SAS Question For New User

This is my first build with SAS ports and so I purchased a Supermicro CSE-836BE16-R920B 3U Server Chassis so it has a BPN-SAS2-836EL1 backplate. I am looking to connect 16 hard drives eventually and was planning on getting 2 of the HP H220 6Gbps SAS PCI-E 3.0 HBA LSI 9207-8i P20. Is this acceptable and what cables would be needed?

It’s probably better long term to pickup one HBA and one expander.

Expander will give you 24x drives from one HBA rather than the usual 8x.

Per your post it actually is coming with a SAS expander backplane: BPN-SAS2-836EL1
You’ll only need one HBA to manage the backplane. This is a great backplane chassis combo as you don’t burn a motherboard slot (HPE expander) and don’t have to try and tuck a non-slot card into the chassis somewhere (intel RESv).

You may want to wait until you receive the unit to see what cables it comes with before selecting an HBA.

Why you ask? Would you post a link to the unit you purchased?

I’m guessing eBay and that TechyParts is the seller. They have two units currently listed. One appears to be shipping with MINI-SAS (SFF-8087) backplane cables and the other appears to be shipping with MINI-SAS HD (SFF-8643). One unit also appears to come with 2 Hot/Swap bays underneath the power supply which is handy if you are into the hot swap thing or want to maximize chassis real estate.

The H220 comes with SFF-8087 connectors. Controllers based on the LSI 3008 tend to come with SFF-8643 connectors, they;re a bit more expensive but they are also SAS3 (12Gbps). the LSI 3008 controllers may perform better with SSD’s than the H220 but the H220 is definitely better with SSD’s than a 9211 based controller.

All that said if the unit comes with the SFF-8643 cable connectors you can always replace the backplane to HBA cables if you want to use the H220.

I’m also curious what motherboard you have selected for this build?

Thanks for the response. I am sure I didn’t quite do this right but here is what I did.

The chassis I bought is below

So it is 16x 3.5 hard drive slots and 2x 2.5 slots. I maybe should have got a 4u case but I liked the SSD slots in back and 16 will be plenty for what I need for awhile.

I ended up using this motherboard which has SAS2 lsi 2208 built in but from what I understand (which isn’t much) this wont work with unraid. I have seen where people have updated the firmware to make it act like a lsi 2308 but not sure if I am wanting to try this

I plan on buying one of these which will get me the same thing I think

awesome! Personally I think its a great chassis. I have 4 of the older “A” variant which do not support the dual hot swap under the power supplies. This is a great deal on a great chassis esp for media storage. Besides the rear hot swap bays, it has the SAS (SATA) expander backplane built-in. Its not to big, and not too small. Its a great choice!

TLDR - if the ebay picture is accurate then that chassis is coming with mini-sas HD connectors (x2) for the expander cables which means if you want to use those cables you’ll need to go with an HBA that supports that connector or replace the expander cables.

If you go with a different HBA then its an LSI 3008 (SAS3) IT mode or higher gen or something similiar from another mfg. You are future proofing yourself with a 3008 gen or higher HBA BUT if you are using the 16x front bays for spinning disks and not SSD’s then you will NOT see a performance improvement with the 3008. And besides the expander is a SAS2 (also SATA2) expander so it is limited to 6Gbps So the card you picked out is great and even an LSI 2008 gen card will be fine (like a DELL Perc H310 flashed to IT mode.) But you will need to replace the cables that connect to the expander with MINI-SAS to MINI SAS cables (e.g. SFF-8087 to SFF-8087).

more detail.
SM SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 cables are competitively priced from SM new or eBay and have a sideband (think expander control cable) connection for the HBA to talk to the expander. You don’t have to have the sideband but on a SM its kinda nice to have that if you want to learn about their features and ecosystem and ultimately mess with the expander.

Before you decide on the HBA card you may want to receive the chassis and verify the expander cable type that is installed. Maybe the picture is wrong and its coming with MINI-SAS not HD…

Correct regarding the 2208 chipset - Its normally configured as a RAID HBA and unraid, freenas, etc. etc. really want and need an IT mode HBA. it is possible to flash this controller to IT mode. It is not easy you can temporarily brick the controller and find it challenging to unbrick. I believe someone on these forums posted how to flash it and its posted elsewhere on the net as well. but it isn’t easy and has challenges. I you are unsure as to your skill level then I think you are making a wise choice going with an a known good card in IT mode.

If you decide to go with the H220 then and if the chassis has the Mini SAS HD expander cables I might be willing to swap you for 2 SM SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 cables for the HD cables. I need to make sure I have them - PM me if you are interested.

One other thing about this chassis that is kinda cool, you can also add 1-2 more 7mm-9.5mm SSD’s into the shelf above the 16 bays. (picture). There are two 4 pin connectors that come off the expander backplane at the top by the shelf. Looks like old school CD audio connector on an old CD-ROM drive. These are actually power connectors. SM has a cable that has the audio style connector on one end for the expander and then has a floppy style power conenctor on the other end. you could also make your own either for SATA or molex if you so choose. You could velcro the drives into the shelf - kinda hard to do actually. You can also purchase hot swap drive bays from SM - but be-warned they are NOT cheap. ~50.00 for a single bay. the 836 will take a slim DVD sized bay and a floopy bay: Left Front, and then the floppy bay on the right front. The bays are all the same assembly. The DVD sized bay has a spacer added to match the width and a larger bezel area. The SM bay kits come with the little funky power cable, an sgpio cable, and an appropriate length SATA cable.

It is also possible to use slim DVD to SATA drive adapters in the left front and middle bay but you will definitely have to fabricate the power cable. You should have one (or two) spare molex connectors below the fans and you can also bring up a molex to SATA power cable for those bays if you don’t want to mess with the power connectors on the expander.

If for some reason you wanted a slim dvd or blu ray in your server you’ll need a bendy rail thing-a-ma-bob to secure the dvd drive in place. I’ve got a couple of extra ones - and we can probably swap for it.

picture of the front dvd and floppy hot swap bays.

This is awesome to here. This is the first server I have made with actual server grade parts so i am definitely learning. I went ahead and bought the HBA and new cables. So hopefully I get those soon before I become too impatient. This is a pic of the cable that came with the chassis though. Right now I plan on using spinning disks but maybe someday SSDs will be viable but I am guessing at that time I will need another upgrade. Thanks for all the advice. I really appreciate it. It came with a dvd drive but just not sure how much use that will be now days

Wondering if you could help me out. I tried reading the manual but can’t figure out which two SAS ports to plug into on the Backplane. I am trying to plug them into the HBA but unsure which two. I am certain the furthest one to the right is one but not sure which of the other two to use?

1 Like