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Question about new SAS tape drive connections

Posted on 2011-02-10
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi all.

We just upgraded to an LTO4 drive but it is an internal drive and uses an SAS connection.

I looked up the connection cable (this is a refurbished product and came with no cables) which appears to be an SFF-8482 type connector.

It appears that the cables come WITH the power connector similar to the one on Newegg here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812270292&cm_re=sas_cable-_-12-270-292-_-Product

The thing is:
The one in the link above comes with 2 SATA connectors.  Am I supposed to be using both for this tape drive?  
What I'm asking is am I supposed to use the SFF-8087 connector into the back of the tape drive and then take the 2 SATA connectors and plug them into the motherboard?  Or do I only need one?

Also, there are some small additional connectors on the back of the tape drive which I am wondering what they are used for (see attached image).

I need to order a cable for this drive ASAP and assuming the one in the link is the one I need, I won't need any additional SCSI cards or anything like that, right?

Any help would be appreciated.
Rear of tape drive
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Question by:homerslmpson
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by:dlethe
ID: 34870674
All I see is a SAS on the left which is good for both power and data.  This is an internal unit, so there is no need for anything else.  My guess is that the right is for a test board/manufacturer's use.
Just try it.

If you really want to know, then contact the company you bought it from and ask them, or get a manual.  Reading a manual won't kill you ;)
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34870709
I'm just not that familiar with this connection type.

The one in the link above has 2 SATA connectors...am I supposed to plug both into the motherboard?

If so, this is the first time I've seen it.

If not, why would they sell a cable like this to begin with?
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by:dlethe
ID: 34870768
It doesn't make sense that the device would need ANY SATA connectors.   It is a SAS tape, use the long black SAS connector on the left.  
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34870792
You are misunderstanding me I think.

Did you view the Newegg link I pasted in the original post?
It shows the one end that goes into the tape drive which seems logical but the other end has 2 SATA 7-pin connectors.

At least one of the needs to get plugged into the motherboard, right?
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by:dlethe
ID: 34871227
I didn't comment on the picture because it isn't relevant. The picture is for an expander cable.  This is to be used when you have a SAS controller and you want to attach 2 SATA disk drives to it.    Like I wrote, it doesn't make sense for you to need anything but the SAS cable.  You DO have a SAS controller, right? If not, then that is what you need to buy
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34871333
I don't have an SAS controller.

How about this, can you post a link to an affordable SAS controller along with the necessary cable I'll need?  Preferably from Newegg.

I only need to connect this one tape drive so it doesn't have to support RAID or multiple connections.

I just want to make sure I get the right part(s).

The machine it's going on is a Dell Precision T3400.
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by:dlethe
ID: 34871488
Now I understand why you were asking about SATA :)

The LSI 3442 and LSI 380x family of SAS controllers are non-RAID only, and by far the market leaders.  The suffix to the part-number is for whether you need PCIe, PCIx or PCI connector.  You want the standard internal SAS cable.    Is this a SAS or SAS-2 tape?

Assuming SAS or SAS1, then anything you buy new today will be overkill.  Avoid the non-LSI stuff like the promise equipment, it probably won't work for an LTO tape.  The manufacturers qualify on LSI-branded gear.

You can buy them all day long on ebay for under $100   Here is one for $99 that includes the cable that even lets you add external disk drives should you want to in the future (but I do not necessarily endorse the seller, just searching for 3442 sas on ebay and this filtered to the top)

http://cgi.ebay.com/LSI-Logic-SAS3442E-PCIe-SAS-Host-Bus-Adapter-414142-001-/110639916996?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item19c2a727c4
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by:dlethe
ID: 34871522
http://cgi.ebay.com/LSI-SAS3442E-R-HBA-card-PCI-e-Low-Profile-LP-SAS-3442-E-/280627063941?pt=COMP_EN_Networking_Components&hash=item4156ad2c85

Above is for another one, card only but for less money.  Just dig around for a 3442 and look at the pictures to get the cabling right.  
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34871772
I was thinking about this one here:
http://www.scsi4me.com/product_info.php?products_id=2349{8}38{6}27

The reason being is that under the Dell specs, this type of card (Dell SAS 6/iR PCIe) was optional so I can kind of "guarantee" its compatibility.

Plus my company isn't a big fan of eBay purchases unless I push for it.

And seeing as both sellers are in CA, I don't think I would get the product in time.

Plus I can order a cable from this site as well.

If you know of any reason why I shouldn't get the card shown in the link above, please let me know ASAP.

I appreciate the help!
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34871781
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by:dlethe
ID: 34871852
Looks good to me ... make sure you turn off the RAID capability in the BIOS.
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34871870
I just called and of course they are out of stock.

Now I'm looking elsewhere.  I may have to get the one on eBay if not for anything else, at least I know the seller has it lol.
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by:dlethe
ID: 34871904
There are others you can use.  Look for LSI 3800 or 3801 family, all come in both PCI-X and PCIe.    HP OEMs the LSI cards also, so there are HP versions of the 3442, 380xs
Or you can certainly pay 3-5X more money and get latest generation stuff off-the-shelf
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34871993
It's so confusing and time-consuming lol.

I found the Dell one on eBay.  

It's reasonably priced and close to my place of business (eBay item #320654529120) so I think I'm going to go for it and hope for the best.
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by:dlethe
ID: 34872131
Looks good, but as long as you are sure the Dell SAS6/I is supported.  I am going by what you said in earlier post.  I know for a fact that the cards I mention will work, because the drivers are going to be there, whether you are running Solaris, RedHat Linux, HP/UX, or even windows.  I can't speak with authority on the PERC, but if you OEMed a Dell tape and it mentions using the PERC, then you are OK too
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34872155
I'm in queue to chat with a dell sales member and hopefully they can verify this stuff before I take the plunge.
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Expert Comment

by:SelfGovern
ID: 34872438
DO make sure you buy a supported controller.   Some SAS controllers designed for disk may not support tape drives, and you'll beat your head against the wall trying to solve an avoidable issue.
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34872487
Do you know what cable this is?


cables.PNG
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34872596
I'm still on the chat with this sales rep.  I am having him verify that the Dell tape drive I have is compatible with the Dell SAS controller mentioned above.

The image I added in my last post is the cable I'm looking for although I'm only connecting one tape drive so I wouldn't need the 2nd connection shown in the image.

This is the ONLY image I could find at least showing the cable I am looking for.

I don't mean this towards you guys in any way but I don't why this is so hard.  My head is killing me...
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by:dlethe
ID: 34872887
You can use the cables from the picture on ebay, the SAS cabling is quite flexible.  Except when you try to turn SATA ports on a motherboard into a SAS port on a tape ;)

That cable in the picture is fine also.  If you have a Fry's nearby or any decent PC store that has components, you can pick up other variations right off the shelf.  The SAS ports on the controller are sometimes called octopus, or fanout.  You can find versions that attach 4 SAS drives, or 4 or SATA drives as well.   Or versions in that pic on ebay that has an external SAS port adapter.

It all works fine.  You can even go to the LSI site and look for the host bus adapters, and find ones I have mentioned and look at cabling options there.  scsi4me.com has lots of SAS cable options. too
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by:homerslmpson
ID: 34873772
It took the entire day to find what I needed! ...at least I hope this is what I need:
http://www.computercablesource.com/sas-cable-5-meter-internal-sas-32-pin-multilane-to-4-sas-29-pin-data--power-1443.html

I guess the tape drive uses a 29 pin SAS connection and the connection made on the controller I ordered is a 32 pin connector.

Does that make sense to you guys before I go ahead and buy this?
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Expert Comment

by:SelfGovern
ID: 34874310
There are potentially a host of 29-pin or 32-pin connectors.   Each specific one has a name.
It's always better if you can specify by name (think back to when parallel ports and SCSI ports
use the same physical connector.  It was bad, bad news if you ever plugged the wrong device
in to a port... )

So -- best is to look up tech specs of the tape drive and controller and purchase a connector
that has the proper connection on each end.   Barring that, as dlethe says, take the drive
and controller to a good electronics store (Fry's, Microcenter maybe, every major city seems
to have a hole-in-the-wall store where things  like this are sold) where you can get someone
to help you with getting the right cable.

And, just for grins -- you've got an LTO-4 tape drive.  Most LTO-4 drives include hardware
encryption, and that HW encryption can be turned on by most backup applications today.
If you use it and use strong keys (random, or close to random, or chosen by the backup
application using a strong passphrase), the data written to the tapes will be unreadable
to any except those who have the encryption key.  This is a good thing for many businesses,
especially those dealing in financial or medical data, where more and more laws and
regulations specify what you must do, and what you must do if unencrypted data might
have been lost.

IF you encrypt, remember that encryption today is easy.   Key management is hard.
Make sure that you securely store your encryption keys, with backups in case the
other list of keys is compromised.   Such as -- write the key or passphrase down in a
log book (started using on ___, ended use on ____) and keep that in a safe, and save
a copy of the data to a couple of usb flash memory sticks kept off-site.

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dlethe earned 500 total points
ID: 34874563
It isn't so much the pin count with SAS as what you are trying to do.   You have a multilane port on the initiator (meaning the controller), and the drives are single lane. (targets)  really only way to do it.  You won't find a 29->29 pin cable from target to target, as that does not make sense.   The picture above is the SAME THING.  Just that it uses different power.   Read the specs on the card and you will see that it uses same pin count and physical connector. it is just that it is a right bracket.

If that other cable came with the card, you should keep it and use it.  It will be fine.
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