AMD-enabled chipsets with Linux RAID Support Onboard -- which ones?

Posted on 2008-11-12
Last Modified: 2013-12-10
I'm looking for a chipset to use in small servers at remote sites that utilize AMD athlon x2 processors that have onboard raid controllers that work with linux. Yes, I realize these are not high performance options. however, intel-based raid controllers WORK with linux, so i can only hope that there is an AMD alternative with similar support, sans the fantastic performance of a $200+ 3Ware product.
Question by:jmicorp
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    AMD do not make RAID controllers.

    Intel, Adaptec, LSI are some main RAID controller vendors.

    Are you looking for an actual Hardware RAID controller?

    Linux's software RAID is very capable and easy to set up.
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    In general most onboard "raid" controllers are pseudo-raid and don't actually work without software (driver).  You are much better off to simply use lvm as kyleb84 suggests.

    Author Comment

    i've done this and had mixed results. I currently have an (older) server running Fedora 8 (P4 2.0 / 1GB / 2x 320GB) on a highpoint 37X-based pci fakeraid controller. I'm using dm to mount the raid while another disk boots the OS. SOMETIMES it'll mount the drive(s), sometimes it wont. No predictability. I never wanted it setup this way, I just could never find a way to mirror that boot volume so that indeed both drives would be identical rather than an 'almost' copy. Fakeraid/Bios-raid/whatever you want to call it WILL in fact make a sector-for-sector copy of your disk.

    I'm well aware that AMD does not make a RAID controller; nor does nVidia. I'm simply after a mirroring solution, even if its BIOS-based. Supposedly, dmraid has enough built-in intelligence to support the HPT 370 and nVidia-based products, however my experience shows otherwise in the case of the HPT controllers.
    LVL 10

    Expert Comment

    "Fakeraid/Bios-raid/whatever you want to call it WILL in fact make a sector-for-sector copy of your disk."

    So does Linux sw raid - except for the sector containing the drive ID - but then again, same applies to what you've mentioned as well.

    "I'm simply after a mirroring solution, even if its BIOS-based."

    Nearly all BIOS based RAID is really just AHCI software raid, a true hardware RAID controller is going to cost $250+.

    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Just to add my 0.5c, what Kyle says is correct.

    Unless you have the money for a true hardware raid, use Linux software raid instead. It is better supported and more flexible than fakeraid (the dm driver is really a reverse-engineered driver that supports most of the popular "fakeraid" controllers/formats, it should really only be used if you have to use the "fakeraid"; for example if you have a Linux/Windows dual-boot system and you want to use the fakeraid in Windows).

    The link kyle gave above shows how to use the Fedora installer to set up Linux software raid and the boot loader so that the PC will boot even if one disk fails.

    If you decide to use a different distribution than Fedora, the generic steps are:
    - Create a Linux sw raid1. This raid1 volume can use the entire disks, but it doesn't really have to - it is sufficient to have a raid1 mirror that is large enough to hold the boot files (/boot) and the necessary files to mount the other raid volumes (usually included in initrd in most linux distributions).
    - Use the rest of the space on the disk(s) to set up other raid volumes as needed (like a raid5 if you have a 3 disk system).
    - Install the Linux system on the raid volume(s).
    - Install the boot loader (usually grub) on the MBR of all the disks in the raid1.
    - Configure the bootloader (/boot/grub/menu.lst) so that it can boot from each of the disks in the raid1.

    To give an example - I have a PC here with 3 HDs. I have a small raid1 mirror spanning all three disks mounted on /boot (1GB is really more than enough, /boot only contains linux kernels/initrd and the grub 2nd stage bootloader). The rest is a large raid5 that I use LVM to split up in /, /home and swap space.

    Author Closing Comment

    This is NOT the answer I was looking for, but I suppose it'll just have to do. Intel Matrix/JNI based southbridge controllers may not be elite or some kind of wonderful, but they work. There's got to be a solution for AMD chipsets that just works in a similar fashion to the ICH8+ based Intel chipsets do.

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