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I am a programmer (not an expert hardware engineer) trying to build a small hadoop cluster at home (at a cheaper price point) for processing some datasets of interest.

I am getting these Dell PE 1950 boxes (http://www.dell.com/us/dfb/p/poweredge-1950/pd) with SAS controllers and virtually no hard drive capacity (73 GB) and the 146 GB SAS drives are prohibitively costlier than their SATA counter parts. I read a few questions here regarding using SATA drives with SAS controllers (SAS they say is a superset of SATA command set etc.), but I want to ask about my case where I have 4 (2.5 inches) drive bays.

I am wondering if I can use the SATA-II drives with these SAS controller or interface? Is there an adapter I can use to adapt the SATA interface to SAS? I have not seen the adapters yet, could there be some caveats I should be aware of?

Please excuse me if this sounds very primitive, but my understanding of build a machine limits to building desktops, I have never used one type of controller with the other hence this question.

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2  
Generally speaking you can connect SATA drives to SAS controllers (the reverse, however, does not work). I don't know if there could be anything specific to the controller in question that would make this not work. –  Håkan Lindqvist Mar 30 at 17:07
    
is there anyway I can get that information from the Server itself? –  Atul Kulkarni Mar 30 at 17:08
    
Check with a Dell rep, and update your drivers and firmware. –  Anti-weakpasswords Mar 30 at 19:59

3 Answers 3

You can use SATA drives with these servers. The SAS interface is also SATA compatible. However, the reverse is not true.

The biggest concern with using SATA disks in such an old server/controller is that the SATA link speed will likely be 1.5Gbps instead of 3.0Gbps or 6.0Gbps.

Used SAS disks aren't expensive. I'd really recommend considering those instead.

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SATA drives will work with that controller without any special adapter. Dell does have "interposer" boards that act as a sort of SAS-to-SATA adapter, but that is only necessary when you're dealing with dual-channel storage enclosures, not for internal drives.

I 2nd ewwhite's recommendation on used SAS drives though. You may also want to consider "nearline SAS" drives; they're priced close to SATA disks and have SATA-level drive capacity, but have a SAS connector interface (and supposedly better reliability for enterprise/server uses).

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1  
Actally no, you can deal with dual chappel boards and SATA without interposer. No joke - doing that here. SATA is compatible with dual channel backplanes - the second channel just hits "air". Nice design. interposer boards are for higher compatibility and often size adjustemnt - not all backplanes want to deal with SATA issues and foce interposers so the discs speak SAS. –  TomTom Apr 1 at 15:58
    
Nice! What type of enclosure are you using? Are dual controllers involved? –  JimNim Apr 1 at 16:18
    
SUperMicro 2HE rack cases with 24 SAS slots in the front. They also exisxst as up to 88 slow 4he enclosures and do take SATA without issues and interposers. –  TomTom Apr 1 at 16:23

some people report that their raid systems pick up the sata hard drives but 2003 era os do not work initailly with them. In order to make them work use the easy start cd that came with the computer. This will install the drivers needed for the bios raid to work. Also that would make the patitions needed for the raid to work. Best of luck

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