Advice About RAID Setup MacPro 2009

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by BigSteveLittle, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. BigSteveLittle macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2013
    Hi Having trouble finding this info so thought I would post some of the forums -

    I'm after advice on 3 things regarding the setup of my 2009 Mac Pro -

    1/ When I bought my secondhand 2009 Mac Pro the Apple RAID card battery was dead and I was wondering if because I'm using RAID 0 would I be better off using the RAID software as I am running out of PCIe ports and feel that a future Black Magic card my be of more benefit?. Is there a significant speed difference between the hardware & software RAIDS or is Hardware really for Raid 5 or 10? I have also heard of issues with the Apple RAID card relating to having to run your computer 24/7.
    2/ I have decided to invest in a PCIe SSD card to be my boot disc (I had such a massive boost in speed when I installed a new SSD in my 2008 Mac Book Pro and a PCIe version could be even faster). This will free up one of the 4 1TB hard drives. So I was wondering (taking into account that to be employment ready I want to run AVID/FCX & PremPro) what should my RAID setup be. I have always gone with RAID 0 for speed (as long as it's properly backed up) but I'm open to suggestions.

    1TB Scratch Disc + 3TB RAID 0 Data Disc
    2TB RAID 0 Scratch Disc + 2TB RAID 0 Data Disc
    3TB RAID 0 Scratch Disc + 1TB Data Disc [Although I already have just over 1TB of data, so maybe not this option]

    3/ I have heard some people talk about using partitioning as a way to ensuring that the fastest part of the disc is utilised. Is there any truth to this? And if so any advice?

    Thanks folks!

    Mac Pro Details [Early 2009]
    2 x 2.26 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    32 GB 1066 MHz DDR3
    ATI Radeon HD a870 512 MB [Slot 1]
    Apple 2 Port 4Gbps Fibre Channel Card [Slot 2] (which I'm thinking of getting rid of for the SSD)
    2 x USB 3.0 + 2 x eSata inputs [Slot3] (on order from OWC)
    Apple RAID Card [Slot 4] (dead battery, I would be better off with a Black Magic card maybe)
    4 x 1TB 7200rpm Hard Discs being 1 x WDC WD10EALX-009BA0 (my current boot disc) + 3 x WDC WD1001FALS-41K1B0 (currently in RAID 0, no separate scratch disc)
    I have 3 x one hourly archival backups (via Carbon Copy Cloner) of each Disc with one of them stored off site and rotated once a month. That's 6 backups all together at the moment.

    What I use it for
    Sports photography editing and processing – [Lightroom & Photoshop]
    Video editing – [Like I said to be employment ready I try to use all of the big 3 AVID, FCX & PremPro. Also Motion & After Effects]
    Graphic Design – [Photoshop, Illustrator & Indesign]
    Web Design – [Most of the above plus Dreamweaver & Fireworks]
    Audio – [ProTools]
  2. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    The Apple RAID card is useless if you're not using RAID 5. The software RAID 0 will be the same with or without the card.

    The Apple RAID battery conditions itself once every three months, if I recall correctly when I had one in mine. Not necessary to leave machine on 24/7, but if you fire it up when it's due to recondition, the cache goes offline for the 16-18 hours or so that it takes to recondition... not a big deal in my opinion. I kept working while it was conditioning, but I also had backups in place as well as a very nice pair of UPS units, one for Mac and another for monitors and peripheral drives. (I still run two UPS units from APC, and together I can run over 45 minutes with no power to the house.)

    I have three of those 1TB Apple/Hitachi HDDs, and in a 3-disk RAID 0, you'll see sustained throughput of ~330MB/second read and write. With 2-disk RAID 0, that goes down to ~215MB/second. I've used both 2 and 3 disk RAID 0 volumes for my scratch/preview data using Adobe Premiere, and it's been fine for that... 3 is better, of course.

    However, since I began editing huge feature-length projects shot on DSLR, I found it necessary to upgrade both my RAM and RAID volumes, hence 32GB of RAM and an external 8-bay RAID tower with an Areca RAID card. I have it configured for RAID 6, allowing *any* two of the 8 disks to fail without loss of data, while getting 714MB/sec reads, 816MB/sec writes. If you edit DSLR footage, you may find editing native clips a problem, which you can always solve by transcoding to ProRes or something else. I like to edit native footage, so I went nuts. I also needed a ton of space, and my RAID 6 is 12TB of data volume out of the 8x2TB HDDs.
  3. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    You can partition RAID0 and RAID1 volumes on the Apple RAID card. This is not possible using software RAID, you're limited to one partition per RAID volume (I know there are terminal hacks to get around that, but they come with their own set of nasty caveats).

    Takes about 7 hours over here, 16-18 hours sounds excessively long. With the newer cards you can force-enable the RAID cache during the battery conditioning, though Apple themselves warns you that if you do so you really should have a UPS (otherwise, if the power fails you could lose whatever data was in the RAID cache, corrupting your filesystem). I typically land up doing this whenever my card decides it's time to condition itself, but then again I'm sitting on an APC 1500VA Smart-UPS.

  4. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    Ah, never bothered with partitions, so that's good info.

    Yeah, I really didn't recall how long the conditioning took, but now that you say that, 7 hours does sound more familiar. I just recall it blew most of a day. :p

    I have the SUA1500 for the Mac and RAID boxes, and a smaller BackUPS RS 1500 LCD for my monitors and other peripherals. Together, they both run down at the same rate when unplugged (for testing) for about 45 minutes before I reach one bar left on both. I can't recommend good UPSs enough!

    I've even got a BBU (battery backup) on my Areca RAID card, just in case in case, in case. :)
  5. DJenkins macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Not sure on your budget but there are a few things I might do differently. Just my opinion but it can't hurt to throw ideas out there!

    Definitely take that fibre channel card out if you're not using it

    Ditch the PCIe SSD system disk. They are amazing but I think you could use the versatility of extra PCI slot space. I think there is greater benefit to having data protection from a RAID 5 capable card than just having programs load up screaming fast. Your renders also won't go up much faster if at all, you're still going to be limited by processor speed there, and media playback will be dictated by HDD raid setup.

    So go for 2 x SSD, one for system disk and another for scratch. Place both of these in your optical drive bays. Not sure how much media you plan to keep on your scratch disk though but surely under 250-500GB? You will get ~250MB/s from each of these which is still quite good.

    Ditch the Apple card and get an Atto R348 (second hand) or newer R648. You can use your existing drive bays but with reversable sleds, which enable you to connect drives into the Atto card internally. Then your 4 x HDDs can be in RAID 5. This will easily get you 300+ MB/s with 1 disk failure safety. If you don't want to get the reversable sleds you could probably stick with the Apple RAID card but they don't perform as well and many people are annoyed at the battery reconditioning as you have read.

    Slot 1 - Radeon GPU
    Slot 2 - Raid Card
    Slot 3 - Blackmagic card
    Slot 4 - USB 3 card

    So this way you have a good mix of everything.

    If you really want the PCIe SSD you can ditch the RAID card altogether and go software RAID 0 on all four HDDs which will still give you good speed. You will just need to stick with your strict backups and accept any downtime if a disk fails. I'd still go with an SSD scratch/cache drive in the optical bay though.

    Hope this helps, let us know what you go with!
  6. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Speed depends if you are using all of the 8 cores or not. The RAID card leads to slightly lower x86 core processing overhead.

    The Apple RAID card likely will be discontinued with the next Mac Pro. It is a dead-end piece of hardware I wouldn't sink lots of money into. What folks formerly leveraged the RAID card before is more often done with SSD drives now. I doubt Apple is going to track either SAS drives or this card RAID for future products.

    RAID 10 can be done in software also. If willing to take software 0 or 1 overhead x86 cores then 10 isn't much different.

    Depending upon how much parallelism doing on box even 5 can be done on machine. That would be typically be in a file server context though.

    A PCIe SSD as a boot drive is largely not the best bang for the buck. A scratch drive perhaps but unless the boot drive is extremely unwieldy in bulk vs. app layout the speed difference likely be only interesting for artificial benchmark bragging rights.

    If end up with need for RAID card connection to an external drives then that is likely more cost effective. You can either bump an HDD (or two ) out to the external box and use internal drive bays for an SSD. Or boot with an external drive.

    A PCI-e SSD for scratch space (if scratch is that small so card doesn't prohibitively expensive) yes. For mainstream booting issues not really.

    This largely is an issue of how big does your scratch space need to be.
    A scratch space larger than the data space would be extremely odd.

    If the scratch size is in the 500GB range then the PCI-e card and a SSD in in the fomer SSD bay would probably work for configuration 1.

    For configuration 2 if drifting to inside+outside then are issues.

    Short stroking HDD is increasingly not cost effective. What folks have done in the past is partition and do not use a fraction of the hard drive. (e.g. throw 1/4 of it "away" ) and just "short stroke" the HDDs. The problem is that basically increases the effective $/GB of the drive. Push that price high enough and a SSD is just as cost effective. Even if the pricing doesn't get to even the SSD's average access times are so much lower than spending the extra money is has value (the access times are much more regular/even and quicker )

    HDDs have far more traction when capacity, and also $/GB , is the dominating factor over speed.

    Nudging one of 4 DIMM slots up to 4x8GB would offset some of the software RAID as more will be cached. Likewise, if spilling out of RAM and that's why need 2TB scratch spaces, more RAM is a better fix.

    4870 ? If heavily tracking Premiere Pro and FCPX then another card will bring more performance. Another both OpenCL and CUDA capable. This will do for now primarily just learning apps. But trading that off versus a PCI-e SSD with large capacity is an open question.

    Is this the card to no where? :) A SSD won't talk to the outside world. If there are Terabytes of data out there in outside world, then that isn't a even trade-off. If want to go from SAN (storage area network) to DAS (direct attached storage ) then a RAID card with external connectors to an external multibay drive bay box is likely more appropriate. You can insert an SSD inside of one of those if need some fraction of that to be on SSDs.

    So far most PCI-e SSD cards are really just RAID cards to multiple SSDs. they shed the containers the SSD reside in most cases but if just go to RAID card plus SSDs you'll get the same kind of performance.

    Not so sure combo cards USB 3.0 + eSATA are best long term driver stability play. Presuming this is just eSATA to slow back-up drives and not the substitution for Fiber Channel.

    I don't see photography driving those huge multi-TB scratch spaces.

    For learning or doing arbitrary large size projects on contract ?
  7. BigSteveLittle thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 8, 2013

    Sorry guys been really sick with the flu.

    So much great advice - thank you!

    A few clarifications to start with -

    I will be editing HD video off a Canon but not feature length. They will be sports reports for a football club (Rugby League) ranging in length from 3min to 10 min but I could be doing between 20 and 30 of them this year on a weekly or fortnightly basis. In the future who knows, but I'm sure something longer is on the horizon. I too like the idea of editing "native" but assuming the amount of compression involved in DSLR video I did not think requirements would be too high? [may have to review that].

    LOL I just have not used it so far and it's taking up a PCI slot. I may use it in the future so I will hang on to it. Certainly once my data drives are at capacity I will be looking at some type of external storage.

    So too summarise (let me know if I've misinterpreted anything) -

    I should probably ditch the Apple RAID card and use software RAID 0 or consider another RAID card configuration using RAID 5.

    A PCIe SSD would be better utilised as a scratch disc rather than a boot disc and I may get good enough performance from a Crucial M4 256GB SSD installed in the optical drive rather than the PCI (or even 2 SSDs in RADID 0 in the optical?). I could also still add another SSD as a boot drive replacing the 1TB WD I currently use all for about the same as the PCIe.

    Possibly I should be upgrading the video card as a priority.

    Partitioning is not particularly effective these days especially compared to the performance of SSDs right out of the box.

    You have all been so forth coming with advice but I have a final question -

    What is a scratch disc actually used for in regards software that allows you to specify a scratch disc (Photoshop, Premiere Pro) and software that does not? I HAD thought that a scratch disc was for loading new files and the files you are currently working on, however the documentation on photoshop seems to indicate that a scratch disc is purely for rendering.

    I'm normally not challenged by stuff like this but I must admit to being a little confused.


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