I found something on this Japanese site. They claim having a working driver for 5.x. I have not had a chance to test it myself, but since I was/am in search for the same thing, I thouhgt to publish the link. http://shell.peach.ne.jp/aoyama/archives/2268
Actually as of 5.1 GA, one of the specific SATA (fake RAID) controllers I have (I have 3 different ones) is recognized, such that my disks are seen as JBOD, which is fine for my small scale white-box, test bed. ESXi 5.0, and 5.0 U1 did not work, but 5.1 GA does, go figure.
The specific VMs I run on my white-box are processor/memory intensive versus disk intensive, so using lower end SATA is completely acceptable in my case, but I would not call it fast. No compared to other options, SCSI controllers, true full SATA controllers, etc. for DASD based datastores.
Build for ESXi I am running is 799733. Driver is sata_sil24. Connected to a SAN Digital like 8-bay tower, eSATA, 2 multiplexor, to PCIe 2 port eSATA card. VEN PCI information is... LSPCI output from ESXi... Mass storage controller: Silicon Image, Sil 3132 [SATALink/SATARaid] Serial ATA Controller.
So what's the symptoms ?
I also cannot see my hard drive content using the Sil 3132 eSATA controller attached to my HP DL 360 G7 server.
no matter how many times you re-scan, it just doesn't recognizes the hard drive using the eSATA casing.
Upon looking this KB article: VMware KB: Devices deprecated and unsupported in ESXi 5.5 sit shows that it is "deprecated"