The new SATA 6 Gb/s hardware on Ubuntu Linux

This post is a bit of an experiment, because I am not sure how many of my readers are computer nerds, and into non- windows operating systems, so let me know in the comments if writeups like this bore you to tears.

As you probably know, I recently did an upgrade of my hardware, and ran into installation trouble, in particular, while the BIOS recognised my shiny new WD Caviar Black 1 Tb SATA 3, 6Gb/s harddisk, Ubuntu’s installer turned a blind eye on it. I was only able to install the system by plugging the disk into the SATA 2 port, which on this Gigabyte motherboard, is connected to the Intel ICH 10R chip, which the Linux kernel has no problems with.
So as I subsequently found out, the underlying issue here is that the kernel used in Ubuntu 10.10, some version of 2.6.35 as of today, does not recognise, and work with, the Marvell 9128 chip that Gigabyte( and Asus I think) use for the SATA 3 ports on their boards.
As is usually the case with new hardware, Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular, will eventually catch up and a driver is going to be integrated into a future kernel. According to this website, it will be kernel 2.6.37-8 and above, that should have the Marvell 9128 working. If you are not a seasoned Linux user, it’s probably worth waiting for the next Ubuntu version, 11.04, codenamed Natty Narwhal, before you buy hardware that uses the Marvell 9128 for the new 6Gb/s SATA disks.

Windows 7 apparently has no problems with the Marvell 9128, but then, that’s what the chip is designed for, so that is no big achievement really. I wish companies like Marvell would just offer driver downloads for non-windows systems to start with.

Curiously, according to this report, enabling AHCI(Advanced Host Controller Interface) in the BIOS makes the SATA 3 ports work under Ubuntu 10.10, I’m going to have to try it to see if that’s true. If you have a dual-boot with Windows 7 with AHCI enabled, you need to first re-enable the W 7 driver in the registry.


Update : I can confirm that enabling AHCI for the SATA3 ports in the BIOS does work. For me, at least.

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