Stable SATA pci card for FreeBSD 6.x/7.0

Jeremy Chadwick koitsu at
Tue Aug 5 12:16:33 UTC 2008

On Tue, Aug 05, 2008 at 12:28:40PM +0200, Sebastiaan van Erk wrote:
> However, a lot of disk activity on the drives will often cause the  
> machine to crash and spontaneously reboot. I checked out which chipset  
> was on the card with pciconf -lv and I found it was the Sil 3512.  
> Googling showed me that I'm not the only one with problems using this 
> card.

Yes, most of the Silicon Image ICs I've read about have odd driver
problems or general issues (even under Windows).  The system rebooting
is an odd one; you sure your PSU can handle two disks?

> Does anybody have experience with a (preferably not too expensive)  
> 2-port SATA expansion card which does not have any issues running under  
> FreeBSD 6.3/7.0?

Promise makes some consumer-priced cards which work very well under
FreeBSD (sos@ has full documentation on their cards).

Their RAID controllers (the consumer-level ones) **do not** require that
you use RAID; they support JBOD, and the disks will show up under
FreeBSD as ad(4) devices.  (If you choose to use the RAID, you'll still
see the ad(4) disks, but you'll also see an ar(4) device too.  This has
the added advantage of you being able to monitor SMART stats on the
disks themselves directly, etc...

> [pciconf -lv output]
> atapci0 at pci0:10:0:      class=0x018000 card=0x35121095 chip=0x35121095  
> rev=0x01
> hdr=0x00
>     vendor     = 'Silicon Image Inc (Was: CMD Technology Inc)'
>     device     = 'Sil 3512 SATALink/SATARaid Controller'
>     class      = mass storage
> [/var/log/messages before the crash]
> Aug  5 11:16:14 piglet kernel:  
> g_vfs_done():mirror/gm1s1e[WRITE(offset=111376236544, length=16384)] error = 6
> Aug  5 11:16:17 piglet last message repeated 9 times

Are you sure this is being caused by the controller?  Have you checked
SMART statistics on both disks?  Assuming error == errno, errno 6 is
"Device not configured".

There's been recent discussion of such messages being caused by the use
of gmirror or gjournal, when the mirror/journal is improperly set up.
(In one users' case, he was receiving similar errors, as well as the
filesystem failing during fsck.  Turns out he incorrectly configured
journalling, which nuked the last ~1MB of his UFS filesystem.)

I'm not saying this is the reason for the messages you see, but it's
something to keep in mind.

| Jeremy Chadwick                                jdc at |
| Parodius Networking              |
| UNIX Systems Administrator                  Mountain View, CA, USA |
| Making life hard for others since 1977.              PGP: 4BD6C0CB |

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