Connecting quad-port Supermicro NVMe HBA to IcyDock mobile rack NVMe backplane?

ullbeking

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Hopefully... I'm holding thumbs and touching wood... my long-planned installation of these four U.2 SSD's into my workstation will work out in the end:
  • 4x Intel P3605 1.6 TB NVMe U.2 2.5" SSD's
I did a LOT of research, and I read a LOT of reviews, before settling on my planned configuration.

Today I read some news that triggered a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. If this doubt is warranted then I will mitigate the issue before moving any further.

The HBA is the following:
To mount the NVMe U.2 2.5" SSD's I plan to use an IcyDock mobile rack with 4x front-loading 2.5" bays to mount the SSD's. It fits in one of the chassis' large, 5.25" bays.
Now the major operation is clear. I need to connect the source HBA to the target mobile rack using four cables, as follows:

Source: 4x OCuLink connectors on Supermicro HBA

Target: 4x SFF-8643 (MiniSAS HD) connectors on IcyDock mobile rack

The plan is to purchase 4x cables from Supermicro corresponding to:
The potentially discouraging news I read comes from the IcyDock MB699VP-B mobile rack's FAQ, see this excerpt of Page 2: IcyDock_MB699VP-B_mobile_rack_FAQ.pdf [⋆⋆⋆].

I don't fully understand the explanation in the FAQ. On the other hand I am making an educated guess that Supermicro are one step ahead.

[†††] Note how the Supermicro OCuLink connector specified in Row 3, Figure 3-1, Page 3-3, HBA manual ( https://www.supermicro.com/manuals/other/AOC-SLG3-4E2P.pdf ) CLEARLY SPECIFIES THAT THE SOURCE-END OCULINK CONNECTOR HAS A GREEN MARK.

[⋆⋆⋆] I wonder if Supermicro's OCuLink connector uses GREEN to signify that it corrects for the wiring problem that IcyDock MB699VP-B FAQ warns the reader about..?

I think it's worth investigating this hypothesis further. My hope is not yet lost :D

Does anybody know anything about this issue? Is anybody able to confirm that the storage configuration I've planned is actually OK?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

Kindest regards,

@ullbeking
 

T_Minus

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I purchased the same IcyDock from @William which he used for a STH review.
I have not put it to use, but I myself purchased the SAME SM AIC you did, with the intention of using it how you want... I ended up getting NVME backplanes and haven't used it, so I can't comment. Maybe @William can provide info about how he attached the Icy Dock?

I also believe at-least one of my SM servers uses Oculink on the motherboard-side and the 8643 on the backplane and if that's the case this is potentially an ICYDock issue and\or cabling issue, which may be resolved by using SM NVME cables that are Oculink-->8643.

This could also be simply them saying "does not work with SAS3" and really nothing about oculink to 8643 in regard to NVME. At time of publication maybe there was no Oculink cards either. AFAIK the specification hasn't changed between oculink and nvme on 8643.
 
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ullbeking

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I purchased the same IcyDock from @William which he used for a STH review.
Do you have a link to the review? I assume that @William's review used the same IcyDock with a different but unspecified AIC. I searched using the AOC model code as the search key and got nothing back. I searched using the IcyDock model code and got @William's review, but the review was sketchy on the HBA details. It's a disappointing review.

I have not put it to use, but I myself purchased the SAME SM AIC you did, with the intention of using it how you want...
I'm waiting on some final hardware to arrive then I'll test the IcyDock plus SM AOC with SM-branded cables. I'm going to make sure to get the ones with the green mark on the OCuLink connector as per the AOC-SLG3-4E2P's instructions.

I ended up getting NVME backplanes and haven't used it, so I can't comment.
Could you please provide me with a link to what NVMe backplane you ended up getting?

Maybe @William can provide info about how he attached the Icy Dock?
I sure hope so :) @William, can you hear my plea?! ;-) I've been looking forward to this moment for about a year, and not that it's imminent I'm preparing myself for disappointment in case a pinout or cable is bad. The IcyDock FAQ isn't much of an enjoyable read.

I also believe at-least one of my SM servers uses Oculink on the motherboard-side and the 8643 on the backplane and if that's the case this is potentially an ICYDock issue and\or cabling issue
Thanks for your suggestion. This is reassuring. I too believe that because of the way the news in the background went down this does indeed seem like an IcyDock issue if any.

which may be resolved by using SM NVME cables that are Oculink-->8643.
Are you suggestion the same thing as I'm planning on doing? That is, to purchase SM-branded NVMe cables with OCuLink connectors with a green mark on the Source (SM AOC) end... and SFF-8643 (MiniSAS HD) connectors on the Target (IcyDock) end? Or are you implying that something needs adjusting or re-wiring?

Any further help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you @T_Minus!
 

William

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Actually, I did not do the testing on that unit, I did not have the capabilities at the time.
It was sent to Patrick where he ran the tests.
That unit is a simple cage, it could be attached to any system so your results may vary depending on how you set up your system.
 
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ullbeking

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That unit is a simple cage, it could be attached to any system so your results may vary depending on how you set up your system.
It's not merely a simply cage because it has a backplane on it that is supposed to conform to the SFF-8643 connector standard. If IcyDock have implement non-standard connnectors and then called them something else then that would not be good enough.

I'm going to leave it alone now and get on with other things. When the hardware arrives I'll test it properly and see what happens. There's no point indulging in speculation for the sake of gossip.

@Patrick, what HBA did you use for the tests with this IcyDock mobile rack in the review?
 

Rand__

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IcyDock MB699VP-B mobile rack with the following:
Based on your post i inquired with IcyDock since I also have one of those (still wrapped up) to get feedback on compatible cards/boards. Unfortunately there dont seem to be any new cards on the list and they did not even know that nowadays even mainboards do have occulink ports o_O

However they told me they'd be releasing a v2 probably sometime this year so naturally I asked about free (or nominal fee) replacement options since the original version is barely usable ...
If anyone wants to add their voice to that expectation set - tech@icydock.com
 

T_Minus

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Based on your post i inquired with IcyDock since I also have one of those (still wrapped up) to get feedback on compatible cards/boards. Unfortunately there dont seem to be any new cards on the list and they did not even know that nowadays even mainboards do have occulink ports o_O

However they told me they'd be releasing a v2 probably sometime this year so naturally I asked about free (or nominal fee) replacement options since the original version is barely usable ...
If anyone wants to add their voice to that expectation set - tech@icydock.com
Emailed.

Upsetting to learn this now too :( ugh
 

ullbeking

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Based on your post i inquired with IcyDock since I also have one of those (still wrapped up) to get feedback on compatible cards/boards. Unfortunately there dont seem to be any new cards on the list and they did not even know that nowadays even mainboards do have occulink ports o_O

However they told me they'd be releasing a v2 probably sometime this year so naturally I asked about free (or nominal fee) replacement options since the original version is barely usable ...
If anyone wants to add their voice to that expectation set - tech@icydock.com
Thank you @Rand__ ! I literally just came across your reply, and I haven't even tried to provision my intended solution yet. I have the HBA and the mobile rack, but I don't have the cables yet. I'm wondering whether to put this part of the project on hold for a while...

I will email them too and find out what help they will offer. These cables aren't cheap and I'm not sure if I should get some and try, or if the consensus is that it definitely won't work. (I think it's becoming clear that it's the latter. Disappoint but still, good to have a definite answer.)
 

Rand__

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So I bugged them a bit more and they now claimed that a customer was able to connect this thing to the onboard ports of a X11 DPI-NT... no mention of cables though.

Since I happen to have one of those I'll give it a try (using regular Supermicro cables since these are the only ones I have) and provide feedback...

Actually I don't have any of these particular cables so I'll need to order some... asked them for feedback, but maybe some recommendations here?
 
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kousuke

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Jul 18, 2017
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Hopefully... I'm holding thumbs and touching wood... my long-planned installation of these four U.2 SSD's into my workstation will work out in the end:
  • 4x Intel P3605 1.6 TB NVMe U.2 2.5" SSD's
I did a LOT of research, and I read a LOT of reviews, before settling on my planned configuration.

Today I read some news that triggered a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. If this doubt is warranted then I will mitigate the issue before moving any further.

The HBA is the following:
To mount the NVMe U.2 2.5" SSD's I plan to use an IcyDock mobile rack with 4x front-loading 2.5" bays to mount the SSD's. It fits in one of the chassis' large, 5.25" bays.
Now the major operation is clear. I need to connect the source HBA to the target mobile rack using four cables, as follows:

Source: 4x OCuLink connectors on Supermicro HBA

Target: 4x SFF-8643 (MiniSAS HD) connectors on IcyDock mobile rack


The plan is to purchase 4x cables from Supermicro corresponding to:
The potentially discouraging news I read comes from the IcyDock MB699VP-B mobile rack's FAQ, see this excerpt of Page 2: IcyDock_MB699VP-B_mobile_rack_FAQ.pdf [⋆⋆⋆].

I don't fully understand the explanation in the FAQ. On the other hand I am making an educated guess that Supermicro are one step ahead.

[†††] Note how the Supermicro OCuLink connector specified in Row 3, Figure 3-1, Page 3-3, HBA manual ( https://www.supermicro.com/manuals/other/AOC-SLG3-4E2P.pdf ) CLEARLY SPECIFIES THAT THE SOURCE-END OCULINK CONNECTOR HAS A GREEN MARK.

[⋆⋆⋆] I wonder if Supermicro's OCuLink connector uses GREEN to signify that it corrects for the wiring problem that IcyDock MB699VP-B FAQ warns the reader about..?


I think it's worth investigating this hypothesis further. My hope is not yet lost :D

Does anybody know anything about this issue? Is anybody able to confirm that the storage configuration I've planned is actually OK?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

Kindest regards,

@ullbeking
Hey, I'm interested to know if you manage to get this working?

Q: I'm connecting my Oculink PCIe switch add-in card to the MB699VP-B via miniSAS HD (SFF-8643) interface, but the U.2 drives did not show up in my system.


A:
The issue is caused by card manufacturers using a different pinout for Oculink card, which does not match the Oculink to miniSAS HD cable in use. It is recommended to consult the card manufacturer before purchasing the cable to avoid compatibility issue.

Please see the following Oculink Add-in cards we have found that may require special Oculink to miniSAS cable, please contact the card manufacture for more information


IntelAXXP3RTX16040AXXP3SWX08040AXXP3SWX08080
SupermicroAOC-SLG3-2E4TAOC-SLG3-8E2PAOC-SLG3-4E4TAOC-SLG3-4E2P