opensolaris – zfs PCI-e sata controller

Time for me to add some more sata ports to my opensolaris build. I’ve been using the SI 3114 PCI cards  (4x sata) up until now without any issue, but they are limited by the bandwidth on the PCI slot. Time to upgrade and boost my performance.

At the moment i’m looking at grabbing one of these UIO cards;


From what iv’e been reading these cards will work fine in a PCI-e slot (8x / 16x) after a bit of modding and display the drives straight to opensolaris without any additional drivers etc. (same chipset used in various sun servers)

The backplate on a UIO card is essentially on backwards, when you remove the backplate and put the card into the PCI-e slot all the components will appear on the other side to normal. It is possible if you have a spare PCI-e backplate to attach to this card (just unscrew the current backplate and replace).

And the required mini SAS to SATA cables from extreme deal;


Updated : 02/09/2009

Put this card in and bingo no problems. Had to export and re-import the zpool as it had problems with the drives being on a different controller? (hadn’t seen that before), but after that everything was working very well as expected. Cool!

Flashing si3114 to sata only bios

This is the perfect controller for adding additional sata drives into opensolaris (well in terms of price, the bandwidth of the PCI slot is the only negative part). The si3114 comes with the default bios that supports various raid configs, but this requires additional drivers to be loaded.

Essentially the “raid” on the card is called fakeraid as it does not actually process any data itself, but hooks into the cpu via a driver and lets your cpu do all the work.

Instead we will flash the bios to be a sata only controller (no raid). If we are using ZFS its better to just present the disks and let the OS take care of the work.

You will need these tools;

bio-003114-x10_5403 – the various bios’s for the si3114 card

siflashtool – the flashing tool

Note : you must plug in a hard drive into the card or else the flash will not work.

From the zip above you want to grab this file for the bios flash “b5403.bin” the other is for raid and can be ignored.

Now you’ll need to grab your trusty bootable flash drive / usb stick. If you dont have one check out HP’s tool for creating one (else you could use a floppy boot disk if you still have one). Copy the files onto it, and boot it up.

The instructions say you can flash in windows, but i never had any luck with that – instead found booting to dos a much more reliable method. This is the commandline to run it;

SiFlashTool /File:b5403.bin