ASM1061-based PCIe cards, for OS X Mojave and Catalina

These days, ASM1061-based designs are, to my knowledge, the only affordable (i.e. <$100) PCIe cards for direct-attached eSATA storage on Macs. There has been no need for additional drivers, and they work seamlessly on vanilla OSX86 systems. Thunderbolt and USB-C are still quite expensive and flakey (on hacks).

The only issue is their behavior regarding port-multiplier-aware enclosures: only one disk is recognized (usually the one on the top bay), rendering the box useless.

This, however, can easily be fixed (on Sierra, onwards to High Sierra, Mojave and Catalina) by applying a AppleAHCIPort kext patch in Clover, as follows:

Find    --> 40600200
Replace --> 00000000
AppleAHCIPort

This can be implemented by including this kext patch on Clover’s config.plist:

	<key>KextsToPatch</key>
		<array>
<dict>
	<key>Comment</key>
	<string>ALPM IO Error AppleAHCIPort</string>
	<key>Disabled</key>
	<false/>
	<key>Find</key>
	<data>QGACAA==</data>
	<key>InfoPlistPatch</key>
	<false/>
	<key>Name</key>
	<string>AppleAHCIPort</string>
	<key>Replace</key>
	<data>AAAAAA==</data>
</dict>
</array>
</dict>

Don’t forget to use “10.14.x” (or a blank string) for Mojave, though, or it won’t work!

(thanks to vit9696 for this; more information can be found on insanelymac.com, toward the bottom of the page).

mini-PCI eSATA cards and Solaris 11

Problem: how to expand storage in a budget Solaris server.

Solution: add an eSATA card and attach a multiple-bay enclosure; the only prerequisites are for the card to be (a) supported natively, (b) affordable and (c) be compatible with port-multiplication.

Surprisingly, this was not a trivial task. Affordable (i.e. < €50) cards are abundant these days, but when it comes to Solaris derivatives one must look back to the chipsets that were introduced quite some time ago. More

A SoftRaid setup in OSX Lion, using the Sharkoon eSATA enclosure

Another very nice enclosure: the Sharkoon 5-bay eSATA/USB box. It is compact, quiet and stylish, plus: the disks can be swapped without the use of special tools/frames, which makes it very convenient.

It’s attached to my HackPro via a two-port Sonnet Tempo E2P (mini PCIe) card, so some of the information in this post will be specific to this (Silicon Image 3132-based) card. Apparently, even the ExpressCard3/4 variants of the Si3132 chip, which are widely available, work quite well with the latest drivers from Sonnet – last updated on November 29, 2011. Based on my (limited) research, this archaic chip from Silicon Image provides much better functionality – e.g. port multiplication, hot swapping – as well as stability, compared to the newer 6Gb/s offerings from other manufacturers. Granted, there are some glitches (my MacBook Pro kernel occasionaly panics with the ExpressCard on boot up), but data reliability is not jeopardized as with other chipsets. The OSX86 machine runs beautifuly, with many weeks’ work of uptime, albeit with some trouble which I’ve managed to troubleshoot (see below). More

The Lian-Li EX50 eSata enclosure – how to use it with Snow Leopard

Well, this is a nice unit (beautifuly made and quiet), but there’s no mention of Mac support in the documentation — no big surprise! Apparently, it will soon be replaced by an eSATA-USB3 version, which will obviously be better. Still, let’s try to get this puppy to work with Mac OS:

First things first – install the eSATA PCI-express card (included) in a mini-PCI slot of your Mac Pro (or your hack). Then go over to Silicon Image, and get the 3132 Snow Leopard drivers — download the “non-RAID” version (link here). Alternatively, you can get them from MacGurus, like I did (link). More