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Information on SATA HDD with Linux 2.6.

Troubleshooting IDE to SATA interface converters

IDE drives are (as of 2010) getting hard to obtain. Larger, inexpensive, SATA drives can help rejuvenate an older server which doesn't need high CPU speeds to store networked data.

I tested converters by Addonics (no affiliation to me) and others are surely as good. However, since an older BIOS is not expecting a SATA drive, problems can occur. Typically, these are low-level drive errors which can occur when partitioning a new drive, but will occur during data transfer if the drive is already formatted.

If you receive errors such as:

ata5.00: exception Emask 0x0 SAct 0x0 SErr 0x0 action 0x0
ata5.00: BMDMA stat 0x64
ata5.00: cmd c8/00:08:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 tag 0 dma 4096 in
         res 51/40:00:00:00:00/00:00:00:00:00/e0 Emask 0x9 (media error)
ata5.00: status: { DRDY ERR }
ata5.00: error: { UNC }

Then the solution is to ensure that both these criteria are met:

  1. The BIOS supports smartctl, and if it does, that
  2. The SATA drive supports smartctl.

If both of these are met, use the smartctl program (smartmontools package) to solve your problem.

Otherwise, examine your motherboard's BIOS. Specifically, you are looking for settings controlling DMA or PIO for the hard drive controller and channel (i.e., secondary master) your drive is set for. Disable DMA, and change PIO from auto to PIO=0. If any other settings are present, choose the most inefficient possible (minimum or no software prefetching or buffering, for example). Then try the drive again.

You may have to shut down and restart the computer to reset the drive if it has already had serious errors.

You can also try to minimize problems using hdparm, for example, setting -c0 and the like.