Dominic Rivera, author of the much appreciated VMProfessional site for preparing in VMware VCP exam, is working on a FAQ about running VMware ESX Server on a SATA disk subsystem.
SATA disks are unsupported by VMware but using some particular controllers is possible to fool the ESX kernel and workaround the limitation.
One example of this is documented by Richard Garsthagen.
The FAQ is actually a work in progress on VMware VMTN Forums here. Be sure to monitor this page often since Dominic updates the thread and could host his work somewhere else.