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Author Topic: I Test SATA PCI Adapters So You Don't Have To - Mac PCI SATA Card Roundup  (Read 6804 times)

chikorita157

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This is a list of SATA PCI cards that work, and I tested. These cards are now expensive and hard to find since they are not produced anymore, except for the Firmtek cards, which they may have stock of still (yes, they are still around).

The advantage of using one of these cards over an IDE to SATA adapter is greater compatibility, especially on older models of PowerMac G4 (Earlier Quicksilver, Digital Audio, Gigabit, Sawtooth, Yikes) and PowerMac G3 (both beige and Blue and White). For a later Quicksilver models (2002 models) and Mirror Door, there are no limitations, and the PCI SATA card performance might be marginal at best.

Here are the cards I tested

Firmtek Serialtek 1v4 4 Port SATA PCI Adapter

Type: 64-bit PCI, 4 Ports
Price: $128 including Shipping
Verdict: Recommended if you really want a SATA to PCI adapter

This is probably the only SATA to PCI card that one can buy new still, believe it or not. This card is one of the few cards that can boot into Mac OS 9, which does perfectly. On Mac OS 9, the SATA drives appear as SCSI hard drives. On Mac OS X, they appear as ATA drives, although not viewable in the System Profiler. On an SSD tested on a PowerMac G4 MDD 2003 model, it achieves read/write speeds of 120 MB/s. While this card is a bit pricy given how old it is, it’s a viable option if you want to use bigger size SSDs, faster SSD speeds, or use 4 SATA drives without using four IDE to SATA adapters. Also, it’s readily available, for now at least.

Getting one is not easy despite their ordering site being up. I had to contact them when the order sat there for a week before they shipped. But they pulled through and I got this monster of a SATA PCI card, which work great. Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X Tiger/Jaguar boots fast.

Also, there is a two-port variant of this Serialtek card for a 32-bit PCI, which Sonnet also has a rebranded version of that card. However, Firmtek does not sell this anymore since it’s sold out.

ACard AEC-6290M/AEC-6890M/AEC-6896M

Type: 32-bit PCI, 2 ports (6290M/6890M), 4 ports (AEC-6896M)
Price: Undetermined, but over $100 when found
Verdict: Great, but a few quirks, good option for older PowerMac G4s, G3s, and Old-World Rom PCI PowerMacs

This is another viable alternative suggested on the 68k Mac Liberation Army forums on his Beige G3. The only difference between 6290 and the 6890/6896 models is that 6290 does not have hardware RAID while the latter models do. These cards work out of the box on Mac OS 9. There are drivers that one need to install on Mac OS X, but it will boot without them. While it works perfectly on Mac OS 9, there are a few quirks with this card on Mac OS X Tiger. On a few startups, a prohibitory sign may appear, and the OS stops loading. Of course, you can fix this with a reset and the operating system boot properly. On both operating systems, the drives appear as SCSI ones.

While the speed on this card is only a little better than an IDE to SATA adapter, the big plus of this adapter is bypassing the IDE limitations on capacity.

Generic 2 Port SATA PCI Controller Card Apple Macintosh PowerMac G3/G4/G5 *SSD *OSX OS 9

Type: 32-bit PCI, 2 Ports (SIL3112) claiming to be a Firmtek Serialtek 1v2 SATA PCI card
Price: $49.99
Verdict: DO NOT BUY, Avoid at all costs
While it’s tempting to buy this card since there is no viable options, but don’t. I bought this card on eBay, so you don’t have to. Off the bat, I know that if it doesn’t work and the seller’s claims are bull crap, I can just return it and get a full refund. Yes, a well-known Firmtek Pirate sells this card. It also claims Mac OS 9 support, which I want to test.

I tested this card on the PowerMac G3 Blue and White. After booting into Mac OS X Tiger, I tried to boot into Mac OS 9. When I did, it ended up with a floppy disk and question mark icon, meaning that it does not work with Mac OS 9. Yes, I tried using different PCI slots and SATA ports, same result.  Even removing the ACard adapter and booting from it doesn’t make much a difference.

In other words, Mac OS 9 support is a lie, and the seller is giving me a hard time returning this after I filed a “Item Not as Described” since the card obviously doesn’t work on Mac OS 9. Even after trying his suggestions in poorly written English, it still doesn’t work. I replied and no response.

He probably blocked me after trying to get him to give me a shipping label to send it back, so I will be ending up escalating the issue to eBay in a few days, which I will most likely win and get my money back. The funny thing is that this card reports itself as a Firmtek Serialtek 1v2 card. I highly doubt this card has the full firmware as the original as there is a sticker on the EEPROM chip.

As they say at Apple, “if you can’t innovate, I guess you just imitate. It’s never quite as good as the original.”

If anyone else use a SATA PCI adapter that works with Mac OS 9 that I didn’t mention, feel free to share your experiences.

Conclusion
While SATA PCi adapters are expensive route to use SSDs on vintage PowerMacs, it allows flexibility and maximum compatibility. You don’t have to deal with issues with certain SSDs not working with IDE to SATA adapters. Also, you can get rid of all those IDE adapters besides the optical ones, which can improve airflow. Lastly, there is the bragging rights of having one of these cards given how rare they are, especially ones that can boot into Mac OS 9.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2021, 03:31:36 PM by chikorita157 »
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DieHard

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This was an awesome run-down, thanks for the effort :)
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FBz

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Mac PCI SATA Card Roundup
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2021, 10:40:39 AM »

“On an SSD tested on a PowerMac G4 MDD 2003 model, it achieves read/write speeds of 120 MB/s.”

Is that 120 MB/s from XBench per OS X, or from MacBench 3.0 (or QuickBench) under OS 9?
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 08:28:43 PM by FBz »
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chikorita157

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Re: Mac PCI SATA Card Roundup
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2021, 08:41:00 AM »

“On an SSD tested on a PowerMac G4 MDD 2003 model, it achieves read/write speeds of 120 MB/s.”

Is that 120 MB/s from XBench per OS X, or from MacBench 3.0 (or QuickBench) under OS 9?

This is under Quickbench. Here are the results on the Firmtek card.


In XBench, it gets the following:
Sequential
Uncached Write: 111.49 MB/sec (4k), 95.21 MB/sec (256k)
Uncached Read: 27.06 MB/sec (4k), 115.15 MB/sec (256k)

Random
Uncached Write:41.39 MB/sec (4k), 115.19 MB/sec (256k)
Uncached Read: 15.41 MB/sec (4k), 107.58 MB/sec (256k)

For ACard AEC-6280M (Didn't do quickbench on this yet)
Sequential
Uncached Write 46.70 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 44.49 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 13.24 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 74.40 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random
Uncached Write 20.71 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 45.00 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read  9.06 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 70.48 MB/sec [256K blocks]
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peeperpc

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What model of HDD you used it (the pirated one) with?

Recently I bought a 2TB Seagate (ST2000DM008-2FR102). It couldn't boot OS 9 when connected to my 1s2 (firmware v 5.1.3 which I flashed it myself) clone nor with a SATA to IDE adapter, just the blinking floppy disk for a while before switching to boot from other drive. The boot partition is just 1.6 GB which is within OS 9's limit. This makes me a bit worry when buying new drives.

The 1TB (ST1000DM010-2EP102) boots OS 9 fine, BTW.
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SDG

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On that fake flashed card you bought, it looks very much like the 3.3v regulator just under the BIOS chip has been removed from the board, which is very odd. That's the one that needs replacing with a Micrel 29150 to work in a QS/DA.
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chikorita157

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What model of HDD you used it (the pirated one) with?

Recently I bought a 2TB Seagate (ST2000DM008-2FR102). It couldn't boot OS 9 when connected to my 1s2 (firmware v 5.1.3 which I flashed it myself) clone nor with a SATA to IDE adapter, just the blinking floppy disk for a while before switching to boot from other drive. The boot partition is just 1.6 GB which is within OS 9's limit. This makes me a bit worry when buying new drives.

The 1TB (ST1000DM010-2EP102) boots OS 9 fine, BTW.

I tried booting off a ADATA SU600 120 GB SSD, but it won’t boot off of it for some reason. However, it works with the ACard SATA PCI adapter though.
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chrisNova777

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Re: I Test SATA PCI Adapters So You Don't Have To - Mac PCI SATA Card Roundup
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2023, 03:43:53 AM »

the last card, I have a few of those that were made for my by a certain someone and they still work great for me, the rom was physically swapped + soldered with a firmtek rom of appropriate size + brand name, but nowadays this has been made redundant thanks to our internet hero dosdude1 the firmware was reduced + brand check removed so you can flash it in any pc to turn it into a Mac bootable silicon image 3112 card https://68kmla.org/bb/index.php?threads/silicon-image-sil3112-flashing-easier-way-using-flashrom.7013/page-2

was the 1v4 purchased recently? the firmtek seritek webshop still taking orders?
I thought they stopped responding to emails for awhile.??
« Last Edit: November 12, 2023, 08:31:46 AM by chrisNova777 »
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gert79

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would this be a good & readily available card? https://store.rabbitholecomputing.com/RETRO-SATA-PCI-p/rhc-sata-sii3112-pci-hard-card.htm

i have read it can be flashed directly from mac os9
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aBc

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Re:Mac PCI SATA Card Roundup
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2024, 05:25:39 AM »

Yo, gert79…

Rabbit Hole Computing is a member over on 68KMLA.org and there’s a 4 page thread there dealing with that specific SIL3112 PCI hard card - beginning on 1/9/2023 if you’re interested in much more info on that card. Here’s that link: https://68kmla.org/bb/index.php?threads/a-high-quality-sata-pci-2-5-hard-card-to-celebrate-satas-20th-birthday.43133/
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refinery

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Holy smokes, that's cool.
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got my mind on my scsi and my scsi on my mind

chikorita157

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It’s been a while since I haven’t done much with Vintage Macs, until a few months ago when I discovered the BlueSCSI. Since I need a system that can run Mac OS 7, the Power Macintosh 8100 led me to find a Power Computing PowerCenter 150 and a Power Macintosh 9600, which is probably the grail of the beige Power Macintosh as they go for ridiculous prices. Managed to find a 9600 that needs some work to get running, but the focus will be on the Mac clone since it’s a more interesting “Mac.”

That said, I finally caught up with the developments and apparently Dosdude1 managed to reduce the size of the ROM and also make the flasher program work on any EPROM chip. I found out the Rabbit Hole Computing Hard Card PCI card and bought one for the Power Computing clone, and it was easy to flash. All you need to do is install it in a Power Mac, run the patched flasher, flash the card and you have a working card. It comes with a 256 GB SSD, which makes the $89 price tag worth it as one does not having to do any modifications to the card to make it work.

My review on the card is over at:
https://amausaan.tokyo/rabbit-hole-computing-hard-card-impressions-the-easiest-to-flash-sata-m-2-sata-pci-card-to-make-it-mac-os-9-or-earlier-bootable/

I do plan to have a retro site which should have all the blog posts relating to retro macs in the near future.
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IIO

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Holy smokes, that's cool.

it is great to have yet another solution, but otoh, for me an SATA 300 card with 4 ports would be more interesting.
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aBc

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Hey chikorita!

Where ya been?

Very nice to see you back and really appreciate the info on the Rabbit Hole Computing
hard card (especially for those here unwilling or unable to produce or acquire other
similar, related solutions). And of course you know I have questions.😉

1. Does it come with that KingSpec M.2 (256 GB?) as pictured on your link above?

2. Any chance of QuickBench 2.0 (20-100 MB) benchmark result,
    similar to yours previously pictured above from an MDD… from your 9600, etc.?

3. Is same hard card suitable for use in a B&W, Quicksilver and or MDDs?
    (Or even other beige-ish machines?)

Inquiring minds quite simply want to know. Thanks!

*Some additional, related links:

https://68kmla.org/bb/index.php?threads/what-happened-with-firmtek.47473/#post-534090

https://tinkerdifferent.com/threads/sata-in-an-old-world-pci-power-mac-impossibru-updated-11-22-23.1494/
« Last Edit: June 04, 2024, 11:14:34 AM by aBc »
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DieHard

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It would be great to have some speed tests done on the Rabbit Hole card for both the SATA M.2 and an SSD in the 2.5" SATA
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V.Yakob

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It’s been a while since I haven’t done much with Vintage Macs, until a few months ago when I discovered the BlueSCSI. Since I need a system that can run Mac OS 7, the Power Macintosh 8100 led me to find a Power Computing PowerCenter 150 and a Power Macintosh 9600, which is probably the grail of the beige Power Macintosh as they go for ridiculous prices. Managed to find a 9600 that needs some work to get running, but the focus will be on the Mac clone since it’s a more interesting “Mac.”

That said, I finally caught up with the developments and apparently Dosdude1 managed to reduce the size of the ROM and also make the flasher program work on any EPROM chip. I found out the Rabbit Hole Computing Hard Card PCI card and bought one for the Power Computing clone, and it was easy to flash. All you need to do is install it in a Power Mac, run the patched flasher, flash the card and you have a working card. It comes with a 256 GB SSD, which makes the $89 price tag worth it as one does not having to do any modifications to the card to make it work.

My review on the card is over at:
https://amausaan.tokyo/rabbit-hole-computing-hard-card-impressions-the-easiest-to-flash-sata-m-2-sata-pci-card-to-make-it-mac-os-9-or-earlier-bootable/

I do plan to have a retro site which should have all the blog posts relating to retro macs in the near future.
Ha!
BlueSCSIv2 with Pico W is a cool thing. On the PM8100/80 you mentioned, which I received not so long ago, I connected to Wi-Fi networks using SSW 7.1.2 :o I couldn't believe it myself, but the FTP client connected and worked perfectly.
Now I'm waiting for a parcel with Nubus SCSI Card ATTO Express IV to then connect BlueSCSIv2 to work at ~10 Mbps or other drives through an adapter for maximum performance.

The Rabbit Hole Computing card looks interesting, I'll definitely try it later. Thank you!
Such a board may be more interesting than the "classic" sil3112 to which you need to connect an SSD drive with a SATA cable.
Especially in MDD and 9600, where you need to use long cables to connect the drive.
In my computers, I did this:



« Last Edit: June 04, 2024, 12:51:08 PM by aBc »
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PPC — PM 8100/80, PM 9600/300, PM G3 Minitower (Rev. C), PM G3 B&W (Rev. B), PM G4 Quicksilver (2002), PM G4 MDD (2003), PM G5 (Late 2005).
Intel — Mac mini (mid 2010), iMac 5k (2017), Mac mini (2018).
AppleSilicon — Mac mini (2020), Mac Studio M2 Max + Apple Studio Display.
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