I recently acquired some HP Small Form Factor (SFF) Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) hot swap hard drives from work. We use them for data storage on high end servers because they are lightening fast and the hot swap capability allows you to pull a bad drive and replace it without turning off the server.
These drives tend to be very expensive because of their speed and capabilities. Having a couple at home would be very cool indeed except for one problem: I don’t have a server to plug them into and they don’t easily connect to anything in a desktop computer… Or so I thought!
After tons of googling and trolling the online shopping sites, I finally found a solution that is not only fairly inexpensive but also allows you to connect the HP SFF SAS drives to your desktop computer in a RAID setup!
To do it, you’ll first need to buy the Highpint RocketRAID 2640×4 PCIe controller. This card is awesome at around $150. It literally comes with everything you need including rare SATA to SAS connector cables. The card actually has SATA connectors on it, but it is fully compatible with HP SFF SAS drives using said included cables. Based on the quality and support for high end drives, I expected this card to cost close to double that.
This is a PCIe-x1 card which can be put into any PCIe slot including x16. It’s quite small which is great as it’s less likely to conflict with any other cards that need a little more room.
The card has four sata connectors that work with either SATA or SAS drives provided you have the correct cables.
The biggest issue I had when trying to figure this out was trying to find a desktop card that would work with the SAS connectors on the HP SFF SAS drives. In the old days you could just pop the drive out of the hot swap tray and it would reveal standard SCSI connectors.
I ended up ordering the RocketRAID 2640×4 based on clues in the description online that implied it should work with SAS drives. The real key would be whether it came with cables that would match the drives since I couldn’t find clearly labeled SATA to SAS cables anywhere.
As you can see in the next image, the cables that come with the RocketRAID 2640×4 are in fact SATA on one end and SAS on the other. They also have power integrated into the connector so no issues there either.
The card installed without a hitch in my Dell Dimension 9200 and the drives attached equally easily.
Once the hardware was connected, I fired up the desktop and immediately saw a new bios boot menu for the RocketRAID 2640×4. Entering the menu, I saw all the familiar options. First off you initialize the drives, then create an array, specify the RAID level, etc. and save the configuration.
Booting into Windows, you can see the new drives in Disk Management, where you can format them and start using them like any other drive. I couldn’t be happier with the setup.
Have a similar experience or qustions? Leave a comment after the pictures below and I’ll reply promptly!