MP All Models Blade SSDs - NVMe & AHCI

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MisterAndrew

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This is a general info thread for blade SSDs that can be used in the Mac Pro. This is a WikiPost so anyone with the proper credentials may edit it.

NVMe SSDs can be used as a boot drive in the Mac Pro 5,1 and 6,1 with the latest firmware installed (beginning with version 140.0.0.0.0 for MP5,1 and MP61.0120.B00 for MP6,1). The 7,1 should support booting from an NVMe SSD with external booting enabled (T2 chip). Note that blade SSDs installed in a Mac Pro 5,1 are limited to ~1,500 MB/s unless installed on a PCIe switch card in slot 1 or 2 such as a HighPoint 7101 or Amfeltec Squid that converts the Mac Pro PCIe 2.0 x16 to the PCIe 3.0 x4 needed for full throughput. Also note that 3rd party SSDs have varying compatibility with the Mac and not all listed below may be fully compatible.

macOS NVMe Support:

  • Genuine Apple NVMe drives are supported beginning with macOS Yosemite 10.10.2 with the correct firmware installed. Some 3rd party NVMe drives are supported beginning with macOS Sierra with expanded support beginning with macOS High Sierra.
  • macOS High Sierra, Mojave and Catalina supports both 4KiB / sector and 512 bytes / sector NVMe drives.
  • macOS Sierra supports 4KiB / sector drives like Apple OEM and some uncommon Toshiba/OCZ/Intel/WD blades. This post on InsanelyMac lists the blades that work with Sierra and hackintoshes, please note that most of those blades don't work with a Mac Pro at all or work with 750MB/s throughput only. Don't use this list to buy blades for a Mac Pro, it's linked here for information purposes only.
  • Apple supports the 1.3 NVMe standard. Any blade that need a special NVMe module/driver won't be supported; seems that's the case with Samsung 970 EVO Plus without the firmware 2B2QEXM7 and some of the Plextor blades.
  • All Samsung consumer blades are 512 bytes / sector and can not be changed to 4KiB / sector.
  • To boot from a NVMe drive, for Mac Pro 5,1 you need to upgrade BootROM to at least 140.0.0.0.0, supplied with MAS Mojave full installers since 10.14.1. 10.14.4 has 141.0.0.0.0 and 10.14.5/10.14.6 have 144.0.0.0.0. For Mac Pro 6,1 you need to upgrade BootRom to at least MP61.0120.B00 included with macOS High Sierra 10.13.0.
  • High Sierra boots/works perfectly both 4KiB and 512 bytes drives if you have MP5,1 BootROM 140/141/144.0.0.0.0.
  • If you install MP5,1 BootROM 140/141/144.0.0.0.0, Sierra can boot from a 4KiB / sector NVMe M.2 blade.
  • You can read about it on the first posts of these two threads:
    1. MP5,1: What you have to do to upgrade to Mojave
    2. MP5,1: BootROM thread
M.2 NVMe and AHCI Blades:
Apple SSDs: Proprietary Apple PCIe adapter needed for Mac Pro 5,1 & older and also 7,1. No adapter needed for Mac Pro 6,1.

SSUAX: Based on Samsung XP941 with UAX controller (S4LN053X01): AHCI
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 2.0 x2 (128GB, 256GB, 512GB) & PCIe 2.0 x4 (1TB)
Speeds: ~1,000 MB/s read, ~800 MB/s write
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status: Good

SSUBX: Based on Samsung SM951 with UBX controller (S4LN058A01): AHCI
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~1,500 MB/s read, ~1,425 MB/s write
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status: Good

SSPOLARIS: Based on Samsung SM961 or PM961 with Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
2D & 3D MLC or TLC
Available in 24GB, 32GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~2,700 MB/s read, ~2,350 MB/s write
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status: Good

SSPHOTON: Based on Samsung PM971 with Photon controller: NVMe
48-layer MLC
Available in 32GB and ? (LPDDR4 DRAM)
PCIe 3.0 x2 ?
Speeds: 1,500 MB/s read, 900 MB/s write ?
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector ?
Compatibility status:
Good


Good article on Apple blade SSDs: The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs

Samsung SSDs: M.2 PCIe adapter needed for Mac Pro 5,1 & 7,1. M.2 to proprietary Apple adapter needed for Mac Pro 6,1 or external Thunderbolt adapter.

XP941: UAX controller (S4LN053X01): AHCI
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
PCIe 2.0 x2 (128GB, 256GB, 512GB) & PCIe 2.0 x4 (1TB)
Speeds: ~1,000 MB/s read, ~800 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

SM951: UBX controller (S4LN058A01): Both AHCI and NVMe versions
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~2,150 MB/s read, ~1,500 MB/s write (512 GB model)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet (AHCI), Datasheet (NVMe)
Compatibility status (AHCI): Good
Compatibility status: (NVMe): Good

950 PRO: UBX controller (S4LN058A01): NVMe
3D MLC
Available in 256GB and 512GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~2,500 MB/s read, ~1,500 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: (NVMe): Issues/not compatible

PM961: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
3D TLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,000 MB/s read, ~1,500 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

SM961: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
2D & 3D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,200 MB/s read, ~1,800 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

960 EVO: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
3D TLC
Available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,200 MB/s read, up to 1,900 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

960 PRO: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
2D & 3D MLC
Available in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,500 MB/s read, ~2,100 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

PM981: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (64-layer)
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,500 MB/s read, up to 2,400 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Issues/not compatible

970 EVO: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (64-layer)
Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to 2,500 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

970 EVO Plus: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (96-layer)
Available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to 3,300 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Requires at least firmware 2B2QEXM7 to work with macOS

970 PRO: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D MLC (64-layer)
Available in 512GB and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to ~3,000 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good


Intel SSDs:

Optane 900p: NVMe
3D XPoint
Available in 280GB and 480GB
PCIe 3.0 x4 Half Height Half Length (HHHL) Add-in-Card.
Speeds: up to 1,500 MB/s (due to PCIe 2.0 bus limitation)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
HP SSDs:

EX920: SM2262 controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,200 MB/s read, up to 1,800 MB/s write (1TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

Toshiba SSDs:

XG5: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,000 MB/s read, up to 2,100 MB/s write (1TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good

XG5-P: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 1TB and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,000 MB/s read, up to 2,200 MB/s write (2TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status:

XG6: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to ~3,200 MB/s read, up to ~3,000 MB/s write (1TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status:

Western Digital SSDs:

WD Black: Western Digital in-house: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to ~ MB/s read, up to ~ MB/s write (1TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status:

Recommended PCIe adaptors:

Standard PCIe x4 cards (tops at 1500 MB/s)(no switch):

Low cost:

No heatsinks. Be warned, don't use AHCI and NVMe blades without having a heatsink installed, you will have thermal throttling frequently and may cook your blade. (Note: Not as important for Apple proprietary blades which have better thermal management under macOS.)

  • Lycom DT-120
  • For proprietary Apple SSD: generic adapter from eBay (e.g. "2013-2014 Macbook Air SSD PCIe adapter 4X") (no brand)

Medium cost:

All adapters have heatsinks.



PCIe x8 & x16 switch cards (up to ~6200MB/s):

Better performance / higher cost (up to 3,000 MB/s), tested in the thread:



Top performance / high cost (tops at 3200 MB/s with one blade, 6200 MB/s with two to four), all tested in the thread:



Untested in the thread yet, but should work:

Don't buy PCIe adaptors list:

Any card from ASRock/Asus/Gigabyte/MSI that don't have a PCIe 3.0 switch and needs bifurcation, like the cards listed below. Note that this probably does not apply to the Mac Pro 7,1 which may have bifurcation support.

Aplicata Quad M.2 NVMe SSD PCIe x16 Adapter - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
ASRock Ultra Quad - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
Asus Hyper M.2 x16 - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
Dell Ultra-Speed Drive Quad NVMe M.2 PCIe x16 Card - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
GIGABYTE Aorus PCIe x16 M.2 - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
GIGABYTE CMT2014 - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
GIGABYTE CMT4032 and CMT4034 - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Pro - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
MSI Xpander-Aero - (requires motherboard bifurcation support).​
SuperMicro AOC-SLG3-8E2P - fried a Mac Pro.​
Synology M2D18 - it's a ~$200 PCIe 2.0 switch card with SATA + M2 that tops at 1500MB/s.​
 
Last edited by tsialex:

tsialex

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Just to remember:

Samsung 950PRO 512GB is NOT compatible with Mac Pro as a boot disk, only as a data/scratch one. Not even with the most recent firmware (2B0QBXX7).

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 05.03.36.png


The 950PRO incompatibility to MP5,1 is so weird that if I do clear the NVRAM, I have to remove the PCIe adaptor from the Mac or I can't boot from the other disks. If you set another disk as the boot drive, the 950PRO can be used as a data drive - until you need to clear NVRAM…

Another thing, if the 950PRO is installed, boot picker stops working, just a white screen - and that happens even if you don't have the NVMe EFI module injected.
 
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meanmean

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Just to remember: Samsung 950PRO is NOT compatible with Mac Pro. Not even with the most recent firmware.
To clarify the point, the 950 Pro does work with the NVMe patch on 139, as I'm currently running Mojave with it. But does not seem to work on 140.
 

MIKX

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Might be a good idea to mention the differences between Sierra 4kb and High Sierra 512 kb sectors.
My Samsung M.2 960EVO & 970 EVO are not seen in Sierra but are OK & bootable in High Sierra 10.13.6 with the '89 bootrom.
 
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MisterAndrew

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Just to remember: Samsung 950PRO is NOT compatible with Mac Pro. Not even with the most recent firmware.
Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
[doublepost=1539135278][/doublepost]
Might be a good idea to mention the differences between Sierra 4kb and High Sierra 256 kb sectors.
My Samsung M.2 960EVO & 970 EVO are not seen in Sierra but are OK & bootable in High Sierra 10.13.6 with the '89 bootrom.
Thanks. Can you explain that more? Do the Polaris SSDs and newer have 256 kB sectors and older SSDs have 4 kB sectors?
 

W1SS

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Just a quick note on the 970 Pro 1TB blade running on the SSD7101A - The max write speed I was able to achieve was 3014MB/s

This is with filevault enabled.

2018-10-10_05-32-42.png

Reads fluctuate from 3000MB/s to 3530MB/s but writes are mostly consistent.
 
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MIKX

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Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
[doublepost=1539135278][/doublepost]

Thanks. Can you explain that more? Do the Polaris SSDs and newer have 256 kB sectors and older SSDs have 4 kB sectors?
It's just a fact of Sierra. I managed to get my 960 EVO "seen" in Sierra but it was a hassle . . then i set the EVO up with a USB stick in a Fusion setup to do a " kind of " NVMeM.2 boot. But still Sierra cannot natively "see" 256kb sector blades.
 

MisterAndrew

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It's just a fact of Sierra. I managed to get my 960 EVO "seen" in Sierra but it was a hassle . . then i set the EVO up with a USB stick in a Fusion setup to do a " kind of " NVMeM.2 boot. But still Sierra cannot natively "see" 256kb sector blades.
I was asking which blades have 256kb sectors. That info appears to be missing from the datasheets.
 

tsialex

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Might be a good idea to mention the differences between Sierra 4kb and High Sierra 256 kb sectors.
My Samsung M.2 960EVO & 970 EVO are not seen in Sierra but are OK & bootable in High Sierra 10.13.6 with the '89 bootrom.
You are mistaken, there's not 256KB sectors.

There's two sectorizations, the old 512 bytes per sector and new 4Kbytes per sector.
[doublepost=1539149698][/doublepost]
Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
I can confirm that the 512GB 950PRO don't work, have one here right now. I can't say about the SM951-NVMe - I'll have one to test later this month.
 
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MIKX

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You are mistaken, there's not 256KB sectors.

There's two sectorizations, the old 512 bytes per sector and new 4Kbytes per sector.
[doublepost=1539149698][/doublepost]
I can confirm that the 512GB 950PRO don't work, have one here right now. I can't say about the SM951-NVMe - I'll have one to test later this month.
Sorry tsialex .. you are correct 512kb . . I didn't get much sleep last night, I was up 'til 2:30 am PMing with you :p
 
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turluttu

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Usually if the SSD don't show into NVMExpress tab, it's incompatible. Did you have the most current firmware? Did you asked Plextor for more info?
On the manufacturer's website there is a new firmware for this disk, version 1.03. My disk has firmware 1.01. Do you think this may affect work?
 
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Theophany

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h9826790

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Is there any good resource for finding M.2 add in boards that will work with MacOS?

I was looking at this StarTech board as it seems like it could provide an inexpensive way to get hardware RAID 0 for a pair of NVMe drives to use as a boot disk: https://www.startech.com/uk/Cards-Adapters/HDD-Controllers/SATA-Cards/m2-raid-controller-card~PEXM2SAT3422

Specification says it works with MacOS 10.14 - but I'm not sure how you'd configure the RAID array?
This card is NOT for PCIe SSD at all.

You better avoid the term "m.2", this is the form factor, not the connection standard / protocol.
 
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TheStork

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Any adapter without a PCIe PLX switch will get a maximum 1500MB/s throughput, read the first post.
Are the two NVMe M.2 SSD adapter cards mentioned in Post #1 the only adapter cards with PLX? (I bought an Angelbird Wing PCIe NVMe M.2 adapter card from all the recommendations in the Mac Pro forum section.)
 
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tsialex

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Are the two NVMe M.2 SSD adapter cards mentioned in Post #1 the only adapter cards with PLX? (I bought an Angelbird Wing PCIe NVMe M.2 adapter card from all the recommendations in the Mac Pro forum section.)
At the moment, it's the only two confirmed working on a Mac Pro. Other cards with ASM2824 PCI-Express 3.0 x24 switch could work, but someone has to buy one and test it for the rest of us :p

This is a good candidate:

SYBA Dual M.2 NVMe Ports to PCIe 3.0 x16 Bifurcation Riser Controller - Support Non-BiFurcation Motherboard, SI-PEX40129
 
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TheStork

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At the moment, it's the only two confirmed working on a Mac Pro. Other cards with ASM2824 PCI-Express 3.0 x24 switch could work, but someone has to buy one and test it for the rest of us :p

This is a good candidate:

SYBA Dual M.2 NVMe Ports to PCIe 3.0 x16 Bifurcation Riser Controller - Support Non-BiFurcation Motherboard, SI-PEX40129
Those Post #1 cards are very expensive for the performance. They must be targeted to users of NVMe M.2 SSD RAID. For single NVMe M.2 SSD, the Angelbird Wings PCIe adapter is probably good enough (bang for the buck) at $60 USD.
 
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