Blade SSDs - NVMe & AHCI

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MisterAndrew, Oct 9, 2018.

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  1. MisterAndrew, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited by tsialex: Mar 21, 2019 at 2:33 PM

    MisterAndrew macrumors 65816

    MisterAndrew

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    #1
    I'm making this thread to put together some general info on the blade SSDs that can be used in the Mac Pro. NVMe SSDs can be used as a boot drive in the Mac Pro 5,1 and 6,1 with the latest firmware installed (140.0.0.0.0 for MP5,1). 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:
    • Only Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave support NVMe drives. Previous versions of macOS won't recognise the NVMe drive.
    • macOS High Sierra and Mojave supports both 4KB / sector and 512 bytes / sector NVMe drives.
    • macOS Sierra supports 4KB / 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 support 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 and some of the Plextor blades.
    • All Samsung consumer blades are 512 bytes / sector and can not be changed to 4KB / sector.
    • To boot from a NVMe drive, you need to upgrade to BootROM 140.0.0.0.0, supplied with MAS Mojave full installers since 10.14.1.
    • High Sierra boots/works perfectly both 4KB and 512 bytes drives if you have BootROM 140.0.0.0.0.
    • If you install BootROM 140.0.0.0.0, Sierra can boot from a 4KB / 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. 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. M.2 to proprietary Apple adapter needed for Mac Pro 6,1.

    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: ~1,500 MB/s read, ~1,425 MB/s write
    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: Issues/not compatible

    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)
    Datasheet
    Compatibility status:

    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):


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


    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 these cards below:

    Aplicata Quad M.2 NVMe SSD PCIe x16 Adapter - bifurcation.
    ASRock Ultra Quad - bifurcation.
    Asus Hyper M.2 x16 - bifurcation.
    Dell Ultra-Speed Drive Quad NVMe M.2 PCIe x16 Card - bifurcation.
    GIGABYTE Aorus PCIe x16 M.2 - bifurcation.
    GIGABYTE CMT2014 - bifurcation.
    GIGABYTE CMT4032 and CMT4034 - bifurcation.
    MSI Xpander-Aero - bifurcation
    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.​
     
  2. tsialex, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2019

    tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #2
    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.
     
  3. meanmean macrumors newbie

    meanmean

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    #3
    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.
     
  4. MIKX, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018

    MIKX macrumors 6502a

    MIKX

    Joined:
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    #4
    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.
     
  5. MisterAndrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    MisterAndrew

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    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    #5
    Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
    --- Post Merged, Oct 9, 2018 ---
    Thanks. Can you explain that more? Do the Polaris SSDs and newer have 256 kB sectors and older SSDs have 4 kB sectors?
     
  6. W1SS macrumors 6502

    W1SS

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2013
    #6
    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.
     
  7. MIKX macrumors 6502a

    MIKX

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    #7
    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.
     
  8. MisterAndrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    MisterAndrew

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    Portland, Oregon
    #8
    I was asking which blades have 256kb sectors. That info appears to be missing from the datasheets.
     
  9. tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #9
    You are mistaken, there's not 256KB sectors.

    There's two sectorizations, the old 512 bytes per sector and new 4Kbytes per sector.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 9, 2018 ---
    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.
     
  10. MIKX macrumors 6502a

    MIKX

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    #10
    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
     
  11. tsialex, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2018

    tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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  12. turluttu macrumors member

    turluttu

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    Moscow
    #12
    Please tell me why my Plextor does not want to work? Could this be due to the HHHL form factor, not M.2.
    Screen Shot 2018-10-09 at 23.19.28.png Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 02.10.01.png Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 02.09.56.png
     
  13. tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #13
  14. turluttu macrumors member

    turluttu

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    #14
    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?
     
  15. tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #15
    Install the most recent firmware is the first thing that you do when troubleshooting.
     
  16. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #16
    For easy access to this thread. I put that into the sticky 4,1/5,1 upgrade post, under the Storage section, and label it as "Summary of PCIe SSDs"
     
  17. Theophany macrumors 6502a

    Theophany

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    NW London.
    #17
    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-A...TA-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?
     
  18. h9826790 macrumors G4

    h9826790

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    #18
    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.
     
  19. turluttu macrumors member

    turluttu

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    #19
    Updated firmware, no results:(
     
  20. tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #20
    Since Plextor don't support Macs with this model, maybe it's better to replace it with another one compatible.

    Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 08.58.47.png
     
  21. turluttu macrumors member

    turluttu

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    #21
    What speed can I get on the Samsung 970 Pro with this adapter? Thanks.
     
  22. tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #22
    Any adapter without a PCIe PLX switch will get a maximum 1500MB/s throughput, read the first post.
     
  23. TheStork, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018

    TheStork macrumors 6502

    TheStork

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    #23
    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.)
     
  24. tsialex, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018

    tsialex macrumors 68040

    tsialex

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    #24
    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
     
  25. TheStork, Oct 10, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018

    TheStork macrumors 6502

    TheStork

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    #25
    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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