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I'm giving a new life to an old box and I plan on running a Linux server that will handle general file duties with redundancy. The MB doesn't come with more than 2 SATA 1 ports and they don't support RAID at all.

I was looking around for a hardware RAID expansion card but noticed that the MB also only comes with PCI 5V slot.

Considering (according to Wiki) that the max transfer of the PCI bus is 133 MB/s (~1.06 Gb/s):

Would I be able to effectively run the OS on the main port, and the FS on the RAID array, without capping the speeds, or should I go ahead and upgrade the MB?

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I guess this is kind of what I was looking for: link. I'm open to any more responses. – fadmcrank May 7 '11 at 8:03
I like the answers I see so far and i'm already thinking it might just be best to go with the inexpensive software RAID array Linux can run. I might just go ahead and add any cheap PCI SATA card for Linux itself since it should do little I/O, and I get the added benefit of separating my OS and data. Want to see if anyone has anymore thoughts (for a little) before I accept and answer. Thanks Matt and Turbo for your input! – fadmcrank May 8 '11 at 8:25
up vote 0 down vote accepted

If you only need 2 disks, use the on-board SATA ports and Software RAID1. Its waaay faster than PCI card - cheap PCI cards can't do RAID in hardware either - an the CPU overhead is neglible with modern CPUs. That is if thouse SATA ports are connected to the chipset and not on the PCI bus.

And Matt Jerkins is wrong: You can get up to 100MByte/s with Gigabit Ethernet these days with a fast protocol (NFS, FTP). Just not with SAMBA and windows.

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A decent hardware RAID system will perform all mirroring operations within itself without reference to the PCI bus at all.

As for capping the speeds - 1Gbps over the PCI bus is more than you can squeeze down your ethernet connection - even with gigabit ethernet you still won't get anywhere near those speeds, so you should be fine.

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I think I'm starting to agree with those numbers however: Is there anything I should be looking for when choosing this HRAID card. All the "cheap" ones I've looked at, had reviews of people claiming they weren't real Hardware RAID, but software RAID. – fadmcrank May 7 '11 at 19:34
There are essentially 3 types of raid. Hardware, Software and what I call "firmware" raid. HW and SW are self explanitory. Firmware ones are hardware which requires software to run. The majority of embedded motherboard ones are like this. I haven't worked with HW raid for a while, but I used to use Adaptec or Mylex. Not sure what they are offering nowadays. – Majenko May 7 '11 at 19:49

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