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I am configuring a Dell Precision T7610 workstation. It has only two sata ports on board, one connected to a CD/DVD drive, and one free for the 5.25" bay. There are four 3.5 SAS bays with what looks like normal SAS backplane receptacles.

QUestion:

  1. is there an electrical/electronic adaptor that allows attachment of SATA disks in these SAS bays? In particular, I would like to attach samsung evo 850 SATA ssds.

  2. Does Dell make an alternative SATA drive bay unit that would replace the SAS drive bay unit in a Precision T76xx workstation class machine?

  3. Currently I can insert 2.5 an 3.5 disks and they seem to be going into the SAS connector but neither my ssd 2.5" or conventional 7200rpm 3.5" disks are showing in the bios as being attached to the sas ports. Is there something I am missing like a storage controller bios mode that I haven't gotten into yet to configure so it will recognized a bare SATA drive.

I assume that if I want to use SATA drives, 4 of them, I'm going to have to rig it up myself with my own PCIe SATA controller, and actually physically modify my case to permit those bays to contain SATA drives.

Update:

i. My first test was to shove 4 available SATA drives into the 4 drive "trays" that I obtained that are compatible with this workstation. Result: ZERO drives recognized.

ii. second test: ENABLE BIOS SETTING: SAS RAID CONTROLLER. Result: All drives OTHER than the Samsung EVO 850 SSD (2.5") were recognized. 3.5" SATA 7200 RPM drives all working now.

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While I'm sure there are SAS controllers that don't support SATA signals almost all of them will happily handle both, the physical connections should be the same - obviously don't mix them on the same channel though.

  • The disk seems to insert but it doesn't see the disk at all in the bios. If I could get into the SAS controller bios setup there might be configuration options I could set. – Warren P Jan 17 '18 at 17:29
  • Found bios option "SAS RAID CONTROLLER". With that bios option enabled, I was able to use the disks in plain old NON RAID drive mode. So the answer is, as weird as the two connectors look when they made, they actually DO work. It's almost like some Engineers did some Work to make sure that could happen. – Warren P Jan 17 '18 at 22:05
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In theory, from a simple look at the SAS specifications, yes, this should work. Based on personal experience with Dell systems, it would not surprise me at all if it didn't.

In order:

  1. You should not need any electrical adapter. Dependent on the size of the drive bays, you may however need a purely mechanical adapter to properly mount the SSD's in the drive trays (or possibly a passive electrical adapter coupled with a mechanical adapter).
  2. I'm not sure, but would not be surprised either way if they did or did not make one. I do know that in a lot of cases you do have to go aftermarket to find 2.5 inch drive to 3.5 inch bay adapters with most enterprise hardware however, so even if Dell doesn't make one, there may be an option available from another source.
  3. Not having the exact system in front of me, I can't be certain. However, Dell is notorious for requiring configuration in firmware to select between options that the system should auto-detect. This whole thing brings to mind their consumer desktops from about a decade ago, which required individual storage controller ports to be manually enabled or disabled (and refused to boot automatically if one was enabled but had nothing attached) and didn' auto-detection or hotplug at all, despite both being mandatory parts of the SATA standard.
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    It seems that the SAS "RAID CONTROLLER" enable bios option means "enable all those ports and enable the menu you would see when you boot, that let's you configure the RAID controller", and also, that allows the disks to be used in non-RAID mode. Turning that option on was enough. Thanks for the hints. – Warren P Jan 21 '18 at 16:56

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