PCI EXPRESS SATA CARDS

Depending on the available number of SATA ports on a motherboard, some may want to install additional disks. SATA cards are available at low cost with 4-port, 6-port and most recently 8-port. 16-port cards server cards have cable management issues.

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8-port SATA card, PCIe x1 slot

The Marvell 9215 is a standard PCI Express to 4-port SATA controller. This chip is widely used with low cost PCI Express SATA cards. The larger port count is provided by the JMB572 or JMB525 SATA port expanders.

The large HAF 932 has room for 7 DVD drives and 5 hard disks. The Corsair Obsidian 750D has 3 DVD drive bays and 6 hard disk bays which is expandable. The motherboards typically has room for 2 M.2 SSD drives.

There are lots of peripherals to fit the front 5¼ inch drive bays. Flash card readers and USB boxes are very common. Fan control boxes are also popular. Many various front panel boxes for hard disks are readily available. Old laptop disks are convenient for backups. Larger capacity disks can handle a lot of files and with several disks it is easy to move archived backups.

The front panel SATA 2½ inch drive cage can make cloning trivial for SSD conversions. Even the OEM recovery partition can be recovered. Most recovery partitions are configured for DVD use instead of USB to the frustration of users. The USB DVD drive has been very convenient in the studio.

Plastic trays are available for a wide array of storage needs. Unlike tape, hard disks do not seem to survive for long in cold storage. Over average they need to be powered up so that the disk can run self diagnostics etc.

The typical tape has a far lower arial density so they can survive cold for decades. NASA however reported that an Apollo archive suffered a 75% loss from tapes. It is not known if NASA was able to eventually recover any of their archives from old style vacuum column tapes which were standard back in the 1960s.

Disks are fine for a rotating backup scheme. In rotation they are powered up for long enough not to be problematic. For archival needs today the BD-R is capacious and able to survive for years. Replacement BD drives or its successor are low cost. They can be installed in the same chassis as removable disks. The SATA card can handle a lot of devices all in parallel.

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Using an 8-port SATA card can afford several DVD drives in addition to a drive cage. iTunes can import compact discs from multiple DVD drives. This can increase the flexibility of the machine for backup or for file recovery as needed.

Most motherboards disable SATA port 1 when a SATA M.2 drive is used in the M2_2 slot. For this reason connecting the DVD drives to the SATA card are not such a bad idea if the card supports NVMe. Some modern SATA cards now offer a ROM to support RAID and/or NVMe. This makes it possible for the DVD drive to be seen by the BIOS when selecting the boot media etc.

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JMB525 SATA port expander card

WINDOWS

The standard Windows driver for SATA is not compliant with the standard. SATA port expanders are commonplace in low cost bulk storage servers with rows and rows of hard disks. The Marvell SATA driver does recognize port expanders which potentially could be as may as 5 expanders deep. It does not take many JMB525 chips to handle even a 45 or 60 disk server. The low cost is one of the reasons why storage servers are growing towards EB levels and beyond.

PERFORMANCE

Depending on the SATA card features and the motherboard the performance for backup and recovery is quite adequate. AMD AM2 machines are PCI Express 1.1. Socket AM3 introduced new PCI Express 2.0 support which improved the peripheral slot speeds. Socket AM4 doubled the speed with PCI Express 3.0 support. Ryzen 3000 and X570 doubled the speed to PCI Express 4.0.

The Marvell chip is able to handle disk to disk copying readily. The SATA port expander is also able to handle disk to disk copying. The highest performance will be noted by copying data back and forth to internal hard disks to eliminate bottlenecks.