With the NVIDIA chipset mainboards I've got they have the JMicron ports inside near the MediaShield ports. I suppose the question should have been whether or not using eSATA for a main OS drive is doable and if anyone has done this. I really haven't used eSATA before. I use CrashPlan for backups.
The Abit uses the ICH9R southbridge, and claims 6 ports from that. IIRC, you can use all six, but no more than 4 in a single chipset-managed RAID array. So you could use up to 4 ports for a RAID 5 array, and one of the other two for your O/S.
1) Why a separate drive for O/S? Why not put it on a RAID 5 array with other static data? What's your intended use?
2) What O/S?
3) Could you use software-managed RAID? For example, Win 7 Ultimate supports RAID 5 arrays in software, with more disks I believe. So you could do your 5+1 that way, and configure your MB controller for AHCI instead of RAID. That also makes your data more portable, as you wouldn't need an ICH9R chipset to read the data if your MB ever died.
That option 3 sounds excellent. Seems I only discover new things in computing only when I need them. This is great news. I've heard of Windows software RAID but never tried it. I'm happy you reminded me. Is it going to be much slower than on-board controllers? Those are really software RAID also aren't they. Right now I use NVIDIA MediaShield and the controller software within the Control Panel. I was simply going to upload all but 1Tb to Crash Plan (back-up service) and rebuild to Intel.
Rebuilding a degraded array with the OS on it seems like it would be really slow. I've never tried to create a separate partition on 1 array. Is that doable? I usually have my Paragon backup of the OS on the array. I guess I don't really need to have it separate now that I think about it. Intended use is temp storage mostly. I store music, movies, and family stuff on it and upload most to CrashPlan later -slowly. I keep some things on it for ready availability. One other reason for the OS on another drive is that the RAID drives are the slower Western Digital Green (5400 spindle) drives and the separate drive is a WD Black. Wouldn't my OS be much slower?
This is Windows 7 64bit.
8Gb Mushkin RAM
Intel Q8200 (2300MHz)
1 WD Black HDD
5 WD Green HDD's
Windows sounds like the best option. I don't care to invest in a RAID controller card. I'm not that disappointed with the Software RAID yet but MediaShield or the IO on my EVGA 730i seems really slow, slower than it should be even with RAID 5. I'm buying a Radeon HD 6000 series to replace that on-board video anyway so I figure why not move it to a better board. The Abit should have better reliability and performance characteristics, but not necessarily, I suppose.
Are Rebuild, Migrate, Synchronize options available with the software RAID of Windows 7 and, if you would know, how about with the ICH9R? I need at least Rebuild and it makes sense they should be there but just askin'.
Using the Intel controller it looks like I would either need to shrink my RAID 5 or go with RAID 0+1, which is what I prefer anyway, still shrinking my array size. I like the Windows software option so far. I'll start reading up on it.
Looks like Windows 7 does not support software RAID 5.
"The Professional/Enterprise/Ultimate editions of Windows 7 officially support the following dynamic disk modes:
These are the officially supported modes. It has been possible in previous Windows releases to enable unsupported modes through DLL modifications and/or registry changes, and this will probably be the case in Windows 7 as well. At your own risk, of course.
RAID-5 dynamic disks are only available in Windows Server editions."
Really all I probably need to do is upgrade my drives and move to a 0+1 array. It'll cost me but eventually I'll need to do it anyway. I should then evaluate my IO performance and decide from there what to do.
I would say this is a closed case unless anyone else has anything to say. Thank you.