This is a expander backplane, so you need to have a SAS controller. Expander doesn't work with SATA controllers.
Which chassis are you using?
My chassis is SC5299DP. The motherboard has 6 SATA connections but does not appear to have any SAS ports. I couldn't find any other part numbers on the board besides the S5000XVN/XSL one. Therefore I believe its the S5000XSLSATA or S5000XSLSATAR.
Is the Adaptec ASR-3405/128MB RAID/SAS card considered a SAS controller (came with the backplane expander)? Like I mentioned in my initial post, I plan to use ZFS and therefore don't really need hardware RAID. I know some of the FreeNAS folks are using the IBM M1015 RIAD cards and crossflashing them. Do I need something like this instead of the ASR-3405?
An aside question: Since the main server box came with the basic 6 bay SATA cage with no SAS drives. Would it be more advantageous to use this setup than the backplane expander cage? I do realize the expander would use the 2 SAS ports to split the I/O across all drives versus the SATA cage which is a one-to-one direct connection to the motherboard.
My main reason for trying to setup the expander is the option to run both SATA and SAS drives as well as the easy assess to the the drives via the hotswap cages.
As you said, the advantage of using a SAS controller and backplane is that you can run both SATA and SAS drives. However, please take note that it's not recommended to mix SATA and SAS drives in the same cage.
If you're looking for a SAS controller that works on the board, I suggest you check the Tested hardware list first.
Since I have only 2 small (500 Gig) SAS drives and several 4TB SATA drives I will just go with all SATA drives if I use the expander. Another forum mentioned that my system with the expander would be an energy hog. Does anyone have any experience with this? Would I be better off just using the original base drive cage with no backplane for simplicity and energy conservation or is the backplane interface an advantage over just plugging my drives directly into the main motherboard?
Advantage of the expander backplane is:
1. You can connect 6 drives to 2 SAS ports. Meaning it gives you possibility to connect more drives to the rest of the SAS ports.
2. Hot-swap capability. Meaning you can replace a failed drive without shutting down the system.