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Soltek Qbic EQ390 and SATA non-goodness. 3.0Gb/s incompatibility

One of the problems with DIY PC builder-types is the joy of finding out the pieces that you try to assemble together have incompatibilities with each other. Sometimes it affects you at the hardware level, the OS level, or the application level. Either way it’s always a time sink isolating the exact problem.

One unpleasant surprise I found out is that the QBic E3901 SFF PC would not recognize a Hitachi T7k500 250GB HDDs when I plugged it in and powered it up. Some things I knew it wasn’t:

  • Dead Hard drive – No, I just pulled it from another machine
  • Bad cable – No, I just tested this cable on another HDD that DID work in this machine
  • Bad power cable – See Bad cable

After some more snooping around I found a useful answer on the Gigabyte website for the southbridge chipset that the Qbic E390 uses. Basically, the VIA VT8237/VT8237R-based southbridges cannot support hard drives SATA HDDs that run at 3.0Gb/s speeds it seems. The only workaround is to see if the HDD can support changing the interface speed. Unfortunately, the Hitachi does not…

I was able to test with another HDD that allowed setting the speed down to 1.5Gb/s and that came up perfectly after I downclocked the interface speed. If I tried to set the speed to 3.0Gb/s it was completely ignored by the BIOS.

Anyways, it seems sticking with PATA will be a safer bet for the QBic’s or make sure the HDD supports the lower transfer speed as well….

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