Question about my first RAID-5 setup

After doing a hefty amount of research, I'm fairly certain that I understand how RAID-5 works and what I need to get it working. I only have 2 more questions:

1) When a motherboard says that it supports RAID, does it mean that it has a hardware RAID controller on the motherboard? If so, how do I find out what the features and limitations are? Most motherboard tech specs don't go into detail as to what exactly the RAID capability consists of. If there are any motherboards anyone would like to recommend, please do so.

2) What determines how many disks I can connect? I don't want to use an external controller/housing so is it limited by the number of disks my motherboard can connect? If someone could explain exactly how the connecting works on a hardware level, I would appreciate it. What I mean is - how many disks can I connect and how do I go about doing so? Are there specific RAID connectors on the motherboard? Does each drive go into its own port? etc.

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  1. Most motherboards that support RAID will usually only support RAID0 or RAID1. The detailed mobo specs should tell you what RAID is offered.

    Interesting reading: click me !

    You are limited to how many disks you can physically connect to your motherboard (one disk per SATA connector). You can buy additional PCI controller cards if you run out of SATA slots.

    Personally I use Gigabyte mobos and am very happy with them.
  2. I skimmed that article and was plesantly suprised by the Sil3114 controller's RAID 5 performance, I was expecting something horrible.

    One thing to worry about is what happens if you need to move the array to a new system. If it doesn't have a compativle RAID controller you can't access your data.

    Also if you motherboard died you would need to replace it with one featuring a compatible raid controller.

    PS All motherboard RAID is software raid and I doubt you can find a card with full hardware RAID 5 support for under $300.

    A easy way to tell the true hardware solutions is the presence of ram, if you see it has something like 128 MB of DDR333 you can be confident that its a pure hardware solution.
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