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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:12 AM   #1
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Apple's New Fusion Drive Works on Older Macs




One of the interesting additions to Apple's iMac and Mac mini lines announced last week is Fusion Drive, a hybrid storage system that combines a 128 GB solid-state drive (SSD) with a 1 TB or 3 TB traditional hard drive into a single volume to offer the best of both worlds in terms of performance and storage space. Apple's software automatically manages the combined volume, placing the core system and other frequently used applications and files on the solid-state drive for faster access while keeping lower-priority applications and data on the traditional hard drive.

Mac developer Patrick Stein has been toying with his own Mac Pro setup and has managed to build his own Fusion Drive using command line tools. Stein configured an internal solid-state drive and a USB-attached traditional hard drive on his system and was able to combine them into a single logical volume as used for Fusion Drive.
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Attached are a 120GB SSD (disk1) and a 750GB HDD (disk7) to my Mac. I attached the SSD via SATA to be sure that the system could figure out that it's a SSD via SMART. The HDD is attached via USB. USB I chose to clearly see a difference in speed.
Stein then proceeded to test the setup, writing data first to the SSD and then to the traditional hard drive once the SSD had filled up. By preferentially accessing data that had initially been written to the traditional hard drive, Stein was able to watch as the data was automatically transferred to the SSD for faster access. Upon stopping the process, the system automatically pushed the data back to the traditional hard drive, and in one final step Stein began accessing the data once more and after about an hour was able to see it pulled back onto the SSD.

In several follow-up Tumblr posts, Stein details further explorations into how Fusion Drive works, noting that he was able to use not only the default HFS+ file system for OS X with it, but also ZFS. All of Stein's work was performed with a standard installation of OS X 10.8.2.

Article Link: Apple's New Fusion Drive Works on Older Macs
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:14 AM   #2
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Now I'm kinda wishing I'd gone for a thick MBP instead of my rMBP and swapped out the ODD The second of my two biggest complaints is about the meager storage.

Still, can't complain about the gorgeous display
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:15 AM   #3
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nice

can we use USB 3 and have the SSD as an external drive?
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:18 AM   #4
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Now another reason I'm glad I didn't get the substantially worse new iMac and opted for the 2011 gen last Wednesday

The process will most likely get simplier, perhaps even an app made what automates the process of making the fusion drive. Then i'd just get a Thunderbolt SSD and stick with my 500GB Internally. I know it says only SATA for now, but you never know whats possible in time.

I would gladly open my iMac and fit an SSD, but I bought Apple care with it since I got it at a 60% discount, I don't really don't wanna void it if it can be helped xD. Still, at least I can upgrade the ram to 32GB unlike the new 21.5''. Only gonna cost me 110 quid for that amount of ram.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:23 AM   #5
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So how can I go about getting this to work on my 2011 Mac Mini??
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:24 AM   #6
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Might be time to remove the DVD drive in my MBP and install an SSD. I didn't want to have to deal with split drives and this would be amazing if it worked.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:29 AM   #7
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So he has an internal SSD and an external HDD with a single drive letter, what makes that a "fusion" drive? Nothing! There's no proof this is what Apple calls Fusion Drive technology. The article is a fail.

P.S. There's Windows software out there that will combine various drives into a single "hybrid" volume. Does that mean that's "fusion" drive software? I think not.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 11:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by macnerd93 View Post
Now another reason I'm glad I didn't get the substantially worse new iMac and opted for the 2011 gen last Wednesday

The process will most likely get simplier, perhaps even an app made what automates the process of making the fusion drive. Then i'd just get a Thunderbolt SSD and stick with my 500GB Internally. I know it says only SATA for now, but you never know whats possible in time.

I would gladly open my iMac and fit an SSD, but I bought Apple care with it since I got it at a 60% discount, I don't really don't wanna void it if it can be helped xD. Still, at least I can upgrade the ram to 32GB unlike the new 21.5''. Only gonna cost me 110 quid for that amount of ram.
I actually think the new iMacs are cool
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 12:16 PM   #9
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I actually think the new iMacs are cool
but useless to me. Please explain to me why I'm paying £99 more for a new iMac, which lacks an optical drive, has no user upgradable ram, no firewire port, the SD card slot is now on the back an annoyance, a much slower 5400RPM hard drive, the old ones where 7200 RPM all for the sake of thinness?

An optical drive is crucial to me in a busy month as I must burn 20-30 DVD's I shoot weddings etc. This iMac flies compared to my old '09 MacBook Pro, its shocking to see how slow Aperture actually was on it.

Its a desktop why does the new iMac need to be this thin? Way too much compromise for me. I'm so glad I settled for the last gen, I'm willing to bet that my stock basic 2011 iMac will easily beat the new basic end iMac at pretty much all tasks, especially the stuff I do. A laptop 5400RPM drive has laughable performance editing RAW files in Aperture from a DSLR, no matter how fast the CPU.

That 100 quid I would have wasted has gone straight towards my rowers one piece for Uni and also 32GB RAM for it in the near future xD
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 04:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by macnerd93 View Post
Now another reason I'm glad I didn't get the substantially worse new iMac and opted for the 2011 gen last Wednesday

The process will most likely get simplier, perhaps even an app made what automates the process of making the fusion drive. Then i'd just get a Thunderbolt SSD and stick with my 500GB Internally. I know it says only SATA for now, but you never know whats possible in time.

I would gladly open my iMac and fit an SSD, but I bought Apple care with it since I got it at a 60% discount, I don't really don't wanna void it if it can be helped xD. Still, at least I can upgrade the ram to 32GB unlike the new 21.5''. Only gonna cost me 110 quid for that amount of ram.
This is a very common misconception about iMacs. You can open it up and add and SSD without voiding the warranty. The warranty states that the only "parts damaged due to" work completed by someone besides an authorized repair facility is not covered. I will get several people who will contradict this, but they clearly have NOT READ the Applecare warranty. Its clear. I read it before I upgraded mine.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 04:10 PM   #11
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Systems with proper volume managers have been doing this since well before the turn of the century.

This "uncertainty principle" about what is really underneath an opaque block of storage is old news.
But that isn't the news here either, the interesting part is the automatic tiering. The whole concept of a volume is, and has always been an abstraction without a direct mapping to the underlaying storage. It can represent several drives, a drive somewhere on the network or not a drive or storage at all.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:19 AM   #12
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Okay... now I want to do this with an internal SSD and a Drobo, so my spinning drives can all fail over time.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:20 AM   #13
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Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 11:02 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by WestonHarvey1 View Post
Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
Is it the "same"? Of course it is. He used Apple's Disk Utility and a stock Mac OS X system. Apparently Fusion is already built into all Macs, you just need to install an SSD and enable the Fusion volume.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 11:03 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by WestonHarvey1 View Post
Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
It sounds like it. John Siracusa on the latest "Hypercritical" podcast spoke at length about how Fusion leverages CoreStorage and that this may very well have been a feature Apple wanted to announce at WWDC and ship with Mountain Lion at launch.

Because it is based on CoreStorage, it should be able to be run from the Terminal as Mr. Stein has done. However, it may very well be unstable and therefore why Apple is officially saying it cannot be done and is not supported via the GUI.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 11:56 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by WestonHarvey1 View Post
Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
I agree.

It's ironic for this to show up today. I sat in a conference yesterday that Apple put on where an engineer talked about imaging. I asked him specifically about imaging a fusion drive and he said that it's treated as one drive period. I asked him if Apple was doing something in their firmware/hardware to make imaging tools see it as one drive and he simply answered with a "yes".

The conference was for people in education who support Mac and iOS devices so it's important that his information be accurate...and it might even if this guy is saying that this is possible with other Macs. I'll have to do more investigating on this as I get time. I would wonder now if someone could take a fusion drive and split them off to where there is just an ssd and hard drive. I'm not sure why someone would want that but if they did, perhaps it's possible.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 01:01 PM   #17
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Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
Well, he's using the command line to implement something built in to Mountain Lion, called Core Storage. So the ability to make SSD and HDD one logical volume, the algorithms about what to transfer to the SSD and when, this is part of Core Storage. It's also very interesting that ZFS disks are recognized by the OS.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:25 AM   #18
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Just installed this upgrade on my 2010 MBP 2 weeks ago. When Apple announced the Fusion drive I wondered if the current OS X 10.8.2 would recognize and use the hybrid drive in this way, or if Seagate has baked something into this line.

Actually I partitioned the hybrid into 250 for the OS and 500 which I then RAID-1'ed with the existing internal drive. So I don't really know what's going on in there. Everything is definitely faster but also did a clean install of ML so who knows.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:22 AM   #19
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Is this a stable setup? The article is very technical and doesn't really say if a non-techie could make it work safely. I notice he isn't providing any script to automate the setup process.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by WestonHarvey1 View Post
Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
This too.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:30 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by IJ Reilly View Post
Is this a stable setup? The article is very technical and doesn't really say if a non-techie could make it work safely. I notice he isn't providing any script to automate the setup process.

----------



This too.
Probably not totally stable yet, but well on it's way. Kudos for him both for having the skills and making the effort.

This reminds me of the original CCcloner. The first few iterations had teething issues and broke for every new hardware configuration or OS update. My point being that we will likely see a user friendly utility out of this in a few months

Very cool regardless
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:35 AM   #21
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Is this a stable setup? The article is very technical and doesn't really say if a non-techie could make it work safely. I notice he isn't providing any script to automate the setup process.[COLOR="#808080"]
As setting it up requires using Terminal etc I wouldn't say this is something a non techie could do 'safely'. If one was going to try to do it, a backup would most definitely be in order because chances are the data will get screwed at least a couple of times before it all gets set up right.
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 10:48 AM   #22
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Does Filevault 2 still work with the fusion drive ?
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 11:24 AM   #23
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If I could order a stock $799 Mac mini, purchase a 128GB Samsung 830 SSD for $89 (Newegg pricing), and then assemble my own fusion drive - that would be fantastic. Sounds like that may be doable?
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 11:52 AM   #24
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If you store your system and applications on your SSD, and your iTunes library, your Photo libraries, your Video and Media files on your Hard Drive, there is no need for this "Fusion" system. I like the way my system works as it is, I don't want the system "moving" files between the two drives and slowing things down. My system is fast as lightning!
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Old Oct 31, 2012, 12:20 PM   #25
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As setting it up requires using Terminal etc I wouldn't say this is something a non techie could do 'safely'. If one was going to try to do it, a backup would most definitely be in order because chances are the data will get screwed at least a couple of times before it all gets set up right.
I know the chances of an "FusionDrive" app making it into the store is a long shot. But a third party could make an app to handle the command-line stuff, yes?
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