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IBM Ultrabay Slim SATA HDD Adapter

Some discussion was held at Thinkpads Forum and Lenovo Forum about the possibility of using a SATA (Serial ATA) hard disk drive adapter inside a docking station for the X41t. Since I had just received an X41t a few weeks ago and wanted to be able to backup the system in my normal manner (cloning onto a HD in the Ultrabay), I decided that it was a worthy experiment.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Ultrabay Slim SATA Hard drive adapter. This adapter was obtained off of eBay for $24. Shipping took two weeks and it was packed fairly well. The auction description specifically stated that it would work inside an X4 dock.

Figure 2
Figure 2: Here's a picture of the SATA connector inside the adapter's bay.

Figure 3
Figure 3: And here's the connector that's on the outside of the adapter. It looks like any other Ultrabay Slim connector.

Figure 4
Figure 4: I removed the X41t's hard drive, placed a 60GB SATA drive in the adapter and installed it inside my X4 dock (FRU 41V9185). The SATA drive was previously installed in an SL500 and verified that it was working. I then erased the drive prior to putting it into the Ultrabay Slim SATA HD adapter. Booted the X41t and went into the Boot Menu to see if it was recognized, and yes, there it is (#7).

Figure 5
Figure 5: Re-installed the X41t hard drive, booted Windows and went into the Disk Management program. There was the 60GB drive as expected.

Figure 6
Figure 6: Initialized the SATA drive and started formatting.

Figure 7
Figure 7: After the quick formatting was complete, the drive was ready to go.

Figure 8
Figure 8: Checking the Device Manager, this is what's reported.

Figure 9
Figure 9: Okay, that takes care of the issue about this drive adapter being used inside an X4 dock. What about an Ultrabay Slim system such as a T41? Swapped the DVD burner out of one of my T41 systems, booted, and this is what's seen.

So, I think that takes care of those questions. I believe that this SATA hard drive adapter can be used in any Ultrabay Slim system. There must be a PATA-SATA bridge inside the adapter. Maybe one of these days I'll take it apart and post the pictures here. I also did not have to alter anything on this Ultrabay Slim HD adapter; it simply slid right into the X4 dock and T41 and worked.
May 19, 2009

Comparison with PATA adapter

After re-reading some of the comments about having to alter a tab on the SATA drive in order for it to fit inside some Ultrabays, I decided to document some of the physical dimensions and features of both types of hard drive adapters. Here is one of my IBM Ultrabay Slim PATA HD adapters (FRU 62P4553) as compared to the SATA adapter:

Figure 10
Figure 10: The back panel of the SATA adapter is more or less flush. There's three "tabs" which appears to be part of the printed circuit board that the Ultrabay connector is mounted on, but they do not stick out past the plastic frame.

Figure 11
Figure 11: This view shows the beveled corners of both adapters. There's a very slight difference in the angle and face area of the corner, with the SATA adapter having a shallower angle (more towards 90°) and a larger surface area than the PATA adapter. Given the interior of the Ultrabay Slim cage (as seen in a torn apart T41), this is not any problem.

Figure 12
Figure 12: The faceplate of the SATA adapter has the same angular cut as the PATA adapter but has a square LED in-use indicator.

Figure 13
Figure 13: There is a major difference in the shape of the latching mechanism which keeps the adapter locked inside the Ultrabay. However, the overall length from that area to the rear of the adapter is the same for both which means that the SATA adapter will slide into the Ultrabay and lock just as securely as the PATA adapter.

Figure 14
Figure 14: The width of the SATA adapter is just a little less than 4.03 inches.

Figure 15
Figure 15: The width of the PATA adapter is just a little bit over 4.03 inches.

Figure 16
Figure 16: The thickness of the SATA adapter is about 0.39 inches.

Figure 17
Figure 17: The thickness of the PATA adapter is exactly 0.40 inches. This guarantees that the SATA adapter will fit in any Ultrabay Slim cage, but it might be a little bit loose.

May 20, 2009

Raymond Kawakami
San Jose, CA
E-Mail: r k a w a k a m i AT a o l DOT COM