Booting off of Areca RAID on Mid 2012 Mac Pro possible?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Shadow Lord, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Shadow Lord macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Hello All:

    I am a long time PC user with tons of experience in the PC arena and Areca RAID systems. I have also had experience with older Apple HW (thinks IIfx, Quadra) and more recently with iMacs. I recently purchased a Mac Pro mid-2012 model after being fed up with the iMac lack of expandability/unreliability and the upcoming Mac Pros "proprietary" nature. I had planned on setting up an Areca RAID in the pro and expected the Mac Pro to be relatively easy to setup like a PC would be. Boy was I wrong!

    I think I have muddles through most of the issues (getting replacement trays to use the internal bays, setting up the EFI BIOS on the Areca card, etc...) but I am still not sure if I can DIRECTLY setup and do a new install of the latest OS X on a RAID volume. I know the manual says that I need to clone an existing HDD on to the RAID volume but this seems a bit out dated. I found a press release from Areca that states starting w/ 10.5 OS X includes drivers for the Areca controller cards. Does this mean I can now directly install on to a RAID volume? If so what would be the best way to do this given that the new systems don't come with such frivolous things as physical media?

    If not, how would I best go about cloning the existing (unused) HDD from the Mac Pro with the OS on to the RAID volume? Any programs people recommend? Ideally I'd like something that would boot of a CD/DVD, let me clone the drive so I boot for the first time off of the RAID.

    Thanks for any help in advance.
  2. Spacedust macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    I use such setup with Areca ARC-1680IX-24-4G. Booting Mountain Lion from RAID works very well. No need to have any drives inside Mac Pro drive sleds.

    You need EFI BIOS for your card from Areca's FTP server.

    Windows 8 will boot too in EFI mode on another array using the same card.

    If you need Windows 7 or older then it will only boot with normal BIOS on the card, but then you won't be able to boot OS X. However if you install OS X inside normal Mac Pro bays (RAID or non-RAID) then you will be able to see and use ARECA RAID Windows 7 partition or any other OS X Raid you wish.
  3. Shadow Lord, Aug 6, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013

    Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Thank you for your reply. Are you using an external enclosure? My Mac Pro has the power and SATA connector directly on the motherboard. In researching I found the MacConnect sleds to allow me to internally mount the drives but still get the SATA connection out to the Areca card.

    Already done.

    Do you mean another volume or does it have to be a completely separate array of disks? I am assuming this is using bootcamp, correct?

    I prefer Windows 7 to 8 but I may have to skip this functionality as I want to have all four of my drives internally mounted so I have to go with the EFI BIOS.

    On the PC side when I boot my Areca controller allows me to access the BIOS setup of the card at POST. Will the mac do the same or is my only option the Web interface?

    Finally, and maybe a thorny issue - how can I get Lion to install? That is, my Mac came with Lion on the HDD but no physical media. Anyway I can transfer the image to a USB or DVD (or buy a backup DVD) for the initial install?

    EDIT: Seems like I can do a direct installation over the Internet. I will have to try that out and see how it works out....

    Thanks again for your help.
  4. Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    To answer my own questions...

    Yes it is possible but it is a PITA. What should have been a one hour procedure took almost 8 hours. To save people some grief here is what I have found out and some pitfalls... Some of these could have been my own issues and lack of familiarity with macs but honestly most of these headaches would not have been there with a PC.

    Goal: Install an Areca 1213-4i RAID controller w/ 4 HDD in a Mac Pro 2012 (5,1) from the get go having never booted up the original HDD when the system arrived from China.

    1. Install the Areca card.

    2. Install the HDD. If you want to go internal with the HDDs (i.e. no external enclosure) you will need to get after market drive sleds as the SATA/Power connectors are directly mounted on the MB and can not use industry standard cables. These work great but are pricey (~$150 shipped).

    3. As has been mentioned before you need to update the FW on the Areca Card with the EFI BIOS. Since the McBIOS RAID interface is not available on the Mac (can the EFI BIOS specs even allow BIOS boot strapping?) you need to use the web interface.

    4. Update all the FW excluding the EFI BIOS from the Areca site. Power cycle. Update the BIOS boot code with the EFI BIOS. Power Cycle. You may not need all the power cycling but better safe then sorry.

    5. You need a physical copy of OS X. I read about the recovery console option and the internet recovery. Since I did not have a HDD there was no recovery partition. However, no matter what I did I could not bring up the internet recovery. I tried letting the system boot on its own, tried command-r, and tried option-command-r. All failed to do anything. It is a nice idea but in my limited experience it is a total and utter failure.

    I then tried booting using my OS X 10.6.0 DVD and while it seemed to work it would hang after a bit never getting past the apple Logo. A quick check on the internet seemed to indicate "it should work but then it may not". I have no idea why the hell an older OS would not run on newer HW. I can still run DOS on my brand spanking new PC but whatever.

    I finally got a DVD copy of 10.8.3 and that booted up fine and the install program started. I know some sites recommend using a USB drive for speed and while the DVD was not speedy it wasn't really that slow either. Plus it got the job done!

    6. Next I setup the RAID array and ran into my next issue. The array sits in a non-initialized state. Normally on the PC, since I am using the BIOS interface, the array will begin initializing immediately if I am using foreground init. However, I could not find any way to start the init on the Mac. Areca's site was also useless. The trick seems to be to use background init when creating the volume set and then bootup the installer DVD. This causes the initialization process to start!

    At this point the OS is installed and boots off of a 9 TB RAID 5 array using the Areca card. The array is still initializing VERY SLOWLY. No idea why it is so slow but it is working.

    I hope this helps others who may want to do the same although now with the new trash can design these third party addons will be a thing of the past for power Mac Pro users.
  5. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    Yes, Macs are quite different in some ways.

    I'm annoyed (as you are) that they put these roadblocks in place to prevent users from installing older OS software on newer machines. Sometimes it's for good reason, such as enabling USB3 on my newer laptop for example. Running 10.6.8 would probably result in no USB3 on my 2012 MacBook Pro, since drivers are updated in the OSX versions, if I'm not mistaken... whereas in Windows, you can install drivers separately as needed - - but of course, that can also lead to conflicts that make things unstable. I think that is what Apple tries to eliminate with their ecosystem. They build it such that you can't put things together unless they've allowed it, so that as much as possible, it "just works."

    In other cases, however, it seems like it's just a method of forcing users into the same experience. I grew up with PC computers, and when Apple began to get more popular, I recall my Mom being so excited for finally being able to use them. I think she got an Apple ][c or something like that. She said, "I love Apple. They make computers for dummies like me that wouldn't ordinarily be able to use them."

    For many years, I avoided Apple for just this reason. I have always like to tinker, and I felt they weren't very tinker-friendly, aka The Walled Garden. I finally bought a 9600/300 to edit video, with a Media100 card and RAID tower attached via an Ultra Wide SCSI card from Adaptec, if I recall. The next Mac I got was the 2009 Mac Pro, which I still have, using an Areca 1880ix-12 RAID card.

    I don't boot from my RAID, but it's nice to know that I can, and I think your info is good to get out there. My current RAID is RAID 6 via 8x2TB WD RE-4 drives, and it takes four hours to initialize, and five hours to rebuild from a failed / replaced drive. I had set up the array in RAID 3 once, and that took about 40 hours to initialize. I've never tried RAID 5 on mine, so I'd be interested to hear how long it takes both in first initialization, and in a rebuild.
  6. Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    I understand this (i.e. newer HW not working with older OS) but there is no reason to completely block it. For example at 3 AM when all I have access to is the 10.6.0 DVD it would be nice to be able to at least boot up and make sure my HDD, Controller card, etc. are fine even if I can not use USB3. Plus as I understand it outside of newer processors/processor architecture the Mac Pros have not really changed in the past few years. So it is not like I need 10.8 to run USB3 or lighting port as the Mac Pro does not have either. Of course all of this could be avoided if they just included an OS DVD with the computer. It is utterly ridiculous what they (I am including PC manufacturers who only have recovery partitions with a brand new purchase with no easy way to produce a recovery disk or OS CD) are trying to force on the consumer. I have a 30Mb cable connection so dling an OS is not a big deal but what about the guy on a 1.5Mbps DSL or even worse dial up?

    I agree completely. Although the 9600 (and the Quadra 950s and even the IIfx) systems were quite expandable and had some very cool peripherals (e.g. the Rocket Raid). That was the golden age of Mac. They were not popular but they were great machines. I bought this Mac Pro as soon as I saw the upcoming Mac Pro. It is a nice conversation piece but not a real workhorse IMHO. A work machine needs to be expandable, follow standards, and I should be able to procure replacement parts (memory, graphic boards, HDD, etc.) easily and from multiple sources so I am not dependent on one vendor or one authorized dealer, etc....I have a TAM and will pick up a 2013 Mac Pro off of eBay in 5-7 years to put next to it but I can't see myself relying on it day to day as it locks me i nthe "Walled Garden."

    Thanks, I figure why make someone else go through the headache.

    My experience is similar with the RAID 5/6 as well. I have three other Areca cards as well in PC machines:

    Arc-1230 (now discontinued)

    They are all in slower systems (main CPU processor wise) and have more HDD space but they seemed to initialize much faster.

    The Mac Pro is at 9.1% after 10 hours. I will post time for the full init although it maybe deceiving as this RAID is being init in the background at 20% of full speed.

    As a reference I just rebuilt RAID 6 (due to two failed drive) on my 1230 (~7 years old). The card is a PCI-E card installed in a Pentium 4 system with 12 750GB Seagate SATA 1st gen HDD. Rebuild was 9:13:53 with one drive still not replaced (i.e. only 11 drives which slows down rebuild times).

    Again not sure why this is so much slower or if I am missing something simple.
  7. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    I have my Background Task Priority set to 80%, not 20%... could that impact the speed? When I was setting mine up, I just let it run without touching it, but during the rebuild test, I was editing. That may be why it took an extra hour to rebuild, but I'm not positive.

    Perhaps it's slow going for you because you're using the machine while it builds?
  8. Shadow Lord, Aug 11, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013

    Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    It can which is why I said it could be deceiving. As I said on my PCs I run the init in foreground but that was not possible with mac (well it is but it was more work then it was worth).

    I am NOT using the machine while it builds. I installed the OS and have since left the machine on but untouched (I of course turned off "sleep" in power saving). Using the machine will slow down rebuild as the controller will spend some time, in your case 80%, rebuilding and 20% answering disk access requests. So while I expect it not to be as fast as a foreground init it is way slower then I am used to. Other issues could be that this card has a slower processor then my 1680 or the 1882 but then again the 1230 which is almost 10 years old is quite peppy compared to it. After I posted I upped the priority to 80% so we'll see how much it helps.

    Edit: So in four hours it has gone another 5.2% so based on that I would say in 10 hours it would do 12.9% so a 30% improvement vs. when priority was set to 20%.
  9. Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    Well it is done...

    The grand total: Mac Pro I Complete Init 083:45:45. :eek:

    Holy $h!+ batman.... That was long... I hope it doesn't need that much time any time a rebuild needs to occur...
  10. wonderspark macrumors 68040


    Feb 4, 2010
    No kidding... I'd think if it took nearly 84 hours to init, it will take about 90+ to rebuild. :( That's horrid. Maybe you have a bad disk, or something isn't set right? Did you put them all in a big RAID 0 and test throughput? I did this prior to my RAID6 build, and saw 1101MB/sec from 8 disks that are rated at 138MB/sec individually from Western Digital, which confirmed all were running tip top.

  11. Shadow Lord, Aug 14, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2013

    Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    No disks are good. It is either a Mac issue or it is because init was done in the background. Even though I changed priority to 80% it may have not applied to this init as I never rebooted the system. No idea. The drives are working pretty speedy. I would like to do a throughput test on them. Unfortunately, I am not sure if I can boot a dos CD and see the drives (because of the EFI BIOS),
  12. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    This "never booted up" is the root cause of the problems later. It is a dubious constraint. Especially if have another mac and some drive space available.

    If trying to capture the pristine install image then just copy it. Put the Mac into target disk mode and fire up CarbonCopyClone on the attached mac driving your Mac Pro drive.

    However, an even simpler way is to make a back up/clone of a minimal install after you do the initial set-up.

    After get the RAID drive up clone it with something that set the boot property correctly.

    Where did the HDD go? That's where the copy is. First it is a Mac Pro straight from the factory with a pristine image and now there is no physical copy of OS X and no HDD. Macs don't ship that way from Apple. Even used Macs aren't suppose to ship that way if in compliance with the normal OS X license.
  13. Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    The other mac is on its last legs (piss poor design overheating all the time - have lost three HDDs in that machine). I am not about to fork over money to buy an external drive just to make a copy of the HDD when a simple copy of the OS on DVD would suffice or if the internet recovery worked as advertised.

    Tossed (gently) in a box of parts for use elsewhere...

    Your point being? They don't also ship with Adobe SW so if I put that on my mac I should have to go through a ton of hassle? Apple doesn't want you to use third party HW so upgraded graphic cards (e.g. nVida) or my Areca controller are also not how the macs ships. If your whole argument is the "only way a mac will run is to keep it stock" it is pretty weak. It is a computer. It has expansion slots and drive bays. If they want to lock you into a design where you are forced to buy parts directly from them only they should do away with using industry standards... Oh wait a second there is a trash can on the apple web site....

    99% of my hassle could have been avoided if any of the three happened:

    1. OS X 10.8.x was given to me on DVD along with the computer like it was in the past.
    2. Internet Recovery worked
    3. OS 10.6.0 ran on the new Pro

    The hassle was "designed in California" on purpose.
  14. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    One, pure Internet Recovery is only advertised to work on a limited set of Mac. The Mac Pro isn't one of them.
    Two, too poor for back-ups? That isn't particularly Apple's problem.

    My point is your rant about Apple not giving you media with the OS doesn't hold much water at all when you casually take the media and place in a box of parts. That is the copy. Removing the copy you got from the "solution" is actually a huge part of the problem.

    100% of your hassle could have been avoided by just taking the Mac Pro out of the box, plugging in and turning it on. That is the point. Apple's standard install process isn't designed around destroying the ability to boot as step 1. Not too surprisingly most users don't follow that "solution" process.

    You would had a recovery partition already present. You would have had a copy of the OS. Cloning to a new volume is a relatively straightforward process from there.
  15. Shadow Lord thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2013
    This article seems to disagree with you as well as the "genius" at the store. If they had said straight out you need to get a DVD instead of the BS about recovery and indicated the OS HAS 10 be 10.8 then I would have done that from the get go.

    How does that solve the lack of physical media? Or in anyway be less hassle then providing the physical media? Why would I waste time setting up on another HDD, then take more time to clone the HDD, and then hope the cloned partition boots off correctly off of the RAID? BTW I can not setup a RAID as the RAID will not initialize until you try and setup the OS. Or are you suggesting I build/init my RAID on another system and then image the HDD on to it and then finally install everything in the system it was meant to go in in the first place? Because that is less hassle then just providing a DVD. BTW: My complaint was leveled at any manufacturer that pulls this BS not just Apple.

    Maybe, except for one problem. That is NOT what I wanted to do. So basically again your whole argument is that I have to be forced to do things one particular way?

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