So your new SAS (or SATA) drive won't start (spin up)?


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This has¬†been mentioned here and there on the forums, but I thought I'd offer a concise guide in hope to save some grief for at least one other person ūüôā

 

The symptom is quite simple: You purchased one or more new drives, you connect them to your existing setup and they just don't spin up. Seem to be DOA. So good news - most likely they're not, and you're just having a case of the SATA Pin 3 syndrome.

 

This will happen when your power supply is not of the newest crop, in one of two cases:

  1. The drive is SAS, newer crop, and you are trying to connect it to a SATA-style SAS controller ports, such as those on boards like SM X10SL7-F, using contraptions such as this SATA-to-SAS adapter or that SAS-to-SATA cable.
  2. The drive is SATA, newer crop.

For example, some of WD (ahem HGST) new enterprise drives - in my case, HC520 - specifically HUH721212AL4200 (SAS) or HUH721212ALN600 (SATA) - will demonstrate this issue.

 

Very briefly, the issue has to do with a newer spec of the SATA power connector. Revisions of SATA spec after Rev 3.2 (which does not have this), redefine the function of pin 3 on the SATA power connector to be Power Disable. This means that for drives supporting this feature, if the drive sees live voltage on this pin (typically 3.3V), it will power itself off (or not power on, as the case may be). (This is done in support of hot-swap enclosures and arrays, where the ability to hard-power-cycle a single drive without physical access or total system disruption is a boon.)

WD has a nice writeup about this if you want to read more.

 

So basically, if these drives see voltage on pin 3, they will not start.

 

Now, many PSUs we use these days, unless they're extremely new, would show 3.3V on all three pins: 1/2/3.

(In addition, some cheap SAS-SATA adapters short pins 1-2-3 together, so even if your PSU does not feed pin 3 with 3.3V, your drive may still see voltage there due to this "feature".)

 

So how do we fix this?

 

One way to solve this is using Molex-to-SATA power adapters, such as this. These do not carry 3.3V in (only 5V and 12V) so problem solved.

Even if you have a SATA power chain cable, you can still feed its end off of one of these and you should be good. One type of SAS-to-SATA adapter - this one - also solves the problem due to its power being fed by a Molex power plug.

 

Another way (the one I used) is to hack these adapters. So if you take a sharp cutter and gently pick up, fold and break pin 3 of the power section, counting from the L shape end, on your adapter (do not even consider doing this unto the drive itself!), you should get lucky (make very sure you get rid of the broken pin, so it doesn't find itself inside some electronics later). It will look like this:

pin3-1a.thumb.jpg.971670728ad077868dab43fd97264c52.jpg

 

On some other adapters, however, it gets slightly trickier. Seems like some of them short pins 1-2-3 together, so removing only input pin 3 does not help cuz 3.3V that's fed to pin 1 flows to the drive's pin 3. In that case, what I did is remove all three pins 1-2-3. Note that pins 1-2 are marked "reserved" in the standard, so I didn't expect anything bad to happen. And sure enough, everything started to churn. This is how it looks:

Pin3-2a.thumb.jpg.a88fd9dae01527db3ee2a016ddce0cfa.jpg

 

A similar and less destructive way to solve this issue, as mentioned below by @jonathanm, is to use a thin slice of Kapton tape and place it over pin 3. If choosing this solution I'd probably opt for applying it onto pin 3 of the drive itself, to make the solution compatible with adapters that short pins 1-2-3 together. There are several good online guides for this, e.g. this one. I didn't opt for this solution since I was unsure just how well the tiny piece of tape would withstand multiple insert/removal cycles of the plug. 

 

Now, your drives should spin up and live happily ever. 

 

Edit: Added the Kapton tape method, the SAS-SATA-Molex adapter and some text clarifications.

Edited by doron
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7 hours ago, jonathanm said:

Or, do it the non-destructive way and cover the pin(s) with Kapton tape, which is made for this type of application.

Yes, indeed. Thanks for this! - I will add this to the post.

I didn't go that path since (a) I was concerned that, placed over a plug pin, the tiny piece of tape would not hold for many insert/removal cycles and would eventually peel off and cause trouble - I'm not sure how real that concern is, and (b) the adapters I applied the "destructive" way on are quite inexpensive (the first type can be sourced from Aliexpress for a little over a buck a piece).

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  • 8 months later...

I found this post while searching for a solution to my problem.

 

Ive done plenty of reading on the 3.3v issue, but cant figure out why these drives wont work.

 

I have a Chenbro SR30169 Mini ITX case with a 4 bay SAS12/SATA6 backplane.  I replaced the PSU with a 550W Seasonic Focus gold semi modular.  The backplane is powered by a pair of 4 pin molex connectors, NOT sata power.  On the Drive side it supports both SATA and SAS drives.  On the host side it is SATA3.  All 4 SATA ports on my motherboard (Asrock x470 gaming ITX/ac  w/R5 2400G) are connected to the backplane and my boot drive is NVME.

 

When i power the system on, all the power LED's for the 4 hot swap bays are blue (receiving power) but no drive spins up and the post process takes like 5 minutes to get to boot windows.  Im assuming this is after timing out waiting for the SAS drives.  If i go into the BIOS (also after 5m of waiting), no drives are recognized by the SATA ports.

 

My drives are HGST HUS726040AL5211, 4TB 128mb cache SAS12.

 

Whats driving me crazy is two-fold.  Being that im running off a backplane, i didnt think the 3.3v issue would apply.  What makes it even worse is that my backplane is powered by 4 pin molex.  I purchased these drives off of ebay used (supposedly decommissioned from a data center, so its possible i could have been scammed, but all 4 exhibiting the same problem?  Drives were manufactured in 2015 and 2016, not even very old.

 

I already checked to make sure it wasnt the backplane itself, i had a 3TB seagate SATA drive lying around and it works just fine.

 

Any ideas before i go to plan B and just buy 4 SATA drives?  I got a great deal on these since SAS is in less demand than SATA, so id love to be able to get them to work.

 

-Thanks in advance.

 

edit:  Thinking of whether or not it would work to purchase a 9300-8i with a breakout cable to x4 sata to attach to the backplane.  Im starting to think there is a language barrier type thing going on with Chenbros website.  While it does say that SAS/SATA drives can be used in the backplane, and that the host side of the backplane is SATA, i imagine they could have simply been referring to the physical connector interface, since a SAS controller can still breakout to sata connectors.  Maybe they never intended for the host side to be connected to a sata HBA, seems kind of silly though.

Edited by shansen008
clarification
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On 6/28/2020 at 7:00 AM, shansen008 said:

I have a Chenbro SR30169 Mini ITX case with a 4 bay SAS12/SATA6 backplane.  I replaced the PSU with a 550W Seasonic Focus gold semi modular.  The backplane is powered by a pair of 4 pin molex connectors, NOT sata power.  On the Drive side it supports both SATA and SAS drives.  On the host side it is SATA3.  All 4 SATA ports on my motherboard (Asrock x470 gaming ITX/ac  w/R5 2400G) are connected to the backplane and my boot drive is NVME.

and 

On 6/28/2020 at 7:00 AM, shansen008 said:

edit:  Thinking of whether or not it would work to purchase a 9300-8i with a breakout cable to x4 sata to attach to the backplane.  Im starting to think there is a language barrier type thing going on with Chenbros website.  While it does say that SAS/SATA drives can be used in the backplane, and that the host side of the backplane is SATA, i imagine they could have simply been referring to the physical connector interface, since a SAS controller can still breakout to sata connectors.  Maybe they never intended for the host side to be connected to a sata HBA, seems kind of silly though.

Precisely. To drive SAS drives, you need a SAS controller. This could be on-board (on server boards such as Supermicro's etc.) or a dedicated controller. The connector might be SATA style (e.g. many of SM boards have SAS-capable SATA-style connectors) but the protocol must be SAS.

 

Connected to a SATA controller, a SAS drive will not spin up.

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  • 10 months later...
On 7/3/2020 at 5:25 AM, rocketman651 said:

I recently shucked a WD easystore and got a WD80EDAZ. I verified that pins 1-3 were shorted together and lifted all three pins. The drive still will not spin-up. Has anyone else seen this or have any ideas what might be going on?

I've just shucked one and surprised to see it not spin up.... Did you have any luck in getting it to work eventually? If so please share thanks in advance!

 

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34 minutes ago, Lunch said:

I've just shucked one and surprised to see it not spin up.... Did you have any luck in getting it to work eventually? If so please share thanks in advance!

As documented earlier in this thread, you likely need to do the 3.3v reset tape trick.  Have you tried that? It's a common issue with WD drives shucked from external enclosures.

Edited by Hoopster
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  • 2 years later...
On 6/29/2020 at 9:56 AM, doron said:

and 

Precisely. To drive SAS drives, you need a SAS controller. This could be on-board (on server boards such as Supermicro's etc.) or a dedicated controller. The connector might be SATA style (e.g. many of SM boards have SAS-capable SATA-style connectors) but the protocol must be SAS.

 

Connected to a SATA controller, a SAS drive will not spin up.

I'd like to refresh this topic a little bit.

I've configured my system with Sata controller over pcie and connect it with reverse cable sff-8087 to backplane, and discs are not spinning.

So you say I need to replace my sata controller to sas controller? Any concrete model?

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4 minutes ago, pawelb said:

This case: https://www.inter-tech.de/productdetails-144/2U-2404S_EN.html

And drives are Toshiba N300.

And, per the subject of this thread, can you check whether there's power in pin 3? Not being familiar with this enclosure, - could it be the culprit?

(if the drives are SATA and the backplane is dual SAS/SATA, as your backplane seems to be, then essentially there shouldn't be a need to go for a SAS controller.)

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6 minutes ago, doron said:

And, per the subject of this thread, can you check whether there's power in pin 3? Not being familiar with this enclosure, - could it be the culprit?

(if the drives are SATA and the backplane is dual SAS/SATA, as your backplane seems to be, then essentially there shouldn't be a need to go for a SAS controller.)

I'm affraid that there is no information about power in pi3.

Ports looks like in attachment. I think will try hack with cover pi 3 on hdd, becouse its my last idea.

387494058_1178228943565617_5027113450254790609_n.jpg

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