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A high-quality SATA PCI 2.5" hard card, to celebrate SATA's 20th birthday

Melkhior

Well-known member
I may some day write my own custom firmware for these cards, which of course I then would make open source.
You probably already know, but here's my list, new references welcome:
Designing PCI Cards and Drivers for Power Macintosh Computers
Apple Technotes 1061, 1062, 1044
Starting FORTH
Firmworks' OpenFirmware implementation (never found a copy of their book 'Writing FCode Programs for PCI', see their own page)
PCI Local Bus specifications
PCI Bus binding for OF specifications (and more links)
I've done firmware for my own SBus device, OpenBoot/OpenFirmware & Forth are not the easiest to get into but it's doable. In my experience, the actual OS driver is the more complex part (the firmware loading a kernel from non-volatile storage is read-only and doesn't need to be really fast).
 

aperezbios

Well-known member
Love the M.2 slot and "hardcard" SATA 2.5" functionality. Will be keen to see how a mature, stable SATA chipset functions with certain brands of SSDs. Find it really hit and miss with SD/CF/SATA/M.2 compatibility in my Macs and PCs using generic adapters.
We've been doing testing on this, and, overall, compatibility seems good. There are a couple of notable, widely-available low-end SSDs (WD Blue, with the SanDisk-branded SATA controller) which fall over HARD when writes are attempted. Reads work fine, though, which is interesting.
 

NJRoadfan

Well-known member
That behavior has been documented before with the Sil311x on PCs: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?p=759082#p759082

Early SATA implementations were a tad...... quirky. Ever wonder why early SATA-II hard drives have a jumper to force SATA-I mode? Blame VIA and their buggy VT6421 controllers. I know the Sil311x had issues with newer drives as well. Past notes indicate one of the early controllers could have problems with Advanced Format 4k sector drives. Also many of these problems could have been firmware bugs that were later fixed (at least on the PC side).
 

n8blz

New member
Shoutout to the rabbithole team and dosdue1 the stuff you do is really important for the community! I’m very excited about this new board you are making. One thing I’m wondering, excuse me for being n00b, but why can’t you ship them with the appropriately flashed sil3112 chips? Why must we do it ourselves? Also, I’d like to get into reflashing said chips where does a young grasshopper get started? Any good starting point materials? I myself just started down this rabbit hole of classic Macintosh machines, excited to be a part of this group of awesomeness.
 

cheesestraws

Well-known member
but why can’t you ship them with the appropriately flashed sil3112 chips? Why must we do it ourselves

Because rabbit hole computing doesn't own the firmware, so can't distribute it. And it's old, so finding out how to get the rights to distribute it is likely to not be entirely straightforward, unfortunately.
 

aperezbios

Well-known member
Shoutout to the rabbithole team and dosdue1 the stuff you do is really important for the community! I’m very excited about this new board you are making.
Thanks. I've wanted something like this for my own personal use for a while, and I'm glad you and others are also excited about it.
One thing I’m wondering, excuse me for being n00b, but why can’t you ship them with the appropriately flashed sil3112 chips? Why must we do it ourselves?
As others have already noted, it's a simple matter of not owning the intellectual property. I'd love to be able to license it, but there are numerous barriers to this. Perhaps in time we may be able to figure this part out, but I don't intend to let it gate release of the board itself.
 

aperezbios

Well-known member
The first fifty assembled units arrived today. Photo attached.
 

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cobalt60

Well-known member
This is amazing. Just bought one. Will probably buy more. I've been direly wanting an old-Mac-compatible PCI card with an mSATA connector. The hard-mount looks well done, too. Any thoughts on making variants with 2x mSATA and/or 2x 2.5" (instead of 1 each)?
 

aperezbios

Well-known member
This is amazing. Just bought one. Will probably buy more. I've been direly wanting an old-Mac-compatible PCI card with an mSATA connector. The hard-mount looks well done, too. Any thoughts on making variants with 2x mSATA and/or 2x 2.5" (instead of 1 each)?
Thanks. Just to clarify, the small connector on the board isn't mSATA. Its actually M.2 SATA, which is considerably more common these days. Since converting from 2.5" SATA to mSATA or M.2 SATA with a small adaptor board, you can easily use either another mSATA or M.2 SATA SSD, with a very inexpensive commodity adapter board.
 

cobalt60

Well-known member
Oops, sorry, I did mean I've been wanting an M.2 SATA PCI card. Any way to mount a commonly available SSD into a PCI slot is great, and this is the only PCI card I am aware of that allows this.
 

reukiodo

Well-known member
If I order one, will it come with the PM39LV040 or MX29LV040 chip to use the 1S2 ROM for booting System 7? I'd really appreciate the boost for my Power Macintosh 9500.
 

Phipli

Well-known member
@rabbitholecomputing Would you consider doing these for the 040 PDS or is that an exercise in frustration?
The chipset is PCI and the firmware is designed specifically for PCI PPC macs, it would be both extremely difficult, and the end result would be something bottlenecked by the host's bus speed worse than PCI cards are. It would be an entirely new product, more complex than the original.
 
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