Apple RAID card - need answer!

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Bass108, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. Bass108 macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    hey. i have a raid card coming with my new mac that I am waiting on (2-3 weeks). i just wanted to make sure that what I am wanting to do with my system is right as I have never used RAID before.

    so I'm an audio guy who was going to have a Raptor program drive, two 1TB SATA-300 drives in RAID 1 (internal) for audio-projects, and two 320GB SATA-300 in RAID 0 for samples (in an external dual bay).

    my question is if the raid card will utilize my four SATA drives and work with my external dual-bay drives. I am confused as to if I can only utilize my card for internal drives. someone also suggested that the card was only for SAS drives. and what is this about iPass that i keep hearing about????

    I was thinking that a raid card is just there to optimize the RAID config...not sure if you have to have the drives connected to it or what...

    it would be upsetting if I can't do external SATA drives, and if this is the case and would change my order.

    please reassure me!
  2. newtech macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
    The RAID card Physically takes place of the mother board controller for the internal drives. It supports both SATA and SAS drives or even allegedly a mix.

    Think of the RAID card as an SAS/SATA controller card with hardware RAID features and battery backed cache.

    The iPass connector is what the internal drives harness connects to. normally the internal drives connect to the iPass on the mother board. with the RAID card the internal drive harness connects to an iPass on the card. In theory with the raid card installed the mother board iPass could be tapped and used for additional external drives much like the two additional internal SATA connectors.
  3. mrcandy macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    It will likely do want you want, but will take some effort to setup.

    RAID cards require the drives to be directly connected to them. For their RAID card the Apple store says:

    "System Requirements

    Mac Pro with the top PCI Express slot (slot 4) open
    Two or more internal SATA or SAS hard drives
    Mac OS X v10.5 or Mac OS X Server v10.5 or later"

    I would guess that the card comes with 4 ports and that the installation instructions tell you to install the card in slot 4 and then move the 4 SATA cables which are currently terminated on the motherboard to the RAID card. The above note says to use slot 4 since I assume it is closest to the existing cables.

    To achieve the configuration you described, you would want to move only two of the four cables, the two going to the two drives you want to setup in RAID 1. The other two would remain as is, one for the Raptor and one unused.

    You would then need an adapter card (or two) to get the two remaining ports on the RAID card out one (or two) of the PCI slots, so that you can connect them to your external RAID 0 drives.
  4. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    adapter card? could you point me in the right direction?

    i was looking at using this for the external drives

    so if it has to be connected then the ports are on the inside for the raid card but are on the outside for the SATA card...sooo basically i am confused as to how to do this...
  5. mrcandy macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    Ahh - didn't know about the iPass arrangement. I guess OP can still do what he wants, but where I discussed 4 cables he will have one with this iPass connector. He will then need to split the harness to get two drive end cables to the internal bays and two out the PCI slot via adapter.
  6. mrcandy macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    No, those are RAID cards.

    What I meant was one of these (dual so only one slot used), or one of these (single so would need two and use two PCI slots for two external drives)
  7. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    sorry it is really hard to know what i am doing since i can't look at the machine...but if someone could tell me that i am for sure ok with my arrangement and it is simply just moving cables around then I will keep my order knowing that I am ok. I just need reassurance in what I am doing and that I can do it. I don't understand how the eSATA card will work if I am plugging these drives into the outside part of the eSATA then can the card attach to the RAID card...or what I am missing? Because that is what I need to use the raid for...

    ...or is is with the ipass i just connect it to the raid card and then everything is smooth sailing. wouldn't apple do this for me for my bto mac pro? my concern with this is that i want my externals connected to the raid card.

    so if there is this ipass then there are no ports then? it only works with the 4 internal drives?

    thank you very much!
  8. newtech macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
    With the RAID card a Mac pro can potentially run 10 drives. 4 SAS/SATA drives on the internal harness connected to the raid card. 4 SATA ( only ) drives connected to an iPass cable connected to the mother board. And two SATA ( only ) drives connected to the ODD SATA connectors.

    The OP's RAID drives should all go in the internal drive slots connecting to the raid card. The system drive could connect via the ODD SATA ports or via the motherboard iPass port and could be shoehorned in internally ( second ODD slot would work ) or cabled to be external. Or the system drive could be an external firewire or USB 2 drive.
  9. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    #9 this card is another raid controller for just external drives?

    so then there is no point in using the apple raid card for this setup...unless i wanted to go with just internal to external...ok.

    so how would that config work then? where do the plugs from the card go to once they are inside the computer to get to the raid card.

    i am thinking about just canceling the card now...and ditching the raid 1 setup...i wanted to have a raid card...and could still go for too, and maybe the apple card would be so much better to try to make it is 700 bucks more...but i am sure it adds a lot more heat and i don't plan on trying SAS drives just yet.
  10. Rick Here macrumors member

    Oct 9, 2007
    I read that Apple only supports SAS or SATA on the RAID card. Not both at the same time. It is one or the other. Has anyone figured out what engine is on this card? Who makes a SAS / SATA RAID card?
  11. mrcandy macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    Bass108, if you wanted four internal drives connected to the RAID card, then it would be 'smooth sailing'. You would install the card, move the iPass connector and be done. This is what Apple would ship if you ordered the BTO option.

    The complication lies in the fact you want two drives internal and two drives external on the RAID card. I think it can be done, but it's going to mean moving cables around that Apple never really intended to be moved. If you are not familiar with hardware and generally messing around with the internals of your computer, you may want to re-consider.

    Another option would be to do the simple install outlined above and use the four internal bays for your four RAID drives. Then install your OSX drive in the second optical bay and connect it to one of the two spare internal SATA ports. This would still require some extra cables and work, but it would be much easier than trying to split the RAID harness cable. The pro is no more external box, the con is no more second optical bay.
  12. newtech macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
  13. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    alright. i would just leave the mother board ipass alone.

    connect the two internal drives (raid 1) to the card

    ***this is also where I am confused because i thought the mac pro was i am confused how i can connect drives to the raid card***

    and then i can also cable from the eSATA card to the raid card...

    so thats 4 extra cables that i wouldn't need if i didn't use raid/RAID.

    is it worth it to do all this?

    should I
    1) get rid of the apple card, and just go with the firmtek (i would like to have a good raid card if i am going to do it right - and plus SAS might be possible later - but i lose out on my raid 1 config)
    2) get rid of the firmtek and go with apple all the way
    3) use both (risk more heat right, money, and it is probably overkill)

    what would you guys do?
  14. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    see i don't want 5 drives in my computer as it seems like too much heat.

    would rather it be more quiet.

    i have built a computer before so I am not that scared...but is more complicated and i like the idea of apple doing it over me. heh
  15. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    oh...can i connect a drive to the raid card and not use raid on it?? like for the program drive?

    or no go?

    like say i use the ipass and but don't want to bother connecting the program to the odd SATA port.
  16. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    and another i take it is no problem to do say a RAID 0 and a RAID 1 on the same card?

    thats not a problem is it?

    i guess i could just do a software raid 1 and take out the apple card...but then i get no battery time so it is kind of pointless if I was going for that option. would i still get enhanced read performance with a software 1 raid?
  17. newtech macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
    The Mac Pro is designed to hold up to six drives ( normally 2 ODD + 4 HDD ) so heat is not really an issue.

    The RAID card can handle RAID 0+1 but would need all four drives to do it for a single volume ( RAID 0 striping two drives RAID 1 mirroring two additional drives to accomplish )
  18. mrcandy macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    OK, let's try this configuration:

    Install RAID card per Apples instructions (Warning: 43 MB file)
    Connect the four drives to be used in RAID to the internal bays. I believe Apples RAID card will allow you to do two in RAID 0 and two in RAID 1.

    Buy the iPass to 4 SATA cable found by newtech (great find BTW) and connect to the motherboard. Connect two of the 4 SATA cables to the adapter I suggested here. Move your OSX drive to the external case and connect with an eSATA cable.
  19. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    well the drives are for audio and samples and they have different purposes...and that makes more sense that a card can only have one raid function. i just didn't know better. i wouldn't want all the data to be put together...would make backups that much more of nightmare.

    so all apple is out.

    i could either
    ~go with firmtek - lose raid 1 or do a software raid (any point?)
    ~stay with apple and go internally - lose raid 1
    ~stay with apple and go externally - lose raid 1 but could do software raid

    i want this machine to be silent and having more drives and heat might just push that fan up a notch or too and i don't want that. so i would like to limit the amount of drives i put in there.
  20. mrcandy macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    Calgary, AB Canada
    Per original post bass108 wanted two volumes, one configured as RAID 0 and one configured as RAID 1. The two pairs of drives are different sizes (320GB and 1 TB), so a RAID 0+1 won't work.
  21. newtech macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2007
    My mistake, I read it as wanting RAID 0+1 rather than a pair RAID 0 and a pair RAID 1.
  22. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    alright so i am thinking to go with the firmtek.

    i see two options (ha i keep doing this)
    ~firmtek card - possible raid 1 config - only have 3 drives in computer - if not 2
    ~apple card - no raid 1 - have 4 drives in computer (this kind of sucks because i like the idea of having a drive slot open for easy access)

    should a do a software raid 1? do i still get enhanced read times? that is the primary purpose.

    or is the apple card worth it?

    and again I can't connect non raid drives to the card correct?
  23. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    apple says this

    "The Mac Pro RAID Card supports the creation of multiple RAID sets in a system and multiple volumes per RAID set."

    but is also says this

    "For optimal disk utilization in a RAID set, all hard drives should be the same size."

    so i'm not sure if i can do raid 0 and raid 1. - if i could...i guess i could consider using the apple card for everything and just having everything wired funny. i don't want cables in my supposed to be cableless mac!

    but i still want to know about software raid and if it is possible to connect non raid drives to a raid drive through ipass.
  24. Bass108 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 20, 2007
    ok forget all that. i think i have a got a plan.

    no external - atleast not now.

    all internal drives
    ~1 program drive
    ~2 sample drives (raid 1) - w/apple card
    ~1 audio drive

    now my only uncertainty lies in how I will connect the sample drives to the raid card. so i get that these drives slide in and out with no cables. so if i wanted to cable a SATA drive to the RAID card then how does this work? and again i take it that i can't just setup the ipass on the card with nonraid drives connected.

    i would understand this better if i had a computer to look at sorry.
  25. kittiyut macrumors regular


    Oct 28, 2007
    Hey Newtech: I ordered my Mac with the RAID card option and plan to attach
    4 1TB drives to it. My question is, since the drives are connected to the RAID
    card, will that leave SATA connections on the motherboard for me to use the
    above eSATA extended cable (the first link you posted) so that I can connect
    my external SATA drives? Thanks!:rolleyes:

    PS. BTW what does ODD stand for? Optical Disk Drive?

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