Apple's New Fusion Drive Works on Older Macs

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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One of the interesting additions to Apple's iMac and Mac mini lines announced last week is Fusion Drive, a hybrid storage system that combines a 128 GB solid-state drive (SSD) with a 1 TB or 3 TB traditional hard drive into a single volume to offer the best of both worlds in terms of performance and storage space. Apple's software automatically manages the combined volume, placing the core system and other frequently used applications and files on the solid-state drive for faster access while keeping lower-priority applications and data on the traditional hard drive.

Mac developer Patrick Stein has been toying with his own Mac Pro setup and has managed to build his own Fusion Drive using command line tools. Stein configured an internal solid-state drive and a USB-attached traditional hard drive on his system and was able to combine them into a single logical volume as used for Fusion Drive.
Attached are a 120GB SSD (disk1) and a 750GB HDD (disk7) to my Mac. I attached the SSD via SATA to be sure that the system could figure out that it's a SSD via SMART. The HDD is attached via USB. USB I chose to clearly see a difference in speed.
Stein then proceeded to test the setup, writing data first to the SSD and then to the traditional hard drive once the SSD had filled up. By preferentially accessing data that had initially been written to the traditional hard drive, Stein was able to watch as the data was automatically transferred to the SSD for faster access. Upon stopping the process, the system automatically pushed the data back to the traditional hard drive, and in one final step Stein began accessing the data once more and after about an hour was able to see it pulled back onto the SSD.

In several follow-up Tumblr posts, Stein details further explorations into how Fusion Drive works, noting that he was able to use not only the default HFS+ file system for OS X with it, but also ZFS. All of Stein's work was performed with a standard installation of OS X 10.8.2.

Article Link: Apple's New Fusion Drive Works on Older Macs
 

lifeinhd

macrumors 65816
Mar 26, 2008
1,389
7
127.0.0.1
Now I'm kinda wishing I'd gone for a thick MBP instead of my rMBP and swapped out the ODD :eek: The second of my two biggest complaints is about the meager storage.

Still, can't complain about the gorgeous display :D
 

macnerd93

macrumors 6502a
Nov 28, 2009
678
96
United Kingdom
Now another reason I'm glad I didn't get the substantially worse new iMac and opted for the 2011 gen last Wednesday :)

The process will most likely get simplier, perhaps even an app made what automates the process of making the fusion drive. Then i'd just get a Thunderbolt SSD and stick with my 500GB Internally. I know it says only SATA for now, but you never know whats possible in time.

I would gladly open my iMac and fit an SSD, but I bought Apple care with it since I got it at a 60% discount, I don't really don't wanna void it if it can be helped xD. Still, at least I can upgrade the ram to 32GB unlike the new 21.5''. Only gonna cost me 110 quid for that amount of ram. :)
 
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Redbeard25

macrumors regular
Oct 4, 2003
146
6
Okay... now I want to do this with an internal SSD and a Drobo, so my spinning drives can all fail over time. :)
 

WestonHarvey1

macrumors 68020
Jan 9, 2007
2,454
1,222
Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
 

milbournosphere

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2009
857
1
San Diego, CA
This is really cool. He makes a good point about HFS+, though. Looking forward to seeing some solid testing numbers down the road to see if the smart caching in the Fusion drive matches up (or beats) to the caching built into firmware of similar 'hybrid' drives available from WD and others. I might just have to look into throwing something like this together in my Mac Pro.
 

JuBe

macrumors member
May 28, 2009
99
25
Am I thinking of something else or is ZFS that sexy format that could handle the theoretical data limit of the universe, right?
 

IJ Reilly

macrumors P6
Jul 16, 2002
17,889
1,478
Palookaville
Is this a stable setup? The article is very technical and doesn't really say if a non-techie could make it work safely. I notice he isn't providing any script to automate the setup process.

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Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
This too.
 

reallynotnick

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2005
905
358
Might be time to remove the DVD drive in my MBP and install an SSD. I didn't want to have to deal with split drives and this would be amazing if it worked.
 

blybug

macrumors 6502a
Aug 11, 2003
521
0
Galveston, TX
Just installed this upgrade on my 2010 MBP 2 weeks ago. When Apple announced the Fusion drive I wondered if the current OS X 10.8.2 would recognize and use the hybrid drive in this way, or if Seagate has baked something into this line.

Actually I partitioned the hybrid into 250 for the OS and 500 which I then RAID-1'ed with the existing internal drive. So I don't really know what's going on in there. Everything is definitely faster but also did a clean install of ML so who knows.
 

phoenixsan

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2012
1,342
2
Good news!

Because initially I thought the Fusion drive was managed/enabled via a software implementation. Later, I heard things making me rethink and see it as a hardware enabled option. Indeed, good news! Hope the software tools mentioned can be published/public:):apple:
 

Limboistik

macrumors regular
Aug 11, 2011
192
5
AFAIK Mountain Lion has built in handling instructions for Fusion drive.
But, on the hardware side, doesn't it require a custom controller?
 

ALR26

macrumors newbie
Aug 31, 2011
29
2
So he has an internal SSD and an external HDD with a single drive letter, what makes that a "fusion" drive? Nothing! There's no proof this is what Apple calls Fusion Drive technology. The article is a fail.

P.S. There's Windows software out there that will combine various drives into a single "hybrid" volume. Does that mean that's "fusion" drive software? I think not.
 

sno1man

macrumors regular
Oct 24, 2011
230
6
Is this a stable setup? The article is very technical and doesn't really say if a non-techie could make it work safely. I notice he isn't providing any script to automate the setup process.

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This too.
Probably not totally stable yet, but well on it's way. Kudos for him both for having the skills and making the effort.

This reminds me of the original CCcloner. The first few iterations had teething issues and broke for every new hardware configuration or OS update. My point being that we will likely see a user friendly utility out of this in a few months

Very cool regardless
 

hayduke

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2005
1,177
2
is a state of mind.
So he has an internal SSD and an external HDD with a single drive letter, what makes that a "fusion" drive? Nothing! There's no proof this is what Apple calls Fusion Drive technology. The article is a fail.

P.S. There's Windows software out there that will combine various drives into a single "hybrid" volume. Does that mean that's "fusion" drive software? I think not.
Respectfully disagree. The article explains that the file swapping is working in "fusion" mode, which is really what makes it a fusion drive in the first place.

Regardless, my guess is Apple blocks this option in an update.
 

Kev.LoveMac

macrumors member
Oct 31, 2012
48
0
What if there is a thunderbolt SSD with a USB HDD

Great to know how it works! I would like to know if an alternative solution could also work. With a thunderbolt SSD (tSSD) and a USB HDD (uHDD), one installs the whole OS X 10.8.2 on the tSSD and only mounts the uHDD. How the performance looks like?
 

vthree

macrumors member
Sep 23, 2009
71
28
I can't wait til there's some easy instructions to get this up and running --- maybe something like trim enabler... I'm currently running vtx3 120gb + 1tb in my mid 2011 iMac!
 

sransari

macrumors 6502
Feb 11, 2005
361
129
Really awesome. Had this question about "fusing" two internal drives together on my Mac Pro when I first heard of the fusion drive. I would love to see some software with a nice UI for n00bz like me that lets you define the drives you want to fuse and the behavior for how to move files from one drive to the other.
 

oYx

macrumors regular
Sep 2, 2007
191
3
London
So he has an internal SSD and an external HDD with a single drive letter, what makes that a "fusion" drive? Nothing! There's no proof this is what Apple calls Fusion Drive technology. The article is a fail.

P.S. There's Windows software out there that will combine various drives into a single "hybrid" volume. Does that mean that's "fusion" drive software? I think not.
It appears to work like how Schiller describes Fusion Drive though. Apple's marketing is a force to be reckoned with.
 

charlituna

macrumors G3
Jun 11, 2008
9,631
815
Los Angeles, CA
Is this a stable setup? The article is very technical and doesn't really say if a non-techie could make it work safely. I notice he isn't providing any script to automate the setup process.


As setting it up requires using Terminal etc I wouldn't say this is something a non techie could do 'safely'. If one was going to try to do it, a backup would most definitely be in order because chances are the data will get screwed at least a couple of times before it all gets set up right.
 
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