any suggestions?

is anyone actually using a sata-harddisk? how is the performance on socket-7 systems? how much limits the pci-bus the performance of today's sata-disks?


I plan to install 2 samsung SpinPoint S250 250GB SATA II (HD250HJ) disks.

according to a german pc-journal (c't) the disk delivers incredible speed:

write: 51,8/80,4/96,9 (min/avg/max)
read: 52,2/82,9/103 (min/avg/max)

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kalabok
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Post by kalabok » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:57 pm

as stated earlier,

i would advise to get a siig combo card.
never used a sata hdd, but the performance for an ata133 was quite satisfying.

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AlleyViper
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Post by AlleyViper » Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:23 pm

I'm currently using an ide samsung spintpoint that is limited to the ata33 bandwidth so I grabbed from ebay one of those cheap cards with aVT6214L plus VT6421A. A 4 port usb 2.0 controller (my pci card will go out), and raid capable ata133 ide port, plus one internal sata and an eSata (all 1.0). I hope to get a nice boost in the mechanical hdd read which now sits at 30MBs. When I get it I'll post some results. The same type of cards is easily available without usb 2.0, but with another internal sata port.
IIRC pci is limit is 133MBs for everything on it, if the sata burst rate can saturate it, sata II should even more, so I guess there's no difference in both interfaces with these old machines, as even two modern discs will be bottlenecked on their mech reads with concurrent access.
Shuttle HOT-591P 512KB L3 REV.2.0, bios 591PS025 @100/66/33 1:1
K6-III+ 500 ANZ 256KB L2 @600MHz/2.0V + CM DP5-6I31C-A1, TT 6x2.5cm/7krpm/38cfm fan @7V
2X256MB pc133 CL3 @100MHz/2-2-2-5
HP GeForce2 GTS 32MB AGP
SB AWE64 Value ISA, SiS900 NIC, Trust USB 2.0 5-Port PCI
Samsung Spinpoint 80GB, Quantum Fireball 6.4GB, Yamaha CRW3200E
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DonPedro
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Post by DonPedro » Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:44 am

yes, the question is if the pci-bus on a socket7 is able to let a hd sataII (as mentioned above) reach its full speed, ie. about 100mb/s.

the pci bus has a theoretical limit of 133mb/s, but the questioin is how well the chipset is tuned to come close to it. I can remember that many years ago the guys at c't magazin tested this out with some solid-state disks. I don't know today on what motherboards they performed these tests but I think the best chipset (they tested different ones) maxed out at 115mb/s.

dominicx
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Post by dominicx » Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:15 am

Well, I did some research recently, as I'm building a maxed-out K6 system by myself, so that is what I found out:

Personally I would avoid putting all-in-one card of this kind. All the controllers on the card are Bus Masters anyway, so it is much safer and flexible (but more expensive) to put separate cards. Especially when it comes to SATA and USB 2.0 controller - it's vital you could remove the card physically in case of problems.

The SATA II controllers for PCI 2.1 (and PCI in general) are very hard to find, there are only several cards existing and I'm not sure if they would work. Here's one of the best, with eSATA as well, which is vital for me:

http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA/rr1742.htm

Unfortunately I couldn't say if it would work with 5V only; usually I could recognize the PCI 2.1 compatible cards with a condensor located next to the PCI 2.2 key. No sign of it here. Besides it's very expensive, in Poland it's about 150 EUR.

The PCI bus works in MVP3 with about half of it's theoretical bandwidth of 133MB/s:

http://www.tecchannel.de/pc_mobile/komp ... ndex3.html

~70MB/s, not great, but don't forget it's Via. So there is really no point in having a SATA II card, not to mention 2 fast hard disks in RAID array - they will be never able to reach their best, especially that the bandwidth will be shared with USB 2.0 and LAN cards.

SATA I card with the Via's VT6421A should work like a charm with just one SATA disk, look for the card with eSATA connector and 5V support, which is apparently not so obvious. An example:

http://www.SPAM_kon ... ta_fv.html

2 internal SATA connector, 1 eSATA, 1 ATA133, cheap - 11 EUR - I think it's a good deal.

If it comes to USB 2.0 controller - always avoid Via! VT6212L, VT6214L don't work at all with PCI 2.1, VT6202 (old version) does, but the performance is pitiful. Ali's known for incompatibility, so the only reasonable chioce is NEC.

Try to find a NEC card with possible latest revision, they're believed to be the best controllers ever:

http://www.SPAM_kon ... an_hq.html

For LAN I want a Gigabit Ethernet; if the card works with 5V there should be no problems, although it's hard to decide between Marvell and Realtek:

http://www.SPAM_kar ... 2l_fv.html

http://www.SPAM_kar ... t_hit.html

The FireWire controller is not a problem, unless you want the 1394b version, even Via VT 6307 works well on MVP3. It would be good to have a USB-1394 combo card, but as far as I know it's hard to find a card with NEC USB 2.0 and 1394 controller.

I also want to have the WiFi card on my Epox MVP3G5 board, but I'm afraid it will degrade the performance significantly. I'm searching for the 802.11n card, or 802.11b+, but probably I will have to test them, since it's more and more difficult if they're 5V compatible.
For sure, Intel's cards are not.

Of course the whole situation depends if you have free PCI slots (I have 5 slots, so I could afford putting there the Creative X-Fi Extreme Gamer sound card, VT6421A SATA controller, NEC USB 2.0, 1000Mb LAN card and the WiFi card, although I'm a little bit afraid there could be some sharing problems with the Radeon 9800 Pro - usually I avoided putting anything into the first PCI slot). If you don't, you need the combo card.

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Post by DonPedro » Sat Dec 01, 2007 12:25 pm

thank you guys for your input! :)

actually I am going 2 paths. one is to upgrade my work-horse - pc, os nt4 on a gigabyte ga-5ax board (ali-5 chipset). here I only want to add a sata-2 controller. the only issue here is that the controller's drivers must support nt4. I have already found one, it is a exsys 3403 card (marvell chipset).

the second upgrade-path is for my sis530 chipset board, asus p5s-vm. it has 3 pci slots only and one is already filled with the gfx-card (no agp-slot available). so here it is important to get as much features with one add-on card as possible (the 3rd pci-slot will take the soundcard). so I need I need a card that gives me lan/usb/sata/(firewire). firewire is not a must. of course one could also leave out lan, because there are usb-lan sticks available for that matter. an absolut nono is sound via usb, it eats way to much into bandwidth. exsys again has a card that comes close: exsys 6508e but unfortunately does not offer sata connectors and the usb is provided by via. one good thing with exsys products is that afaik they all work with 5v pci slots and in most cases come with drivers up from 98se and nt4 which many companies leave out today!


dominicx, if you are going for a maxed-out system I would recommend to stay away from audigy-cards and up. they eat a lot of cpu-cylces compared to for example a sb-live card. I have not done a thorough testing on this, but my tests so far revealed a 10% decrease in gaming performance.
Last edited by DonPedro on Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

dominicx
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Post by dominicx » Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:08 pm

DonPedro, I hope you noticed ExSys EX-3403 has no RAID function? Of course it's meaningless for MVP3, but card seems nice, you could probably use it in other systems as well.

In your opinion, what is the highest sound card I could put into my MVP3 board that wouldn't degrade the performance? Yeah, 7 inches, I know :P, but SB Live! seems quite old. ;)

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AlleyViper
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Post by AlleyViper » Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:42 pm

I'm quite a fan of cs4630 based soundcards as the turtle beach santa cruz or terratec sixpack 5.1+ (as I have in other build), they have an unbeatable sound quality in stereo (true 5.1 cant be done with ds3d, only 4.0). Honestly, I prefer it to my audigy2 which sounds too harsh.
But for gaming they are too slow when using EAX, because they must wrap it to sensaura. On the other hand, they were very popular with via *86B southbridges because they didn't have the crackle/latency problems which made the combo hard with SB Live.
Excepting that, the only cards I've ever tried in my mvp3 were the awe64 isa and an ensonic sb pci128. The awe64 sounded way better, and curiously, timedemos in q3 were faster, not to mention the crackle/latency problems with my pci128 which caused stutters.
Shuttle HOT-591P 512KB L3 REV.2.0, bios 591PS025 @100/66/33 1:1
K6-III+ 500 ANZ 256KB L2 @600MHz/2.0V + CM DP5-6I31C-A1, TT 6x2.5cm/7krpm/38cfm fan @7V
2X256MB pc133 CL3 @100MHz/2-2-2-5
HP GeForce2 GTS 32MB AGP
SB AWE64 Value ISA, SiS900 NIC, Trust USB 2.0 5-Port PCI
Samsung Spinpoint 80GB, Quantum Fireball 6.4GB, Yamaha CRW3200E
Mini AT case (ATX modded) with:
8cm TT Std Fan @7V
Generic 300w ATX

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AlleyViper
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Post by AlleyViper » Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:34 pm

dominicx wrote:
If it comes to USB 2.0 controller - always avoid Via! VT6212L, VT6214L don't work at all with PCI 2.1, VT6202 (old version) does, but the performance is pitiful. Ali's known for incompatibility, so the only reasonable chioce is NEC.

Try to find a NEC card with possible latest revision, they're believed to be the best controllers ever:
Oh dang... ATM I'm using a VT6212L (if I'm not wrong) on a trust pci card without much reason to complain (I'll correct this post next time I open my pc). As this is an all via based computer, I've chosen it for commodity. On the other hand, on all my other pcs I have NEC based cards (they have the awful nf3 usb 2.0, as one of the cards is only for a TM Cougar lol). One important thing with via usb 2.0, either pci or onboard is to never install the drivers they supply, and stick to the ms ones. They add a lot of connectivity problems with some stuff I use, and go crazy after updating hyperions 5.xx.
Let's see what will happen with the VT6214L on that card :|. My board has only 3 pci slots, that's why I prefered to have everything on one, as I already have and need my NIC, and the adjacent pci slot to the agp usually shouldn't be used.
Shuttle HOT-591P 512KB L3 REV.2.0, bios 591PS025 @100/66/33 1:1
K6-III+ 500 ANZ 256KB L2 @600MHz/2.0V + CM DP5-6I31C-A1, TT 6x2.5cm/7krpm/38cfm fan @7V
2X256MB pc133 CL3 @100MHz/2-2-2-5
HP GeForce2 GTS 32MB AGP
SB AWE64 Value ISA, SiS900 NIC, Trust USB 2.0 5-Port PCI
Samsung Spinpoint 80GB, Quantum Fireball 6.4GB, Yamaha CRW3200E
Mini AT case (ATX modded) with:
8cm TT Std Fan @7V
Generic 300w ATX

DonPedro
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Post by DonPedro » Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:08 pm

@dominicx

I really recommend the sblive-series, because they never failed me and have the speed-advantage over the audigy-series cards. also the sblive-cards came in about half a dozen of flavours (different connectors, digital in/out, etc.) so I don't see why they would not match your needs.

@alleyviper

it is correct in some circumstances that keeping the pci-slot adjacent to the agp-slot empty can avoid some trouble. but interrupt-sharing is no longer THAT problem with matured bioses and drivers over the years (there were a lot of troubles in early agp-systems under win95b and also win98, but I think you use at least win98se or later os).

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AlleyViper
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Post by AlleyViper » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:45 pm

Oh well, a few days ago the pci card arrived but it doesn't suit my my needs. The via vt6214L ain't a problem on my board, usb 2.0 is working fine as the vt6212L which was there before.
The problem is the via vt6421L, as I can get only the pata+sata ports inside windows as the card seems to have no raid bios (selecting scsi first in boot order, I've even tried it in a nf3 to clear doubts). It seems that users of this and the vt6421a suffer the same. Disks are only detected after windows loads so they can't be booted. A normal workaround to this is integrating the raid bios with the mb's, but it can't do it because it hasn't enough space for that.
As my plan was to pass my single drive to a faster controller, I have no use for it.
So, I'm asking which ata ide cards should I look for so they can be detected as scsi providing a bios to boot a single. Is the sil0680 or a IT8212F the better choice?
Shuttle HOT-591P 512KB L3 REV.2.0, bios 591PS025 @100/66/33 1:1
K6-III+ 500 ANZ 256KB L2 @600MHz/2.0V + CM DP5-6I31C-A1, TT 6x2.5cm/7krpm/38cfm fan @7V
2X256MB pc133 CL3 @100MHz/2-2-2-5
HP GeForce2 GTS 32MB AGP
SB AWE64 Value ISA, SiS900 NIC, Trust USB 2.0 5-Port PCI
Samsung Spinpoint 80GB, Quantum Fireball 6.4GB, Yamaha CRW3200E
Mini AT case (ATX modded) with:
8cm TT Std Fan @7V
Generic 300w ATX

DonPedro
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Post by DonPedro » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:37 pm

alleyviper,

I spent the day today with doing research on sata-controller cards. I have no idea whether any of the the three cards that I have put on top of my list are effectively able to boot an os from hds connected to them. I must admit that of course I expect them to do so. I would not have thought that this might an issue, but ironically I also read an article about exactly the behaviour you are describing and the person complaining also had a card with this via vt6421L ....

okay, up to now here are my top 3 contenders (in no specific order):

a) Promise SATA300 TX4302 Retail
- it does not feature anything beyond sata-ports, but it has 4 ports, 2 of them of "real" esata-type. I write "real" because there are 2 kinds of so-called external-sata ports: those who are only internal ports but led to the external-bracket and those who actually are built in accordance to the normed specification of esata. this makes a lot of difference: different kind of plugs, allowing longer cables, etc. I think I will buy this card for my work-horse computer and will add an additional card for some usb20 ports (+firewire) which are propelled by nec chips (which are said to give the best usb-performance).

b) SIIG USB2.0+FireWire+SATA Combo
USB 2.0 (3 ext. & 1 int.)+1394 (2 ext. & 1 int.)+SATA (2) combo board; Part #: SC-UNS012
this card uses a nec chip for the usb-ports and Silicon Image SiI 3112 chip for the sata-ports. unfortunately no esata-ports, also it is not sata-2 capable. I probably will go for this card to use it in my asus p5s-vm board, where only 3 pci slots are available.

c) exsys EX-3401
4x S-ATA2 PCI-X Controller RAID 0/1
2 internal, 2 real external ports
Silicon Image SIL3124-2 chip

unfortunately all 3 cards cost a little fortune. for the price of each of them one gets a brand-new today's mainboard with everything on board :(

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AlleyViper
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Post by AlleyViper » Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:15 pm

No matter what sil chipset you chose, always ensure with the cards manufacturer if the rom chip is programmable with the software provided by silicon image. To make sure you can swap bios to trim out problems, or convert the card to raid or atapi for proper support of single or odd drives.
Shuttle HOT-591P 512KB L3 REV.2.0, bios 591PS025 @100/66/33 1:1
K6-III+ 500 ANZ 256KB L2 @600MHz/2.0V + CM DP5-6I31C-A1, TT 6x2.5cm/7krpm/38cfm fan @7V
2X256MB pc133 CL3 @100MHz/2-2-2-5
HP GeForce2 GTS 32MB AGP
SB AWE64 Value ISA, SiS900 NIC, Trust USB 2.0 5-Port PCI
Samsung Spinpoint 80GB, Quantum Fireball 6.4GB, Yamaha CRW3200E
Mini AT case (ATX modded) with:
8cm TT Std Fan @7V
Generic 300w ATX

DonPedro
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Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 2:11 pm

Post by DonPedro » Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:05 pm

I decided to buy the SIIG USB2.0+FireWire+SATA Combo SC-UNS012 and it is already on its way to me. I hope the card works in my asus or gigabyte ali-5 chipset boards, but should at least do in the asus p5s-vm (sis530). once the card is accepted in one of my systems I will go for the samsung s250 single-platter sata-drive.

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