External RAID with TB3?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by BeechFlyer, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. BeechFlyer macrumors regular

    BeechFlyer

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    Nov 5, 2015
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA
    #1
    I placed an order today for an iMac (new 2017 model), 27", i7, with the 2TB SSD. It'll replace my aging 2008 Mac Pro for my video editing workstation.

    On the MacPro, all my HDD storage was internal - using four large drives, two of them in a RAID 1 configuration. On the new iMac, I'm thinking I will need an external RAID for larger storage. On macsales.com I see several choices with TB2 interfaces, but nothing yet with TB3. Is it worthwhile waiting for newer products with TB3? Are any such products on the horizon?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Trebuin macrumors 65816

    Trebuin

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    #2
    It depends on the type of system. I have a Drobo with TB1 (with a TB3 to 1 adapter) that has a few WD green drives. I'm pretty sure the performance of the Drobo itself is maxed out. Basically, know drives & configuration you plan to use & select the version based on that. If you're doing archiving like I do, you can get away with an older version as you probably use spinning drives & don't configure it for performance. TB3 is just overkill & would take SSDs to come close to maxing it out.
     
  3. Taz Mangus, Jun 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017

    Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

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    #3
    TB2 is 10GB/s, TB3 is 40GB/s. Right now the fastest SSD is 3GB/s. If you are using spinning hard drives then there won't be any advantage for TB3 vs TB2.
     
  4. BeechFlyer thread starter macrumors regular

    BeechFlyer

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    #4
    Thanks, guys.

    Beyond speed, I am wondering if TB3 is more future-proof than the older interfaces - i.e. will I still be able to connect a TB2 storage system to my next computer in five years?

    I have zero hands-on experience with Thunderbolt; maybe I'm worried for no good reason. That's why I am checking here, and I appreciate everyone's feedback.
     
  5. dborod macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2002
    #5
    I'm in a similar situation: ordered a 2017 iMac and want an external RAID storage of some kind. I have done a ton of research on this in the past week.

    I think getting a box with a TB3 interface is the way to go at this point as this is way that Apple is going. As time goes by, more and more peripherals will be shipped with the TB3 interface, and the TB2 will become more obscure. Buying a TB2 RAID box at this point just means that you'll have to use dongles. The overall transfer speeds won't matter, but you will have to worry about which devices are "before" or "after" the TB2 or TB3 devices on the daisy chain. Yuck.

    OWC isn't shipping a TB3 box yet, but I'm sure they will in the near future.

    CalDigit doesn't seem to have Tb# box yet either.

    G Technology has a goofy-looking web site, and their 4-disk box seemed overly expensive.

    Lacie has TB3 stuff, but not a 4-disk RAID 5 box.

    Drobo just announced a new box today with TB3. It is cheaper than the 5D and the 5Dt. It's supposed to be faster than the 5D and 5Dt, but probably won't be as fast as some of the other options. The 4-disk RAID 5 boxes seem to get up to about 550MB/second, so depending on your needs, it may be fast enough.

    The Akitio and the OWC boxes use software for RAID 5, whereas the Drobo and the Promise Pegasus3 use hardware.

    I almost purchased the 4-disk Promise Pegasus as Apple is selling it for a very competitive price up here in Canada.

    I ended up buying the new Drobo today as it's TB3, I already have a Drobo at home, and I don't need super-fast transfers, just speedier-than-normal and several TB in size.

    Anyway, this is just my opinion...
     
  6. Chancha macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 19, 2014
    #6
    The new Drobo 5D3 seems like a pretty sound investment, maybe a bit expensive for now especially without drives, but you get a lot of flexibility in drive configs including SSDs. Also the mSATA SSD bay is an interesting feature that may help performance considerably.

    I also agree on TB3 being more of a future-proof than immediate need as far as HDD goes. Even 4+disks arrays are getting like 500MB/s, much less than the TB3 ceiling, but as a starting point of a TB3 chain it leaves enough headroom for displays and interfaces etc. I would only consider TB2 RAIDs at this moment if I am on very tight budget, but then why not go USB3 for just slight performance hit in exchange for much lower price.
     
  7. Trebuin macrumors 65816

    Trebuin

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    #7
    I've tested my Drobo against both the TB connection & USB 3; I found the TB is far faster. My guess is the TB hardware on the Drobo is less limiting than the usb 3.0 on the Drobo. If my theory is correct, this applies only to the Drobo & another NAS or raid could perform significantly different than the Drobo when testing the same two interfaces.
     
  8. b06tmm macrumors regular

    b06tmm

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    South Louisiana
    #8
    Check out the Promise Pegasus3 Series. I have the R6 12TB (TB1) that I got with my mid-2011 BTO iMac and it's still running strong.
     
  9. BeechFlyer thread starter macrumors regular

    BeechFlyer

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    #9
    The Drobo 5D3 looks very nice (though not cheap). I think I'll go with that.

    Thanks again, everyone.
     
  10. theitsage macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 28, 2005
    #10
    AKiTiO has a few options for Thunderbolt 3 RAID storage. The Thunder3 Quad Mini starts at $329.99 can fit 4x 2.5" drives. Even though Intel marketing materials state 40 Gb/s for Thunderbolt 3, its actual max bandwidth is closer to 28 Gb/s. Therefore if you were going for RAID 0 of 4x SATA III SSD at 6 Gb/s each, 20-24 Gb/s for external storage speed is not bad at all.

    For RAID 1 configuration, large capacity 3.5" drives would be a better option. The AKiTiO Thunder3 Quad ($429.99) can house 4x 3.5" drives. WD 6TB/8TB Helium drives run at 200 MB/s would be my recommendation.
     
  11. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

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    #11
    It appears that according to the specs the Akitio does not support Mac OS, only windows. The Amazon link also states Windows only.
     
  12. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 12, 2005
    #12
    That is really weird. I l always thought the OWC offerings were just repackaged Akitio offerings, and OWC hadn't picked up the TB3 products yet.

    The TB3 Quad Mini does list Mac as a supported, so I don't see why the 2.5" version would be supported but the 3.5" would not.
    https://www.akitio.com/portable-storage/akitio-thunder3-quad-mini

    I personally would go with TB3 Quad Mini anyways and just use SATA SSDs. I use 3.5" HDs in a NAS that is tucked away in the basement. I'd prefer anything directly attached to be an SSD. 3.5" HDs have been relegated to backups duties.
     
  13. Taz Mangus macrumors 68040

    Taz Mangus

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    #13
    In order to get anywhere near the performance you indicate you would need to be using M.2 PCIe not SATA III: http://www.legitreviews.com/samsung-sm951-m2-pcie-ssds-raid0-performance_161753/3
     
  14. theitsage macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    It could be incompatibility with the USB-C controller. In older Mac OS versions, there was no compatibility issues. 10.12.2 brought a restriction on TI82 USB-C controller that some Thunderbolt 3 devices might have. It's probably best to check with AKiTiO to confirm which controller these boxes have.

    Max throughput depends on the Intel Thunderbolt firmware. It's very likely the firmware is capped at 16 Gb/s to reserve bandwidth for daisy-chain on the second TB3 port and DisplayPort passthrough.
     
  15. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 12, 2005
    #15
    I Thunder3 quad mini is benchmarked using SSDs here. [​IMG]
    The performance is only slightly better than the advertised performance of the OWC ThunderBay 4 mini @ 1346 MB/s. The main advantage is that it wouldn't require TB3 to TB2 adapter and thus support daisy chaining another TB3 device.

    Also the Akitio Thunder3 Quad Mini adds a display port output, which could be a nice feature if you want to use it like a docking station for a MBP for example.
     
  16. Taz Mangus, Jun 29, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  17. chicagofan00 macrumors regular

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    Apr 4, 2010
    #17
    Have you received and setup your 5D3 yet? I just ordered one and curious to know how you like it so far. Also would like to know what hard drives you've put in it and what kind of read/write speeds you've seen.
     
  18. BeechFlyer thread starter macrumors regular

    BeechFlyer

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    #18
    I haven't ordered it yet. I just received the iMac yesterday - man, the SSD is fast! - and I'm just starting to get things organized on the new system, and transfer stuff over from the old. It'll probably be a week or two before I am ready for the drobo. Once i have it, I'll post a report here.
     
  19. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Are you going to order a mSata SSD accelerator for it? Would be interesting to see how much that improves performance. I know a lot of people are using SATA SSDs in JBOD enclosures configured for Fusion.
     
  20. dborod macrumors regular

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    Jul 22, 2002
    #20
    I received my Drobo 5D3 yesterday. I'm in Canada, so I bought it through B&H, along with 5 x 4 TB WD RED drives.

    One of the drives died after about an hour of use. I shipped it back for a replacement yesterday, but I also went out and bought another one.

    As it turns out, that was very prescient, as this morning, a second drive (located in a different bay) was also dead.

    Throughout all of this I've been copying 7.5 TB of data from the Drobo 5D, so the 5D3 has been very busy doing all the 'data protection stuff'. No data has been lost, but it has been very frustrating.

    I also bought a 250GB Samsung mSATA, but I don't have any useful benchmark numbers yet.
     
  21. chicagofan00 macrumors regular

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    Apr 4, 2010
    #21
    Ah, ok. Have you decided on which drives to fill the Drobo with?

    I decided to go with some WD 2TB Black drives for now. Buddy of mine has been running them in his Drobo 5D for several years now and no issues.

    I also picked up a Samsung 250GB mSATA drive for the hot data cache.

    Hmm, this doesn't sound too optimistic with regards to the WD drives going out. I know the WD Reds are for RAID and NAS drives but I decided to go with the WD Black as I figured the 7,200RPMs would help since I plan on storing most all my data there and accessing and editing it (photos/videos) straight from the Drobo.
     
  22. BeechFlyer thread starter macrumors regular

    BeechFlyer

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    #22
    I got my Drobo 5D3 yesterday. I installed three drives, 4TB each (Seagate Constellation ES.3 Enterprise), as well as an mSATA SSD from Samsung (250GB 850 Evo). I'll add more drives when I need more capacity, but for right now this is plenty of space - 7.1TB useable space (with single disk redundancy), out of which I reserved 1TB for Time Machine and the rest for data.

    The (online) instructions for the Drobo are very clear and well written. Setup was a breeze; Drobo Dashboard looks like a really nice tool to setup, configure and maintain the unit and drives.

    The Drobo is connected to my 2017 27" iMac through TB3, without daisy-chaining anything else. Blackmagic's speed test results with the Drobo, configured as described above, are as follows:

    Speed Test Drobo 5D3.jpg

    That's plenty fast compared with even the internal HDD of my ancient 2008 Mac Pro I've been using so far, and I would expect the numbers to go up a little more once I fill the remaining two drive bays. I'd appreciate to hear from others if they get similar results.

    I have not yet done any serious editing work on the new computer, so I can't provide any real-world report yet. Having said that, for me the Drobo is more for safe (redundant), long-term, large capacity storage, not for holding the project files while working on something. For that, I went with the 2TB SSD, and boy is that thing fast - see the speed test result on the same computer for the internal SSD:

    Speed Test SSD.jpg

    Finally, for comparison I also ran speed test on a 2-year-old external Toshiba drive, 1TB, connected with USB3. Keep in mind, this is still an improvement for me because my old Mac Pro didn't even have USB3, so it slowed that drive way down. The result suggests I could easily work with source media up to ProRes straight off of an external portable drive if needed:

    Speed Test external USB3.jpg

    Slow compared to the Drobo, yes, but not much slower than the internal SATA drive of my old Mac Pro. The only way to make edit work bearable on that computer was an internal SSD that I added (OWC Accelsior S + 1.0TB Electra 6G). That one actually worked pretty well, with write speed of greater than 400MB/s and read speeds greater than 500MB/s. But no match for the new internal SSD of the iMac.

    I think I'm going to like my new setup! :)
     
  23. chicagofan00 macrumors regular

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    Apr 4, 2010
    #23
    Awesome results! I have everything I need for the Drobo 5D3 and I'm now just waiting for the damn iMac to actually ship! Still says it's another 2-3 weeks out due o the 512GB SSD shortage...
     
  24. danielwsmithee macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    My guess is the 512GB BTO SSD option. I wonder if you'd get faster ship times with a 1TB or even 2TB SSD.
     
  25. BeechFlyer thread starter macrumors regular

    BeechFlyer

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    #25
    Sorry to hear. Mine shipped two days after I ordered, vs. a conservative "Ships: 3–5 business days" estimate from Apple when I ordered. But that was with the 2TB SSD.
     

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