There are various posts relating to issues with VMware Workstation and the use of SATA physical drives (i.e. passing a physical SATA drive through to the guest VM).
The first challenge is getting past the “Internal Error” error message. To do so, create a VM with a SATA virtual disk. Once you’ve done this, you can try and add a SATA physical drive to the guest. This needs to be as a SATA device, since adding the pass-through drive as a SCSI device works. You will receive the “Internal Error” error message. Note that the .vmdk file is created for the drive in the VM’s directory.
The next step is to edit the .vmx and replace the original SATA device (sata0:0.fileName= line) with the newly created .vmdk file. This will get the SATA pass-through device into the VM. However, I was not able to power on the VM at this stage and got another error message.
Looking in the VM’s log file it was apparent that VMware Workstation was unable to open the raw device,
The fix to this is to run VMware Workstation as administrator. So instead of double clicking as you normally would, you need to right click and select “Run as administrator”. This was the step that I did not see mentioned anywhere else.
By doing this, I was able to start the VM and it then worked as expected!