Saturday, January 23, 2010

Adding more storages to the old-computer-based NAS by PCI SATA controller

As is said before, I'm using my 7-years-old computer to build a NAS run under FreeNAS. It works fine without the need of monitor. The problem is I have only a 250GB IDE hard disk, which doesn't has enough spaces for, growing with my son, home video collection,  and the computer, of course, doesn't have SATA support. At the time of writing (Jan 2010), new IDE hard disks don't have much rooms and cost money, opposite SATA disks now have peak of popularity. There are 1,5TB WD Caviar Green (WD15EADS) for only 4500 rub (~107€), and, you're right, it is wanted.

After reading some forums and wiki the resolve was found — a ST-Lab A-224 PCI SATA150 Controller RTL with 4 SATA II and 2 e-SATA (fig. 1), whose chipset–Silicon Image 3114 is supported by FreeNAS. And fortunately, someone said this controller can work with 1,5TB disks.

Fig. 1. ST-Lab A-224 PCI SATA 150 Controller with 4 SATA II and 2 e-SATA
(click here to see bigger image).

Totally, for the controller, WD15EADS hard disk and Molex-to-SATA power adapter I've paid ~5500 rub (~130€) to obtain a 1,5TB NAS (fig. 2). Beside that, 3 SATA ports are opened for further upgrade...

Fig. 2. A new FreeNAS system with 1,5TB storage.

1. There is freezing problem of WD15EADS revision 00P8B0 disks (the only model with 3 platters, 500GB each). Everything works good for weeks, month, then the access time will be inconvenient big. Instead of WD15EADS, you can by Samsung Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen (HD154UI). All Samsung HD154UI revisions are 3-platters.
2. Although the controller has manufactured with very high quality, you can't upgrade the firmware, because it uses BIOS instead of flash memory. If you want, you can't change BIOS to flashrom in their service centers.
3. PCI devices (the SATA controller, NIC, etc) share their bus speed (?).


Phan Vinh Thinh said...
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Phan Vinh Thinh said...

User manual is here.

Piotrek A. said...

Hello. I'm making something similar. How did you provide power to the HDD? Did your power supply have native SATA connector or did you use Molex to SATA adapter?

Phan Vinh Thinh said...

Native SATA power supply is recommended. Due to finance limits I'm using Molex to SATA adapters, but I'm going to buy a quiet good power supply unit.