Anyone had success w/ SATA 3 via PCI card?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by xgman, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    I have a 2010 6 core and have tried an ATTO internal SAS SATA 3 card (SAS H608) and a ARECA SATA 3 (1320-8i) internal SAS card. The ATTO card worked to boot a 6gb/s ssd drive but mysteriously would kernel panic on most reboots after which a normal boot could occur. Tech support could not figure out where the problem lay. Apparently the ATTO card has "driver on a chip" to be bootable in the MP. The Arcea card does not have such a "driver on chip" and is not bootable at this time even though they have a normal driver for Mac. I am assuming that if the card does not have on chip native support at this time, the MP will not see anything connected as a boot drive before the OS drivers load.

    I'm not sure if there is another card I should try, but i do NOT need raid functionality. This is for single drive, internal sata 3 capable SSD's and needs to be natively bootable.

    So, has anyone had bootable success in a non raid fashion with "internal" SATA 3 drives of any sort? If so, can you provide the info on the hardware and method you used? (2011 mac pro is starting to sound like the only viable/reliable option)
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    RAID cards and restarts can have problems (the card's firmware may not load = OS loads, but the RAID won't work at best, or not at all if the OS is attached to a bootable card). The solution, is do a shutdown, wait 15 - 20 seconds, then reboot (makes sure everything is clear <i.e. capacitors>, so the firmware will load).

    I can't find much on this model (English anyway, the Areca page I did find was in Mandarin), but I'm under the impression this one may not have the EBC firmware files needed to boot (how ATTO's boot as well in a MP).

    But the 1880 series will boot (still RAID cards, as they've not yet released a non-RAID version).

    Given you don't need RAID functionality, the H608 is really the only solution right now (still).
  3. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    Yeah that seems to be about the size of it. The Arcea card just doesn't have boot support and no matter what I tried it doesn't show up in the list of bootable drives if you hold the opt key down, so it's ATTo or nothing I guess.

    With the slew of new sandforce 2xxx sata 3 superspeed drives coming out in the next couple months, it is pretty apparent that MP owners will not be able to get any faster speeds with them than the sata 2 sandforce 1200 drives, well at least until the 2011 Mac pro's show up and we get real support. I'm jealous of those new macbook pros that already have support for sata 3. guess I'll just wait.
  4. mdgm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 2, 2010
    SATA III SSDs will be faster than SATA II SSDs even when using SATA II. You just won't see the full benefits that you would over SATA III. Why do people wrongly assume that because a SSD is SATA III that you need to be able to use SATA III to see any speed improvement?
  5. nanofrog, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I went back to Areca's Support site, and found a bit more on the 1320-8i, which is just a non-RAID HBA. If you take a look at the data sheet (direct link to the .pdf file), it specifically states no bootable for OS X on page 2 under Operating System (just as their earlier 3.0Gb/s non-RAID HBA's; I realize the sheet only states 3.0Gb/s on it, but there's no specific sheet for the 1320).

    Not true actually, but the only way to do so, is to spend a good chunck of funds on a bootable HBA (6.0Gb/s RAID or non-RAID versions that will boot in an EFI environment).

    That leaves just a few makers for RAID (Areca, ATTO, and maybe LSI - seem to recall that they've finally gotten EFI firmware out for some cards, and Apple's drivers apparently work; LSI still doesn't offer drivers for OS X last I checked a month or so ago), and only ATTO for the non-RAID versions.

    It's more to do with the cost of such cards (not a simple eSATA card for under a $100 here), as the ATTO H608 is $399USD. And it's more for RAID versions (keeping comparisons to 6.0Gb/s).

    For that kind of money, users tend to want to be able to use it for as long as possible. So getting a 6.0Gb/s compliant model makes more sense vs. a cheaper 3.0Gb/s version (some of the older ones do not work well/have limitations in terms of throughputs with SSD's, even drives with 3.0Gb/s controllers). The Areca ARC-1210 is such an example (you can run SSD's on it, but you you'll hit the wall througput wise on 2x disks (i.e. pair of Intel X25-M @ 80GB). But it's also an old design (based on an Intel IOP 332/3 IIRC), and had cheaply (under $300USD last I checked).
  6. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    It's not an assumption. I have actually tested a Corsair sata 3 drive (marvell controller) in the 2010 MP on stat 3 card by ATTO and on internal sata 2 connectors and found that my vertex 2 was almost twice as fast on writes speed than the SATA 3 drive on sata 2 connector. The drive was about on par write speed wise when using the ATTO sata 3 card connector but then read speeds were much higher.

    I also read some Vertex 3 (sandforce 2xxx controller) reviews where the reviewer stated that in some instance the vertex 3 drives was slower than the vertex 2 (sandforce 1200 controller) on sata 2 connectors and about the same speeds on other tests. However, an OCZ rep told me that he thought that on the vertex 3's, even on sata 2 it should be faster, but I'm not sure how much testing on sata 2 they have actually done. The sata 3 drives are probably primarily optimized for sata 3 performance, not sata 2.
  7. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007

    Areca says that they are working ion an EFI solution on the 608. I'm not convinced. And then this summer, I wouldn't expect quick delivery on Lion drivers. The ATTO solution on having to shut down for 10 seconds or whatever would be ok if it were not for the many times the OS forces you to "reboot" to install updates, run maintenance etc. And you are right about the cost. Although I was able to get the 608 card for $250 which isn't so bad if it worked and booted for a non raid card. The truth is that the vertex 2 single drive gave a very nice boost to my system and it starts to be a matter of speed greed when you see the 500/500 top specs of some of these new SSD's. Realistically waiting for the next MP is probably the most sensible and solution.
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'm a bit lost here, as Areca doesn't make the H608 (that's ATTO).

    So do you mean you can't find the EFI firmware for the ATTO H608 or that Areca is working on EFI (EBC actually) for the 1320-8i?

    As it happens, ATTO does have EFI files you can download from their site (located in the DOS/BIOS Driver file <direct download, but it you may need to login first>, which is the last link on the download page for the H608). The EFI files are located in it, but you will need Windows to do it (or DOS when you run makedisk.exe), and I don't recall if this will actually work on a Mac Pro as I tend to just use a PC to avoid problems (which I'm accustomed to having available to me). So you may need to use a PC running Windows to do it (Command Prompt in Windows, or DOS will work too).

    From the Readme file within the download from ATTO:
    If Areca really is working on EBC firmware for the 13xx series of non-RAID HBA's, that's really good news. :D

    BTW, Areca actually has an advantage with uploading new firmware to their cards in a MP, as it's done via a web browser which is truly OS agnostic. :)
    I doubt they'll take all that long, if they're needed, as they won't be starting from the ground up (existing drivers may work fine). But they do make sure they work before they release them (Areca too), as their business depends on reliability.
    This isn't with just ATTO, but is extremely common with all RAID cards (sleep issues typically as well, so it's a good idea to disable sleep operations - otherwise, it usually causes the card's firmware to be lost, and means a full reboot to get it running again).
    Really great price. Where'd you find it for that?
    Speed greed is a trap that's hard to resist... (I know, as I'm a fellow addict). :p

    On a serious note though, it's the random access speeds that you're noticing, and I'm yet uncertain as to how much this will improve with SATA III. Particularly given what's going on with the firmware revision that was on samples of Intel's Postville drives to reviewers. Granted, they made specific choices of reliability over speed, but the upcoming Sandforce based disks may not be that much faster for random access either (I like to wait for actual product releases myself).
  9. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I figured as much, but wanted to be sure. Good to hear they're working on EFI firmware though.

    By chance did they give any estimate as to when to expect it's release?

    And if they didn't/it will be some time, do you still have the H608 on-hand (does have EFI firmware already)?

    Not sure what you're getting at here, as the 1320-8i isn't a RAID card (it's a non-RAID HBA). So I'm a bit :confused: as to why you posted this. :p

    A RAID card should be able to use a Pass Through for a single disk in RAID mode (I've done this with Areca's RAID cards before for OS disks <1680, and 12xx series SAS and SATA models>; though most of the time, an OS is kept on an array, such as a RAID 1 in a server, and data has it's own array/s; same card or multiple cards). JBOD can pose problems, as you cannot run a RAID and JBOD at the same time (must select one or the other).

    I know who to go to for discounts now. ;) :D :p

    The PC aspect isn't an issue to me, but the early firmware is (potential that final release firmware will generate faster results, as early firmware is designed more for operational reliability in mind than speed).
  11. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007

    I would think ATTO should have the most potential in this arena, but I can not get past the issue of not being able to simply reboot without a kernel panic, not withstanding the shutdown workaround, they don't even seem aware of this. Do you think this will ever be fixed somehow?
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    As I mentioned earlier, you'll run into this with most any card. Areca's RAID cards for sure (I have the same issue; must use a full Shut-Down, then Restart <cold boot>, as the card's firmware won't load if I just select Reboot).

    What you have to keep in mind, is that these cards are meant primarily for Servers (they stay on and running 24/7, so don't get rebooted often). Updates are done on a single system (test bed), then cloned to the active Servers during the night (has to be scheduled around other nightly processes, such as reports and backups).

    So this is with any OS on pretty much any system (really common problem, an not likely to solve it via another brand), as it's before the OS ever loads (happens with both BIOS and EFI based systems).

    On occasion, Restart does work. But it's not common, and is easily broken by system firmware updates, card firmware updates, or even OS updates (why updates are tested first in an enterprise environment before done on their live equipment).

    All this said, go ahead and submit a bug report. If they get enough reports, and there is a way to fix it, they'll do it (reports get attention based on the report statistics; that is, most common/severe problems will be addressed first).

    But as there's a work-around, it's not untennable to use it (even though software updates are a PITA as a result).
  13. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    Since many 3rd party app updates, and I think even the Apple ones only will load the actual update process if you press their "restart" interface button, does the resulting "kernel panic" prior to a hard power off at that point damage anything? I suppose if it didn't hurt anything, I could maybe get used to that workaround.
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Generally speaking, there's no damage (there is a small percentage that something can go wrong, such as write failing due to a bad sector, but that's the case with a single disk too).

    Restarts are done to load the re-launch the OS/Applications with the new updated code (OS's are designed to complete any writes in the queue during the shutdown cycle to eliminate a failed write due to premature shutdown <unless you yank the power cord out of the wall or are not running a UPS, and have a power failure>).
  15. xgman thread starter macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    Well I pre-ordered my Vertex 3. Hopefully at some point there will be a better sata 3 solution to run it on.
  16. funkahdafi macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World

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