Upgrading on-board components on hard drive controller boards?

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RogueRose

Joined Oct 10, 2014
374
I was recently looking at some hard drives to replace one that had gone bad and I was amazed at some of the stats on the new units. I was looking at 4TB models and they had caches from 32Mb to 256 and most surprisingly of all the 32MB was the high end "Enterprise Datacenter Gold Edition SAS"! As compared to some much "lesser" performing drives of lower cost and at least 2x the cache. This drive was the only one with 32MB of cache, even their least expensive model had 64Mb.

I pulled the controller card from a few HD's and looked at the chips on them and found that most of the cache chips are the same physical size (a couple older ones were much larger for even 2-16Mb though) and all the new/current ones were DDR3. Now it is possible to get these chips online and they aren't too expensive. For one model one chip was $8 for one and $22 for 5, all packaged in original "strip"' packaging.

Cache can have a major impact on some systems depending on what you are using the system for and I was wondering if the chip could be removed (hot air gun) and replaced with a higher capacity one - assuming the same physical pin layout, which I suspect it is from looking at pin counts and chip dimensions. It sure would be interesting to see what the difference would be between the enterprise SAS drive with 32MB vs an upgraded 256MB (er maybe even 512Mb if available) - even if only for educational purposes.

I'm also interested in upgrading other components of retail computer hardware, either changing the LAN chipset, maybe adding more or better VRAM, etc.

If this stuff is possible, I have an almost endless supply of old hardware that is destined for the recycler that I can practice on removing the chip and then replacing it with another one from a same model board - then seeing if it works.

My only concern is that there may be something in the firmware/bios of the hard drive or other hardware, that has a "value" for the cache "like 32MB" and when the cache is full, it purges the content for the next step of filling it up, so adding a large chip would't do anything b/c it would purge when it wasn't near full. Now there are people who hack firmware, write custom code for it and even sell custom chips with all of it installed so you don't have to update it. IDK how this works internally, maybe someone here will and can comment on how it works and any possible solutions for this problem?

Finally my biggest hope would be to figure out how to incorporate something like a 4-32GB SSD flash into a normal HD, like the hybrid drives that are on the market, but I've never found one I would buy for many reasons (they use the lower quality HDD and lower quality NAND chips and charge 2-3x the price). I was wondering if it might be possible to do something similar here, use the board from a hybrid drive, pull the cheap 4 or 8GB chip and install a newer 16-64GB chip (they often are the same physical size & same pins) and then find a HD that would work with this board (with possible mods) like moving the 2 connectors (power/data & motor) with 2 small PCB's used to change their position if needed. I've worked out how to do it theoretically and it should work from a physical perspective but not sure about the other issues.

this could lead to some really interesting hardware if this works!!
 

ArakelTheDragon

Joined Nov 18, 2016
1,314
There are a lot of things in computers and all electronics, so no matter what you do, the speed will always be limited to the same old, no matter of the official characteristics. That way you will watch the same videos, use the same office functions and do the same, but it will take the new model with 16GB RAM (more new models, more money).
 
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