Building a superfast TB2 RAM-DAS for MacPro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by tobcar, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. tobcar macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2014
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    I'd like to build a superfast Thunderbolt DAS for use with the new MacPro.
    The Idea is to build a computer from either a TB2-equipped motherboard like the ASUS Z87-DELUXE/ QUAD or another motherboard using a thunderbolt expansion card like the ASUS Thunder EXII, and stuff it full of RAM and perhaps an SSD RAID.

    The Idea is that this would allow me to create a >30GB RAM-disk that could completely saturate TB2, providing a bootable 20Gbps drive with access times in the millisecond-range for the new MacPro.

    the ramdisk would be continously backed up to an SSD and the whole thing protected by a UPS.

    Possibly, the same computer could also act as a host for a secondary standard SSD-raid also exposed via thunderbolt, either through the same thunderbolt port or using the second thunderbolt port (the ASUS Z87-DELUXE/ QUAD has two TB2-ports). A few GB of RAM could possibly be used as a cache to speed up this RAID.

    I'm open to selection of OS for the DAS: it could be Linux, Windows or OSX depending on where the best software and tools for making this work exist.

    There are a number of hurdles: first I'm not sure if the TB2 controller on a computer motherboard could be configured to take the role of TB-disk.

    One idea is to install OSX and use the thunderbolt networking feature to publish the RAM-disk as a network drive.
    (I'm not sure this would make the drive bootable and there would probably be other drawbacks too. )

    Any thoughts on the feasability of setting upa TB2-equipped computer as a DAS?

    Any ideas on tools and methods that could be employed to make this work?
  2. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Don't particularly think it is going to work well with stock boards.

    While the controllers are the same (or similar if spanning generations) they can be in host or peripheral mode.,3205-4.html

    Apple does some tip-toe to enable TB target mode but that isn't particularly standard or prevalent on generic PC hardware. A bit less so for their TCP-UDP over IP solution.

    With drivers on both sides it could work. The OS X driver providing a SATA facade so could look like a drive and a driver the other side ( linux / windows ??? ) taking in SATA requests and mapping that to a defacto RAM drive.

    Used to be a companies that sold these DRAM SSDs. Like Texas Memory Systems

    But IBM swallowed them up.

    A whole PC motherboard to spend 100% running a virtual disk interface is bit of overkill. Frankly if there was a RAID controller board with a PCIe interface that could be tweak just to talk to 4-8GB of RAM that would be a more effective starting point. But for a Frankenstein basement project I suppose a PC could be hammered into a square hole.

    One of the older Intel NUC models with Thunderbolt might be a better lab experiment than some quirky board/system that requires a still quite certified TB board.
  3. tobcar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2014
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    Thanks for your input, deconstruct60!

    An Older Intel NUC would be fine for testing I suppose, but it wouldn't have much RAM-capacity and would of course run an older version of TB.

    I have a lot of gear lying around, so I would only have to buy the MOBO/BR Card to start testing.

    I wonder if somebody might have written a driver already for some TB controller with this in mind already?

    I guess the simplest way of accomplishing something like this would be just setting up thunderbolt networking and a RAM-disk in a 16GB Mac-mini...

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