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You can go with Silicon Image controllers safely, but you need to avoid specific models. I would refer you to Wikipedia, but some jerk removed the entire Product Alerts section of Wikipedia's entry on Silicon Image (it's visible in the history, but no longer on the actual page). Probably someone who works for SI, sigh...
The chips you need to avoid are the 3112, 3114, and 3512. These are "older" chips, and usually aren't used in present-day controllers, but it's your responsibility to make sure you don't invest in one. A lot of vendors won't disclose what chip is used (some go as far as to Photoshop out the silkscreening in product photos), but sometimes reviewing a Specifications page -- or downloading the drivers for the card -- works as a way to determine what chip.
The 3124 happens to be a decent, well-supported chip.
However, I can't make any guarantees that the Intel SSD Toolbox will work on an external HBA of any sort. My opinion? Upgrade your motherboard to something that uses an Intel-based on-board ICHxx controller. That should cost you less than a hundred bucks, assuming you can still use your existing CPU and RAM on the new board.
I, as well as many other sysadmins, really do wish Intel made PCIe-based HBAs based on their ICHxx and ESBx controllers. They could easily dominate the market with such, instead of just going with pure on-board.
"I, as well as many other sysadmins, really do wish Intel made PCIe-based HBAs based on their ICHxx and ESBx controllers. They could easily dominate the market with such, instead of just going with pure on-board."
I was thinking the same thing and almost suggested that at the end of my post.
As far as upgrading the board goes, it will be about a year before I hit my upgrade rotation. I'm thinking $40 for a card vs a whole new populated mainboard now is the better way to go with the new socket hitting later this year. Besides It's a 775 platform. Not much available nowadays unless I go microATX which kills my SLI setup.
Given my realistic options (bugetary and otherwise) I'd hate to have to swap out the SSD to my 7 box once a week to run garbage collection on it