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Old Dec 3, 2012, 07:09 PM   #1
ActionableMango
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What is the state of USB 3.0 on Mac Pro?

Thread summary for latest recommendations, updated 4/27/2015.

This thread refers to PCIe cards for adding USB 3.0 to classic Mac Pros. USB 3.1 card support may be coming soon.

General Notes:
  • I don't promise anything here is perfect. This is the best I can do from my memory and from the USB 3.0 threads I've managed to read. If you have any corrections, please PM me.
  • The cards in this list support UASP for faster transfer speeds and reduced CPU utilization (exceptions to this are noted).
  • The cards in this list do not require supplemental power to be attached.
  • The cards in the list are not limited to storage-only USB devices (exceptions to this are noted).
  • The cMP will never boot from USB 3.x because there is no support until the drivers load in the OS.
  • Transferring data over USB 3.0 interferes with bluetooth reception and to a lesser extent 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi.
  • Due to USB 3.0 ports in the nMP, native drivers are provided in OS X for Fresco Logic FL1100 chipset cards in ML 10.8.2 or later. Lion 10.7.5 and newer is supported through the open source GenericUSBXHCI driver. Cards using other chipsets require proprietary drivers.
  • The Asmedia ASM1042a chipset has native drivers included in 10.9 and newer.
  • There are warning messages upon waking from sleep when using detachable USB 3.0 media and native drivers in OS X. This occurs even with Apple's built-in USB 3.0 ports, so it isn't your card.

USB 3.0:

Inateck KT4004
If you just want a basic working card with a low price and no special features.
  • $20-$30
  • This card uses the same FL1100 chipset as the nMP, so drivers are built into ML 10.8.2 and newer.
  • Big review here.
  • It does not have a dedicated USB controller for each port, so simultaneous transfers over multiple ports will have to share bandwidth.

HighPoint RocketU 1144C
If you want an independent USB controller dedicated to each port for using multiple drives at the same time.
  • $70-$80
  • It has a dedicated controller for each port, meaning full speed for connected devices, even when used simultaneously.
  • It specifically supports USB RAID.
  • It uses Asmedia ASM1042a chipset, which has native drivers included in 10.9 and later.
  • Slightly faster than the FL-based cards when using one device. Substantially faster when using multiple devices simultaneously.
  • One user reports zero bluetooth interference using this card.
  • Big review here.

HighPoint RocketU 1144E
If you want an independent USB controller dedicated to each port for using multiple drives at the same time, plus non-bootable eSATA.
  • $140-$170
  • Basically the same as RocketU 1144C, plus non-bootable eSATA.
  • Requires third party drivers.

CalDigit FASTA-6GU3 Pro
If you want bootable eSATA.
  • $140
  • This model number with "PRO" at the end is substantially better than the discontinued non-pro model it replaces. The new model works with all USB devices, not just storage devices. It doesn't have the reduced speed problem that the old model had.
  • This card uses the same FL1100 chipset as the nMP, so drivers are built into ML 10.8.2 and newer.
  • It does not have a dedicated USB controller for each port, so simultaneous transfers over multiple ports will have to share bandwidth.

Sonnet Allegro USB 3.0 4-Port
If you want to charge battery-powered devices or connect bus-powered devices needing up to 2A each.
  • $60
  • Supports the following power-related features: 2Amps of power per port (10 Watts at 5V) for bus-powered devices, USB 3.0 charging port handshake protocol, USB battery charging 1.2 compliant, and simultaneous charge and sync for iPhones, iPads, and similar devices at 1.5A.
  • This card uses the same FL1100 chipset as the nMP, so drivers are built into ML 10.8.2 and newer.
  • I do not think this card has a dedicated USB controller for each port, so it is best to assume that it does not until it is confirmed.

HighPoint RocketU 1144CM
If you need to use Snow Leopard.
  • The RocketU 1144C is better than this card (1144CM) in almost every way, so as far as I can tell you'd only get this card if you need Snow Leopard support.
  • About $150
  • It has a dedicated controller for each port, meaning full speed for connected devices, even when used simultaneously.
  • It specifically supports USB RAID.
  • It uses proprietary drivers from HighPoint.
  • Slightly faster than the FL-based cards when using one device. Substantially faster when using multiple devices simultaneously.
  • This card does NOT support UASP.
  • This card does NOT support sleep mode.
  • This card ONLY supports mass storage devices (no keyboards, printers, mice, etc).
USB 3.1:
USB 3.1 is just starting to be explored in its own thread here. Summary so far:
  • Driver support exists starting with Yosemite 10.10.3 for ASMedia ASM1142 chipset cards.
  • USB 3.0 devices are working on the card as USB 3.0 devices.
  • Nobody seems to have tested a 3.1 card with a 3.1 device yet.

Last edited by ActionableMango; May 8, 2015 at 02:41 PM. Reason: Added 1144CM back to the list for Snow Leopard users
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Old Dec 3, 2012, 07:14 PM   #2
VirtualRain
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ActionableMango View Post
I am waiting for a solution that doesn't require third party drivers.

Searching around this forum it seems the only solutions are something with hacked drivers, a USB3.0/eSATA card that is slow because of a central controller chip, and a controller that will only work with drives of the same brand. These are not acceptable to me.

With USB 3.0 available on new Macs, there should be native drivers for one of the USB 3.0 controller chips. Are there no PCIe cards using the same chip as the Macs with built-in USB 3.0?
Apple's support for USB 3.0 is limited to the USB ports integrated into Intel's latest chipsets. On the Mac Pro, your only option for USB 3 is on a PCIe card with an NEC chip.

This driver works just fine for any generic NEC based PCIe USB 3 card without any compromises I'm aware of... (see post #6) Almost all PCIe cards that just offer USB 3.0 use the same generic NEC reference design and should work just fine.
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1427373

Here's an example of a card just like the one I have that works with the drivers above...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16815124102
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Last edited by VirtualRain; Dec 3, 2012 at 07:19 PM.
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Old Dec 3, 2012, 11:34 PM   #3
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I do appreciate the response, but this is exactly the sort of thing that bothers me. Hacked drivers from some strange website with the summary "LaCie 1.0.8 driver patched by modbin" and a card with some really horrific reviews, at least on the Windows side.

I'll guess I will keep waiting and hope for improvement.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 12:10 AM   #4
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I like my CalDigit card. It may be slower than it should be, but it's far faster than USB 2.0 or FW800, and I can boot from the card, too.

I am always being handed USB 3.0 drives these days, and it's a joy to get the data moving so quickly, with no hassles, ever. I'll take 3x or 5x faster any day, even though they said it would be 10x.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 01:32 AM   #5
VirtualRain
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Originally Posted by ActionableMango View Post
I do appreciate the response, but this is exactly the sort of thing that bothers me. Hacked drivers from some strange website with the summary "LaCie 1.0.8 driver patched by modbin" and a card with some really horrific reviews, at least on the Windows side.

I'll guess I will keep waiting and hope for improvement.
Such is life as a Mac Pro owner... Moded kernel extensions, hacked drivers, flashed graphics cards... Where would we be without all this? ... USB 2.0, SATA2, and GT120s for all
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 07:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualRain View Post
Such is life as a Mac Pro owner... Moded kernel extensions, hacked drivers, flashed graphics cards... Where would we be without all this? ... USB 2.0, SATA2, and GT120s for all
What about IcyBox IB-AC604? It has this controller chip: NEC µPD720200

Would that work with those drivers?
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 11:26 AM   #7
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With ML 10.8.2 running, there is a third-party kext free solution.

See here : http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/top...0#entry1862039

works perfect without any patching here in MP 2010
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texem View Post
With ML 10.8.2 running, there is a third-party kext free solution.

See here : http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/top...0#entry1862039

works perfect without any patching here in MP 2010
Awesome, thank you! This is exactly what I was asking for.

I still am running on and prefer Snow Leopard, but it looks like it might be time to switch to ML.
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 06:32 AM   #9
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Good thread. I was wondering about this recently, but am in no hurry to find a solution.
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 06:24 PM   #10
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There's also this product from highpoint which appears to offer USB 3 support for the Mac. Not surprisingly it looks like any generic NEC based USB 3 card like the $20 one I linked to earlier. Perhaps it's driver will work on generic cards as well?

http://www.hptmac.com/product.php?_index=78
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Old Dec 9, 2012, 06:05 AM   #11
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NEVER again HighPoint... I still own their 4 port USB3 adapter but they just stopped support with ML.

I openend a support ticket but that company is absolutely ignorant .. please be warned.

Go for a Fresco chipset based adapter with native support -> ML 10.8.2

Last edited by texem; Dec 9, 2012 at 06:12 AM.
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Old Dec 11, 2012, 08:41 PM   #12
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Do you recommend any specific card with the Fresco chipset?
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:25 AM   #13
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ORICO PFU3-2P f.i.

(see thread in other forum I wrote above)
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:32 AM   #14
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Since I'm considering a new Mac Pro early next year, I'd be interested if anybody has used the third party card(s) with a Promise unit? I have an R4 connected to my iMac, and the buying decision will come down to what Apple do as far as upgrades go, and the Thunderbolt issue.

My options as I see it will depend on whether or not they do integrate T/Bolt with a new Logic Board...If not, then another maxed out Imac will be the upgrade.

Has anyone here tried running a Pegasus unit with the PCIE card on a Pro? I don't want to lose speed at all, as I can currently work in real-time on the iMac. any degradation in performance would take me away from the Pro, although I do want the extra CPU grunt, it's really only for running X-Plane....My 3.4GHZ iMac with 16GB RAM 2GB VRAM handles all work tasks well.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:51 AM   #15
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I'm using a LaCie PCI card for USB 3. I'm using LaCie's drivers for USB 3 as well. Seems to work well enough for me...
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:55 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Redneck1089 View Post
I'm using a LaCie PCI card for USB 3. I'm using LaCie's drivers for USB 3 as well. Seems to work well enough for me...
So at present there is no direct Thunderbolt cable to Thunderbolt connection for the Pro? The USB is going to create a bottleneck for me for sure.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:57 AM   #17
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So at present there is no direct Thunderbolt cable to Thunderbolt connection for the Pro? The USB is going to create a bottleneck for me for sure.
Not that I am aware of at the moment.

USB 3 is pretty darn fast though.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 02:59 AM   #18
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Not that I am aware of at the moment.

USB 3 is pretty darn fast though.
Fast, yes, but nowhere near the speeds a RAIDo array can achieve with T/Bolt...Oh well thanks for the info..I guess It's wait and see now.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:08 AM   #19
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The PCI slots allow for proper hardware RAID cards, which are faster than Thunderbolt, and as I understand it, TB was designed to be "one cable to rule them all" in regards to display + data at once, not strictly data, thought it works fine for data only.

I think I saw some Thunderbolt-MiniSAS adapters somewhere, so if you *did* end up with a Mac Pro, you could get a RAID card and still use your Promise/Pegasus kit, or sell it and get a bigger RAID box for a whole lot less.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:10 AM   #20
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The PCI slots allow for proper hardware RAID cards, which are faster than Thunderbolt, and as I understand it, TB was designed to be "one cable to rule them all" in regards to display + data at once, not strictly data, thought it works fine for data only.

I think I saw some Thunderbolt-MiniSAS adapters somewhere, so if you *did* end up with a Mac Pro, you could get a RAID card and still use your Promise/Pegasus kit, or sell it and get a bigger RAID box for a whole lot less.
Interesting, but still would prefer an "Out Of The Box" T/Bolt port on the Pro. My own guess is that the Pro is all but dead, but I hope I'm wrong...Thanks for the information!
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:15 AM   #21
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Are we talking about USB 3.0 here ?
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:51 AM   #22
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Our entire workflow switched over to USB 3.0 external drives, docks, and raid arrays. We went through a series of cards before landing on one that actually worked every bit as advertised -- this one:

http://www.amazon.com/HighPoint-Rock...ighpoint+usb+3

All of the other cards we tried had crash bugs and suffered problems like not being able to hot swap a USB 3 connection or remount an ejected drive [without reboot]. Very aggravating trial and error process.

We absolutely love the Buffalo Terrstation raid cans and the Porsche 3 TB external drives. Good luck!
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 04:56 AM   #23
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http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost...7&postcount=11
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 05:04 AM   #24
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I think you've got something else going on. We're using HighPoint cards and that's on 10.8.2 and 10.8.3 ML all around. Best USB 3.0 cards we've tested.

**Clarifying: You don't state which HighPoint card you're now having problems with. We've only tested the one I provided the Amazon link to above. I know HP makes a few different cards so it is possible you're having your compatibility issues with one of those other cards. Best of luck with that and sorry to hear it, but don't think that's across their line. We've got a number of these cards up and running with 10.8.2 and 10.8.3 (plus 10.8.1 before it). All performed extremely well with no errors, crashes, mounting issues, or anything else. Great cards.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 12:05 PM   #25
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So at present there is no direct Thunderbolt cable to Thunderbolt connection for the Pro? The USB is going to create a bottleneck for me for sure.
I honestly don't believe there will ever be a Thunderbolt upgrade card. If you want a Mac Pro with Thunderbolt you'll have to wait till Apple makes a new Mac Pro that includes it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by texem View Post
ORICO PFU3-2P f.i.

(see thread in other forum I wrote above)
I couldn't find any of these for sale in the USA. I did find them on Amazon.co.uk, but the vendor selling them there won't ship to the USA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimT1701 View Post
Do you recommend any specific card with the Fresco chipset?
I picked up a different card with the exact same chipset as the Orico mentioned above. I figure/hope if the built-in drivers in 10.8 work with the Orico, they'll work with any card using the same chipset.

I'm going to try it out later this week and will report back on what happens.
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