Adding a 9th and 10th SSD 6Gb/s SATA3.0 inside 2010 Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by JohnHa, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. JohnHa macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011

    I'm trying to upgrade my Mac Pro with a bootable SATAIII SSD and could use some advice. Right now I've got 8 mechanical HDDs spinning inside. I've got 4 drives in the stock bays, and 4 drives in the upper area where the optical drive normally goes (Maxconnect adapter). 2 of the upper drives are connected directly to the motherboard and the other 2 are connected to a Sonnet Tempo E4i. So it's pretty full inside the case already.

    BTW, my PCI slots are full with the Sonnet card, a USB 3.0 card, and an eSATA extender off the Sonnet.

    I'd like to install a bootable SATAIII 6Gb/sec drive or two in there somehow. Two drives in RAID1 would be ideal.

    From a physical perspective, I think I can use this DX4 sled which looks like it would work.

    Then I figure I can get a bootable SATAIII PCIe controller to boot from the SSD. From reading the threads, I've found 3 options:

    Option 1: The cheap way is to get an ASM1061 based controller off ebay (according to this thread) and boot off of a single drive (someone on that thread couldn't get his RAID configurations to boot). Honestly, I would be happy with this configuration for now. I do nightly backups, and with the supposed higher reliability of an SSD, I would be OK with a single drive boot disc.

    Option 2: The other, more expensive, option would be to get the ATTO ExpressSAS H644 controller. I read the manual and it says it will boot to an Intel Mac Pro. Obviously more expensive, but I would get RAID1 to work (hopefully) and up to 4 internal and 4 external drives (also freeing up the slot used by my current eSATA port extender).

    Option 3: A single SSD solution I've found that's not ideal is to use the Velocity Solo Mac Edition. This limits me to a single drive only and I also lose my eSATA port extender.

    Anyway, my problem is I'm not sure how to run power to the SSDs in Options 1 or 2. If I go with the cheaper ASM1061 controller card, how can I get power for up to two SSDs inside the box?

    Thanks a lot, I appreciate any help!
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'm not sure about how much space remains in the ODD bays in terms of the wiring, but you should be able to use a SATA Y splitter such as this one.

    If you notice, one of the ends has both a male and female end. So when you connect one of the current SATA power ends on one end, and the other into the drive, you get 2x new SATA power connectors available to you (length may be an issue, and if so, you'll need a SATA power extension cable per drive).

    If so, here's an example.

    My one concern however, is with that many drives off of the ODD bay connector's power wiring, you may end up drawing too much current (either for the wire, or the PSU rails, causing damage).

    It may actually be time to get an external enclosure, and move some things out of the MP's internals. I know the PSU is stated at 980W, but we don't know enough information on the particulars (as in how many +12V rails, what their sustained current rating is, or how they're loaded). Just a thought, but you could kill either your PSU or the entire computer if it happens to be too much of a power draw (dying PSU can take other things with it). If there's too much current over the wiring for example, it can even cause a fire (if the PSU tries to sustain the load). So this isn't something you want to ignore/blow off.
  3. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Ah, thank you for the links to the power connectors. Now that I think about it, I think my maxconnect adapter came with a power splitter cable similar to the one you linked to.

    Your point about the power requirements is definitely a concern. My thought was that with an SSD, since it draws so little power compared to a mechanical drive, it would be fairly easy to run. But I wonder if that little SSD could be the straw that broke the camel's back.

    The machine seems to be running in a fairly stable manner though. I recently swapped out four Seagate 7,200 RPM drives with two WD Green and two Seagate Green drives. Previously I had an intermittent problem where the machine wouldn't turn on, I think due to insufficient power to spin up all 8 drives. The hack remedy was to pull the power cable out the back, wait, plug it in, turn it on and pray. While running it was fine, but powering on from off or sleep was a bit sketchy. I never thought it could cause a fire though - that would be bad.

    The specs for the old 7,200 drives were 2.8A peak at 12V (at spinup) with an avg of 10.8 watts in operation. And for the new drives they are 1.78A and 2.0A peak and avg 6 watts and 6.9 watts. Across four drives, if my math is correct, that's 3.6A and 17.4 watts less with the new green drives. I'm even more glad I pulled those 7,200 drives now.

    Anyway, now that I've talked it through, I think putting an SSD in there would probably be OK because the computer ran OK/potentially-on-the-edge with the higher power drives.

    Since the Samsung 830 SSD that I'm looking at consumes less than 6 watts peak under operation, I think I could take the gamble and be OK unless you see a flaw in my reasoning. :eek:

    Thank you, really appreciate your response with the links to the cables!

  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    :cool: NP. :) And good luck.

    Given the description, it sounds like it was struggling with startup currents (typically just a few milliseconds), but if there's not enough power to spin everything up, then you have a problem.

    So it seems you're going to be running on the ragged edge.

    I'd still recommend pulling a few and tossing them into an external enclosure, such as a Port Multiplier based eSATA unit (presuming you're not running a hardware RAID card, in which case, there are cables that will work for both internal and external ports).
  5. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Ahh well, maybe that's for the best. I should still be able to boot from the SSD using that cheap controller card and the external enclosure you're talking about, right? Then I don't need to take apart the ODD area again and swear to myself while trying to run the power cables.

    If I can press upon your generosity again, would you happen to have a recommendation for an external enclosure? Would love if it had space for 2 SSDs in case I want to add a second one later.

    Thank you kindly!
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Assuming it actually has the controller chip you're expecting, then Yes.

    Be aware however, that this changed with the HighPoint RR6xx models without notice (changed to a new P/N for the chip, and the newer one isn't bootable in a MP).

    Take a look at this. ;)

    It's only $50 empty, but you will have to get a couple of 2.5" to 3.5" adapters (cheapies from eBay would be more cost effective than what OWC offers).
  7. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Ah yes, good advice. And well, buying cheap controllers on ebay is always a gamble. But if it's cheap, like 20-some bucks I'll roll the dice.

    That thing looks awesome, but also huge! I was hoping for a tiny fanless one since the SSDs themselves are so small. I had dreams of using 3M grip-loc and taping a couple small single drive enclosures to the side of the MP case. More research to do! Thank you again for all the pointers!
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Not an expensive gamble, but not everyone wants to go through the time and hassle of an RMA. ;)

    They do exist, but you have to make sure that it has 2x eSATA ports on the rear (some only have 1x, and use a Port Multiplier which switches between the drives).

    Then there's the potential aesthetic issues.

    One example of a suitable unit designed for 2.5" drives is the Patriot Convoy PC25S. It doesn't seem to have a PSU though, which is a problem. And most places seem to be out of stock anyway, as it's EOL'ed according to Patriot's web page.

    But if you search around, you may be able to find something you'll find suitable (technical necessities as well as aesthetics).
  9. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Yes, that's true. But for $18.50 if it didn't work for me, it would just be banished to the ever growing box of old computer parts. :)

    Yes, taping drives to the bottom or side of the case is totally ghetto. But my MP sits near a corner and you wouldn't see it by taping to the bottom or left side. Sigh.

    But dude, that Patriot case looks really interesting. From looking at the picture of the back, it appears that it only wants 1 sata power cable to power both drives. Pretty nifty if it works. Thanks for sharing.

    I think since I already have a Voyager Q on order, I might try using that and seeing if it will actually boot from the ASM1061 card. Then if all goes well I can find a nifty little eSATA enclosure as a more permanent home.

    The biggest thing though is it looks like I'm going to leave the internals of my MP alone. I think if I wanted to do the power cable routing and install the DX4 sled and all that, it would still work fine and everything would be inside the case nice and neat. But, if I can get an external boot SSD to work, I think I'll be really happy since it should still perform worlds faster than the RAID1 WD Green drives that it's booting from now (software raid).

  10. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    The DX4 comes with a SATA power cable that provides 4 SATA power connectors from a motherboard connection. I just installed one.
  11. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    That's really interesting. I wonder if the spot on the motherboard is free on my computer. I don't think I've plugged anything into my motherboard except for the spare SATA data connector (ODD lower bay).

    Could you tell me approx. whereabouts on the motherboard that spot was?

  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Yes, it does use the single power connector for both drives.

    But that's not the problem. You still need to get power to that enclosure, and it doesn't come with a PSU. Rather they expect the user to get power from a supply they have, and it's likely tapped into one of the internal PSU SATA power connectors. And in many instances, this is fine.

    In your case however, the point is to keep them external as a means of reducing the load on the MacPro's PSU (or move a couple of the mechanical disks). From your description, it's near it's limits now, even with the drive swaps you've already done.

    Not a bad idea at all. ;)

    Neat installations are really nice, but you've a technical issue that's far more important.

    So it's in your best interest not to try and add any additional load at this point, regardless of how small.

    Consumer Green drives aren't suited to RAID, including software implementations (has to do with the drive's power saving features in its firmware).

    Do to the increased frequency of power cycles, you're increasing the wear on the drives, which is why users have had issues of dead Green drives when installed in a RAID configuration.

    They're great for backups/archival storage where you don't need speed though, so they're by no means worthless crap.

    WD explicitly makes RAID Edition versions of Green drives now (the biggest part was for the money though, as before these existed, users were able to adjust the firmware timings at least when attached to a hardware RAID controller, which made them HIGHLY attractive for low cost mass storage <archival/backup for SAN systems>). Now the more expensive versions have to be used. :rolleyes: Greedy $%@$@%&*^. :mad:
  13. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Ah yes, you're right sorry I got ahead of myself there.

    AY crap. That is bad news. Thanks for alerting me to it though. OY.
  14. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    There is a 4 pin connector at the top left of the motherboard as you look into the MP case. The DX4 cable plugs into that connector & the cable originally plugged into the motherboard goes into the DX4 cable. There are then 4 SATA power connectors that tee off of that.

    this video review explains it pretty well:
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    He's already had problems during startup though (description above indicates HDD startup load is pushing the rail/s *just* under/right at their sustainable limit after swapping 4x 7200rpm disks out for Green units; had intermittent boot problems prior to installing the Greens). BTW, it appears he currently has 12x disks installed internally in the system.

    Given the cost of replacement parts for a MP, the external SSD solution seems the more prudent way to go IMO.
  16. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011

    Thank you for the video, that looks great. I'm tempted once again by the DX4, it looks nice and tidy.


    I have 8 drives currently installed. Bay 1 and 2 are WD 3.0TB green drives in a RAID1. Bays 3, 4, upper, and lower are Seagate 7200 1.5TB in a RAID10. And two more 1.5TB Seagate green drives in a RAID1 off the Sonnet card and installed in the lower ODD bay using the Maxconnect bracket.

    I thought these were a good price Intel 320 series 160GB so I bought two of them. Ideally I'd want to put them in a RAID0 configuration so now I'm off to search for a bootable SATA3.0 card!
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I was under the impression you had 8x drives between both ODD bays, and another 4x in the HDD bays (this is actually possible if you're using 2.5" mechanicals in the ODD bays). :eek:

    Striping them together will increase your sustained throughputs, but it won't improve matters with random access (what OS/applications rely on).

    So YMMV in terms of it increasing performance vs. a single SSD (depends on the specific usage pattern, which is always the case :eek: :p).
  18. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Ah well, I was actually basing my decision on the conclusion to this article.

    I've thought about it and I think I have my bleeding edge solution. If you could double check my work, I'd be much obliged. Here is my plan:

    Install my four 7200rpm drives that are in RAID10 into the native Bays 1-4.

    Install the DX4 sled and attach and power the two Intel 320 SSDs, using the supplied power cable. Then disconnect the stock sata cables for ODD-A and ODD-B and plug the SSDs into those spots on the motherboard. Since these Intel 320s are SATAII anyway, I'll let the MP control them. These will be in a RAID0 and will be the boot drive.

    Install the 4 green drives I have into the upper ODD bay area, all JBOD. Control the 2 seagate SATAII drives with the Sonnet card, using the sata cables I've already run.

    Control the other 2 WD sataIII drives using the cheap ebay controller. But I'd like to get some sort of sata extension cable and plug it into the stock sata cables I unplugged from the motherboard at ODD-A and ODD-B.

    Are the data and power connection points on an SSD the same as for a mechanical hard drive? I'm unsure because this is my first foray into SSD and I'm having a hard time discerning from photos on the web.

    I know, I know it's going to be complicated but I think it will work!
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    If you look at the random access data, it's expressed in IOPS based on benchmark software, not real world performance.

    This is great for servers (IOPS gives a better indication of what it will do when serving multiple users). But for an individual user, it's not a good indicator of what it will do.

    As it happens, real world performance for random access isn't improved with a stripe set vs. a single drive (same drive model), whether it's with mechanical disks or SSD's.

    This is fine.

    I presume by this description you're system is 2006 - 2008, as those are the only systems with ODD_SATA ports on the logic board. 2009/10 models use a backplane cable (data + power) for each ODD bay.

    They will be able to boot OS X, so that's not an issue.

    There's still the power issue I've described in detail though... (too much load for the MP's PSU).

    As per power, I the cables that come with the DX4 should take care of that, though with needing power to the other disks in the ODD bays, you could find yourself short (might need to get another Y splitter of some kind).

    This is also fine.

    I presume this will be used for your backup volume.

    They make them, but you'd be better off to just get longer SATA cables. Also easier to find.


    If I understand you correctly, it will work (every drive has a location it can be placed in, and a SATA port for data signals).

    But you're still trying to run 10x drives from the MP's PSU, which isn't something I'd recommend, as it seems you're pushing it at/very near it's limits already.

    So it comes back to needing to take 2x drives externally to make sure you don't try and pull more power than the MP's PSU can deliver.
  20. Boomhowler macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008

    I have a couple of questions, to see what your preferences are ;)

    The Seagate 1.5TB Green drives in Raid1, why do you have them inside the computer? Couldn't you move those outside in an external cabinet? If you use eSata or Firewire 800 you would still get decent performance out of them, I guess you are using them for backup?

    Also, why do you want to have a Sata3 connection for the boot drive? For using the SSD as a boot drive you would probably not gain so much from going from sata2 to sata3 so you could probably install that Samsung 830-drive even in one of the normal trays of the mac pro.

    And, which speeds are you seeing from the raid 0 and raid 10 drives in read/write performance? What are you using those drive raids for, editing video?
  21. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    Hi, yes you're correct I could have those drives externally and still get good performance. When I put the maxupgrades kit in, I originally just wanted a neater installation. Also, I still can't seem to find a nice 4-bay external enclosure that suits my needs without costing a small fortune.

    I ended up getting a Samsung 830, but I chose to put it into my laptop instead. For the Mac Pro, I got two Intel 320 160GB drives and plan to put them in a RAID0 configuration using the ODD-A and ODD-B connections.

    Once I get it all up and running I'll post some performance results from AJA and Black Magic. Thanks!
  22. Boomhowler macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008
    ah ok, I just bought this for $175 from,

    it's been working great for a friend of mine for at least a year and works fine for me now aswell.

    ok, it's going to be interesting to see if you get any gains from raiding the SSDs . For small files at least, for big ones it's pretty sure that you will get lots of gain :)
  23. JohnHa thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2011
    I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to post my results. I finally got around to doing this upgrade, and it's been really great.

    I bought the DX4 sled and installed it without a hitch.

    I now have 10 drives running internally and all has been fine and stable for the past 2-3 months.

    I'm using the 4 native controllers, as well as the 2 optical bay controllers. Then a Sonnet E4i for the other 4 drives. 8 are spinners and the other 2 are SSDs in a RAID0. Of the 8 spinners, 4 are low power. I reconfigured all of the spinners to be single drives (no more software RAID).

    Thanks to nano for all your help in this endeavor! Really appreciate your time and energy.

  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    :cool: Glad it helped. :)

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