View Full Version : Looking for Old, Slow, Cheap PCI IDE controller card

Ladd Morse
04-28-2002, 05:54 PM
Guru Wisdom Requested:

I'm looking for an inexpensive PCI IDE controller card to allow me to tweak/upgrade the IDE hard drive that comes in my TiVo PVR.

Hence it is not necessary for any kind of speed or the ability to play audio or video; I simply need a card that is compatible with my 8500 and Mac OS 9.0.4 and allow me to communicate with a Maxtor IDE drive. Were talking a format command and a few lines of installation code. An IDE card purchased new today FAR exceeds my needs - any older, slower card - new or used - will do just fine.

Recommendations for Brand and Model numbers appreciated; if you have an unused card sitting around in a desk drawer that is lonely since you upgraded, so much the better.



04-29-2002, 03:32 AM
The first IDE card for the Mac was the Sonnet ATA/33 card. I don't know what they go for on the used market.

However, you should be aware that not all Mac IDE cards use the exact same formatting scheme for drives attached to them, and that also differs (or can differ) from the scheme used in Windows and Linux (TIVO is Linux, isn't it?) boxes.

So, I wouldn't necessarily count on a Mac PCI IDE card doing what you want it to do. I guess if you loaded Linux on your Mac and used the IDE drivers in Linux to run something like a cheap Promise card that might get you closer. It wouldn't be bootable, but you don't want to boot from it, you just want to modify it.

So you may wish to look into Linux for your Mac and which IDE cards have drivers available in the Mac Linux.

Oh, and the first Mac with IDE support built in was the Quadra 630 which came in many variants Performa/LC 63x (630, 631, 635, 636). I don't know if that will let you modify your TIVO drive as you wish, but it might be cheaper to buy an old Q, P or LC 63x than it is to get an IDE card.

[This message has been edited by trag (edited 29 April 2002).]

Ladd Morse
04-29-2002, 01:54 PM
Thanks for the info.

Needless to say, all the folks in the TiVo Community forums say it's not going to work. Most of them are PC-only folks who have never heard of Virtual PC or that there are flavors of Linux that run natively on Macs, so I forgive them.

There are, however, Mac users there who have successfully prepared IDE drives for use in their TiVos. All of them have newer Macs that have IDE controllers built in, however, and some have presented evidence that leads me to believe that an older Mac with a PCI IDE controller isn't going to work. Attempting to run a few Linux commands from within Virtual PC won't work because Virtual PC doesn't actually directly communicate with the hard drives. On the "why don't you just install Linux" front, they say something along the lines that while PCI IDE cards will control IDE drives just fine while in the Mac OS environment, the cards actually register themselves to the Mac as SCSI and Linux is not going to be happy with this.

It's possible that this is what you were saying also, so I guess I need to check with various Mac versions of Linux to see what, if any, info I can find on supported IDE cards.

I'm curious to see if I can make this work and I love the thrill of the chase as much as anyone, but installing and figuring out Linux, which I have never touched or seen, and an IDE controller card seems like it could be a lot of work to save a few dollars. :-)

Again, thanks for your advice.


04-30-2002, 03:29 AM
A Q/P/LC 63x would probably cost less than $30, though shipping could push it over. Might be worth trying.

The 63x (also 640 & 641) only support one IDE device, so you'll either need to boot from the CD or attach a SCSI drive to the built-in SCSI, since you'll be using the IDE for your TIVO drive.

A search on Ebay reveals this http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2018272984 in completed items. I didn't see any current ones, but the fact that there were no bids at $5.99 shows the demand is low. There were some 631s for $3.99 but the seller wanted $22 shipping.

I believe that the Linux community has written Linux native drivers for some of the Promise IDE cards. These should not be registered as SCSI cards, I think. You are correct that if you use a Mac IDE card, the firmware in the card registers the card as a SCSI controller and does some type of conversion. And Mac's with native IDE seem to use a different format on the drives than IDE cards do.

Anyway, the point about Linux and IDE drivers is that a Linux driver for a PC IDE card isn't going to be using the faux-SCSI feature of the Mac card firmware, because a PC IDE card has no Mac firmware. The big question is whether the Mac drivers written by the Linux community for those PC cards register them as SCSI cards or have fairly native IDE control. I don't know the answer to that but the Linux folks might.

You might try http://lists.linuxppc.org/. I subscribe to a couple of those lists in hopes of gleaning low level hardware info, but I'm not much of a programmer myself.

[This message has been edited by trag (edited 30 April 2002).]