STORAGE CONTROLLERS

PCI EIDE/SATA controller
PCI ATA and SATA card

Storage controllers are a standard device in Windows. This makes it much easier for independent hardware designers to design their products. Early on the MFM disks gamve way to RLL controllers which delivered 50% more storage. EIDE surfaced in 1987 in machines and discretely in 1988. EIDE went through some speed evolution before PCI Express took over and introduced SATA. SATA III has remained in use for over 5 years with no additional speed increases. SATA dispensed with master slave to a single sata cable for each discrete drive.

PCI cards with a pair of EIDE ports were popular in the 1990s when the CDROM drive came down in price. The introduction of the DVD drive motivated more to install PCI cards, Quad port EIDE cards were sold for larger machines with more disks installed.

pci-express-8-port-sata-card
PCI Express 8-port SATA card

AMD has used ASmedia for adding some additional SATA ports. Marvell is widely seen with discrete PCIe cards. JMicron is known for their USB SATA logic in addition to their discrete port expander logic. SATA has become popular with consumer systems with declining prices.

The most commonly seen controller is the Marvell chip mounted on a 4-port PCIe card. These cards are mass produced and they are very inexpensive. These cards are widely used for adding more hard disks. Marvell is also known for networking hardware.

More recently, 8-port cards with a SATA controller and a SATA port expander are now starting to become more widely available. The 8-port cards are not super fast but they are fine for machines loaded with hard disks for media etc.

PCIe SATA cards are not limited in capacity which is why they are so popular. Some older MBR machines cannot boot a disk larger than 2TB. Now that larger capacity disks are available SATA cards are wildly popular.

USB hubs are mass produced. These are so inexpensive they are used more widely. The shortage of USB 2.0 on motherboard can be relieved with a USB hub chip. Providing 6 USB 2.0 internal ports would allow for a wide range of internal peripherals. A lot of front panel boxes need USB for card readers and front panel USB ports. Front boxes with USB ports are abundant.

USB flash sticks do not appear as a storage controller instead they appear only as storage which due to the way USB is implemented. The JMicron USB SATA chip is widely embedded in a cable for connecting a bare hard disk to a PC for backups etc. Everybody should have one of these to backup with.