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Old Oct 24, 2008, 05:08 PM   #1
stefanwoe
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Installing WinXP x64 on a Mac Pro with RocketRAID+2,5'' SAS drives without Bootcamp

Installing Windows XP 64 Bit on A Mac Pro with Highpoint RAID and 2,5 Inch SAS drives
Without Bootcamp

Why a Mac Pro for Windows?

I am a Developer and i frequently get large datasets that i have to test in my software. My Software is multithreaded. It uses all processors and all available RAM. So get a big machine with many cores. If you look for such a machine you get offered very expensive "Workstations" which all are quiet exotic and from small specialized vendors. Didn't sound good to me. A Mac Pro is not that expensive, its standardized and its of course about the maximum you can get at all.

Decision for RAID was also a clear decision a s a question of data throughput. I was thinking about a Apple raid but Its expensive and moreover as far as i can read - it doesn't support Windows (! See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2855 and others).
So i got a Mac pro, a HighPoint Rocket Raid 2640X4 (as tested by barefeet http://www.barefeats.com/hard104.html)
and 4 Seagate 146 GB 2,5 10k Drives (ST9146802SS) together with standardized PC mounting frames for 2,5 Drives to 3.5 slots.

1. Hardware Installation
The Mac Pro has removable metal plates to mount the drives in from top. You push the plates withe the drives in the Mac Pro and they directly fit into the SATA Connector. It was only a little bit handcrafting work to customize the mounting frames for that: I drilled some 2.5 mm holes in them, got myself a M3 tapper, and made additional female screw threads into the frames.

Then i replaced the origianal screws in the frames (seems to be 3.5mm) by M3 Screws.Thereby it's possible to mount the 2.5 drives in the mac pro.

(Full sized images are available at http://www.nextop.de/gallery/v/stefan_40/MacProRaid/).

Another problem was cabling. To remove the connector from the 4 Drive slots, you have to disassembly the front fan bay. Difficult, if you dont know how. Here's description :http://www.xlr8yourmac.com/tips/MacP...pticalBay.html
But the connector you find there does not match the Rocked Raid 2640X4. It has 4 single mini SATA/SAS connectors. Maxupgrades offer such a cable (expensive). It does not seem to exist from any other manufacturer. I ordered it, but so far it did not arrive. So i decided to leave the original connectors, and to use the cables that come with the RockedRaid card. I therefore mounted the Drives in a different position so that they do not colide with the internal connectors.


But where to get power ??!
It took me a night or two (of sleeping) to come up with that there IS a standard power connector. There is only one: Its for the additional DVD-Drive. After i figured out that, it was simple, to connect power using Standard Y-Cables.


2. Installing Windows
I didn't want to use MacOS X or Bootcamp. Although i love the Mac and i am a old Mac user i wanted a native Windows machine for Windows development.
When you insert a Installation CD an the MAC and you press "d" during boot, the Mac starts booting and the Windows installation starts. But it was impossible to install the driver for the 2640X4! There is no disk drive, and that's still the only (!!) possibility, to add drivers during installation. I spend some hours and a number of blank CDs while trying to build a modified Installation CD. Then i came across nLite (http://www.nliteos.com/). With nLite its simple to burn a Windows Installation CD that contains additional Drivers. I'ts kind of idiot proof and after 20 Minutes i had a installation CD for XP x64 that contains the drivers for the 2640X4.
But still Windows refused to find a disk. The disks are running and connected - but you must create a array first, that shows up to Windows as a physical hard drive, it can use. The Rocket raid BIOS shows up on boot - but its impossible to enter - the Mac has no BIOS!
So i moved the RAID-card in a PC and installed a first RAID Array from there. I could have done this as well by starting the original Mac HD and installing such a drivers there.

After removing the RAID-card to the Mac, it was able to install and run.
I installed the drivers, as listed in the following link, and everything seems to work.
http://www.withoutink.com/technology...-on-a-mac-pro/
Done!

3. Results


One problem left:
The 2640X4 RAID-card does not spin up the drives on boot. It does so only after its BIOS is called and this seems to be only the case, when a bootable CD is inserted. Therefore i have to keep such a CD in the drive. I'm waiting for a answer from HighPoints customer support about that.

Annoyances:
One of the most annoying thing on the Mac is the missing CD-Eject Button. The drive should eject on boot if you press the mouse. I only succeeded with this once. It's also impossible to come throught the chassis to the button with a toothpick or something. You have to open the Mac and remove the drive. Then you can push this button.
Also so far it's not possible to successfully use Windows standby, and hibernating is not offered at all. The windows Boot manager even does not show up.
The Mac Pro and the 4 10k 2.5 Drives are amazing quiet but the drives oscillate with a frequency of some seconds - this is a bit uncomfortable.

Pleasures:
It's a amazing fast machine! I had a dual XEON with 2.8 Ghz Noconas so far using 2 10k 3.5 Inch SCSI U360 Drives. The Mac Pro is faster by some multitudes. The RAID (using RAID 5 over all 4 drives) reaches write performance of about 200MB / Sec. Compared to 40MB that the U360 (no Raid) have reached. This is amazing. Duplicating a 1GB file takes about 5 Seconds when it's in the read cache from windows!

I also tested the fault tolerance of the RAID of course. I just unplugged one of the disks from the running system. The raid started beeping loudly immediately, but there were no problems with windows or a application. All files still were there. After i replugged the drive, the raid was rebuild automatically within a few minutes. (which can be monitored in the 2640X4 web console).

Last edited by stefanwoe; Oct 25, 2008 at 06:34 AM. Reason: Added some Image Links
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Old Oct 24, 2008, 07:01 PM   #2
yair
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Join Date: Apr 2008
thanks for the detailed post, i'm also looking for a fast reliable (raid 5) setup for help with stitching very large panoramas. but your current setup seems to restrictive for my taste. i hope you solve the cd boot problem via highpoint support.

whats your thoughts about external raid arrays?

aside form the KbdMgr.exe process funkiness on bootcamp i don't think there's much difference between running bootcamp and your method, i wrote a batch script that shuts it and wifi when i need the performance. on an mbp.

Last edited by yair; Oct 24, 2008 at 07:13 PM.
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Old Oct 25, 2008, 08:43 AM   #3
stefanwoe
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Now can boot without CD

I figured out, how to boot without the CD inserted: I replugged the original OSX HDD, and choosed the CD drive with the Windows installation CD as start volume. Now the Mac boots into the RockeRAID BIOS also if no CD has been inserted. And also after unplugging the old HDD.

Obviously the Mac stores somewhere in the hardware (EPROM or something) not only the device to boot from (the CD-Drive), but also that its a Windows device or whatever. I don't know. At least this works now.

It turns out that in order to boot the OSX Partition i need the apple Keyboard. With a KVM-Switch its impossible to get to the boot selector by holding the option Key.

Last edited by stefanwoe; Oct 25, 2008 at 10:03 AM.
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Old Oct 25, 2008, 08:47 AM   #4
deriko100
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: New York
Such a waste just get a pc or make one dont run xp and not mac os x on such a beautiful machine.
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Old Oct 25, 2008, 10:06 AM   #5
stefanwoe
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Sounds a bit religious. Hope you'r not going to shoot. Apple states the Macs to be Windows compatible. I am just trying to figure out how much. I must state, that they are compatible to Windows only under certain conditions.
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