SATA PCI controller manual expansion – fail

My SATA to USB converter failed me when I was trying to transfer data from my two 250 GB drives  to a 1TB RAID-1 array (I wrote about the array in my previous post FakeRAID setup trouble – array schizophrenia). Since it was already too late that day to go and buy another converter, I decided to sniff around for another way to move the data over. The only thing I found was that my PCI SATA controller had two extra external PCB pads for e-SATA sockets which were not populated. This is the hero of today’s story:

sata-to-pci converter

Reading all the stories about discovering that your GPU is much stronger but only bit or resistor-locked to a lower capability, I thought maybe it may be the case here as well. Who knows, maybe they didn’t want to separately design lower-end and higher-end models and decided just to mount the appropriate amount of receptacles for 2- or 4-port model.

What I had was an el-cheapo 2 port Sil3512-based board. The free sockets looked like this:

E-sata to be

I had no SATA or e-SATA receptacles around, so I just stripped off one end of a SATA cable,

sata cable stripped

and soldered it to the board directly:

sata cable soldered to a PCB

I tried booting up the server with one of the drives connected, but to my dismay the drive was not being detected. Just in case I de-soldered the cable, and soldered it the other way, up-side-down, but it did not help, either. Then out of despair I googled some more, only to find out this description of an another Sil3512 based card:

SIL3512 Chipset, 2-Port external eSATA, 2-Port internal SATA. but you can not use 4 SATA port at same time, you can control the SATA port by the jumpers, you just can use 2 SATA port at same time.

Oh well, I could have googled a bit harder before I got to it. This one goes into Fail category.