IBM ServeRAID BR10i LSI SAS3082E-R PCI-Express SAS RAID Controller
A lot of users on this site, and of Windows Home Server, FreeNAS and OpenSolaris look for compatible RAID controllers that are both supported and inexpensive. For these users, both the older SAS 3.0 and SATA II LSI 1068e chipet and the newer LSI SAS 2008 are favorites. The LSI 1068e was an extremely popular RAID chipset that has the ability to be flashed to IT firmware to turn the controllers into (more or less) SAS Expander aware host bus adapters (HBAs). It is supported under most operating systems and was used by many OEM vendors.
Today I just wanted to highlight that there are other options to get the LSI 1068e based cards much less expensively than the LSI branded cards. One example I highlighted was the Intel SASUC8I which could be flashed with LSI IT and IR (RAID) firmware. One other great example is the IBM ServeRAID BR10i which was a commonly included card in many IBM systems.
Like the Intel SASUC8I, the IBM ServeRAID BR10i is a barely rebranded LSI card (it even includes the LSI part number sticker).
One major difference between the Intel SASUC8I and the IBM ServeRAID BR10i is that the dual SFF-8087 connectors have a different orientation on the two cards. The SASUC8I’s ports point directly out of the rear of the card to drive cages in the front of the chassis and parallel to the motherboard. The ServeRAID BR10i’s connectors point to the top rear of the card and perpendicular to the motherboard.
With all of that being said, the card is a PCIe 1.0 x8 LSI 1068e based card capable of only RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 1E. The real value here is twofold. First, one can create RAID 1 OS drives for ESXi and OpenSolaris which both do not work overly well with many onboard controllers. Second, system pulls (often for higher-performance RAID cards) make the ServeRAID BR10i a low cost option on Craigslist and eBay.
The IBM ServeRAID BR10i/ LSI SAS3082E-R is a solid card, much like the Intel SASUC8I. Due to system pulls, one can often find the card a bit cheaper than the Intel cards, making them an attractive low-cost option for an 8-port LSI 1068e SAS Expander enabled card. In fact, the system pulled cards are oftentimes less expensive than simple 8-port HBAs. On the flipside, I would always caution users to be wary of items claiming to be new system pulls as there are many unscrupulous folks that would resell non-functional parts.