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Old Oct 17, 2013, 07:11 AM   #1
Lesser Evets
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2013 MacPro PCI-e Flash Storage?

I've been asleep to the tech of the past couple years, and perhaps it hasn't been explained thoroughly enough, but--what IS this PCIe Flash Storage stuff on the new MacPro?

No drives inside the canister, I assume.

So does the PCIe Flash just store up the data and dump it to slower drives outside the MacPro as you go about doing work? What are the implications when you are shuffling huge amounts of information across drives, etc? Does the PCIe flash slow down and choke the computer?

Anyone out there using this type of device on current computers?

I'm sure others must be wondering if this is just a cheesy way to reduce size and price of the Pro or a true innovation which will revolutionize desktops.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 07:19 AM   #2
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It is effectively the same as the circuit boards you find in SSD drives but without the outer plastic casing. Apple have been using them in the MacBooks for a while.

Capacity will be in the range of 250Gb up to 1Tb I suspect.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 07:27 AM   #3
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It's an SSD attached via PCIe instead of SATA. A PCIe SSD is much faster than a SATA attached SSD.

You would use the SSD in the Mac Pro for your OS X system disk.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 07:51 AM   #4
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You could also use one as your scratch disk since we think the new Mac Pro can handle two of them. All your bulk storage would be on the LAN or in TB enclosures.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 09:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by DanielCoffey View Post
You could also use one as your scratch disk since we think the new Mac Pro can handle two of them. All your bulk storage would be on the LAN or in TB enclosures.
I've just had a look at the Apple site and it does look like the nMP could accomodate two of these drives although it appears the adaptor on the bottom and screw mount at the top for the second SSD is missing. Have you seen anything in print about this?

This makes me wonder if this is going to be one of those things where you'll need to order a certain minimum configuration from Apple so that the set of second mounts are present. From there, you could upgrade storage capacity in the future
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 10:28 AM   #6
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I guess we'll find out soon enough.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 11:59 AM   #7
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It is effectively the same as the circuit boards you find in SSD drives but without the outer plastic casing.
Actually not really. Physically resembles them, but functionality wise it is substantively different. The real functional difference is that it is faster than SATA.

Standard 2.5" and 3.5" drives use a SATA connection. For the most part a "PCIe SSD" is indicative of chucking SATA from the drive. It is either made non bandwidth limiting relevant by sticking a RAID controller between the drive ( there will be more than in that case) or just dumped altogether. The Mac Pro , MBA , and iMac items are in that second category.

There are new protocols to run SATA like drives over PCIe , SATA Express.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6294/b...639-connectors

Apple's drive is a slight variant on NGFF format drives.

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Apple have been using them in the MacBooks for a while.
Again roughly similar, but this is a new tech that is starting to go mainstream this year and will be more widespread in 2014.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 02:05 PM   #8
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It's an SSD attached via PCIe instead of SATA. A PCIe SSD is much faster than a SATA attached SSD.

You would use the SSD in the Mac Pro for your OS X system disk.
I see, so this (semi) un-customizable drive is going to be a fixed feature used for the system files and maybe some other important files of lesser size. The TB2 will handle all the other data.

I thought it might be a cache which shovels the data off and on from drives without bottle-necking the processor.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 03:39 PM   #9
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It is your primary internal storage and based on what is available elsewhere will be up to 1Tb in capacity. It should be damned fast too.

Your bulk storage will be on the network or in a TB box.
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Old Oct 17, 2013, 06:25 PM   #10
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NGFF is now known as M.2 and is a physical layer. The protocol for M.2 can be either AHCI (SATA) or NVM Express (NVMe). NVMe is faster and lower latency but requires native NVMe support from the OS.

The protocol that Apple uses will bear directly on Boot Camp compatibility, because among Windows versions, only Windows 8.1 has native NVMe support.

Hmm, come to think of it, I wonder if the Windows 8.1 launch date had anything to do with the Mac Pro launch timing (assuming it announces next week as rumored). Could Apple have launched a Mac Pro without any Boot Camp support? Probably not...

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Old Oct 17, 2013, 09:32 PM   #11
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So if the new Mac Pro only goes up to 1 TB on one "drive", your going to need to get so many external drives for simple things like music and your home Photo's etc, plus another drive for a time machine back-up unless you set up a RAID.

This is my problem with the new MP. I have the internal storage for OS X, Apps but i'm going to need another drive for music, photo's documents etc. a drive for Time machine all on top of scratch drives for FCP. (hopefully FCP 7 still works)
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 01:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by WonderSausage View Post
NGFF is now known as M.2 and is a physical layer. The protocol for M.2 can be either AHCI (SATA) or NVM Express (NVMe). NVMe is faster and lower latency but requires native NVMe support from the OS.

The protocol that Apple uses will bear directly on Boot Camp compatibility, because among Windows versions, only Windows 8.1 has native NVMe support.

Hmm, come to think of it, I wonder if the Windows 8.1 launch date had anything to do with the Mac Pro launch timing (assuming it announces next week as rumored). Could Apple have launched a Mac Pro without any Boot Camp support? Probably not...

WS
I'm betting the SSD in the Mac Pro uses the same form-factor as the SSD in the latest MBA and iMac, which I believe were determined to use standard PCIe, not M.2 or PCI Express. AnandTech noted the blade in the MBA using a x2 PCIe bus connection which offers headroom up to 1GB/s (plenty for the MBA's blade which tops out at 790MB/s). Since Apple has advertised the Mac Pro SSD performance as nearly double this, and if it's indeed using the same form factor, it must therefore be using a x2 PCIe 3.0 bus connection or they're planning to offer dual SSDs in the Mac Pro (one attached to each GPU card) running in RAID0. Hopefully we'll know for sure very soon.

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So if the new Mac Pro only goes up to 1 TB on one "drive", your going to need to get so many external drives for simple things like music and your home Photo's etc, plus another drive for a time machine back-up unless you set up a RAID.

This is my problem with the new MP. I have the internal storage for OS X, Apps but i'm going to need another drive for music, photo's documents etc. a drive for Time machine all on top of scratch drives for FCP. (hopefully FCP 7 still works)
This may be a problem for some folks, but not everyone. For example, I'm in a multi computer household where a NAS is very helpful, so there's no additional drives required in my case.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 05:22 AM   #13
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...
This may be a problem for some folks, but not everyone. For example, I'm in a multi computer household where a NAS is very helpful, so there's no additional drives required in my case.
The portability of the new MacPRO might be a boon where people might want to unplug and move. I could see it shifting around the house from TV to keyboards to desk where different drives or storage await; it just needs a monitor and power cord/supply at each location to be independent enough and convenient enough to move around with ease.

Using ethernet, older towers can be used as servers or drive storage, Only the speed of the ethernet is a limit.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 06:41 AM   #14
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So if the new Mac Pro only goes up to 1 TB on one "drive", your going to need to get so many external drives for simple things like music and your home Photo's etc, plus another drive for a time machine back-up unless you set up a RAID.
...:
Even if you have a RAID setup, they can fail losing all data. A backup (or 2) is a good idea if you care about your data at all no matter what type of disk setup you have.
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Old Oct 18, 2013, 10:12 AM   #15
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Think speed, size and reduction of heat for the SSD. Heat and space would seem to be some of Apple's sources of concern for the new trashcan Pro. Think of the old G4 cube and how warm it got under use with no fan. The new Haswell CPU's while using less power still put off quite a bit of heat not to mention the GPU and system ram. As hot as my MPro runs with several fans operating I would think there is not much thermal load headroom left given the volcano design and decrease in the size of intake and exhaust area. I see the use of external hdd's as a rule at this time to protect one's data due to costs. As SSD technology improves the size of SSD's should go up and price decrease per GB.
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