Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday today. You all made me smile lots. (Yes, I do share a birthday with Karl Marx, and yes, I am now 30.)
I received the SiI3124-based disk controller mentioned earlier, but it didn’t wish me a happy birthday. In fact, it just didn’t work as I hoped. For some reason its on-board option ROM isn’t starting up when the rest of the computer does, so it’s not initializing the disks and making the main BIOS aware of their existence. This prevents me from booting off of them. FreeBSD can talk to the disks on it just fine, but without the BIOS it’s not useful to me.
When I tried the card in my MAME cabinet and it works fine there, so I think something like the following is occurring: The on-board SATA / RAID controller is a SiI3114, and when I disable this via the BIOS, perhaps this somehow disables the SiI3124? Or, perhaps when the controller is enabled, the option ROM from one is interfering with the other? After all, the SiI3114 BIOS still loads and displays. I did also try changing the PCI enumeration order and tried the cards in other PCI-X slots and the lone PCI slot, and none of that produced positive results. The SiI3114 always enumerates first (or not at all?).
As a test I put a classic Adaptec AHA-2940UW (can you believe this card is more than 10 years old at this point?) card in the box and its option ROM displayed just fine. So, the motherboard seems to handle disk controllers in slots, just not this one.
Instead of the SiI3124-based card I really would like a 3ware 9550SXU-4LP, but its $319.99 price tag is a bit hard to stomach. Maybe I’ll just return the card and stick with the onboard controller and software RAID.
Oh, and if you want to see them, there are more photos of the Koutech PSA421 in banstyle.nuxx.net here on page 3 of my gallery.