Nexenta and SIL3512 Controller

NexentaStor is Solaris based storage appliance which leverage ZFS filesystem. NexentaStor Community Edition is free version (up to 18 TB) with NFS, CIFS and deduplication features. I have just started to play with it little bit. I am installing it on bare metal hardware (there are also virtual appliance editions for VMware or Xen available) and am curious about the performance.

The hardware I use is a few years old ASUS P5B-VM DO motherboard with 6 SATA ports on ICH8DO Intel controller and two SATA ports on JMicron onboard controller (one internal and one external). I always intended to use this hardware for fileserver and 7 SATA ports seemed not enough therefore I have added two dual port SATA SIL3512A controllers which gave me altogether 11 internal SATA ports. I used to run Linux and VMware ESX4 on this hardware and never had any problems with recognizing all the available ports or connected drives. However with Nexenta it was not the case. Nexenta did not see the SIL3512A controllers and the four 1TB SATA drives attached to them.

The SIL3512A is generic chip made by Silicon Image the controller is made by Kouwell and the actual make is 571S.

It features some kind of SATARAID 1 and 0 but that does not work in any OS but Windows. There is however available another BIOS without the RAID features. So I created FreeDOS USB drive with HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool and copied the BIOS file and SIL flash utility there. I booted my file server of the USB drive and flashed both controllers with following command:

UPDFLASH.EXE B4502.BIN

Nexenta now sees the connected disks as ATA attached drives. See the highlighted screenshot.