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Thread: eSATA functionality

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  1. #1
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    eSATA functionality

    As every Tivo Series-3 owner knows, there is an external-SATA interface port on the back of the S3 unit. I was just poking around the StageA bootup directory on my S3 (software v8.0.1c), trying to verify the kickstart codes for another post. And this is what I found on my S3:

    Code:
      echo "Kickstart code 6 2 - initialize E-SATA drive"
      do_esata_init=1
    Very interesting. I wonder if Tivo has gotten hard drive divorces built into the system software, yet. There are a few telling splash images in the /tvbin directory.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Narf54321 View Post
    I wonder if Tivo has gotten hard drive divorces built into the system software, yet. There are a few telling splash images in the /tvbin directory.
    It's at least partially there. Try preparing an A+B drive using mfstools then plug only the A drive into the Series 3. You'll get the "LostDrive" screen, and if you proceed it will reconfigure it as a single drive system. Of course, that's a simple case where the B drive is added, but nothing is on it yet. They may not yet be dealing with the case of a populated B drive.

    Anyone with a Series3 tried to hook an esata drive up? What shows up in the kernel log?

  3. #3
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    Tivo S3 Storage Future Upgrades

    Hi guys,
    I'm looking at getting one of these new boxes. But gee - with HD content I'm back at the hours where my old Tivo was 4 years ago. This eSata interface might really have potential. Has anybody been inside the S3 close enough to see what eSata disk controller chip they put on the motherboard. Tell me the manufacturer and model number and I might be able to shed some light on Tivo's future storage upgrade strategy.

    Also (Narf54321) wrote "I wonder if Tivo has gotten hard drive divorces built into the system software, yet. There are a few telling splash images in the /tvbin directory."

    Can you tell me a bit about these splash images? What are they "saying".

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robre View Post
    Also (Narf54321) wrote "I wonder if Tivo has gotten hard drive divorces built into the system software, yet. There are a few telling splash images in the /tvbin directory."

    Can you tell me a bit about these splash images? What are they "saying".
    Tivo uses a proprietary drive format and partitions known as MFS. The older model Tivos (which were IDE-based) coud usually support two drives, which would be "married" together. The problem being that, because you couldn't "divorce" the drives, if either drive failed you pretty much lost all your recorded shows and had to restore from scratch.

    With this new external eSATA connection, if it is ever activated, it presents opportunity to add or remove an external drive. Removing a "married" drive is problematic, which is why I was curious if Tivo finally added official "divorce" support when you unplug an extra drive. The splash images (for on-screen display) seem to indicate they're at least thinking hard about it.

    Anyway, testing this is still on my To Do List, especially as I have a shortage of extra SATA drives.

  5. #5
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    In regards to the splash screen - Found them. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    I'm on the same track - they seem to "plan" to do something different and they also have to consider some FCC "rule" that you can't take content away from a "closed" Tivo (kind of a DRM). They needed to do that to not get sued out of business (remember Replay).
    Short of having access to an open S3 - can you could tell me what disk controller chip they are using. If it is what I guess it is I can tell you how they are going to make this work. I need the manufacturer and the model number. Picture of the area where the drive cables are connecting to the board would help too. - Thanks in advance.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robre View Post
    Short of having access to an open S3 - can you could tell me what disk controller chip they are using. If it is what I guess it is I can tell you how they are going to make this work. I need the manufacturer and the model number. Picture of the area where the drive cables are connecting to the board would help too. - Thanks in advance.
    The SATA controller is onboard in the bcm7038 chip. Lots of high res photos here. This one may have the detail in the area you want.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie View Post
    The SATA controller is onboard in the bcm7038 chip. Lots of high res photos here. This one may have the detail in the area you want.
    The source code for the driver is even on tivo.com. It doesn't look like it supports hot-swap like the latest esata controllers do.

    From those splash screens, it looks like tivo is planning pretty rudimentary support of esata drives (you can't divorce without having recordings deleted on you). For folks who already know how to upgrade internal drives, the esata support doesn't seem like much of any benefit.
    Last edited by bcc; 02-16-2007 at 02:58 PM.

  9. #9
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    Thanks, Jamie - the BCM 7038 is a Dual HD Video chip. I'm still scanning the images and I can't find the ESATA controller. Do you know what's under the heat sink? Is that the main processor that runs the box or ... I see the traces from the internal sata drive running toward it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Robre View Post
    Thanks, Jamie - the BCM 7038 is a Dual HD Video chip. I'm still scanning the images and I can't find the ESATA controller. Do you know what's under the heat sink? Is that the main processor that runs the box or ... I see the traces from the internal sata drive running toward it.
    Read the spec sheet I linked to -- the bcm7038 is an all in one chip and includes the SATA controller. The bcm7038 is what is under the heat sink and is the main processor, the mpeg2 decoder, the SATA controller, the usb2 controller, etc, etc. Again, read the datasheet.

  11. #11
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    Thanks - I was hoping to find a dedicated chip. In this case I can only speculate how they might try to manage the external eSata drive. Check out this site: http://www.siliconimage.com/products...ct.aspx?id=108

    Look at the diagram of the storage processor and then download the White Paper Capacity Expansion. Tell me what you think.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robre View Post
    Look at the diagram of the storage processor and then download the White Paper Capacity Expansion. Tell me what you think.
    It sounds like they've basically put logical volume management onto the controller chip.

    I don't see how any of that driver virtualization stuff helps on the tivo. Whether the drive(s) appear as one aggregate virtualized drive, or individual drives doesn't really matter. Either way, the tivo needs to expand or contract it's Media File System (MFS) in response to drive additions, subtractions or size changes, and there is no way the drive controller chip is going to do that for it given that the file system is a custom proprietary TiVo file system.

    I suspect it wouldn't be that hard for a hacker to get eSATA working on the S3 if they really wanted to, in the same way that dual drives currently work on the S2. It might mean a custom kernel, and/or some tivoapp patches.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robre View Post
    Thanks - I was hoping to find a dedicated chip. In this case I can only speculate how they might try to manage the external eSata drive. Check out this site: http://www.siliconimage.com/products...ct.aspx?id=108

    Look at the diagram of the storage processor and then download the White Paper Capacity Expansion. Tell me what you think.
    Rumor has it the new tivoHD is using a relative of this chip for its SATA controller, the SIL5723.

  14. #14
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    TiVoHD?

    TiVoHD? Is this a new offering from TiVo? Any details?
    Having trouble with TyTool? Try TyTool Documentation
    Need to hack an S3 / THD? Try S3 Hacking Script

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by lrhorer View Post
    TiVoHD? Is this a new offering from TiVo? Any details?
    Lots of discussion over at TCF. Of course, you could check tivo.com where it is featured prominently. Or the review here, one on cnet etc.

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