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Old 08-28-2005, 02:39 PM   #1
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Registered: Apr 2005
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SIL 3112 SATA on CentOS 3.4

Hey all,

I'm using a Sil 3112 PCI card SATA controller with 2 Hitachi 160GB SATA's and trying to install CentOS 3.4 (we use 3.4 regularly without incident). Now the install itself works fine with the exception of the drive format process taking an extra long time. But once I'm up and running it seems that DMA isn't enabled on the SATA's and enabling causes a bunch of I/O errors until it crashes (or it won't enable at all depending on which of the 2.4 kernels I boot to -- these two kernel were there on first boot).

So this has me worried and sure enough the output from:

hdparm -t /dev/hda

is showing the drive writing at 1.3MB/s

So I've been reading up on this and it seems it's supposed to be supported but I've read that it uses some less efficient driver by default and you have to enable the sil_sata via a kernel rebuild to get er' running properly. So I tried a 2.6.12 kerne that we would have been upgrading this machine too anyway and then performed the rebuild with all the correct selections (enabled sil_sata under SCSI low-level drivers and the Sil chipset support under ATA/IDE or whatever).

Booting 2.6.12 I get:
VFS: cannot open root device "hda7" or unknown block
Please append a correct "root=" boot option
Kernal panic - not syncing: VFS: unable to mount root fs or unknown block

I've tried changing it to sda7 or LABEL=/ and nothing works. I still don't think it's recognizing the device as when it booted with the 2.4 (less effective but working kernel/driver combo) it would give some output about the Silicon Image PCI controller and what not where I'm not seeing that at all during this boot.

I've also changed /etc/fstab to the correct options.
I enabled sil_sata in the kernel allong with the ata silicon image chipset support as per a how-to on installing a Sil SATA controller and rebuilt the kernel successfully but I still got the same error on boot.

Now when I tried the PCI SATA controller and SATA drives with Fedora Core 2 it recognized it right from the install and was writing at 58MB/s. But we're not supposed to use FC2 on anymore production machines as well as that would cause me to have to do another reload and cause peoples sites more downtime. I've tried using the same FC2 kernel but it still didn't work.

Anyone have any idea?

Last edited by Tekerz; 08-28-2005 at 02:45 PM.
Old 08-28-2005, 05:48 PM   #2
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Registered: Jan 2002
Posts: 6,042

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If you compiled the kernel to make sil_sata as a module, you have to include it in the ramdisk file or else Linux will not boot up. Silicon Image controllers are glitchy in Linux. Promise controllers are the same. I suggest Highpoint SATA controllers or 3ware. 3ware is better for servers.
Old 09-04-2005, 09:26 AM   #3
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Registered: Apr 2005
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Ok your post did help (as I hadn't done the steps mentioned). It got me looking over everything turns out that after getting the Sil SATA built into the kernel itself (sil_sata under low level scsi drivers), and the support for the Sil controller under ATA drivers and such (intead of as a module - * instead of m) it still kept giving the error. After then building support for the ext3 filesystem into the kernel it finally got me to the drive mounting area and then failed (which was fine and a happy moment cause I knew I would eventually have to change /etc/fstab for hda to sda anyway) after that it worked like a charm.

htparm -t /dev/sda

shows somewhere in the 60MB/s range (58 - 59 average).

This page helped with it's linux Sil 3112 or Sil 3114 how to:

while it was written for Sil 3114 the basics still applied to 3112 as well. Thanks.


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