Onboard RAID vs hardware RAID controller

I’m far from understanding this well enough; hoping to get a pointer. I want to build a new system, hw/sw - everything.

Question: if I want simple RAID 1 (mirror) config – will openSUSE (LEAP 42.2) be happy using a motherboard built-in RAID controller? or do I have to go with a “real” hardware (card) RAID controller?

I’m trying to avoid the added complexity and power consumption of a HW controller, for a simple RAID 1 setup. If the motherboard controller is acceptable, is there a particular chipset I should be looking for as I search for my motherboard purchase?


Maybe use software RAID. The on the MB RAID is called FAKE (Bios assisted RAID) it may be a problem depending on hardware. Real hardware RAID is relatively expensive but is transparent to the OS so looks like a normal drive but uses some power. Then there is software RAID which is implemented by the OS. If not dual booting software RAID will give best power usage.

SSDs are low power and very fast but price per byte is higher but will cut your storage power budget by 80-90% Also they are fast enough that you could skip the stripping and use 1/2 then number of drives and still get better performance. Defiantly worth considering

Most motherboard RAIDs are software RAIDs. BIOS has minimal intelligence to recognize presence of RAID array and treat it as a single device, but once operating system boots, actual RAID logic is implemented by software driver. In case of Linux you most likely will be using Linux MD for you motherboard RAID anyway.

So almost the only reason to prefer motherboard RAID over pure software solution is more simple boot redundancy - if one disk fails, you continue to boot from the same raid array, no changes are required. Also bootloader need not to be aware and support your raid hardware because it will access it as single drive. This could be decisive if you use some exotic chip for which no grub2 support exists.

As for hardware RAID - unless you have good battery/capacitor backed up cache (there are cheap hardware raid controllers without batteries) there is little reason to prefer them over fake/software raid. And good controllers are not cheap.

Thanks for both replies. So this gives rise to the question: If my goal is RAID 1, simple mirror – do I even need to worry about shopping for a motherboard that says it has built-in RAID?

The bottom line here is that I want openSUSE LEAP 42.x to install successfully, to be able to find my two 4TB drives successfully, configure them as RAID 1 – and if a drive has a failure then allow me to gracefully replace the other drive and auto-rebuild the mirror. Don’t care about hot-swap or anything…just let me change the drive and keep going…

If you guys tell me to stick with a certain motherboard brand/chipset – I will. If this is all handled nicely by openSUSE with little worry about the motherboard, then that’s a great answer too.