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Assuming there is only one HBA and no failover intended.

The card is an HP 468405-001 or 487738-001 with 6x Mini-SAS OUT and 2x IN internal. Its 1x external connector is dubbed 'HPE Tape.'

If I connected my HBA (which resides at a separate box) to this external connector, would it work with the drives connected to the 6x internal OUT connectors?

I suspect it should. A standalone LSI External SAS Switch box, for example, is by default port-agnostic.

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I was doing some tests with an 8 port HPE SAS expander (468406-B21) yesterday with an LSI HBA connected through external ports, and 21 drives seemed to test fine and consistently five times consecutively. Can't say anything about speed though, but can't see how it would be affected at all. The SFF-8088 port is also marketed as a tape out in the expander's manual, so I'd expect it to route everything just fine in your case too.

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