First time building a home server--do I need an internal HBA?

Hi guys, first time building a home server here, and I’m confused by how connecting storage connection would work.

I’m getting one of these supermicro 2U barebone chassis which supports up to 12 x 3.5 drives. I was told by the seller that it comes with a variant of this SAS backplane.

From what I can tell, the backplane has 12 SAS connectors. On the other hand, the motherboard (X10DRU-i+) has 10 SATA3 ports.

  1. Does that mean, if I’m to use all SATA drives, that I can directly connect up to 10 of those without having to purchase an additional PCI-e HBA? How would the wiring look in this case?
  2. If not, or If I want to use SAS drives, how would a HBA fit in my setup?
  3. Regardless of what I asked, what do you think would be the most natural setup if I plan to utilize all 12 drive bays?

Sorry if my questions don’t even make sense : p I’ve only been reading up on DIY servers for the last couple of days or so.

You need some form of HBA, depending on which exact backplane is in there you could have two “upstream” connectors to connect storage back to the system (via HBA) for redundant links or just a single connector. Either way one connector from the backplane to the HBA could handle all 12 drives. Most likely you’ll use a SFF-8087 (mini SAS) TO SFF-8087 (mini SAS) (EDIT: looks like your server includes a couple SFF-8087 to SFF-8643 cables) cable to connect from the HBA to the backplane, but it’ll depend on your HBA. Looks like your backplane has 2 connectors, those cables are included if you look in the eBay listing photos, they’re the blue cables loose coming out of the center.

You can use SATA with the HBA. SATA drives are compatible with SAS connections. You can also use SAS drives. SAS drives are not compatible with strictly SATA connections.

If you wanted to use SATA drives and connect to the SATA ports on the motherboard, you’d need to at least re-wire the bays and I’m not totally sure if that’s possible (maybe if you took the backplane out? someone would need to correct me/add on here).

Most natural would be to add an HBA to use the backplane and hotswap bays as designed. Especially if you’re going to use all 12 bays anyway since you don’t have enough SATA ports for 12 drives. Use the SATA ports on the motherboard for SATA SSDs if you have a need for that, could just mount them pretty much anywhere they fit inside the case.

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I would agree with @Vynlovanth. It looks like this setup is designed to use a SAS HBA to connect the drive bays and I don’t think that there is any way to change that as long as you want to keep everything in the 2U chassis. And since it looks like the motherboard is very custom built to work in the 2U chassis with redundant power supplies, I don’t think that you could easily put it into any other chassis.

After a look at both the manuals you linked it looks like this setup is designed so that the power supplies feed power directly to the motherboard and then the motherboard feeds power out to the drive backplane. If you were to try to use the SATA ports to connect the drives, it looks like you would have to remove the backplane to connect the SATA cables but then you would have backplane to provide the power to the drives. You also wouldn’t be able to use the hotswap drive bays since I am guessing those are setup to interface directly with the ports provided by the backplane. So based on what I read in the manuals it look like you will need to go and get yourself a SAS HBA to get this up and running.

One place where I would disagree with Vynlovanth is that a SAS HBA with SFF-8087 ports is not going to work for this. After looking at the pictures in the Ebay listing, the connectors on the cables coming from the backplane seem to be SFF-8643 and not SFF-8087, so you will need to find an SAS HBA that uses SFF-8643 ports.

I hope that helps.

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Good catch on the SFF port type, grabbed the part number from the backplane manual before I actually looked at the eBay pictures. That cable could be changed depending on the HBA though.

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