Jump to content

Marvell 88SE91xx / 88SE92xx based PCIe SATA-III controllers


Recommended Posts

  • Administrators

These have been mentioned on other forums before but I got an opportunity to buy one of those PCIe SATA controllers for a few Euros. The card was advertised as based on Marvell 88SE9128 chipset but the model I received turned out as a 88SE9123. It certainly does not seem to make a difference and I reckon that most if not all Marvell 88SE9xxx-based SATA controllers would work exactly as this one does.
The card comes as a basic and very compact PCIe x1 card with 2 x SATA-III 6Gb/s ports. Variants with 4 x ports or more exist too (there are various manufacturers offering SATA controllers based on those Marvell chipsets on PCIe x1/x2/x4 cards: Syba, Startech, IOCrest, etc.). It works OOB in Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion, Mavericks and Yosemite. By default, it's listed as "Unknown AHCI controller" under SL and as "Generic AHCI controller" in more recent OS X versions such as Mavericks or Yosemite, which can easily be fixed through a little patch of AppleAHCIPort kext. Just insert the card in a PCIe slot (x1, x4, x8 or even x16) and attach the disk(s). Perfect for older desktop PCs that do not have a SATA-II/SATA-III/AHCI capable controller and wish to enjoy SATA HDDs or SSDs at PCIe x1 speed (250MB/s for v1.0, 500MB/s for v2.0) and, for SSDs, enable Trim.
Marvell_88SE91xx_SATA_controller_01.jpg Marvell_88SE91xx_SATA_controller_02.jpg

WS670_SL:~ admin$ lspci -nn
pcilib: 0000:05:00.0 64-bit device address ignored.
04:00.0 SATA controller [0106]: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88SE9123 PCIe SATA 6.0 Gb/s controller [1b4b:9123] (rev 11)
04:00.1 IDE interface [0101]: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88SE91A4 SATA 6Gb/s Controller [1b4b:91a4] (rev 11)
WS670_SL:~ admin$ 

The PCIe bus obviously drives the overall controller performance. As such, the true speed obtained on drives (and especially SSD) depends entirely on the PCIe version. As a reminder, theoretical unidirectional speeds per PCIe lane (in MB/s) are as follows:

version\slot    x1        x2        x4        x8        x16
PCIe 1.0   |   250       500       1000      2000      4000
PCIe 2.0   |   500      1000       2000      4000      8000
PCIe 3.0   | ~1000     ~2000      ~4000     ~8000    ~16000   (round-up values, real rates are about 1.5% lower)

Performancewise, I obtained the following Blackmagic results on my old Precision 670 (PCIe v1.0, i.e. 250MB/s lane) with my Toshiba SATA-III SSD (Trim enabled) :

  • Read: 215MB/s
  • Write: 145MB/s

'not a huge improvement compared to results obtained with the SSD off the integrated SATA-1 (150MB/s) controller, but at least Trim is available.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Administrators

StarTech PEXSAT34 works OOB under OS X version from SL 10.6 to Yos 10.10. Not tested beyond Yosemite (deskop used for testing is far too old) but no reason why it would not. It's a PCIe 2.0 in x4 format offering 4 x SATA-III ports under Marvell 88SE9123 controller. Port #1 can be shared with eSATA port at the rear.
NB: in my Precison 670 where the card was fitted to a PCIe x4 v1.0 slot, a single port only operates @250MB/s, i.e. single PCIe lane, which contradicts what StarTech support stated to me: that a single SATA port would run through all 4 lanes. In fact, it seems to me that the card operates at 1 x PCIe lane per SATA port and that there is no concatenation of lanes at all; at least on my old dinosaur.  I also obtained slightly poorer benchmark results than with above PCIe x1 model. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...