Silicon Image 3512: RAID/non-RAID, flash size, e-pad

vbimport

#1

Yes, it’s yet another SII3512 thread. :slight_smile: I see people recommend using the non-RAID BIOS, but why actually? What’s wrong with the RAID BIOS? Besides RAID functionality, what are the differences between the two types?

Assuming I want to change the BIOS I have a potential problem. The card I have seems to have a 512Kbit (64KByte) flash chip while all the ones listed as supported (both in the GUI and DOS flashers) are at least 1Mbit. The BIOS files are larger than that at 128KByte. Has anyone flashed the BIOS with a 512Kbit flash chip? (In fact most of the 128KB of the BIOS file is empty, so it could in theory fit in 64KB, but I don’t know what the flasher really does and trying could be irreversibly destructive.)

Another thing is whether to update with *.bin or *e.bin (e-pad). Any idea what’s the difference? A few BIOS files I compared are the same except one byte so it doesn’t look much more than an id difference, but maybe it could fail working if this doesn’t match the chip.

BTW, also the difference between RAID and non-RAID could be superficial. In versions 4.3.8x at least the difference is just a few bytes at the end of the file, beyond the actual code parts. v4.3.79 RAID does have extra code and a few things shifted, but it looks like it’s just a slight superset of non-RAID. (The non-RAID still includes a lot of references to RAID, mirroring, striping, sets, etc.)


#2

I think using a non raid bios just makes many cards work properly with optical drives and folks that have no use for a RAID setup just want to stuff as many hard drives as they can without having to do anything but make sure the drives is formatted properly.
The card I just got can use either setup but comes with the raid bios and drivers, if I don’t need it I have to flash it to the non raid bios and drivers.
So far it works fine with my burners with the raid bios and drivers running so I’m not going to worry about it.
Many cards will not see burners/opticals drives at all with the raid bios and drivers as they look only for Hard drives and ignore anything else.


#3

Success.

To use the 128KB BIOS updates with the 64KB flash chip, I copied the last 20 bytes from the end of the 128KB range to the end of 64KB (these bytes appear to be used not by the BIOS but directly by the controller chip), trimmed the file at 64KB, and flashed it with the DOS utility from Silicon Image, selecting the most similar flash chip type. (Doing it from the GUI might work too, but I didn’t get the flash tab.)

Not sure what’s with the e-pad bit difference, but looking at the final bytes of the BIOS on the card (can be saved using UniFlash or flashrom) it had the same bit set as the e-pad versions downloaded from SI, so I used that.

I still don’t have any real info on RAID vs non-RAID. For now I used non-RAID.


#4

[QUOTE=shae;2522128]Success.[/quote]Congrats :slight_smile:

I still don’t have any real info on RAID vs non-RAID. For now I used non-RAID.
It all depends on your needs. RAID is for HDD application only, not for optical drives.
With the RAID Bios you can set up a RAID 0 or a RAID 1 configuration using two HDDs.

The non-RAID Bios makes the card a simple storage controller, where the attached drives can be used separately. This setting is highly recommended if you want to connect an optical drive. You can also connect HDD and ODD to the controller. Doing this with a RAID controller is calling for trouble.

Michael


#5

I know what RAID does but I don’t see why you would need a unique non-RAID BIOS. Nothing forces you to enable RAID with the RAID BIOS. And I’d expect the BIOS to be smart enough not to even allow enabling it when ODDs are connected.

Considering in a few BIOS versions there’s practically zero difference between the RAID and non-RAID BIOSes, it makes even less sense.

The real difference must be in the Windows drivers (which look for the specific card ID set differently in different BIOS variants), but also there I don’t understand why there’s no unified driver with an option to enable/disable RAID.

Some mysteries remain unsolved… :slight_smile:


#6

[QUOTE=shae;2522255]I know what RAID does but I don’t see why you would need a unique non-RAID BIOS.[/quote]A non-Raid controller normally supports ATAPI.

Nothing forces you to enable RAID with the RAID BIOS. And I’d expect the BIOS to be smart enough not to even allow enabling it when ODDs are connected.

With a cheapo controller? :disagree:

The real difference must be in the Windows drivers (which look for the specific card ID set differently in different BIOS variants), but also there I don’t understand why there’s no unified driver with an option to enable/disable RAID.
There won’t be much difference with the Bios, but with the cheap controllers, all the logic is in the drivers. So I agree, the drivers are the most essential part here.

The main point why we recommend non-Raid versions of controllers is, that there are (still) enough issues with optical drives connected to Sata controllers. Sometimes firmware updates fail, or features are not working, and in worst case, the drive doesn’t work properly at all. Disabling Raid on the lowest level possible is one method to rule out at least one possible source of problems.

Michael


#7

[QUOTE=shae;2522128]Success.

To use the 128KB BIOS updates with the 64KB flash chip, I copied the last 20 bytes from the end of the 128KB range to the end of 64KB (these bytes appear to be used not by the BIOS but directly by the controller chip), trimmed the file at 64KB, and flashed it with the DOS utility from Silicon Image, selecting the most similar flash chip type. (Doing it from the GUI might work too, but I didn’t get the flash tab.)

Not sure what’s with the e-pad bit difference, but looking at the final bytes of the BIOS on the card (can be saved using UniFlash or flashrom) it had the same bit set as the e-pad versions downloaded from SI, so I used that.

I still don’t have any real info on RAID vs non-RAID. For now I used non-RAID.[/QUOTE]

Could you tell me how you accomplished this, exactly? I’m in the same boat – 64k flash partition but the BIOS images are 128k – but I’m not sure how you trimmed the file exactly. Thanks!/Kevin


#8

[B]commonplace[/B]: Here’s the one I edited (+background info): http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?qpc6m1f1cnth2a7