Best RAID Card for Mac.

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mickdelaney, Jun 6, 2009.

  1. mickdelaney macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    #1
    Hi,
    I'm a bit of a novice with raid cards. i have a mac pro 2008 model, and am using it for music production. i want to get a card so i can run RAID 5 against 4 internal 1TB drives.
    I've seen that apple sell a card for £560 but also I've noticed people here mentioning caldigit, alothough that seems to be a no no.
    i've also heard of Areca or ProAVIO.

    Any advise on what to get???
    Cheers.
     
  2. joaoferro37 macrumors 6502

    joaoferro37

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    #2
    Areca is the real RAID card company.
    If you went to NAB, you will find out a lot of capture card companies such as BlackMagic Design, AJA, etc are using Areca.
    Why? It works and Apple support it.
    CalDigit, I wish you good luck.
     
  3. zmttoxics macrumors 65816

    zmttoxics

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    #3
    Get the Caldigit one. Or the official apple one (which I think is a Caldigit too, im not sure).

    Says 2009 MP, but should work the same in a 2008 MP.
    http://store.apple.com/ca/product/MB845Z/A?mco=NDcwMjkyMw#overview

    Edit: I say get the Caldigit one because its a popular card. It may have issues, but they would be well documented.
     
  4. CaptainChunk macrumors 68020

    CaptainChunk

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    #4
    The 2009 MP RAID card is actually different than the 2008 part because the drive backplanes are different...

    2009 MPs have soldered backplanes, so the card needs to bypass the stock SATA controller internally, through the PCIe bus. The 2008 MP RAID card bypasses the SATA controller with a cable instead (they use a "floating" wired backplane).

    Anyway...

    Apple's RAID card is junk. Internal drives only. For over $800, there's much better options out there.

    For a 2008 MP, I'd get an Areca or ATTO card, if you ask me. You get a lot more flexibility this way. CalDigit's card is nice, but its external drive support (if that's important to you) is limited to their HDElement enclosures.
     
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #5
    Areca or Atto are good choices that support Macs. They also design and manufacture their own gear, and have good reputations for reliable products. :)
    CalDigit's card is made by Accusys. In my experience, it's unreliable. This may have changed to some extent, as it was rather early (very unstable), but it's still missing features such as Partition Table backups. Extremely handy, if you ever run into a problem.

    CalDigit doesn't make Apple's card. It's made by LSI as a custom card for Apple, and is junk. It's overpriced as well. Go figure. :p
     
  6. Cynicalone macrumors 68040

    Cynicalone

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    #6
    I purchased Apple's RAID card with the 09 model. I was worried about who would support it right away, given the internal changes to the Pro.
     

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  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #7
    Given it's a custom card for Apple, and LSI doesn't support OS X on their own gear, it would have to be Apple. Now whether or not they (tech support) have any idea what they're doing, is another story. :eek: :p
     
  8. joaoferro37 macrumors 6502

    joaoferro37

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    #8
    I still think Areca has good solution for Mac, at least, they made the card their own and they can fully support it.
    Not like CalDigit and other companies.
     
  9. noushy macrumors regular

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    Aug 27, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit, MI
    #9
    Early experience with Apple Raid Card

    Ok, I had ordered this card the day it was announced since the Mac Pro has limited internal raid options (other than software raid). The Apple Raid Card arrived about a week ago and I finally decided to install it (along with my new nVidia Geforce 285 GTX and a battery for the Highpoint 4322).

    The good: Solid construction, built like the Mac Pro. Thin, well supported physically and stable. Mac OS 10.5.6 on recognizes the card, and it works with Apple's own software. Able to use the internal bays without any cabling.

    The fair: Software is easy to understand, once you figure it out not to hard to construct various raid levels (0, 1, 5, 1+0, hot spare).

    The poor: Price (especially at $700), limited expandability other than 4 internal drive bays, performance. I obtained 190 Mb/s write, 280 Mb/S read with 4x1tb WD Caviar Black drives in Raid0, the same ones Apple provides. My Highpoint card gets 550 Mb/s read/write with 4x300Gb Velociraptor drives in Raid0 externally. Now I understand these are 10k drives and much faster, but more than 2x the performance? Heck even 4x2tb WD Caviar Green drives in Raid5 get 350 Mb/s on the same Highpoint controller.

    Having said all this, it is hard to recommend the Apple Raid Card (which BTW shows up as Apple Xserve Raid Card). Even at the price I paid ($525) it is still not a good deal. The only argument I can have for this card is if you absolutely needed an internal hardware raid card to use the 4 hotswap bays, then this is your only choice.

    Peace,
    Noushy
     
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #10
    Ouch. :(

    I have both the 300GB VR and 1TB Caviar Blacks. The VR is capable of ~15MB/s more than the Black from what I've been able to get out of them. So you should only be getting something on the order of 60MB/s more from the 4 VR's in a stripe, assuming everything else is the same, or similar enough in performance. ;)

    The previous version of Apple's card wasn't wonderful for performance either, and it's likely been modified into the current model, rather than a completely different card. (Upgraded the processor to the next highest clock and eliminated the MiniSAS*4i connection in favor of trace transmission).
     
  11. Rick Here macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    #11
    I found this on the net.
    The Apple card may be from Adaptec - 3400
    http://www.adaptec.com/en-US/_common/raid_silicon/
     
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #12
    Adaptec's designs are based on Intel parts, not PPC used in the Apple card. That's LSI or 3Ware (AMCC). AMCC makes the PPC chips, but will sell them to other vendors. It also uses an LSI 1064. ;)
     
  13. Rick Here macrumors member

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    Oct 9, 2007
    #13
    This maybe from Aristos Logic, didn't Adaptec buy them?
    search google for AL3400. Why the LSI 1064?
     
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #14
    Adaptec did buy Aristos Logic, but keep in mind, they were a chip design company. Apparently they wanted the processor IP, and the talent. RAID SoC (RoC) vs. current general processor designs, the RoC offers some serious advantages. I'm not sure Aristos actually had the fab facilities or farmed it out. Farmed if I had to guess, given the cost of a fab these days. :rolleyes:

    LSI1064E = 4 port, 3Gb/s SAS controller, PCIe bus

    Fits the design, and would likely be one of, if not the least expensive part to do so.
     
  15. noushy macrumors regular

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    Detroit, MI
    #15
    Update on Card

    Nano and company. I took the 4 WD Black Edition 1tb drives, and moved them from the internal bays (on apple raid card) to the external Proavio unit. This is connected to the highpoint 4322 card. Raid0, 4x1tb WD Black drives pull 533 Mb/s, or almost 2x the performance of the apple raid card. Same drives, same sector sizes, (512B), even connected on an external bus with cabling and chassis, the Apple raid card is not impressive. I am waiting to get an additional 2 brackets to mount a total of 4 x WD VR 300Gb drives, configured in Raid0 and Raid5 to see if these drives will work better on the Apple card.

    Peace,
    Noushy
     
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #16
    Hmm...Not good at all. :rolleyes: :(

    I'm not sure how well the VR's would do on that card, particularly as it's a SAS controller. SATA always runs slower, though it should only be about 5% on a well designed card. I'm not so sure about this one, given what you're coming up with in your tests.

    SAS drives should work better, but at current costs, not the best bang for your buck. The best drive I can think of off ATM for workstation use, would be the Fujitsu MBA3300RC. Not cheap, but performance never is. :p And I'd still be concerned they wouldn't run as fast as they should on the Apple card. Located on the HighPoint how ever, it should produce :D :D :D. ;)
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #17
  18. TK2K macrumors 6502

    TK2K

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    #18
    Will do, thanks
     
  19. hyram macrumors regular

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    Jun 15, 2009
    #19
    I cast my vote for the Highpoint 4322. I've been running one with 8 WD 1TB blacks for about 5 months and it is rock solid. RAID5 at >500mB/s. The user interface leaves a little to be desired but about the same as Areca or Atto as far as that goes.

    hyram
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    The HighPoint 4322 and Areca's offerings use the same web browser interface (Areca was the ODM for it). Atto's have an easier/prettier interface IMO, but their gear is also more expensive, and can't upgrade the cache. :( Can't have it all I guess... :rolleyes: :p
     
  21. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #21
    Nano....

    If someone was to ask... and money was no object. ;)

    Which would be the ultimate raid solution on the Mac? That'll allow for optimum performance speed and future expandability? Does such a solution truly exist? I'm talking PowerUser here.

    As you know, originally I went with the CalDigit card purely due to my limited budget but now i'm looking for more expandability and speed. I've more to spend, so what would you recommend?
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #22
    Actually, that's not too hard. :p

    Go with the Areca ARC-1680ix24 via external enclosures. It's a SAS model, and can be used SAS expanders. So 128 drives max. :eek: :eek: :D Decent external enclosures, such as Enhance (others as well, just "dumb" boxes). SAS expanders change this, but only if you actually need them. :p

    Assuming the expanders won't be used, get internal MiniSAS to external MiniSAS cables to attach to the enclosures. 1 per 4 ports, so you'd need a max of six. You can actually attach an additional 4 drives to the Areca on the external MiniSAS port as well, but it's not there on the Atto (different cable BTW).

    So for direct attachment, you can get a max of 28 drives. At 2TB disks, you can stuff 56TB in. That enough? :p

    For workstation drives at performance is of greater importance than capacity, I'd go with the Fujitsu MBA3300RC (300GB SAS speed demon). SSD might also be an option, but I'd wait until it matures a little more myself. ;)

    You can also run those cards in tandem under Windows/Linux, but I don't know if this feature works in OS X. :confused:
     
  23. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #23
    [​IMG]

    Interesting choice Nano, sir.
    For me, capacity is more important but speed does help.

    How about going via the fibre channel route?
    I was looking at the standalone external hardware systems just now, even checking out the Promise Arrays at an reseller here in Japan.
    What are the Pros and Cons? Besides cost?
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #24
    Ah, OK. I was thinking you were after:
    1. DAS, not SAN
    2. Speed over capacity, as 24 or 28 disks can offer quite a bit of both. :D

    Nothing wrong with it really, but isn't it overkill for a workstation?

    If you're looking at the VTE610fD or VTE610fS, then we're talking 16 drives, at a max of 80 drives, which are still SAS BTW. It's also SAN, so it uses a protocol (FCP), similar to TCP/IP. It's more appropriate if it needs to be available to multiple systems, but I'm assuming you don't need that.

    So thinking in terms of the drive quantities, and speed won't exceed the use of a SAS RAID controller, then it comes down to either cost, or the need to make it available to other systems. DAS is usually cheaper. And as mentioned, you can actually get the Areca to operate 128 drives. You just need expanders.

    Might I ask what the cost is there? And is it for just a single system, or multiples?
     
  25. UltraNEO* macrumors 601

    UltraNEO*

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    #25
    Yeah, I think it's most will definitely be an overkill but looking at the amount of data and space i'm currently chewing up (per project) I thought it might be worth it in the long run. Currently with 2.78Tb I'm left with a little over 1~3Gb of free space!! And that's before I make external back ups!!

    More a tiresome chore than a task!!! :(

    Besides, HDPro's are way over priced... so as a resort to rebuilding my storage means I wanna do it right. Also, with Apple's prior history I don't wanna waste money and time upgrading interface cards over and over again!!

    Hence moving to an all external solution - I figure upgrading/exchanging FC cards seems to be way cheaper than upgrading internal raid solutions... plus, the disk format would remain the same - less time reconfiguring stuff. Right?

    Currently there's two MacPro's and MacBook on the network, though I only use one of them, other is there for backup/non-work related. I do have various other systems about but not in uses.

    As for budget... well.. I can stretch to about £8000, given there's the option to expand later :D Though I'd probably import the unit instead of buying in the UK! (ripp off!)
     

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