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looking to build a hardware RAID-5 using SATA disks...

this will be exposed to a Hypervisor: VMware ESX or Xen

but none of the below seem to have driver support on Linux / ESX except AMD SP5100 which is only on server mainboards

they all support IDE mode / AHCI mode / RAID mode

AMD southbridge chipsets: SB780 SB880 SP5100 - server

Intel Rapid storage technology:

Intel® PCH SATA RAID/AHCI
Intel® ICH10R/DO SATA RAID/AHCI
Intel® ICH9M-E SATA AHCI/RAID

what options exist apart from buying a dedicated RAID card PCIx - LSI chipset?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Onboard RAID tends to be either 'driver-assisted' or just plain awful - ESX/ESXi has a very small HCL and therefore generally shuns low-end cheapo mobo RAID.

That said if you look on that HCL site you will find that Intel's S55xxxx-series mobos are supported by ESX/ESXi 4.1U1 and have hardware RAID built in.

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Only on cheap boards. Server boards often have enterprise raid controllers (LSI, Promise, Adaptec) –  TomTom Mar 10 '11 at 10:15
    
Intel S55X series? only find H55, P55 etc –  John-ZFS Mar 10 '11 at 10:37
    
* sigh * a moment's googling show this; intel.com/cd/products/services/emea/eng/motherboards/server/… –  Chopper3 Mar 10 '11 at 10:51

you might have trouble running ESX on unsupported hardware but you could use vmware server 2 under linux or windows using the normal drivers.

I wouldn't recommend using on board sata for raid5 though either get a dedicated raid card or connect them as individual drives and use software raid. On board raid is generally the worst of both worlds and can cause a lot of problems.

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