08 Mac Pro upgrade suggestion

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by vicentk, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. vicentk macrumors regular

    vicentk

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #1
    My Mac Pro is 08 Early version, already had follow hard ware:
    1:4*640GB HDD raid 0 in software
    2:16GB ram
    3:EVGA GT285

    Upgrade option:
    1:Add 2 more SSD for OS and APP, because I still had 2 more sata socket left will it run faster?
    2:Add SAS raid card and 4*seagate SAS 15K6

    It seem SSD is better option for upgrade, or did anyone had other better option ?
     
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #2
    If you want to use SSD's, I'm assuming you want to RAID them.

    That would mean you need a proper RAID card that can boot OS X, as it puts the bandwidth on the PCIe bus, rather than the ICH (SATA ports on the board), which throttle at ~660MB/s. With the existing mechanical RAID, that will likely happen, as I'd expect simultaneous access (both arrays accessed at the same time).

    The least expensive card to use that can boot OS X (assuming for system drive location), is the ARC-1210 (you'd have to flash the firmware to EFI to get boot capability for OS X). It uses standard SATA cables for data, and power is really easy by using the Molex connector in the 2nd optical bay (cable). That's also a great place to put the SSD's using an inexpensive Rafter mount (2.5" to 5.25", holds 3x). Please note, that the card is good for a pair of SSD's, but if you want to run more, you'd be better off with a faster card.

    SAS drives have their purpose, but unless you're running a database storage system, you'd do better with other options. SATA can be done cheaper, and is just fine for sequential access (via additional parallelism, and inexpensive capacity is nice too). For random access, SSD's are faster than mechanical.
     
  3. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #3
    After I read a lot of ssd test report, if 2 * ssd it will around 5xx mb/s, so 6xx mb/s is enough, if future I need add more the raid card will need
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #4
    You're not taking simultaneous access into account.

    I'll try to explain:
    SSD stripe set = OS + apps disk
    Mechanical set = data storage for output files

    You'll end up accessing the SSD set and the Mechanical set at the same time (i.e. reading plug-ins, application data,... while writing data), which will require throughput than the ICH can provide. That's called throttling, and will slow you down.

    Unless you plan to remove the mechanical HDD set, or not use it for project data storage related to whatever applications you're running (i.e. exclusively used as "other", such as downloaded music and video storage not related to the work being done, nor accessed at the same time).
     
  5. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #5
    I see, you make me clear, I'm miss the main point.
    After I read once more your post, it seem if I need to boot from raid card is need to flash the bios to EFI, is it easy to do this ? Or can you tell me where can I learn.
    Thank your reply.
     
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #6
    Have you purchased a RAID card, and if so, which one?

    If you go with an Areca (ARC-1210 or one of their other models), you do it via a web browser. Safari won't work however, and I'd recommend Firefox (it does).

    Basic proceedure:
    1. Install the card
    2. Boot OS X, and load the drivers and software on the disk that comes with the card
    3. Do a cold boot
    4. Enter the web browser interface (ARCHTTP, which is on the enclosed disk)
    5. Perform the update (it's one of the options, and the EFI firmware is both on the disk, or can be downloaded from Areca's support site).

    Once done, it will be able to boot OS X. :)

    Then you follow it up with creating the array (including un-create the software RAID, then move the drives to the card). Reboot and load the OS, applications,... and backup data you should make prior to installing the RAID card (initialization process will wipe any data on the disks).
     
  7. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #7
    Thank your quick reply.
    I still planing because OCZ will had a faster SSD soon, if I start with ssd, I will use all your advice. Thank you again.
    One more question can this card support bootcamp? (but it not important)
     
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #8
    :cool: NP. :)

    As you get down to it, the details of every single drive and configuration desired will be needed, as it does matter (card selection).

    No.

    You use separate drives for Windows and OS X. It's better IMO, as one can't damage the other (partition tables being accidentally overwritten by another OS). You can't even put them both on the card, as the firmware will only support one or the other (BIOS vs. EFI).
     
  9. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #9
    Thank's you again, in my Mac Pro setting, I already install Vista in IDE 2.5" HDD. So boot camp I alway use Option key to select.

    PS. There is too less raid card in the world, but I want to use 8 port raid card, like RR4320, but it cost too much
     
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #10
    BC is really a partition tool meant to allow both Windows and OS X to share the same drive. It works in a single drive setup, but WILL NOT work with software based RAID.

    What I'm not sure of, is what you plan to do with the existing drives, or their make/model.

    Newegg's got them for $320 right now (here). Quite a bargain, and definitely NOT expensive for a true RAID card. Especially one that is EFI boot capable. :D It's like getting 4 ports free, as $300 - 360USD typically only gets a 4 port card. ;)

    If possible, and thats the port count you need, I say jump on it while you can. That card has lots of possibilities, and even if you need adapters (system dependent to use the HDD bays), it's still a good deal.

    One thing to keep in mind, is it's a SAS based card. It can run SATA disks, but they'll have to be enterprise grade, as they have different recovery timings set in the firmware (consumer = 0,0 <seconds>, while enterprise = 7,0). WD drives can be modified by using a utility. Other drive makers however, can't, as the utility is brand specific, and don't offer one.

    The additional sensors in the enterprise drives are worth having as well, as they help to prevent mechanical errors (i.e. physical impacts of the heads into the platter = crash).
     
  11. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #11
    In my mac pro I already had 4pcs of HDD in software raid 0, they run in OSX + APP + DATA, one IDE HDD is running vista, so I want add 1~2 ssd for speed up my mac pro. After I use ssd, all osx and app will run in ssd set, last 4*hdd will run in raid set ( if I bought RR4310, they will set to raid5 )

    Yes 4320 can run SAS2.0 and SATA 3.0, another about recovery timings, I'm not sure that, but unlucky Newegg.com does not currently ship internationally; we only deliver to locations within the United States and to Puerto Rico. I'm live in Hong Kong :(

    PS. after I read the review, that 4320 is not support snow leopard :(
     
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #12
    Provantage sells them for just under $395USD (here), and they do ship internationally. Sorry, I didn't pay attention to the fact you're in HK. :eek: Still rather inexpensive though, as they're usually closer to $500USD.

    You'd even be able to place the SSD's on it as well, given the 1.2GHz processor. Then place the windows disk on the logic board. You can install up to 4x SSD's in one optical bay, but there's a mount that can hold 3x that's really inexpensive - 3x 2.5" to 5.25" Rafter. I'm not sure where to get this in HK, but I'd think someone would be willing to ship to you.

    BTW, you'd need one of these to reach the card (extention for the iPass cable, as it's too short to reach by itself).
     
  13. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #13
    Thank all your suggestion first, but I need to find a raid card in hong kong first. After I bought a raid I will update in this post.
     
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #14
    NP. Good luck, and I hope you can find one at a good price. :)
     
  15. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #15
    Could any one tell me all raid card is support mac pro bootable in market ?
     
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #16
    For a RAID card to boot OS X, it must be capable of EFI boot. There's not many that can do that.

    Companies that do carry EFI capable models:
    Areca
    Atto Technologies
    Highpoint (I'd only look at the RR43xx series, as Areca is the ODM).

    Of the three, I'd go with Areca, as they not only design and manufacture thier own gear (Atto does as well), but it offers the best value, as Atto is more expensive. Highpoint is a little bit cheaper than the Areca's (model comparison is limited to the ARC-1212 or ARC-1222 (neither of these has SAS expander support) or certain 1680 series models with SAS expander support removed. But Highpoint's support sucks, so there is a price per se, to get a slightly cheaper card (and it has features removed to make it cheaper than Areca's offerings). It's really bad actually.
     
  17. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    #17
    Thank your reply again, I think a few day ago, I'm cleared, raid card for me is just need SATA, because SAS is useless for me, or I can wait SATA 3.0 6Gb/s raid card come out.
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #18
    1. SAS can run SATA disks
    2. Most EFI capable cards are SAS
    3. The SAS units are actually cheaper than their closest SATA counterparts for most cases (SATA cards that are less expensive, usually aren't that equivalent - slower processors)

    But you can have an EFI capable SATA card. To get the right card, you have to examine your specific needs carefully, whether it turns out to be a SAS or SATA model.

    BTW, there aren't any 6.0Gb/s capable RAID cards of any type out right now, and appear to be some time off yet.
     
  19. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    Hong Kong
    #19
    Yes, but if raid card support SAS it will cost little bit hight, so I afraid after I bought the raid card the 3.0 will appear, I think at the min of 2k10 will had a lot of sata 3.0 raid card in market.
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    It's a bit hard to understand what you mean, but I'll try.

    My point is, the SAS cards that are equivalent to SATA cards (i.e. similar processor clock rates and port counts), SAS is actually cheaper, and is why most card makers are going to SAS exclusively in this regard. The remaining SATA units are slower (slower, less expensive processors).

    In terms of mechanical drives, even the 6.0Gb/s drives can't saturate a 3.0Gb/s port (i.e. 2TB disks can sustain ~120MB/s, while the port is good for ~270 - 275MB/s in real world use, rather than the 375MB/s theoretical limit of 3.0Gb/s). The real world rates on 6.0Gb/s are also lower than their theoretical limits as well (~500 - 540MB/s max real throughputs). SSD will be a bit different though in the future, and will be able to better utilize 6.0Gb/s ports.

    But the 6.0Gb/s RAID cards aren't yet out (I'm not sure they'll show until ~July or so <shipping>), and I'm not sure as to how cheap either (possible they'll only show on the top end models that are very likely over your budget - they can go as high as ~$1200USD).
     
  21. vicentk thread starter macrumors regular

    vicentk

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    #21
    sorry for my bad English first, after your explain I think I make a big mistake in past. At past I saw SAS is expenses so I think sata raid card will cheaper.

    One more question, for further do I need 8 port, boz I can connect the org. sata to card.
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #22
    SAS RAID cards are NOT expensive. Seriously. SAS drives OTOH, are pricy compared to SATA (cost/GB), but still are better than SSD. But as the SAS card is capable of running SATA drives, you don't have to use them.

    SAS card + SATA drives is the best way to go when on a budget, and you don't need performance based on random access throughputs.

    You've lost me here.

    If you have an '06 - '08 system, you can connect the cable from the logic board to the card in order to use the HDD bays. In an '09 however, you need a $165USD adapter (here).

    Depending on the specific card, you may need a cable extention for the HDD cable (iPass in Apple speak) to reach the card. That tacks on an additional $90USD, and is a necessity. There's only one provider, MaxUpgrades (here).

    As per the port count, I generally recommend going with 4 ports more than you need initially, as it's less expensive to add drives to increase capacity when possible, rather than have to swap all of them out each time (can also cover you when the largest capacity drive for all ports still won't cover your capacity needs). So I tend to prefer 8 port and larger cards if you use capacity quickly, such as video editing.
     

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