Since you want to use 8 SATA drives, you then need a RAID card that supports 8 drives or supports port multipliers. This puts you into the enterprise class of RAID controllers.
If you don't need RAID 6 (I wouldn't think you would), and you want to use PCI Express, then look at the 3Ware 9590SE series of controllers. There is an 8-port, 12-port, and 16-port version. All support port multipliers, so you can use those to get more drives than ports if you want to. Requires a PCIe x4 or higher lane slot. Be aware that many motherboards won't let you use anything but a video card in their PCIe x16 slot, so don't expect to use on-board video or a cheap PCI video card and plug the RAID controller into the x16 slot unless you find a motherboard that specifically will do this. Better to get a true server board and use a dedicated PCIe x4 or x8 slot.
If you have a motherboard with a PCI-X slot, the 3Ware 9550SX is available in 4, 8, 12, and 16 port versions. This card only works in a true PCI-X slot. Plugging the card into a PCI32 slot and letting the extra card edge hang over, which works on many 64-bit PCI cards, does not work with this card. See this 3Ware knowledgebase article for details.
If you have to plug the card into a 32-bit PCI slot, use the 9500S series. The 9500S series is not the latest generation of cards, and is internally PATA-based with SATA converter chips. It does not support NCQ or port multpliers, and only supports 150MB/sec transfer rates. Doesn't really matter, the card is still fast enough to saturate the 32-bit PCI bus with 110MB/sec transfers.
I should have mentioned some of the computer specs
here they are:
DFI LanParty NF4 SLI DR w/ Evercool VC-RE
Athlon64 3700+ san diego w/ vapochill ultra low noise
2x1Gb OCZ Platinum EB
Geforce6800 ultra 256mb
Windows XP Pro SP 2
Aspire X-Navigator Case
700W OCZ Game Xtreme
my motherboard has the following slots:
# 2 PCI Express x16 slots
# 1 PCI Express x1 slot
# 1 PCI Express x4 slot
# 2 PCI slots
so from what you've said a 3Ware 9590SE should be fine, is this right and is their anything else i should think about first?
Also when you say get a 'true server board' would i still need to buy a raid card?
The PCIe x4 slot on your motherboard should work, but as with any high-end card (storage, video, or otherwise), anything that pushes the underlying system to its limits exposes potential weaknesses.
While the NForce4 chipset might be great for gamers, there's a reason that server motherboards don't use it. It's not what I would consider enterprise-class, and has some idiosyncracies and caveats with particular hardware.
Server motherboards use a server-level chipset, like the Intel 75xx, 85xx, 88xx, 3000 series, and 5000 series, and a server-level processor (Xeon or Opteron).
Those chipsets and processors are fully optimized for massive data transfers, massive amounts of fast memory, huge amounts of I/O, ECC registered memory, and 24/7 operation. Yes, it might be overkill for your application, but the compatibility issues won't be a problem.
On most server motherboards, you will still need to buy a RAID card, although some do come with an on-board RAID solution.
I'm not saying your motherboard won't work for your application, nor am I saying it won't work with this card. I'm just pointing out that you're asking for a server-level application, but are attempting to realize that using desktop components. There may be unexpected difficulties.
One I can see right off the bat is that you're not going to be able to create a volume bigger than 2 TB under Windows XP. MBR disks (which is the only thing Windows XP supports) cannot handle a volume size greater than 2 TB. Windows Server 2003 SP1 or Server 2003 R2 is required to support a GPT disk, which can support partitions > 2 TB. Under Windows XP, you will have to use the 2TB auto-carving feature of the 3Ware card to create 2 logical disks, and have Windows XP treat them as separate drives.
Your Aspire case looks pretty good, just make sure there's a fan in front of every drive. 8 drives is going to put out a pretty good amount of heat, and heat is the biggest hard drive killer.
ok. It looks like if i go with windows xp 64 i should be able to make it a GPT disk but not boot from it which is fine as i didn't plan to do that anyway. I've check hardware support so going to x64 should be fine.
This does make it wonder how locked in my raid will be to the computer and OS. Do you know if i would beable to move my raid to different computer or OS such as vista or linux later on?
Also does anyone know a reason to get the 7200.10 instead of the 7200.9?