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I'm pretty sure the T7500 uses an Intel server board (since that chipset is found on Intel's site under its server boards, Dell is essentially correct, even though they didn't realize why), but that doesn't matter in the context of your question as the "integrated" RAID controller is not actually on the board. It is a card (called "integrated" only because it has a dedicated slot on this machine). Since the RAID controller's functionality is not on the board, board info won't help you. Anything you need to know about your board and system as a whole, you can get from the T7500's manual. Information about the SAS 6/iR RAID controller (LSI 1068e) can be found here:
<ADMIN NOTE: Broken link has been removed from this post by Dell>
The SAS 6/iR will not support drives larger than 2TB, nor will it support Virtual Disks larger than 2TB.
It will also only supports RAID 0 OR RAID 1 OR both, but not together (no nested RAID levels like RAID 10 or 0+1).
So, with four 1TB drives, you can easily do two RAID 1's (called Integrated Mirror in the controller BIOS CTRL-C) ... or you can do two 2-disk RAID 0's (called Integrated Stripe in the controller BIOS CTRL-C) ... or you can run them in non-RAID mode, with four individual disks in the OS. With this controller, these are your only options with four 1TB disks.
If you want/need more RAID functionality (nested RAID levels, greater than 2TB VD's, onboard, cache, etc.), you will need to upgrade to the PERC 6/i.
Do not buy desktop-class drives ... make sure you get enterprise-class drives. If you decide at some point to go with the PERC, not only will enterprise-class drives be basically required, but certified drives would be strongly recommended for stability and performance.
Dell D881F Motherboard Precision WorkStation T7500 SYSTEM BOARD.
Drives larger than 2TB are not validated or supported.
This is not an INTEL standard Server Motherboard. It is DELL OEM.
Of course it is a Dell OEM board ... can't remember where I [thought] I read it was a "modified" Intel server board, but like I said, it doesn't even matter in the context of the question. The rest of the info I posted will be valid however. 2TB drives are not just not validated or supported, they simply will not work on the SAS 6/iR.
Thanks for your valuable input TheFlash. You really confirm that my machine will have a controller card? The link you provided mentions that the integrated controller "has been integrated on the motherboard" for some Precision workstations. The reason why I insist is because I was wondering if I could put more than 4 drives in the T7500 assuming that I would have an onboard controller (with a max of 4 drives) and the possibility to add an optional controller with an additional 4 drives. Maybe all this is irrelevant but the plan I had in mind was to put an SSD on which I would install my OS only and then add 4 drives on the RAID controller. Is there any way I could achieve this?
Also, when you refer to enterprise-class drives, would you consider WD Caviar black as part of this class? They are pretty well rated from what I've seen but maybe they are more of the high-end desktop-class category.
You can use Intel Chipset Identification Utility found at the Intel support website or run the Intel driver update utility it is automatic and will give use report telling you what chip.
Make sure you do your research before you buy the PERC 6/i My T7500 came with one. It is better than the onboard yet I'm still not achieve proper speeds. Dell at a loss it's like they had no clue there is no driver for windows 7 64bit .
I received a 15% to 20% average speed increase usihg: MegaRAID SAS 8888ELP firmware udate, 64 bit driver and management software it can be found at L S I the maker of the card.
Just a note... the statement that the 6/iR controller won't support virtual disks larger than 2 TB is only correct for the boot volume. Non-boot volumes are limited to 16 TB. The T7500 18 inches from my left knee has been happily spinning a 6 TB RAID 0 array for half a year, and the T7400 it replaced ran a 6 TB R0 array for 3 years before that. The boot volume is an SSD running on the chipset SATA controller.
The enterprise class WD RE4 drives I've been using have been absolutely rock solid. The array gets backup up all the time, of course, but none of the RE drives have failed in over 3 years of spinning in a high throughput job.