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I'm looking for a true hardware SATA RAID controller that can do levels 0, 1, and 5 and is, for a lack of a better term, "transparent" to the OS in that it requires no software drivers whatsoever. Does such a beast exist? If so I would appreciate some recommendations. I would prefer them to be PCI as we have very limited PCIe slots left.

Thanks for your help.

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closed as off topic by Zoredache, ewwhite, John Gardeniers, MDMarra, Iain Dec 7 '11 at 21:04

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@Zoredache Point taken, but I would contest that my question is slightly different in that my main question is "does such a beast exist?" A recommendation would just icing on the cake. – SiegeX Sep 20 '11 at 23:19
This sounds like OP wants a raid controller that offers a software interface compatible with one of the standards used for directly attached disks, eg AHCI or lowest common denominator IDE (as in, pretend it is a WD1003). What IS available are RAID modules that indeed are connected to an upstream SATA/SAS port, Dawicontrol makes a few IIRC. – rackandboneman May 6 '12 at 18:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The term you are looking for is "non-fakeraid". There can't be something that requires absolutely no drivers, but the hardware raid controllers only require drivers for the storage operations, no software implementations of the RAID functionality.

LSI offers (offered) a whole bunch of SAS/SATA controllers under the LSI as well as the 3Ware brands which are/were hardware RAID. Obviously, hardly any product for the PCI bus survived until today as the possible maximum theoretical PCI bandwidth of 133 MB/s would bottleneck transfers. But you can use PCI-X controllers in PCI 3.3 Volt slots, if you really need to.

As a rough rule of thumb, anything that has at least an option for a battery-backed (or capacitor-backed or flash-backed) write cache, is a "true" hardware RAID controller.

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Thank you for the response. Follow up question: would these non-fakeraid controllers still require explicit driver support for common imaging software products such as Norton or Acronis? Ideally, I would like to boot off one of the aforementioned utilities' boot CD and not have to worry about drivers for it to see the RAID volume. – SiegeX Sep 20 '11 at 23:23
I don't know anything about Norton's or Acronis' driver list, but LSI controllers are quite widespread and share a common driver, which makes them quite likely to be supported on nearly every current system. – the-wabbit Sep 20 '11 at 23:33
You can also use Clonezilla to make images. It is a Linux and it has support for a lot of storage and NIC cards. – Mircea Vutcovici Sep 20 '11 at 23:48

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