Natively supported inexpensive RAID cards

Gayn Winters gayn.winters at
Sat Feb 4 10:22:57 PST 2006

> From: Mike Loiterman [mailto:mike at] 
> Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006 9:54 AM
> To: gayn.winters at; freebsd-questions at
> Subject: RE: Natively supported inexpensive RAID cards
> Gayn Winters <mailto:gayn.winters at> wrote:
> >> [mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at] On Behalf Of Mike
> >> Loiterman Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 11:57 PM
> >> To: freebsd-questions at
> >> Subject: Natively supported inexpensive RAID cards
> >> 
> >> 
> >> I'm looking to setup a 4 drive SATA RAID 5 file server for 
> >> mp3, avi, and other media using 6.0-RELEASE.
> >> 
> >> It appears that the supported SATA RAID cards listed in
> >> /stand/help/HARDWARE.TXT are all over $400.00.  That's hard for to
> >> justify for this application, unless there are no other choices.
> >> 
> >> I'd like to keep this simple, so if the price for that is $450
> >> bucks, well, I guess I'll have to deal with that.  But, I 
> figured it
> >> wouldn't hurt to ask if are there any well supported SATA 
> RAID cards
> >> (meaning setup automatically recognizes an array setup in the RAID
> >> card's BIOS as one drive) in the $100 to $200 range.  I don't need
> >> anything other than 5, but other levels would be nice for future
> >> use.  Even better would be a motherboard with onboard RAID that
> >> FreeBSD supported natively. 
> >> 
> >> If there aren't any such cards or motherboards, are there 
> relatively
> >> easy work-arounds using less expensive cards?
> > 
> > Have you considered software RAID5?
> > 
> > -gayn

> I have, and I use it for a RAID 1 server I'm running now.
> For this application I think hardware makes it more sense.  
> My gut feel is
> that it will probably be faster, for RAID 5, to do it in 
> hardware.  Am I wrong? 

This is a frequent topic here.  Time to Google!  The bottom line advice
is always the following:  match your system to what you will use it for.

Given you are willing to buy a motherboard, you've got the maximum
number of "knobs" to adjust.  You also seem to have a cost constraint,
which usually favors putting money into the base system (processor,
memory, on-board components) rather than into a RAID card.  For example,
I've seen arguments for and against say $400 into a RAID card AND $400
into a base system.  Keeping in mind that few applications are processor
limited, based on the little data you have provided on what all you are
going to use the system for other than for storing mp3, avi, and other
media, I'd lean toward software RAID and putting whatever extra money
you have into the base system.  You'll also need to play around with
things like 4 sata ports on the mboard (easy to find now) being used as
4 striped with no redundancy, 2+2 mirrored, 1 for the system and 3 in a
software RAID5, 4 in a software RAID5, and a cheap IDE drive for the
system, etc., etc.  You also have tunefs, etc.  Also, someone might know
of RAID5 on the mboard.  My recent boards only have RAID 0, 1, and 10.

Keep us posted on your analysis!


Bristol Systems Inc.

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