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Novice
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S1200SPLR - SAS Module Compatibilty Questions

Hi,

I'm using a https://ark.intel.com/products/97950/Intel-Server-Board-S1200SPLR S1200SPLR board with an E3-1245v6 CPU (latest Firmware version 03.01.1029 installed)

I'm looking for the most basic SAS Module option with SAS 12 Gbps ports (that can operate without any RAID features active) so that the operating system has direct access to the hard drives for software defined storage solutions.

The S1200SPLR has a fourth expansion slot "SAS Module slot". However I'm unable to find a compatible SAS module for that motherboard. If you check the motherboard's product page under "Compatible Products" and "RAID Products", you only get regular PCIe add-in cards ("Low Profile MD2 Card"), nothing for that special SAS module slot.

Is there a product to supply the S1200SPLR's SAS module slot with a SAS 12 Gbps port?

Thank you very much for your help!

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

To find the most compatible low cost Drive cage with backplane, I will need a little time to do the proper research. Please allow me 24 to 48 hours to do the proper research and get back to you.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Novice
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Henry A.,

thank you for your effort. I'm basically looking for a smilar part that is shown as an example in the "Intel® Server Board S1200SP Family Technical Product Specification" document:

I know that this is just a stock image but from the look of the connectors this module has two SAS2 (6 Gbps) x4 ports (SFF-8087).

Since the motherboard's SAS Module slot is connected via a PCIe 3.0 x4, such a module with a single SAS3 (12 Gbps) x4 port (SFF-8643) should be technically possible, even dual SAS3 (SFF-8643) ports should be OK if you are aware of the shared bandwith.

Of course, I would prefere a modern SAS3 (SFF-8643) solution but if the module shown in the graphic above actually exists I would also compromise by using a module with two SAS2 (SFF-8087) ports.

Again thank you very much for for assistance since I'm lost on my end.

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

This information helps a lot.

 

I will look into it and get back with you as soon as possible.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

Thank you for your time and patience. Still, I haven't been able to find an adequate compatible hardware to provide you with the best option for your request.

 

Please allow me some additional time.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Novice
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Hello Henry A.,

thank you for your continuous efforts.

I'm a little confused why it is that hard to find an Intel part for an actively supported motherboard.

Isn't there something like a complete ledger of all Intel products where you can check boxes for the desired features?

Like:

Form factor: Mezzenine slot

Interface A: PCI Express 3.0 x4 (or 2.0 x4)

Interface B: SAS

Hardware RAID features: Yes/No/Host Bus Adapter only

The results should be what I'm looking for.

Thanks again!

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

I am very sorry on the delays but finding a SAS controller for JBOD is hard because they all need either RAID 0 at least.

 

Also, the Mezzanine card is only for the motherboard models S1200SP or S1200SPO. The models S1200SPS and S1200SPL don't have the connector for the Mezzanine RAID controller.

 

You can see this on the TPS for the S1200SP Family:

 

https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_TPS_R1_1_S1200SPL_... https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_TPS_R1_1_S1200SPL_...

 

So far the only Low profile PCI card I found for JBOD is the RAID Controller RS3UC080.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Novice
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Hello,

"[...] Also, the Mezzanine card is only for the motherboard models S1200SP or S1200SPO. The models S1200SPS and S1200SPL don't have the connector for the Mezzanine RAID controller.

You can see this on the TPS for the S1200SP Family: [...]"

I'm not quite sure if there is a misunderstanding or maybe you got the wrong specification document open by mistake?

I'm posting screenshots from the folowing Intel documents to confirm that the S1200SPLR does indeed support the Mezzanine slot:

1) "Intel® Server Board S1200SP Family Technical Product Specification"

2) "Intel® Server Board S1200SP, Intel® Server System R1000SPO, Intel® Server Chassis P4304XXSHCN/ P4304XXSFCN/ P4000XXSFDR Product Family - Configuration Guide"

Again, I'm looking for a part with that specific form factor, not a regular PCI Express add-in card (be it full height or low profile). The RS3UC080 add-in card you mentioned is such an "ordinary" add-in card that can be installed in PCI Express slot 4, 5 and 6 of the S1200SPLR - but these slots are all already occupied in my configuration so I'm looking for a solution to use the fourth PCI Express add-in capability as is listed in "Table 1 Intel Server Board S1200SP Feature Set" (cp. first screenshot above).

Again, thanks for your efforts!

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

Thank you for the updated information. For some reason, the information states that, but the SPLR board does not have the connectors for the Mezzanine Board.

 

 

I going to check again but that is the reason why the RAID Module is not part of the compatibility list for this System Board.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Novice
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If the motherboard is not to have a mezzanine connector, what's the connector on this product photo of the S1200SPL?

The Intel ARK product page also mentions the mezzanine connector:

Canyou check on this theory?

As mentioned in the S1200SPL TPS document (see Table 1 a few postings above), the fourth PCI Express expansion slot has a PCI Express 3.0 x4 link from the PCH. The physical mezzanine connector (on a different motherboard) could be used for a PCI Express 3.0 x8 link (?) (as stated in the desription) and the modern SAS3 Intel mezzanine modules I found in the Configuration Guide document also mention a PCI Express 3.0 x8 interface.

This is why, since the S1200SPL(R) only has 4 and not 8 PCI Express lanes to its mezzanine slot, these modules are not listed as compatible since their peak performance would be limited by the x4 interface.

I would be OK with that performance limitation if these modules worked at all.

Can you check with the engineering department (?) if such a PCI Express x8 module can be installed on the S1200SPL's mezzanine slot that only supplies a x4 link?

99.9 % of all PCI Express devices can do this but there are a few that prevent the motherboard from booting if they do not detect an optimal PCI Express interface connection.

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New Contributor I
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Hi JBBG

Your images are correct, that's the SAS connector, i am just putting together a server system that has the board S1200SPOR inside now, see below for SAS modules that will fit, also see image for how it will fit on the board (this is an Intel 1U server (R1304SPOSHORR) so already has the case, backplane, PSU and other parts needed. In case you wonder, i also have a nVidia Quadro card and 10Gb network in the I/O module slot (your board does not have the I/O module connector) (top left of the image, the light blue cable is the 10Gb fiber connection), your welcome to contact me directly if you have any questions, we are an Intel Technology Provider Gold level status.

RMS25JB040 4 PORT - Cheapo RAID, JBOD and mirror only

RMS25JB080 8 PORT of the one above

RMS3JC080 8 PORT of the above, no on board cache (avoid as fairly pointless, unless its for government use)

RMS3CC040 4 PORT - Expensive good RAID 5/6 with hardware options like CacheCade keys

RMS3CC080 8 PORT of the one above - THIS IS THE ONE IN THE IMAGE BELOW, its the top of the line, RAID 5/6 with 1Gb RAM and we installed a CacheCade key, its 8 port (2 x SFF8643 connectors)

RMS3HC080 8 port same as above, no on board cache (avoid really pointless, again likely government use as no cache)

Intel S1200SPOR below with RAID circled in RED

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Novice
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@(((GRIFFCOMM,

Thank you very much for your very helpful input, a little longer and I might have begun to question my sanity

If I'm seeing this correctly, The SAS module slot of the S1200SPOR you used has the same electrical specification as the one of the S1200SPLR, meaning a PCIe 3.0 x4 link from the PCH.

So you can confirm that the mezzanine SAS modules that have a native PCIe 3.0 x8 interface don't prevent the motherboard from booting if they do detect a PCIe link less than 8 lanes? I know that if the slot is coming from the PCH, additional PCIe lanes wouldn't have any effect due to the DMI 3.0 limitation. A couple of years back I used Adaptec RAID controllers that actually blocked the system from booting with a PCIe link notofication that could not be skipped.

Since I'm planning for a solution for software-defined storage I'm looking for a part that can behave like a simple HBA that presents each HDD individually and directly to the operating system (like the PCH SATA controller in AHCI mode, just as an example).

The last hardware RAID controller I used was a LSI 9361 with 1 GB cache that also had a "JBOD mode" but even then there was a layer between the HDD and the operating system.

So I guess the obvious choice for my use case would be the https://ark.intel.com/products/81864/ RMS3JC080. Is the JBOD mode of this part the real deal meaning it really acts transparently between the HDDs and the operating system?

Also, since I could get it a little cheaper, would the https://ark.intel.com/products/81863/ RMS3HC080 also work for my use case? Both modules list JBOD mode support but after my experience with the LSI 9361 I'm a little sceptical.

By the way, do the PCH SATA ports still work if a SAS module is installed? I know that the cables might physically block the SATA ports.

My setup is the following:

- PCIe slot 6 (x8 from CPU): Quadro P2000

- PCIe slot 5 (x4 from PCH): Sonnet Allegro Pro (4 individual USB 3.0 controllers on a single board for the use in separate VMs)

- PCIe slot 4 (x8 from CPU): Intel XL710-QDA2

- SAS module slot: RMS3JC080 or RMS3HC080 for the connection to a SAS3 expander (Intel RES3TV360)

Thanks again for your helpful feedback!

Regards,

JBBG

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New Contributor I
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Ive bullet pointed the answers below, see my last comment though.

I understand your plan will be to load software to then see all the drives you have connected directly to the RAID card, i assume its more than 8, as you want to use an expander, this raises a few questions i think you might need to test.

- The S1200SPLR does NOT list any of the hardware RAID i listed as supported (via the SAS RAID Module connector , that said i have found documentation that says they are (and i would believe they are, otherwise you wouldn't have a riser for it), Intel would need to clarify this point though. This might be due to how the RAID card in this setup would be cooled, only the Intel server chassis would blow air over this card due to its location, please review this in your design setup to make sure there is cooling for the card.

- The RAID modules listed above have the special connector for those specific boards (s1200 series) and come with the mounting hardware to mount them on he board, they do work (and very fast when mine is in use).

- The RMS3CC080 has 2 running options "JBOD" and "RAID", however when i install a RAID and i wouldnt use "JBOD" i just create a RAID0 array with one drive which would be the same as JBOD, however see below:

- When ever you connect a hard drive to a controller it will never be "transparent", you will always need drivers for that controller to see the drive, this may be different now with Intel's "JBOD" setting (seen above), however you would need to test this, It would surprise me if more than 8 drives would be handled by BIOS (or UEFI) but only Intel would know this for sure, normally a driver is loaded then the card presents all the drives as JBOD, but this needs to be tested.

- Be aware the S1200 series of boards are VERY specific with a specific hardware allowed to plug in, so if you buy one of the above RAID cards and plug it in to the SAS RAID Module connector then it will work, HOWEVER (see below)

- i Cant guarantee your configuration as working as it needs testing, however from what i can see the RAID modules i listed will fit the S1200SPLR (according to the technical specifications here https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_TPS_AllSKU.PDF https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_TPS_AllSKU.PDF )

- From what i can see the S1200SPLR is a workstation board as it has all 3 PCI-e risers, SAS connector, HDMI connection but no I/O module connection as this would be more specific to a 1/2U server chassis design.

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

I am going to try and get a SPLR board and gather more information on it.

 

Please allow me some time

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Novice
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@(((GRIFFCOMM:

Thank you for your consideration, I'm aware of the various components' TDP specifications, the case is going to be a custom build tower design taking care of proper cooling for everything.

The S1200SPL(R) is a little all over the place: Its DisplayPort connector would indicate workstation usage, although the presence of IPMI and the lack of S3/S4 suspend-to-RAM and hibernation firmware support would contradict this. Also the DisplayPort out does not support audio functionality since the board's chipset doesn't sport the necessary audio codec.

All my present uncertainties are regarding component compatibilities (be it hardware/connector- or firmware-related)

This whole thread revolves around the inconsistencies in Intel's specification documents and the listed hardware compatibilities when looking at the ark.intel.com product pages.

When using software-defined storage solutions it's not a good idea to mix hardware RAID controllers' functionalities with the managing software that is expecting direct access to the HDDs, even if the RAID controller permits access to all the existing sectors of a drive.

The proper term is a SAS controller that supports "IT mode"(cp. https://forums.servethehome.com/index.php?threads/what-is-it-mode.328/ What is IT-mode? | ServeTheHome and ServeThe.Biz Forums ).

If you check the available download page for the RMS3JC080, you get a result for "Intel® 12Gb SAS3 IT/IR Firmware" ( https://downloadcenter.intel.com/product/81864/Intel-Integrated-RAID-Module-RMS3JC080 Downloads for Intel® Integrated RAID Module RMS3JC080 ), so that part is pretty sure to be suitable for my use case (if the S1200SPLR can use that SAS module).

As mentioned, paradoxically the more "higher-end" part RMS3HC080, based on the same LSI/Broadcom chipset would be easier and cheaper for me to get so I'm wondering if that part can be operated in IT mode as well - its download page doesn't mention such a firmware explicitly ( https://downloadcenter.intel.com/product/81863/Intel-Integrated-RAID-Module-RMS3HC080 https://downloadcenter.intel.com/product/81863/Intel-Integrated-RAID-Module-RMS3HC080 ), @Henry A., could you please also check on this?

Also, I think it would be benefittable for Intel to clear up the discrepancies in the S1200SPL(R)'s documenation regarding the compatibility of mezzanine SAS modules - here is a summary of what is obvious at this point as a reminder:

1) The "Intel® Server Board S1200SP Family Technical Product Specification" states that the S1200SPL as well as the S1200SPO support mezzanine SAS modules (source: https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_TPS_R1_1_S1200SPL_... https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_TPS_R1_1_S1200SPL_...… )

2) The "Intel® Server Board S1200SP, Intel® Server System R1000SPO, Intel® Server Chassis P4304XXSHCN/ P4304XXSFCN/ P4000XXSFDR Product Family - Configuration Guide" also states that the S1200SPL(R) as well as the S1200SPO support mezzanine SAS modules (source: https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_P4000S_R1000SPO_Fa... https://www.intel.com/content/dam/support/us/en/documents/server-products/S1200SP_P4000S_R1000SPO_Fa...… )

3) The S1200SPLR's ARK product page also mentions its mezzanine SAS module support as a feature - but by contrast doesn't list any compatible mezzanine form factor SAS module parts (source: https://ark.intel.com/products/97950/Intel-Server-Board-S1200SPLR Intel® Server Board S1200SPLR Product Specifications )

Also, there is an obvious error there: The S1200SPLR does not have the following connector: "Connector for Intel® I/O Expansion Module x8 Gen 3".

Some common sense notes:

4) The S1200SP motherboards share the same firmware package so it would be logical that all the mezzanine SAS modules that work on the S1200SPO(R) (where they are listed as compatible parts) would also work on the S1200SPL(R) with the same mezzanine connector features (PCIe 3.0 x4 link from PCH)

5) The manufacturing of motherboards is highly cost-optimized so it would not make sense to supply the S1200SPL with a mezzanine connector if it was not usable. You can see this on other motherboards that share a family where there appear to be "empty spaces" on the PCB on certain variants that don't support feature xyz.

Again, thanks for all your efforts!

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

I understand your concern about the inconsistencies in Intel's specification documents. But yest the S1200S uses the same BIOS configuration, but the additional letters and or numbers to the model, is because it has different minimum hardware changes.

 

 

I will continue searching.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Novice
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Thank you, I understand the difference between the various S1200SP motherboard variants. If you mean the difference between the S1200SPL and S1200SPLR, the latter is exacrly the same as the "non-R", the only difference is that the motherboard is supplied with a newer BIOS version that is at least able to turn on properly with a Kaby Lake (7th gen Core i or E3-Xeon-v6) CPU to perform further BIOS updates for complete functionality.

If it matters: I had a chance to reboot my S1200SPLR test system again and its BIOS has various options for the configuration of the SAS module slot indicating that it indeed supports these mezzanine modules contradicting the absence of any of them on the "Compatible RAID Parts" Intel ARK website.

I'm looking forward to your own practical findings since this exact motherboard model is - with the anticipated support of mezzanine SAS modules - the only model on the entire market that allows the needed system configuration (with all PCIe expansion options exhausted).

Thank you again for your continuous efforts!

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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

Thank you for your time and patience. I will get back with you as soon as I find something.

 

 

I will continue searching.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

Thank you for your time and patience.

 

I was able to get in touch with our engineering department and I will like to apologyze on my previous information.

 

The SLR model does have the Mezzanie port. The only model that does not have it is the SPS.

 

 

Going back to the question on just adding HDD and none RAID, you can use either the SAS RAID Module or a PCI card but you will need to set each HDD as a RAID 0.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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Community Manager
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Hello JBBG,

 

 

I just will like to follow up and verify if the information provided answered your question.

 

 

If there is anything else we can help please feel free to ask.

 

 

Best regards,

 

 

Henry A.
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