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Battle of the SATA 3.0 Controllers

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the more-like-a-skirmish dept.

AMD 138

Deathspawner writes "Think that all SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) controllers are alike? As Techgage explores, that's not the case. While most SATA 3.0 controllers do deliver the performance promised, the most popular offering on the market does not — at least where bandwidth-busting SSDs are concerned. The controller comes from Marvell, and was bundled on all motherboards prior to AMD and Intel launching their own SATA 3.0 solutions. In some cases, Marvell's controller is half as fast as the others, making it no better than a SATA 2.0 controller. For those with motherboards using a Marvell controller, the solutions are few; build a new PC, or invest in a super-expensive add-in card."

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138 comments

I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278864)

Can anyone say, "class action lawsuit"? It might not work, but if it's actually promising the performance of the spec and doesn't deliver that seems actionable to me (a legal lay person).

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278892)

In the United States of Corporate America or elsewhere?

Shit, they could have the disclaimer that its terrible in the fucking watermark and still get away with it.
Buyer beware in deed.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (2)

dwhitaker (1500855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279204)

I think you're misunderstanding: they only promise to deliver "up to" the advertised speeds!

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (3, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279460)

Here's a rule of thumb I've found useful: whenever an ad says "up to" you need to replace it with "usually less than".

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279674)

Then how do you distinguish those vendors "who want to cheat" from those that are just innocently pointing out that the spec'ed maximal speed can only be reached if the disk is able to supply it too (which would be another reason to say "up to").

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279864)

Well, actually saying that it requires a sufficiently fast disk would be a good start.

Honesty about the limitations of your products is a big incentive to me, but I'm odd that way.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37280862)

Yeah but you see here they are saying they *did* use a fast enough disk and it was *not* capable of even *half* of the advertised speeds.

How simple should we make that logic? Do you get it now?

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281392)

That is actually the key. Is there a way to make this device deliver the speed that it promises. "Up to" does have a meaning. It means that in an absolute best case scenario. It does not mean "less than". So, is there any configuration or use case that can produce the "Up to" speed. Even if the use case is useless. If there isn't, then the "Up To" is fraudulent.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279792)

Well, yeah. My understanding is that the meaning of "up to" is "usually less than" by definition. No matter what quantity we're talking about. Now, if you meant "up to" should be replaced by "designed to be less than, certain lots might peak at this spec, but we guarantee that none of these parts will ever exceed this performance" then I could agree with that.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37281102)

Replace that with half of or less

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37280542)

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2009/05/01 :)

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280234)

You mean the Corporate states of america where nVida just got the crap kicked out of them in a class action lawsuit about a year ago [engadget.com] ? To the tune of having to give all affected brand new laptops?

Yea, kindly refrain from spouting nonsense. Companies regularly get hit and found liable in class action lawsuits.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281296)

You mean the Corporate states of america where nVida just got the crap kicked out of them in a class action lawsuit about a year ago [engadget.com] ? To the tune of having to give all affected brand new laptops?

You mean laptops worth $1,000 less than the laptops they were replacing? [blogspot.com]
"Milberg LLP, negotiated that they could only receive an entry-level Compaq CQ50, often worth over a thousand dollars less than the computer they would be replacing. "

If I total your Porsche and have to buy you a Kia I don't think I "got the crap kick out" of me, in fact I'd say I won.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281488)

Sorry they actually changed the settlement [nvidiasettlement.com] to a $250 Compaq Presario CQ56-115DX with a single core 2.3ghz AMD V140. [newegg.com]

If you're replacing a [nvidiasettlement.com] $1300 HP TX1000 Tablet with AMD 64X2 2.0GHz [notebookreview.com] you may choose a $450 ASUS Eee PC Tablet with Atom N570 and 1gb ram. [newegg.com]

Note you do have to mail in your old laptop to receive one of these and there are no other laptops to choose from, you either get a $250 laptop or if you had a tablet you receive a $450 Asus Eee PC.

Nvidia won, customers lost. I hate Nvidia

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278908)

Certainly could. If nothing else it would be breach of contract for those who intentionally purchased a motherboard in part due to the SATA3 controller.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278992)

You must not live in the U.S..

Hell, didn't the SCOTUS just rule that a company can preemptively block a class action lawsuit just by saying in their EULA "You are not allowed to sue us in a class action law suit? (or it's legalese equivalent)" Gee, I wonder how many EULA's don't include that language now? I'm betting not many...

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279392)

You must not live in the U.S..

Hell, didn't the SCOTUS just rule that a company can preemptively block a class action lawsuit just by saying in their EULA "You are not allowed to sue us in a class action law suit? (or it's legalese equivalent)" Gee, I wonder how many EULA's don't include that language now? I'm betting not many...

"Noitercsid ruo ta tuo uoy ekat ot sajnin dnes ot su ezirohtua uoy, erawtfos siht gnisu yb, eromrehtfuf dna.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279612)

That doesn't scare me! Arrrrrrrrrr!

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279996)

YLR O?

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279012)

I'd be shocked to see that work. An enormous number of data links are named for, colloquially identified by, or associated with, their theoretical maximum speeds; but not hitting those often, if at all, is more or less standard. Unless Marvell or the motherboard vendor actually made specific performance claims that they failed to meet, rather than just claims of SATA revision 3.0 compatibility, their lie factor would be no greater than that of numerous other protocol silicon vendors(ethernet, wifi, etc.) who have gone legally unmolested over that fact...

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279222)

Can anyone say, "class action lawsuit"? It might not work, but if it's actually promising the performance of the spec and doesn't deliver that seems actionable to me (a legal lay person).

The only lawsuit I could see out of this is perhaps Marvell using the SATA-IO's copyrighted logos and terminology implying compliance when it actually doesn't. I can't seem to find any datasheets for 9172, but I'm not trying very hard.

Now, if the SATA III standard is so loose that it's still within specs... blame the spec, not the player.

Re:I can think of a third option, but it may fail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279342)

to be a specification, it's pretty hard to find. well it's not a standard, and it's not public.

however, the brochure claim transfer speeds "up to" 6gb, so meh.

No. No more mr nice guy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279338)

Everyone cheats. If someone doesn't, he should or else his naivety is going to get exploited by everyone else.

No more lawsuits. Take everything you can for free and run with it. Use technology to get stuff for free. That's what technology is for.

Companies don't have morals, why should we have them when dealing with companies? We shouldn't. Companies only care about profits, we should only care about getting stuff for free.

Get even. Play by the same rules as companies do.

Re:No. No more mr nice guy. (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279652)

Unfortunately people, unlike companies, have a body to incarcerate. :(

Re:No. No more mr nice guy. (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281432)

Companies do to, but unlike people, when the suggestion of incarcerating a company comes up, too many people start complaining that there are innocent people relying on them.

What do you expect? (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278882)

Ever since they got bought by Disney, Marvell's disk controllers were never the same.

Re:What do you expect? (1, Redundant)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279456)

In case you don't get this, this is a joke.

Marvel was bought by Disney.
Marvell makes the SATA controllers in TFA

Re:What do you expect? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279542)

Maybe they need to reboot like DC?

Re:What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37280910)

Whoosh

Tested True (2)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278898)

I initially tried the Marvell controller on my Gigabyte X58 board for a new Agility 3. It was barely getting 230MB/s reads, and it was capped. It eventually failed to detect the drive, so I tried the Intel SATA 2 controller instead. Not only did the drive detect, but I now get ~250MB/s reads (faster random too I've read). I should've known that the company notorious for their freezing SSD controllers would do no better with the SATA controllers.

Re:Tested True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279016)

Interesting.. I've been having hard freezes/reboots that I couldn't track down. My HDD is on my sata 3 controller. I was suspecting a HDD or sata issue all along, but knowing that these controllers have a problem, I'm definitely getting off my lazy ass and swapping the drive to sata 2 tonight.

Re:Tested True (1)

Alyred (667815) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280230)

I had to actually disable the SATA3 controller in the BIOS and uninstall the driver in Windows 7 to get the lockups and reboots to stop happening.

I'd get a SATA3 RAID controller, but all of my PCI-E slots are used up. :( So I'm stuck with my Intel SATA-II raid on my SSD's, which does ok. It's still noticeably faster than mechanical drives.

Re:Tested True (1)

Nimatek (1836530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280438)

Could it be that they have better controllers now? I just tested the read speeds with a Marvell controller on an ASRock board and a Marvell-controlled SSD (Crucial m4), which is advertised as having 'up to 415 MB/s' reads. The results of six runs of hdparm -t fall between 383 and 426 (this one twice!) MB/s.

Re:Tested True (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37281246)

I've tried to avoid Marvell, ever since their NIC chips failed on a 64-bit machine only a few years ago, when 64-bit support should have been an obvious technical requirement.

The only big hardware player I dislike more is AOC.

Replace MOBO is not a solution? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278900)

Replace MOBO is not a solution?
Oh Noes $50 dollars!

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (0)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278944)

You must purchase old or crappy mobos.
Good job on not knowing what you are doing.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279152)

Yep, it's very important for a mobo to have sata3, for example. Oh, wait...

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279614)

Please, regale us with the powerhouse motherboards you buy for $50. I would really like to see some specs on them...because I highly fucking doubt the only difference is a couple sata3 connections.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280330)

$49.99: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130593R [newegg.com]
1155, MSI, GigE, H61 chipset (no overcloking), no USB3 nor sata3. I don't see anything wrong with it, but then again I filled my e-peen requirement years ago.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280786)

Well it is open box and there's only D-Sub for the video instead of DVI or HDMI. Otherwise it's a good mobo. I think for $20 more you can get DVI.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280918)

I think it's a typo, the non-open box version is listed with DVI. I don't mind open box, it's actually tested by tech support, whereas regular mobos pass through untested and can be DOA.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281774)

A newegg "open box" motherboard means that a different customer sent it back and they are now using you as "tech support"

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280386)

You must think that rig-building skillz means getting a budget of $1500, buying a bunch of the most expensive crap you can find on newegg, throwing it together, and saying "Sure is fast, I must be a genius or something".

If you know what youre doing, you can get a very performant gaming rig-- windows OS included-- for under $450.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280730)

"If you know what youre doing, you can get a very performant gaming rig-- windows OS included-- for under $450."

HUSH! Those early adopters are subsidizing the rest of us!

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279014)

Replace MOBO is not a solution? Oh Noes $50 dollars!

\ What piece of shit motherboards are you buying? My last ASUS mobo was like $289 from Newegg....

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279166)

I was going to say, the motherboard should be the 2nd most expensive component in your typical computer. $50 one is seriously cutting a corner in a way to make almost everything else you buy work at half efficiency. If the mobo isn't close to the price of your CPU, you either A. are running a system that was purely designed to be a cheap piece of crap to handle basic things and you don't really have a reason to care if you are running SATA 3 or plain old fashioned IDE. Or B. you are running a high end system, that runs at the pace of a low/mid end system. a $500 graphics card and a $500 CPU, assuming they even are compatible with a piece of crap $50 board, will likely be slowed down to the speed of a $100 CPU and card.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279800)

Way to prove you have no idea what you are talking about. Go buy some cheap and expensive mobos, compare them. See how the CPU is the same no matter what board you use so long as they are the same speed connectors and such.

I spent more on my SSD and video card than anything else. Keep telling me my machine is low end while you waste your money.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280296)

And how the mobo-maker doesnt actually make the chips on the board, they just put them together with a BIOS.

Theyre sort of like a general contractor, what matters is who the real vendors are.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37280388)

Obviously the GP has a time machine and he's posting from the ~2001 era. $500 each for CPU and GPU? Ha ha!

$99 for AM3 and $140 for Z68 is enough for a decent motherboard these days, provided you're not into major OCing or 3/4-way SLI.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

vk2 (753291) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280742)

You paid too much - Take a look at these - http://www.microcenter.com/specials/promotions/AMDbundlePROMO.html [microcenter.com] I build machine in my spare time and sell on craigslist and people wonder how come you sell a quad core for 350 with 8 GB and 1 TB hard drive. I make an average of $50 per sale.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37281202)

I wrote, a "decent" motherboard... i.e., better than average. $100 for a Z68 mobo is cutting corners, in thermals in particular... but should work fine at stock.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279170)

and guess what, yours is not 5+ times faster than his. It does have sata3, but ...

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279400)

No, but it's far more likely to last five times longer...

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279630)

No it isn't. It isn't any more durable and isn't any more resistant to becoming obsolete.

This is just another case of confusing your personal property with certain body parts.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279450)

Go look at what you get for $50 in the way of a motherboard on Newegg right now. I assure you, it's going to be a horrible piece of crap, useless for 90% of applications and builds.

I mean, what the hell, is it a P4 mobo or something we're talking about here? Or something made post-2005?

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279840)

Yeah, I was off a little, what can I say I got my last Mobo on sale. Turns out it runs almost $80 now. AM3 board and yes I was including mail in rebate.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279902)

You'd be looking at an AM3 socket with an amd 760 chipset with pci-e x16 and ddr3

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280348)

Hey look, its a $65 motherboard with 4 star rating capable of running an i3! [newegg.com]

Whats that, you want to know what happens when the caps blow out after 4 years of use? Why, I go buy another $65 motherboard!

Sure is a strange sense of value folks have, thinking someone should build a rig with a $100 processor and a $100 video card and a $40 hard drive, and then drop $300 on the motherboard.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280284)

You overspent. Anything over about $150 is just wasteful. That number is opinion to a limited degree, but buying the top-end mobo almost never a good value.

I usually wouldnt go over about $180 for a cpu, and $100 for a mobo, and these days probably not over about $100 for the cpu either.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279848)

The problem is that most of the motherboards that came with this crappy chip were a lot more than $50. Like mine. It has 6 memory slots so I have (and do) have 24 gig of ram. Also, USB3, eSATA, and a total of 12 SATA ports. And for some people who actually use this (It is a VM development machine) it is actually needed. So can you give me a $50 motherboard with all that? How about for $100. And I would like to reuse my DDR3 ram, and LGA1366 i950, if it is not too much trouble.

Re:Replace MOBO is not a solution? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280462)

An AM3 board should be findable for $100 that does that. Not going to have 6 slots though, 4 though. I run VMs on servers, 256GB of RAM not a measly 24GB.

The cheapest one is crappiest? Say it ain't so! (5, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278936)

This happens all the time with computers, but especially with drive controllers it seems. The guy who rushes his half baked solution to market first at the lowest price ends up with millions of copies in nearly every computer in the world. Then a couple of years later when people start really using them, they discover that in fact the chip is full of bugs and slow and corrupts your data. It happened with the CMD 640 back when IDE first came out, the SiI 3112 when SATA first came out, and now it's happening against with SATA2. Most early Firewire controllers were total crap too, and the cheap ones still are.

The worst part is that nearly every peripheral card manufacturer is going to use that same chip because it's the cheapest. So even if you try to get around a buggy chip on your motherboard by buying a PCIe card, you'll just end up with a second copy of that broken chip. It's infuriating and I don't expect the situation to change anytime soon. That is why I always wait when a new storage access standard comes out, it's just a solid bet that the first generation chips will be way more trouble than they're worth.

Re:The cheapest one is crappiest? Say it ain't so! (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279106)

Virtually everything JMicron has ever released should probably be mentioned here as well. Those guys really know how to crank up the quality...

Re:The cheapest one is crappiest? Say it ain't so! (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279414)

Does the quality on a JMicron chip go to 11?

Re:The cheapest one is crappiest? Say it ain't so! (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279436)

Only when the expected behavior involves going to some other value...

Re:The cheapest one is crappiest? Say it ain't so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37281602)

You should also add RealTek. Any motherboard subsystem with a RealTek chip inside is known to be utter crap. Which is why you will only find RealTek gigabit NICs on mobos targeted at idiots (premium boards with a RealTek chip anywhere? Only idiots buy that) and the very low-end market. Audio is the same, noise levels on the -40dB range are the rule (a proper 5-year old US$ 50 SoundBlaster live delivers noise -90dB).

If you buy anything Marvell, JMicron or RealTek, you deserve the idiots cap. Which would be why I seer clear even from the Intel SSD 510, if it has Marvell inside, it is crap by definition and it will find a way to fuck my day sooner or later, the Intel logo on the cover be damned.

Re:The cheapest one is crappiest? Say it ain't so! (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281276)

the SiI 3112 when SATA first came out,

WHY WHY DID YOU BRING THAT UP!!! I thought I wiped that bit of my life from my memory. It was traumatic. I still have sleepless nights watching my computer randomly not recognise my 2TB array, and watching the default Linux kernel driver for that POS kernel panic for no reason.

I remember having actual sleepless nights getting that piece of shit to work too. I remember having to install Linux on another drive, then compiling in the appropriate drivers, then using that linux to install linux to my other drives, then chrooting into that new linux to fix things so it wouldn't panic either. (In retrospect there may have been a better way but I was rather new to it at the time).

Other option (2)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278962)

Don't be at the front of the technology curve when buying stuff. Let the other guy take the brunt of it all (thank you other guy for testing these things for the rest of us).

Re:Other option (1)

Gondola (189182) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280904)

I tried that when I purchased the ASUS P8P67 motherboard. It had *tons* of reviews, and was one of the top-rated LGA1155 boards with more than 100 reviews.

Fart (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37278966)

I farted and it smelled a bit like vanilla bean extract.
I learned more from that fart than I did from this submission.

Marvell produces bargain chipsets. They work, and that's about it.
If you want performance you get a dedicated part, or at least the standard Intel chip.

Re:Fart (1)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279190)

Intel isn't the only standard. Otherwise, you're correct.

Re:Fart (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280408)

Unfortunately, when it comes to quality and working, sometimes they are. I still remember a lot of the old nForce woes due to their craptastic drivers.

Re:Fart (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280536)

Intel isn't the only standard. Otherwise, you're correct.

Obviously when I said "standard" I didn't mean a technical specification. I meant the baseline, no-frills, ubiquitous, workhorse implementation that Intel provides.

Third option (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279038)

Don't buy anything. What the hell do you need SATA 3.0 for? Your single SSD won't be that fast after you've used it a while. As usual, wait six months or a year and there will be much better hardware out there. Don't waste your money now.

Re:Third option (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279292)

Don't buy anything. What the hell do you need SATA 3.0 for? Your single SSD won't be that fast after you've used it a while. As usual, wait six months or a year and there will be much better hardware out there. Don't waste your money now.

If you always wait for the next big thing, you will wait forever. Sometimes you gotta pull the trigger. Personally if I'm comparing two boards equal in all things except SATA 2 versus SATA 3, unless research indicated it was a bad idea, I'd probably go for the more modern variant.

Re:Third option (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279582)

Just because you aren't saturating the connection doesn't mean 3.0 isn't worth it. I have a Crucial M4, it'll read up to 415MB/s SATA 2.0 maxes out at 300MB/s; so unless we are talking about a 25% reduction in speed...

Obligatory XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279274)

Stale news... (2)

Zoson (300530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279426)

It was the first controller on the market. It's got two ports each rated for 6Gbit/sec and it's connected via a single PCI-E x1 lane that's theoretical maximum is 5Gbit/sec.

Nobody should have been surprised by this at all. The information was readily available.

Basically, it's suitable for a single device that's sata6, and won't outperform the sata3 controller in some areas.

The device was only meant as a stop gap for bleeding edge users to get the capability.

Could be a few things (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279550)

Marvell can be hit or miss sometimes. I remember the issues I had when I built a system for someone that had a 10/1000 ethernet controller built in. I can actually think of a few reasons why the numbers are lower. First of course is the obvious marevell has been sending out the previous generation of chips to manufactures simply to clear old stock. Most people won't notice a difference anyway. If you're already on a SSD, would you really notice a 150mb/s bump? Prolly not. Then again it could simply be a case of a human screw-up, and sending the wrong controller chips out. Another possibility is resilks, and a mishmash of illegal knockoffs.

I'd take the human screwing up and sending out the wrong chips, unless there's some actual proof that this was an order down on high. Or that some company is getting screwed on resilks and knockoffs.

I know the feeling (1)

joaeri (583880) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279568)

I got a vertex 3 ssd (500MB/s read/write) drive a week or so ago. This was after I discovered that my motherboard (Asus P6X58D-E) had a SATA3 controller and I though I could actually use the performance. After I got the drive I did quite a bit of performance tests and discover that the Marvel controller they used is indeed slow. At 4kb the drive does 75MB/s write and 82MB/s read. It peaks at 218MB/s write and 304MB/s read. I switched over to the SATA2 Intel controller instead and at 4kb I got 152MB/s write and 146MB/s read. While it peaks at 271MB/s write and 283MB/s read. There is some drivers at Station-Drivers [station-drivers.com] that are a lot newer than the latest that Asus has but from reading around it might or might not work to flash the inbuilt controller using them. There is also no clear benchmark of what any potential gains would be. For now I have stayed away from them.

Techgage = amateurs? (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279686)

From TFA:

This isn't to say that Marvell isn't at a disadvantage, however. AMD and Intel both have internal buses to take advantage of, so their SATA 3.0 solutions are basically unrestricted. Marvell on the other hand has to make use of a PCIe lane in order to get its bandwidth, which for a 2.0 lane is 500MB/s. After overhead, that number effectively becomes around 400MB/s, which is about where we saw the drive's read speed basically cap at.

That kind of writing makes me question the professionalism of Techgage. My God, what a mess. Is he correct? Should I believe his measurements? I really don't know.

Super expensive? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279692)

> For those with motherboards using a Marvell controller, the solutions are few; build a new PC, or invest in a super-expensive add-in card.

$30 to $60 for a Sata 3 controller card on Amazon depending on number of ports and other factors. I haven't built a PC in awhile (I tend to overbuild and then keep them for a long time) but it seems to me that building a new PC isn't *that* cheap, yet.

It's very useful information about the Marvell controller, and I will be watching for that. But the conclusion appears to be hyperbole.

Re:Super expensive? (2)

Vairon (17314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280258)

To get good SATA 3 performance you will need to spend ~ $160 or more for a controller card with a decent chipset and multi-lane PCI Express support. If you actually look at all the cheap SATA 3 controller cards for sale on Amazon (or Newegg) you'll find they're all quite similar.

Here's some examples from Amazon in the price range you mentioned:

StarTech PEXSAT32 $38
* Marvell 9128 Chipset
* PCIe x1 lane

Sybausa SY-PEX40032 $32
* Marvell 9128 Chipset
* PCIe x1 lane

ASRock 2-Port SATA 3.0 $26
* Marvell 9123 Chipset
* PCIe x1 lane

HighPoint RocketRAID 622 $39
* Marvel 9128 chipset
* PCIe x1 lane

Re:Super expensive? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280688)

Good point. Still, $160 is less than the cost of a new PC, I think, based on the last one I built two years ago.

Re:Super expensive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37280394)

The problem with those $30-$60 SATA 3 controller cards is that they are PCIe 1x so they are still throttled down to the same slower speeds. Also, if you do find one of the PCIe 4x cards make sure it doesn't also have the Marvell controller.

I'm less interested in cheap controllers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279724)

I'd be much more interested in a comparison of 4x and 8x SATA controllers, and knowing what kind of throughput they can push. How many can actually saturate their PCIe connection? And of those, which are the cheapest?

expensive add in cards? (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279726)

Heck, they're only about GBP10-12 in the UK. They ought to be even cheaper in the US.

Re:expensive add in cards? (1)

Vairon (17314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280288)

Every cheap sata 3 controller cards I've come across all contain the same (or similar) Marvel chipset as the article's author is complaining about. They also all use only a single PCI-Express lane instead of multiple lanes like the expensive and fast controller cards do.

It's not always the controller's fault (4, Informative)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279820)

It's not always the fault of the controllers, it can also be the way they're connected to the system.

These onboard controllers are connected to the system using PCI Express x1 - it's literally just like plugging them into a x1 slot only they're directly on the motherboard. The problem is there are two versions of PCI Express - the older PCI Express 1.0 provides 250 MB/s in each direction, while PCI Express 2.0 provides 500 MB/s in each direction.

AMD motherboards only had PCI Express 2.0 lanes but Intel had a mix of 2.0 lanes and 1.0 lanes - the most common was 32 x 2.0 lanes (for 2 x x16 lanes for graphics cards) and about 6 x 1.0 lanes coming from the southbridge. So motherboards manufacturers had to either use 1 lane from southbridge and get only 250 MB/s in each direction or resort to using some multiplexing chips that take 2 or more lanes and create a x4 path for the controller. More recently, motherboards detect if there is a card on the second pci express x16 and if there's nothing there, they "borrow" a few of those unused lanes to improve the performance of the various controllers integrated on the motherboard.

See this Anandtech article, it explains better than I can explain: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2973/6gbps-sata-performance-amd-890gx-vs-intel-x58-p55/2 [anandtech.com]

But the point is even if the pci express 2.0 is used, there's only 500 MB/s in each direction, SATA 6 gbps means that a maximum of 750 MB/s should be reachable - very few motherboards connect the controllers to more than one 1x lane so even if the controller could reach 750 MB/s, you won't get it.

This is nothing new - remember the gigabit network cards on PCI? The whole PCI system on your computer can do 133 MB/s and a gigabit link can do about 110 MB/s - would you sue anyone if you plug 4 pci cards in your system and can't reach a throughput higher than 133 MB/s ?

TFTFY (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37279892)

Marvell's controller is half-fast

Don't use third party SATA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37279938)

It gets worse than mere poor performance. Couple NVidia chipsets with Silicon Image SATA and you get corruption. [kerneltrap.org]

I use chipset integrated controllers (Intel/AMD) exclusively for SATA and high quality discrete cards for SAS. Even Intel gets this stuff wrong [intel.com] , however. What I don't do is use third party SATA controllers, integrated or otherwise. They always suck. It's a given.

Wait for the standard you want to be integrated into the chipset or be disappointed. The chipset makers put a lot more R&D and validation into their work. That's just how it is.

Class Action Law Suite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37280170)

If the controller isn't living up to advertised specifications then this looks like an opportunity for some lawyer to get rich. Additionally, maybe Marvell will be driven out of business and we won't get saddled with anymore crap from that company!

First to market = first to fail (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280210)

Does Marvell do anything right ? I know their network interfaces are pretty dodgy, as were their SATA 2.0 kludges.

They know they're a shit company, which is why they rush things to market. Think of all the asian motherboard and add-on manufacturers that are dying to be the first to stick another starburst buzzword on their shiny boxes. Marvell released a shit product a few months before the good ones came out, so they sold millions of chips.

If the manufacturers had any standard of quality, we wouldn't have bottom feeders like Marvell, VIA, Broadcom and friends. Like all other things made in China, it's a race to the bottom. Why should we expect otherwise, when their time is so cheap compared to ours ? If I lose a month's work due to corruption, I'm out a good $5k. If they lose a month's work... well they lost less than the cost of the board.

Re:First to market = first to fail (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281384)

All Marvell shit is pretty much junk. It's just plain sad that almost all motherboard vendors stick you with crappy Marvell gigabit, for example. That reason alone was enough to make me choose an Intel brand motherboard for my last build.

25 bucks (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280584)

is the new super expensive now?

Wow, I must be super rich!

ASUS P8P67 problems with Marvell (1)

Gondola (189182) | more than 2 years ago | (#37280878)

Just purchased an ASUS P8P67 motherboard for a brand new Core i7 2600k install; my first new PC in like 5 years. I chose the P8P67 because it had a good assortment of SATA 3 and USB 3 ports for expansion. I had a DVD burner and 3 SATA drives to put into it; I like lots of storage.

I hooked up the drives, putting my brand new WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA 3 hard drive in the first SATA 3 port, and started installing Windows 7. It seemed to take a long time. The installation finished and I started installing all the usual utilities, apps, and games that one has to install on a new PC. I noticed that my system kept pausing, however. I would try to install something, and I would get frequent hourglass pauses, and sometimes the system would seem to lock up for up to 20 seconds at a time.

Eventually, I looked into the system log and saw that there were a bunch of errors coming up every time this happened; disk unavailable, and a driver name. The driver was for the Marvell SATA controller.

I moved that drive to one of the Intel SATA 3 ports (the other drives were not on the Marvell ports) and I have had no problems of that nature in the three weeks since then.

So, basically two of my SATA 3 ports, one of the primary reasons I chose this motherboard, are of no use to me.

Oh, funny fact; my older system had an ASUS P5N SLI motherboard. Marvell SATA chipset. My and I had both problems with that controller too (identical systems.)

Use on-chip AHCI controllers for Sata-III (4, Informative)

m.dillon (147925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37281784)

Generally speaking if you want SATA-III to operate satisfactorily you need to use the AHCI controller built into the cpu chipset bundle. That is, the one that Intel and AMD bundle. That will get you a reliable 32-tag-per-port controller. You definitely do not want to use an external controller or a third-party chipset controller (aka Marvell), at least not if you can help it. You won't have a choice if you want hardware RAID, AMD and Intel's controllers don't do RAID (BIOS-based fakeraid doesn't count).

All chipsets have bugs, even AMD and Intel chipsets. Intel AHCI controllers have problems probing Intel SSDs (go figure) and require a driver workaround to unbrick the port when the problem occurs during probe. AMD chipsets don't mask phy errors during initial training, which creates a lot of superfluous interrupts. Both controllers play fast and loose with the AHCI spec and the AHCI spec itself is pretty badly designed, with tons of issues (though not as badly designed as the immensely idiotic USB HCIs).

Another big problem is that the firmware controller that runs the chipset side of the AHCI is typically responsible for ALL the SATA ports, which means that hotplug on one port can actually interfere with operations on another. It pisses me off, but there's no avoiding it.

The external chipsets are even worse. Marvell is a joke. Silicon Image chipsets are full of HARDWARE bugs (not just firmware bugs) which require a lot of workarounds in driver code (for example, you can't abort a soft-reset sequence reliably on a SIL chipset and you can't access the on-chip shared memory while commands are in progress without corrupting any DMA that happens to be occuring).

The stuff is getting better, slowly. The manufacturers of these chipsets have traditionally not really cared about these sorts of bugs because 99.9% of their users are consumers who don't care. The remaining 0.1% professionals who do care aren't a big enough crowd to make the manufacturers actually fix their firmware.

SATA at least has the AHCI spec, too bad more chip manufacturers don't use it. If you want to talk wireless and ethernet chipsets matters are far, far worse.

-Matt (who wrote and maintains DragonFly's AHCI driver)

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