MINIX can use SATA hard drives in native mode, which is also called AHCI mode. This option is supported from MINIX 3.2.1 prereleases onward.
To enable SATA, set the BIOS to use native/AHCI mode for the hard drive.
Then, choose this boot option during installation:
Regular MINIX 3 (with AHCI)
To enable this for an installed system, add ahci=yes to a menu entry in /boot.conf.
When using SATA in VirtualBox, consecutive restarts might not find the installer CD. To fix this, shutdown MINIX and close the VirtualBox VM. This will erase any temporary data that may be causing the problem.
Please let us know about your experience.