5,1 storage reconfiguration options

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by csd, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. csd macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2017
    Hello Forumers,

    A month or so before High Sierra was released I bought a Mac Pro 5,1 W3680/32GB/Sierra (see .sig for full specs). Having done my research (and read that HS supported Apple RAID) I configured it with 2x 250GB SATA SSDs as a RAID 0 boot disk and 2x 2TB HDDs as a RAID 0 data disk. Silly me for believing Apple. Of course HS doesn't actually properly support Apple RAID (still), and I'm looking for the least painful way of upgrading/reconfiguring what I have to get upgraded.

    I currently backup everything to a FreeNAS box on the local network using Time Machine.

    I have a 500GB SATA SSD on order, and I have the option of swapping one of my 250GB SATA SSDs for an NVMe M.2 drive of similar capacity (Samsung 960) at no cost. So my plan was:

    1. Pull out one of the two 250GB SSDs and replace it with the new 500GB SATA one as my boot drive.
    2. Buy an el-cheapo M.2 to PCIe adapter card and use that to mount the Samsung 960. This will be my FCPX scratch drive.
    3. The two HDDs in the 4TB RAID 0 volume can stay as before.
    4. Reformat the second 250GB as another standalone disk for... stuff, or somehow Fusion Drive it with the HDD RAID 0 array.
    5. Somehow restore my Time Machine backup of the boot drive onto the new 500GB SATA SSD. The tricky part here is that TM is backing up both the boot RAID volume and the data RAID volume, so I'm not sure a simple restore from Time Machine Backup at reinstallation time will work.
    6. Upgrade to HS. The NVMe drive should then magically appear as NVMe is supported natively under HS.

    I have a GT120 as well for any boot screen work required. I've already done the firmware upgrade with this GPU installed.

    So I have some questions regarding this approach:

    1. Do you think it will work?
    2. Will I notice a speed reduction going from 2x striped SATA 2 SSDs to a single one for my boot volume? Most of what I read seems to indicate that I won't, but I'd be interested to hear any contrary views.
    3. Will any el-cheapo PCIe to M.2 adapter work in the cMP or should I be looking for something Mac specific? Assume it supports the correct keying etc, but is there anything else I need to look out for? Does it matter what PCIe slot I put it in? (I have an RX560 in the first one). Do I really need to spend more than $20 for something that will probably only get infrequent use (I don't do that much video editing).
    4. Is a heatsink for the Samsung 960 recommended?
    5. How can I do the TM restore for my boot volume? I really don't want to install macOS and all my applications from scratch. I was thinking if TM can't do it, I could hack something together to add the 500 GB SATA SSD to the spare optical SATA port and use dd or something to do a block copy from the boot RAID volume to the 500 GB. Would that even work?
    6. Could I use the remaining 250GB SATA SSH to build a Fusion drive with the 4TB HDD RAID 0 array?

    Thanks for any suggestions/observations.

  2. XNorth macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2018
    FWIW, recently completely upgraded the storage in my MP 5,1 High Sierra to maximize speed and 4K video capability.

    Boot disk via SATA...2 x Samsung SSD 860 PRO 250MB, RAID 0. To install HS 10.13.3 on the SSD RAID as a boot disk, first install HS to an external USB drive, then clone it to the SSD RAID, formatted Journaled HFS+.

    FCPX project media via PCI NVMe Amfeltec adapter...4 x Samsung SSD 960 PRO 512GB. I put the adapter in the second PCI x16 slot, RAIDed the SSDs to attain the maximum 4500+ MB/s read & write. SSD heat hasn't been an issue. The Amfeltec comes with four thumb-sized heat sinks you stick to each NVMe blade.

    FCPX project backups via PCI RAID controller...4 x Samsung SSD 860 EVO 1TB, RAID 0

    OS backup to Time Machine via SATA...1TB HDD

    FCPX project, media backups & archives via PCI RAID controller...4 x HGST He10 10TB SAS, RAID 5

    I could probably gain additional speed if the boot disk was on PCI bus NVMe, but for now all the PCI slots are occupied. With my current config, the MP 5,1 has become a 4K hotrod.
  3. kschendel, Mar 10, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018

    kschendel macrumors 6502a

    Dec 9, 2014
    Stick your new 500 Gb SATA drive into a cheap outboard USB enclosure and duplicate your boot volume to it first (CCC, SuperDuper, etc). You can then swap in the 500 Gb for one of the 250 Gb units and make sure it boots properly before screwing around with the rest of it. If you didn't get the copy right, or if the 500 Gb unit has an issue of some sort, you can swap back and have a working machine while you get it figured out.

    2) I think that the one 500 Gb unit will be slower than the raid 0 pair in benchmarking, but for boot drive usage I'd be surprised if you could notice the difference. 3) I forget what brand PCIe to M.2 card I used (Lycom DT-120 maybe?) but it was one of the usual suspects. I don't think you need anything special, just make sure it's the correct M.2 (M.2 is a form factor not an interface). 4) I dunno. 5) If you copy to the 500 Gb first, even if it takes a while, you don't have to worry about this. 6) I think so, but I've not built FD's by hand, so I'm not 100% sure.

    Edited: It seems that the card I used was a Syba.
  4. csd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2017
    That's an impressive system! Great to see the old cMPs can be brought up to this level.

    How would you get booting using NVMe to work? I thought only AHCI SSDs could boot with the cMP's firmware.

  5. XNorth, Mar 12, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018

    XNorth macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2018
  6. kohlson macrumors 65816

    Apr 23, 2010
    Can you elaborate on the rest of your MP? Other 2 PCIe slots? RAM/CPU? TIA
  7. csd thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 3, 2017
    Just an update on how I've got on so far.

    I tried using dd to clone the Apple RAID volume over to the new SATA SSD. While this appeared to work (and the system booted using this drive), the volume wasn't quite right and HS wouldn't install on it. I'm guessing the MBR or some other important information was wrong for the SSD because it originally came from the RAID volume.

    So in the end I erased the disk again and installed HS from a USB stick and restored files/programs from the Time Machine backup using Migration Assistant. In the end it seemed to ignore my 4TB HD RAID 0 volume (in the migration process), so I'd better make sure that volume is being backed up!

    Thanks XNorth for the pointer on the NVMe booting.

  8. XNorth, Mar 13, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018

    XNorth macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2018
    Sure. It's a 2012, 64GB, 12-core upgraded to 3.46Ghz.

    Slot 1 - Vega 64 GPU, driving 4K monitor
    Slot 2 - Amfeltec gen 2 x16 Adapter, with 4 960 Pro 512GB NVME RAID 0, FCPX scratch disk. Read/write 4000-5400 MB/s.
    Slot 3 - USB 3.1/USB-C adapter, used with SanDisk Extreme Pro for importing media from UHS-II SD cards. I'm getting around 200+ MB/s transfers.
    Slot 4 - Highpoint RocketRAID SAS connected to 4 internal 860 EVO 1TB SSDs RAID 0, project/scratch drive. Read/Write 1200 MB/s. On the same RocketRAID external port, 3 HGST SAS 10TB drives RIAD 5 for backups. Read/write up to 400 MB/s. This is a budget PCIe 2.0 RAID card, maybe a higher grade card with more drives could do higher speed.

    Performance isn't on par with the MP trashcan, but these upgrades can easily handle 4K video projects. That said, I have yet to test a long form project with say 50TB of media. Will a 1 hour timeline play as smooth as a 15-minute timeline or will it choke, I don't know.

    EDIT: HS is installed on EVO SSD RAID as an internal HD.
  9. JedNZ macrumors regular


    Dec 6, 2015
    Deep South
    Helluva system!!!
  10. XNorth macrumors member


    Feb 23, 2018
    It took some modding, but so far so good.

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