creating fusion drives with external SSD

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mdh95070, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. mdh95070 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    #1
    I would like to say sorry in advance as this might have been answered, but the insight is not totally clear as an advanced rookie.

    I am interested in buying a new Mac Mini with apple's SSD. I would like to purchase an external thunder SSD.

    1. Can I configure this as a "fusion" configuration?

    2. Is it difficult to do so?

    3. Any URLs for the process?

    4. While I am at it... is an external thunderbold SSD just as fast as an internal SSD?

    thanks in advance,
     
  2. Obsidiank macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    #2
    1. Can I configure this as a "fusion" configuration?

    Yes. You can do this in theory using the utility but I am not sure why would would do that.....if you accidentally disconnect the external you won't be able to boot.


    2. Is it difficult to do so?


    http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-57550128-263/how-to-make-a-custom-corestorage-drive-in-os-x/

    Seems pretty simple

    3. Any URLs for the process?

    4. While I am at it... is an external thunderbold SSD just as fast as an internal SSD?

    In theory USB 3.0 is 5gbit/s which is just a touch slower than SSD at 6gbit/s. With overhead, the fastest consumers SSDs run at 550mB/s so you should be ok either way.
     
  3. benwiggy macrumors 68020

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    Jun 15, 2012
    #3
    I'm not convinced that this is a good idea, even if it's possible. If the external drive is not immediately available at startup, which is quite possible on an external bus, then you may get into trouble. If one half of the disk is missing, the remaining bit will not work at all.

    Apple's Fusion BTO option is cheaper than the SSD option for the Mini, so you would be better off buying the Fusion drive.
     
  4. michael_aos macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2004
    #4
  5. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

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    Metro Kansas City
    #5
    If you boot up and your external drive is disconnected or unavailable (or in the case of an HDD not spinning yet) the Mac just waits for it to become available. It then boots up. If it never becomes available, the Mac just sits there.
     
  6. mdh95070 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 13, 2009
    #6
    Thank you everyone! Questions:

    Do you think I would be better off going with the standard apple fusion configuration or going with apple's larger SSD and fuse it with an external SSD? I need something close to 500GB.

    I have the technical ability to add a larger internal SSD, but I feel lazy and want to be able to waltz into an Apple store for service.

    I wish Apple iphoto and itunes were more supportive for networked attached storage. I am told that iphoto and itunes are not easily defaulted to network attached storage. Is this true?

    thanks again!
     
  7. michael_aos macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2004
    #7
    I have a Thecus NAS (N7700+) and haven't had any issues with it. AFP over TCP.

    I have the Fusion drive. It's not bad. I would not have been happy with the 5400rpm drive.

    If I had it to do over again though, I'd probably spend the extra $47 for the 256GB SSD instead.

    Right now I'm using 237GB of 1.12TB on the Fusion drive. I have a couple of Parallels VM's on a USB3 120GB OWC 3G SSD, and 2x 3TB Seagate GoFlex Desk Adapter drives mirrored on Thunderbolt.

    BlackMagic w/5GB "stress":

    Fusion drive - 283.2 MB/s write, 421.3MB/s read
    OWC 120GB 3G SSD on USB3 - 64.1 MB/s write / 135.0MB/s read (slower than I recall it being in the past)
    3TB mirrored thunderbolt - 177.3 MB/s write / 168.8MB/s read
    N7700+ gigabit NAS - 85.3 MB/s write / 97.1MB/s read

    When I'm working with large files on the Fusion drive, it starts out fast and then drops to around 50MB/s.

    I've been toying with buying one of the 512GB (SATA III SSD) LaCie Little Big Disk, but I keep reading the fan is obnoxious. I've seen them for ~$650 on Amazon.

    Just for grins I set up 4x 3TB (~6TB usable) USB3 drives in software RAID-10. Quickbench reported 276MB/s read & 290MB/s writes.
    --
     
  8. mdh95070 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 13, 2009
    #8
    Wow.. this is fantastic insight! Very helpful. questions:

    1. If you did it all over, would you go with internal SSD and fuse an external SSD over TB? Or just, manually decide where to place data?

    2. I am impressed that your fusion drive was so much faster than your TB SSD

    3. Do you know if I can use iphoto and itunes and place the app on the internal SSD and the data on a NFS drive? Or an external SSD over TB that is not fused?

    thanks!
     
  9. michael_aos macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2004
    #9
    I don't think I'd mess with manually creating a Fusion drive. I really like having the OS on an SSD. I'm not a huge fan of having a spinning HD in the Mini.

    It's super-easy to have your iPhoto and iTunes data pretty much anywhere. You leave the app with your Applications. If you don't already have an iTunes or iPhoto library (I think of it as a database), when you first start the app, it will ask you where the library lives or if you want to create one. Just point to it. It can be on the NAS, TB drive, whatever. You can also drag-and-drop and existing library somewhere and then point to it when you start the app.

    I've had some issues with filenames on SMB & NFS shares, so I've been sticking to AFP for a while now.
     
  10. Woosie macrumors newbie

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    Nov 18, 2012
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    SoCal
    #10
    Yes, that's exactly what I do. I have iTunes in the internal SSD HD and the iTunes media library in an external 7200rpm HD; just point iTunes to that library. It's surprisingly straightforward.
     
  11. michael_aos macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2004
    #11
    I have the OWC 120GB 3G SSD connected via USB3. I pulled it out of my old Power Mac G4 when the power-supply died and stuck it in an OWC Voyager S3.

    It's only got ~11.95GB free at the moment. I'm guessing that's why it benchmarked so slow.

    It should be more like 262MB/s read & 284MB/s writes.
     
  12. mdh95070 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 13, 2009
    #12
    Great... so it really does not make sense to setup a fusion config in our topology?

    Is it your understanding that thunderbolt is just as fast an internal SSD all things considered?
     
  13. michael_aos macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2004
    #13
    I'm coming from a 2006 Mac Pro 1,1, where I had the OS, iTunes, iPhoto on a 240GB SSD and my Parallels VM's on a second 240GB SSD.

    The Fusion drive isn't horrible. Especially with iTunes and iPhoto. I notice it more with iPhoto than iTunes -- probably because my iPhoto library is 124.3GB and iTunes is only 21.77GB.

    The two VM's I've been using most-often lately are a 63.14GB Windows 7 and 12.05GB Fedora 18. I definitely notice they're slower to boot and LOTS slower doing snapshots than on SSD.
    --
     
  14. blanka macrumors 68000

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    Jul 30, 2012
    #14
    Fusion is mostly interesting because you need to work with large and/or many files. If the access to these files is critical as well, then they probably end up being written to the 5400rpm part of the fusion drive, and then I don't see the point. 7200RPM drives often give much more pleasure for people that work intensively with many/large files for much less money. The quick booting is a non-issue: You drink coffee at that moment. You can even boot a Mac Plus from floppies in a coffee.
     
  15. michael_aos macrumors 6502

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    Jan 26, 2004
    #15
    I absolutely agree, but don't discount the additional advantages of an SSD for the OS.

    It really makes a HUGE difference in everyday usability.
    --
     
  16. mdh95070 thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 13, 2009
    #16
    Great feedback.. I am thinking about going with apple internal SSD and external TB SSD. Would you suggest not to go configure these drives as "fusion?"
     
  17. hawaiiken macrumors newbie

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    Nov 22, 2013
    #17
    Anyone successfully configure an external Thunderbolt SSD with internal HD?

    Has anyone successfully configured an external Thunderbolt SSD with an internal HD as a fusion drive?
     
  18. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #18
  19. haravikk macrumors 65816

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    #19
    Any particular reason you'd use a Thunderbolt SSD? While there are some out there that are faster than USB 3 can handle, most affordable ones with good capacity should find USB 3 to offer plenty of bandwidth.

    Also, with USB 3 you have the advantage that if you use a portable SSD then it should only require bus-power; i.e - no extra AC adapter. This is handy as it's one less thing to fail, and means that as long as you make sure the USB cable remains firmly attached the drive should be ready to use right away.

    While Thunderbolt does provide some power, I haven't seen any devices that can run off that alone, though I may just have missed them; if you do find any and are happy to pay the premium cost of Thunderbolt then go for it, just make sure the SSD actually needs that kind of speed though, or it's not offering you any advantage.
     
  20. hawaiiken macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2013
    #20
    Thanks blevins321! I look forward to fusion driving my iMac someday.


    My Thunderbolt equipped iMac does not have USB 3.0 ports, only 2.0.

    Here's a Thunderbolt bus powered SSD:
    http://www.akitio.com/portable-storage/neutrino-thunderboltedition
    For roughly $340 Akitio's 256GB Thunderbolt SSD uses a SanDisk U100 solid state drive with read/write transfer rate of up to 450/350 MB/s. That's much faster than my iMac's built-in spinning hard drive or USB 2.0 or FireWire 800 device I could plug into it.

    I'm hoping that Other World Computing will release a Thunderbolt bus powered SSD soon as I've liked the quality of their products for many years and their SandForce driven 240GB SSD reaches speeds of 559MB/s reads and 527MB/s writes with ultra-efficient block management and wear leveling.
     
  21. Richdmoore macrumors 65816

    Richdmoore

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    Jul 24, 2007
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    Troutdale, OR
    #21
    I thought I would ask for an update to see if you are still using this external ssd thunderbolt setup, and how reliable it has been or not.

    I am hoping that with prices starting to finally fall on thunderbolt accesories, and ssd prices falling as well to do a thunderbolt 120 ssd paired with the internal drive on my imac 2011.
     
  22. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #22
    Yeah the storage is very stable. I'm waiting for a Sonnet dock with internal storage support to replace my drive. The enclosure that I was using died. Other than that though, everything was peachy.
     

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