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what exactly is a "simple swap" drive as reffered to by Lenovo and IBM?

Dear Experts,

I have some doubts as to whether these simple swap drives are simple SATA drives with a tray caddy attachment or if their connectors also differ from regular SATA connectors.

I have seen that you can buy the simple swap trays online, can you simply attach these to a regular SATA drive and use them as simple swap? Do these use a backplane similar to hot swap drives?

It sounds like a simple question but have not been able to verify if this is in fact the case.
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profanostra
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profanostra
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3 Solutions
 
Frosty555Commented:
I can tell you that on my Lenovo Thinkserver TD230 w/ onboard SATA RAID, it's just a caddy.

The server came with four blank plastic caddies, and the hard drives were regular hard drives. They screw into the plastic caddy and it slots into the server, with the hard drives own regular SATA connector mating with the backplane inside the server. The disks are normal in all respects, other than that they are enterprise-rated disks. I could easily have thrown a Western Digital RE4 or something into the server without any trouble.

I can't say that's how all lenovo/ibm servers work, and I can't say how Lenovo servers with SAS disks, or rackmount servers are, but that's how mine works.
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DavidCommented:
The SATA spec requires hot-swap architecture, so physically you can attach.  HOWEVER ... now the issue is suitability and compatibility.

IBM may use off-the-shelf near line SATA disks, but they also have their own firmware. This firmware sets things like block size;  retry limits; timeout constraints; queue depth, error correcting algorithms; cache settings; and dozens of other things.

So while you can attach just any drive, realize that you put your data at risk by using a drive that doesn't have the IBM firmware.

If you're talking tens of thousands of dollars worth of disks then you should contact somebody who can look at such things and assess suitability of a non-IBM disk.  Otherwise, buy the IBM disks that they support.
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andyalderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
IBM simple swap caddy photo, http://discountechnology.com/IBM-25R8864-SATA-II-Hard-Drive-Tray-Caddy?sc=2&category=33183#photos

removal procedure https://www-304.ibm.com/servers/resourcelink/lib03030.nsf/pages/servicingthehmc/$file/C05_Desk_HardDiskDriveSimple1.htm

It just saves having to screw the disk in, it's for use on non hot-swap controllers. You can probably get away with generic disks but would need to know what server it is; as dlethe says IBM tune their disks for RAID controllers but yours quite likely has just got the CPU chipset fake-raid controller in it.
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profanostraAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the replies, yes, the server Im considering comes with the software RAID onboard solution (which I think comes from LSI) but I will probably add a 3rd party LSI hardware RAID adapter (9260 8i) so compatibility with my RE4 WD disks will not be a problem as they are supported and the backplanes support connectivity from the mini-sas port on the card as well.

My main point of curiosity was regarding the physical backplane connectors and whether they would work with regular SATA (for simple swap, not hot swapping of course). Just whether the disks would work with simple/hot swap bays which seems to be the case...

However I wonder if the compatibility/suitability problem would  arise also if using the onboard software raid solution or if this issue is mostly for the IBM/LENOVO hardware adapter RAID cards.
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DavidCommented:
Some canisters for certain backplanes do have an embedded SATA bridge, but they are rare.  (Very rare now, less rare when SATA first came out).

This is a fair question to whomever supplies the enclosure/backplane.  "Is there any embedded bridge or transposer technology that would prevent an off-the-shelf (3.5") SATA disk from plugging in?  If so, please elaborate.
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andyalderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
Nothing imbedded on that one though, it's just a piece of plastic with pins that go into the screw holes, I've used one before.
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profanostraAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the information everyone.
Have a good day
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