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Friday, November 5, 2010

Dell PERC Raid Controllers: What are they and what are the differences between each?

By Kay Winchell, CIO, Velocity Tech Solutions, www.velocitytechsolutions.com

“PERC” is a term used to describe the Dell PowerEdge Raid Controller family. PERC controllers are the interface between the operation system read/write instructions on the hard drives. These cards (for attaching storage to a server) or kits (for raid arrays internal to the server) have series levels from Perc2 to Perc6 and have been followed by the new H series. The various controllers have features that are mostly differentiated by type of connector, (PCI, PCI-E, SAS) raid levels supported, (Raid, 0,1,5,6,ect), the maximum level of hard drives supported, and whether they are internal kits or external cards.
The chart below describes first the internal (Integrated) Raid kits and secondly the external Raid Cards, the machines they are compatible with and the most common features known to us. Dell does have multiple part numbers for items that perform the same function, so we have not included the actual SKUs for the items. I have started with Perc 3 because the older Perc 2 cards are fairly rare now. Also, I have excluded some of the more uncommon raid controllers or controllers that are made for just one machine. The list below is not complete, please feel free to add or correct as necessary. Contact me if you have questions about what raid controller goes into your PowerEdge server.
The internal kits are usually composed of the Raid Key, the Raid Battery and the Raid (Cache) Memory dimm in the older servers. The key is typically installed on the mainboard of the server, while the battery and memory are usually found on the riser card. The newer servers usually just have an internal card that has the cache memory and a battery mounted on it.
The external card plugs into an expansion slot in the back of the machine and cables to a storage unit such as the Powervault or newer MD Series Enclosures or in some cases to a tape back up unit.

Internal Raid Controllers
Cache Memory Interface Max Drive
Controller Channel Machine Size Support Bus Raid Levels Support
Perc 3/si Single 2450 64mb SCSI U160 PCI Raid 0,1,5,10
Perc 3/di Dual 2550, 2650, 4600
128mb SCSI U160 PCI Raid 0,1,5,10
Perc 4/di Dual 2600
128mb SCSI PCI Raid 0,1,5,10,50 15
Perc 4e/si Single 1850
256mb SCSI PCI Raid 0,1,5,10,50 15
Perc 4e/di Dual 2800, 2850, 6800, 6850
256mb SCSI PCI Raid 0,1,5,10,50 15
Perc 5/i N/A 1900, 1950, 2900, 2950
256mb SAS/SATA PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,10,50 32
Perc 6/i N/A 1900, 1950, 2900, 2950
256mb SAS/SATA PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,6,10,50, 60 16
H700 to attach MD Storage 512mb & 1Gb Mini SAS PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,6,10,50, 60 16


External Raid Controllers
Interface Max Drive
Controller Channel Machine Cache Memory Support Bus Raid Levels Support
Perc 4/SC Single 1800, 1850, 2600, 2650, 4600, 1600SC,
64mb SCSI PCI Raid 0,1,5,10,50 40
600SC, 650, 700, 750, 800, 830, 850
Perc 4/DC Dual 1800, 1850, 2800, 2850
128mb SCSI PCI Raid 0,1,5,10,50 40
Perc 4e/DC
Dual 2800, 2850, 850
128mb SCSI PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,10,50 40
Perc 5E 1900, 1950, 2900, 2950, 2970, 6950
256mb SAS/SATA PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,10,50
R300, R805, R900, R905, T300

Perc 6E 1900, 1950, 2900, 2950, 2970, 6950 256 and 512 SAS/SATA PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,6,10,50, 60 144
R300, R805, R900, R905, T300

H800 to attach MD Storage 512mb & 1GB Mini SAS PCI-E Raid 0,1,5,6,10,50, 60 192

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