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    In preparation for the 2nd Annual Home Server Show Meet-Up this year I was asked to review the Icy Dock 5.25” Hot Swap Drive Caddy for a 2.5” and a 3.5” SATA Hard Drive or SSD -- DuoSwap MB971SP-B (“DuoSwap”). Details of the DuoSwap can also be found at Icy Dock’s site.

     

    Contents:

     

    Specifications of the DuoSwap

     

    Test Platform HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L

     

    Parts List of MicroServer (as demonstrated October 20, 2012 at HSS Meet-Up)

     

    Performance MicroServer

     

    Test Platform GA-Z77X-UD5H (“Colossus”)

     

    Parts List of Test Platform GA-Z77X-UD5H (Colossus)

     

    Performance GA-Z77X-UD5H (Colossus)

     

    Conclusion

     

    2012 HSS Meet-Up Links

     

    Reference

     

    = = = = = = = = =

     

     

     

    Specifications of the DuoSwap

     

    Icy Dock provided a list of specification and product detail that I found very intriguing including 3TB hard drive support, hot swap support, plug & play support, and SATA III – 6Gb/s support. All in a 5.25” half-height form factor yet holding a 2.5” and a 3.5” drive simultaneously – each with their own SATA III connection!

     

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    Test Platform HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L

     

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    In reviewing the impressive list of specifications I could see how the DuoSwap would be useful in the 5.25” Optical Disk Drive (“ODD”) bay of the HP ProLiant MicroServer N40L (“MicroServer”). The ODD is located above the HP logo on the front of the MicroServer.

     

    In the past I’ve described how to set up the MicroServer in order to fully utilize all 6 of its SATA II ports at full speed for a large variety of builds spanning the landscape of business, home, and testing OS configurations.

     

    At the end of HP MicroServer N40L Build and BIOS Modification from March 22, 2012, I concluded that the MicroServer is a great little file server for the small business and the home as well as an excellent test platform to learn with. I’ve found it to be very reliable and easy (and fun!) to work on.

     

    In the article Installing Windows Home Server 2011 on a SSD in a HP MicroServer N40L from July 25, 2012, I described how I set up the MicroServer with 5 3TB drives plus an SSD drive.

     

    A common thread throughout all of my builds is that I’ve used the ODD bay area, 5.25” half-height, of the Microserver to locate the 2.5” SSD drive and one of my 3.5” spindle drives. Unfortunately, while the 4 drive bay in the MicroServer uses caddies that make the installation, removal and exchange of Hard Drives simple and straight forward my installation and exchange of drives in the ODD space was not quick and simple.

     

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    The 4 drive bay is clearly visible.

     

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    A typical installation in the ODD space (note the top cover on the MicroServer has been removed) with the SSD mounted on top of the 3.5” spindle drive with yellow electrical tape. There is also space where the SSD can be mounted below the 3.5” spindle drive in the area behind the HP logo but I found it more difficult to get to if I wanted to change out SSD’s for different OS configurations often.

     

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    The DuoSwap removed from its box and in front of the MicroServer.

     

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    The 3.5” and the SSD have been removed from the ODD space. The DuoSwap only requires one 15 pin SATA power connection so the split connector that I needed before was no longer necessary so I would also be switching out to a single connector for the DuoSwap. The DuoSwap feels solid and the design is clean.

     

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    One feature of the DuoSwap that I found to be a good indication of the Engineering design thought that went into this product was how the 2 SATA III connections on the back of the DuoSwap were mirrored so that angled connectors could be used, if desired, without conflicting with each other. Meaning that it wasn’t necessary to use straight-in SATA III connectors.

     

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    Removing the metal panel that protects the plastic cover for the ODD bay area is relatively simple with a screwdriver and patience – you’ll want to take your time in order to not bend the metal frame next to the USB device openings on the right of the ODD opening (above).

     

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    Moving the 4 MicroServer 5.25” device mounting screws that are used to mount a device in the ODD bay area.

     

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    Installation of DuoSwap in ODD bay, drives, and case cover.

     

     

     

    Parts List of MicroServer (as demonstrated October 20, 2012 at HSS Meet-Up)

     

    · HP N40L ProLiant MicroServer

     

    · 16GB RAM – G.Skill F3-1333C9D-16GAO

     

    · WD PCIe USB 3.0 Card

     

    · Icy Dock DuoSwap MB971SP-B

     

    · Intel PCIe NIC – Intel EXPI9301CTBLK 10/100/1000Mbps

     

    · 18” SATA Cable

     

    · eSATA to SATA Cable – Tripp Lite Model P952-18I 18” SATA to eSATA

     

    · Adaptor: StarTech 6” 4-Pin Molex to SATA 15-pin Power Cable

     

    Configuration A:

     

    · OS Drive: Corsair GT 60GB SSD

     

    · VM’s Drive: ST3000DM001

     

    · Test Drive: 2*ST3000DM001 Mirrored

     

    · Host OS: Server 2012 Storage Server Standard

     

    · Client Machines: WHS 2011, WHS-V1, S2012E

     

    Configuration B:

     

    · OS Drive: Crucial M4 128GB SSD

     

    · Test Drive: WD15EADS

     

    · Host OS: Server 2012 Essentials

     

     

     

     

     

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    Demonstration of the DuoSwap in the MicroServer at the 2012 Meet-Up

     

     

     

    Performance MicroServer

     

    At the meet-up the inherent versatility and ease of use provided by the DuoSwap was demonstrated by going from a powered up state in “Configuration A” (see Parts List MicroServer above) to “Configuration B” (see Parts List MicroServer above) in a few minutes by simply turning the MicroServer off, quickly exchanging the SSD’s and HD’s and powering up the MicroServer (on the first power up after the change be sure to remember to hit F10 during Post and go into the BIOS Menu and check the Boot sequence). Afterwards the MicroServer was opened up so all participants at the meet-up could check out the DuoSwap as well as the MicroServer motherboard and connections.

     

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    The performance of the Corsair Force GT 60GB SSD is identical when connected directly to SATA II Port 5 in the MicroServer versus connected to the same Port through the DuoSwap.

     

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    The performance of the ST3000DM001 via the DuoSwap is identical (if not a little better – actually I believe the slight difference in performance is the differences in what was running in hyper-V during the times of the tests and other activity on those drives) to that seen when directly connected to the MicroServer.

     

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    The performance of the Crucial M4 128GB SSD when directly connected to the MicroServer is identical as when connected through the DuoSwap.

     

     

     

     

     

    Test Platform GA-Z77X-UD5H (“Colossus”)

     

     

     

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    To test the SATA III capability of the DuoSwap I chose to mount the DuoSwap in my hyper-V test platform “Colossus” which has 2 SATA III Ports and 4 GSATA III Ports in addition to 4 SATA II Ports.

     

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    The installation of the DuoSwap in the Lian-Li PC-K9WX was very easy and didn’t require any tools. As often as I am changing the configuration of Colossus the DuoSwap would be quite handy and it increases the hard drive capability of the K9WX by 1*3.5” drive and 1*2.5” drive for a total capacity of 7*3.5” drives and 5*2.5” drives (in addition to the 2 remaining 5.25 drive bays). By moving the Gigabyte USB 3.0 ports from one of the 5.25” drive bays to the back of the box another DuoSwap would increase the hard drive capacity of the K9WX to 8*3.5” drives and 6*2.5” drives – an impressive number of drives in a moderate sized box!

     

     

     

    Parts List of Test Platform GA-Z77X-UD5H (Colossus)

     

    Main List

     

    · LIAN-LI Lancool First Knight Series PC-K9WX

     

    · GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard;

     

    · Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000

     

    · G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL10Q-32GBZL

     

    · SeaSonic X Series X650 Gold ((SS-650KM Active PFC F3)) 650W

     

    · Optical Drive: SATA II Port 2: LITE-ON Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support

     

    · Icy Dock DuoSwap MB971SP-B

     

    · OS Drive: GSATA III Port 0: Corsair Force Series GT CSSD-F240GBGT-BK 2.5" 240GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

     

    · VHD Drive: SATA III Port 1: Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5″

     

    Miscellaneous Parts

     

    · StarTech USB3SPLATE 2 Port USB 3.0 A Female Slot Plate Adapter

     

    · StarTech USBPLATE4 4 Port USB A Female Slot Plate Adapter

     

    · Adaptor: Nippon Labs SATA Adaptor Molex 4-Pin PC Power Cable to 2xSATA 15-pin Converter Cables I used the Splitter to power both the ODD and the DuoSwap from 1 4-pin Molex

     

    · Assorted SATA III rated cables and 2 10-foot CAT6 Network cables

     

    · I also used a 5.25 to 3.5 inch drive bay convertor I borrowed from a Lian-Li PC-A70F

     

    Host OS: Server 2012 DC

     

    Hyper-V Clients: Assorted -- up to 25

     

     

     

    Performance GA-Z77X-UD5H (Colossus)

     

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    Performance of the Corsair GT 240GB OS Drive connected directly to the SATA III Port 0 and connected via the DuoSwap.

     

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    Performance of the ST3000DM001 Drive connected directly to the SATA III Port 1 and connected via the DuoSwap. I believe the slight difference between the before and after of the ST3000DM001’s in the MicroServer and Colossus are related to what was running (in Hyper-V) between the tests.

     

     

     

    Conclusion

     

    The performance of the DuoSwap in the MicroServer (with SATA II Ports) and in the GA-Z77X-UD5H (“Colossus”) (with SATA III Ports) is outstanding.

     

    The DuoSwap feels solid and has taken something of a beating by being moved about between machines and being poked and prodded by many especially at the 2012 Meet-Up. Still, the DuoSwap kept on performing very well. By utilizing a 5.25” drive bay the DuoSwap expands the number of 3.5” and 2.5” hard drives that can be put into a build. When installed in a MicroServer ODD bay the DuoSwap enhances the ease of use and versatility of everything from business and home production systems to multiple test builds with the MicroServer.

     

    I can see many practical everyday applications for the DuoSwap in business and in the home. This would make a good addition to a spec list for a future build as well as upgrading a current machine.

     

     

     

    2012 HSS Meet-Up Links

     

    The HSS Meetup 2012 – Indianapolis

     

    Meetup 2012

     

    The 2nd Annual Home Server Show Meetup in Indianapolis Indiana October 20th 2012

     

    Some pictures that I used from the meet-up were provided by: VinylFreak & HomeServerShow

     

     

     

    For Reference

     

    HP Microserver N40L Build and Bios Modification

     

    Installing Windows Home Server 2011 on a SSD in a HP MicroServer N40L

     

    Installing Server 2012 Release Candidate on the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H

     

     

     

    More Interesting MicroServer Links

     

    HP MicroServer N40L

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    Great Article, impressive; I just ordered myself a Icy Dock MB971SP-B. this will allow me to be a lot more flexible. thank you
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    Joe, Followed your instructions to a T and found almost everything works as described. However, the system does not, for some reason, recognize the eSata, drive. Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks!
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    Sorry to hear about your problem. I would suggest trying to narrow down the problem. Also be sure to post your problem in the Forums like http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum... and http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/forum... Can your system see the drive if you put it in another drivebay/port? I'm sure you've checked cable connections -- do you hve different eSATA to SATA cables to try? I assume your SATA port is recognized -- have you tried switching the SATA connections on the Icy Dock? Hope this helps -- be sure to post in the Forums and let us know how it is going. I'm sure others will hve additional ideas on what to check/look at.
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    Joe, Thank you for replying so quickly to a noobie. First, I will certainly post problems in the future to the forums. Just for completeness, let me say here that my skills in adequately seating the motherboard back into place were...um...lacking. Everything is now working just as you specified it. I really appreciate your series of articles on turning the microserver into really excellent solution within its limited footprint. Thank you for your work.
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    This is better post then your previous one. I came here from twitter sharing well i am your blog follower on twitter, This is amazing blog just want to tell you please continue your sharing with us. In this post i just want to say that #4 point is more powerfull then others. Thank
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    Joe, Very Good Information. I do have a couple questions for you. Picture 11 of 48 has a blue cable that connects to the sata data ports on the back of the drive caddy. It also continues on to terminate in a third sata connector. Where did you get that cable and do you have a P.N. for it? I also cannot see where it terminates at the other end on the M.B.. Where does it terminate on the M.B. (I am assuming it is a sata port)? Is there interference if multiple drives are connected to the same port and is there a built-in switch to allow discrimination of the data streams from the multiple drives this allows? Finally, a very dumb question - where is the free sata port at the front of the M.B. that is used for connecting in the drive 5? I am planning on connecting in a SSD to that port for a dedicated OS drive instead of the esata port (that is going to go for a HDD drive 6). I looked on my N54L and only find the free USB port which I used to flash in the Mod-Bios. That was slick and I had no problems with that. I purchased a 4 USB3.0 (3 ext. and 1 int.) port PCIe card. The internal USB 3.0 port is a Type A female port. I tried to find a USB3.0 Type A male to 7-pin Sata connector cable that I could plug in the drive 6 to free up the esata port on the back of the server housing? I was also thinking I could also put in another SSD as drive 7 in the space under the ICYDock and connect it to this USB 3.0 port if I could find a USB 3.0 to 22 pin sata connector that also doesn't require an external power plug-in.
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    Hi Just Checking! The SATA cables attached to the DuoSwap in Picture 11 are not attached to anything – I used 2 angle connectors to illustrate my point that the SATA ports on the back of the DuoSwap had been designed to mirror their connections so that you could do just what I was showing. The light blue flat SATA cable and the Red Flat eSATA-SATA cables are the two cables I actually connected to the DuoSwap as you can see in Pictures 14, 15, 16, 17, & 18 and later. I am not connecting multiple drives to the same Port. SATA II Port 5 that is on the System Board (and is one of the connections to the DuoSwap) is the light blue SATA cable in Picture 15 (and other pictures).
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