Boot from PCI-E possible?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mrblack927, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. mrblack927 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 19, 2008
    Hi all,

    I was looking at SSDs for my new Mac Pro build and this caught my eye:

    Crazy >500mB/sec read/write speeds, sandforce controller, decent price/capacity, etc. Of course, it's not a SATA drive but a PCI-E card drive (whatever you want to call it). From what I've read, these don't have a history of playing well with Macs, but I wanted to ask you guys and see if anything has changed since then.

    I'm interested in a super fast drive for System/Boot/Applications. There are SSDs now that are out-pacing the SATA II (3gb/sec) interfaces but the Mac Pro doesn't support SATA III yet, and who knows how long it will be before they do. So PCI-E seems like a good solution to break the 3gb/sec barrier but I don't know if OSX will even recognize it let alone boot from it. Thoughts?
  2. xgman macrumors 601


    Aug 6, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (Opera/9.80 (iPhone; Opera Mini/5.0.019802/23.348; U; en) Presto/2.5.25 Version/10.54)

    I plan on getting a vertex 3 in a couple of months when they ship and hooking it up to a sata 3/SAS pcie card by Areca (arc-1320-8i) that will boot snoe lep. and so be able to take advantage of the sata 3 speeds to dome extent of the new sanforce 2000 based ocz vertex 3 ssd's.

    That said, the ocz revo drive you linked does not currently have a mac driver, at least one by ocz.

    I had previosly tried an atto pcie card with sata 3 support in a 2010 mac pro which is bootable in 10.6.4 and after, but i haf issues with kernel panics often upon reboot or cold boot but it did work fine once in osx. I am hoping the acrea won't have the same bugs.
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    For it to boot OS X, it has to have EFI (or EBC) firmware. Unfortunately, there aren't any PCIe based Flash Drives that do (promises were made <OWC and Fusion I/O>, but have amounted nothing more than hot air a year or so later).

    PCIe itself is fine, as it is the way to get additional bandwidth in any system, particularly in those that do not have 6.0Gb/s SATA controllers. The way to get SATA III support in such systems, is to use a bootable controller, which is expensive right now (mostly RAID cards, and the non-RAID version <not traditional SATA/eSATA, but SAS> is still $400USD without any SSD's = not cheap; RAID cards are even more expensive). Cabling is different as well.

    You could wait around and see if a company releases a bootable 6.0Gb/s SATA/eSATA controller that doesn't cost an arm + leg and has EFI/EBC firmware, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    But I've no idea of your budget, so let that be your guide... ;) :p

    BTW, if this is mainly to improve boot/application speeds, those rely on random access. And the newer 6.0 Gb/s SSD's will be fine for that, as their random access throughputs still won't be as fast as SATA II can handle. It's sequential throughputs (large sequential files) that it would throttle, as the controller could not handle the disk's actual bandwidth (controller will downgrade automatically, but it would still be fast for sequential throughputs anyway).
  4. mrblack927 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 19, 2008
    Thanks guys for your thoughts. You know what the sad part is? I could build a hack pro with sata 6.0 and bootable pci-e and everything and not only would it be less of a headache, it would cost about $2,000 less. I'm determined to stay with legit Apple hardware this time but damn why does it always feel like I'm being punished for doing it the :apple: way? Why can't they just support the latest tech (sata 6.0, usb 3.0, eSATA) in their $3,000 computer by... I don't know... doing spec bumps more than once every 18 months?

    Sorry. /rant
  5. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    don't worry about ranting. this tech is not ready for primetime. windows users are having a lot of trouble. at least apple users don't have to waste time with it. just wait a year or 2 or 3
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The MP is an enterprise grade machine (workstation/server systems), so it's update cycle is based on new CPU releases from Intel (Xeons). Apple doesn't do mid-production upgrades/changes (newer parts) on the logic boards to support newer features when possible with these systems either (i.e. add in an additional SATA III controller or USB 3.0 controller for example).

    What makes this worse for 3rd party, is the fact that MP's have a much smaller marketshare than their PC equivalents, so the financial incentive to release products isn't all that great comparatively speaking. Firmware is another complication, but will have the potential for improvement in the near future (as PC's move to UEFI based firmware, particularly over the 2.1TB disk capacity limitation in BIOS).

    As per SATA II v. SATA III, it's a result of Intel's cycle as well, as most of the controllers used are Intel's ICH (i.e. consumer Sandy Bridge is shipping, and contains SATA III support; but the older systems' chipset/s are still using the ICH10 series <what's used in the 2009/10 MP's>, and is only SATA II compliant, as it was released before the SATA III spec was finalized). Board makers can opt to use additional controllers, but it adds costs, and that's something Apple's not willing to do.
  7. nurv2600 macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2009
    I hate to to break it to you, but that card's not bootable; check the spec page:, at the bottom you'll see that it supports basically all OSes, but states not-bootable for all versions of OS X. I'm still trying to find a bootable SATAIII card that's not hundreds...
  8. elvisizer macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2003
    San Jose
    i've got a revo x2 in my pro, i'm booting windows off of it.
    i've posted about it many times here before, do a search if you're interested.
    short version: no problems, works fine as a win7 boot drive or 10.6 data drive, real world performance as a windows boot drive is underwhelming given the price, but i can always fire up a synthetic benchmark and marvel at the 700 MB/s results. lol
  9. John.Home macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2013
    PCIe SATA III on iMac 27" 2010

    I managed to replace the air port card with a SATA III card and I successfully booted from it.

    The only problem is that the hardware takes so long It takes about 3 minutes for the screen to come up and then the OS loads normally.

    I have to investigate why it takes so long.
  10. MacProFreak macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2013
    What if you stick a 840 pro SSD on an Apricorn x2? Will it boot?
  11. xcodeSyn macrumors 6502a

    Nov 25, 2012
    Of course it will. Notice the date of the OP and this is not an issue anymore. The newbie poster before you wasn't even talking about MP and revived a necro-thread, just let this thread die as it deserves.
  12. MacProFreak macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2013
    Oh my bad, I didn't look at the dates on the posts. Bye bye thread, die. RIP.

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