Help me choose the right RAID card

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by funkahdafi, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. funkahdafi macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World

    I am on a 2009 Mac Pro (4,1). I am currently using two Intel SSDs connected to the optical drive connectors in software RAID-0, and I have 4 * 1 TB in the Pro's drive slots, three of them in a software RAID-0 array. The fourth drive is partitioned for Time Machine and Boot Camp.

    I am fine with the SSDs on software RAID, but I am looking for a more secure option for the 3-4 drives in the drive slots. I would like to go to RAID-5 there. So I need a RAID controller.

    I looked at the Apple Pro Raid card, and absolutely love it's simplicity (no re-cabling, just plug it in and be done). I don't like it's limited bandwidth and that you can't connect more than four drives. And the price. Gimme a break...

    So what do you guys recommend? Is there something with the simplicity of the Apple Raid cards combined with more bandwidth and features?

    Thanks! :)
  2. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    Areca is a good starting point in price function and performance that and ATTO

    but I think Areca are the better buy

    do a search under this forum for Areca and you will get a ton of info

    leave your internal the way they are in the sense of the sleds and do a external raid box you can also bring some connections internally for SSD

    do a search for 'ICH" its what your drives hook up to basically the Input Control Hub" you have bandwidth limits so more than two SSD on your main SSD and other drives you might not get anymore speed so raid card is a good choice

    you might/will need a external box think about $400 for a sans digital

    raid cards start about $450 and go up from their depending on needs
    you need to use aproved drives usually Enterprise so think RE WD drives so its not just get the raid card you are done ;)

    what do you do with the computer and whats your goal for storage

    you might be better off with a PM card and running some BU storage or something off that save your internal connections for your regular HDDs you are using and get one more two port card for your SSD

    I am hoping in 5 years I wont need a raid card ?
    my main working can be on SSD and BU will be on old fashioned spinning HDD :)
  3. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'd definitely recommend Areca, as it has a better price/performance ratio than ATTO (though a fine brand; they're just more expensive than the Areca's).

    As per what you're trying to do, I'd go with an ARC-1880I, and run both the SSD's and mechanicals on it (see Honumaui's ICH comment). It will be faster this way (card and system have the bandwidth; use Slot 2 though).

    To use the HDD bays, you'll need this kit to make it work.

    Attach both of the SSD's in the empty optical bay, and use one of the internal cables that comes with the card to attach it (handles your data signals).

    As for power, use this if you do not need to preserve the data signal off of the original cable that goes to the optical bay.

    Follow this if you do need to preserve the data signal that's part of the cable to the optical bay (just make sure you've 2x SATA power ends in your case, but still only need 1x Backplane Extension Cable).
  4. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    Thanks for your advice guys.

    So I get Arcea is the best in terms of price/performance ratio. Will look into them.

    Do their cards allow me to boot into windows (boot camp)?

    Both of you recommend to hook up my SSDs to the card as well. Why would I want to do that? Right now, I am more than happy with them hanging on the internal bus in a raid-0 array. I don't care much for data integrity here, because it's just my boot/app drive that can easily be restored from a backup in no time. So what do I gain when hooking them up to the raid card as well?

    Nanofrog, how exactly does that MaxUpgrade solution you suggested work? I couldn't find anything in terms of documentation or detailed description on their website.

    And I don't get the part with preserving the data signal... sorry, but I am a noob when it comes to raid on Mac.

    Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated!
  5. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    One more thing... Nanofrog: The Areca card you suggested is a SAS controller. I only have SATA drives. Is that a problem or is the SAS controller able to connect to SATA?
  6. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    I use the 1880i card and it supports both SAS and SATA drives.

    Areca does not support booting into Windows from one of the card's volumes, but you can still use Bootcamp from a disk on one of the MP SATA channels.
  7. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    no problem I run a SAS with SATA drives

    if you are happy with the performance of the two for boot ? then I guess keep it their :)

    my thought is use a few of the stock connections for boot OR back up etc.. since they are their might as well use them ;)

    the reason is the two SSD in raid 0 are getting up near the limits of the ICH so with a few more HDD you might start throttling ?
    might is the key word here :)

    but moving them off you guarantee this wont happen

    sadly the ICH was not really thinking about the speed of SSD so its a bit like driving a car that can do 200 MPH on a course designed for 175 ? you are kinda pushing the limits of the course and what fun is having a car that can do 200 if you can never get it up to speed :)
  8. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    Ok, that makes sense. So I figure by ICH you mean the Mac's internal SATA controller, and that does not seem to have enough power to drive more than 2 SSDs plus some other drives and it gets saturated?

    Now all I need to know is what exactly I can do with that MaxUpgrade thing.
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008

    Use a separate boot disk for Windows (attached to the ICH in the system = SATA ports built into the system). Then access the card via drivers. I'd recommend using a separate array rather than trying to partition it (never tried this, so not sure if partitioning it for the separate file systems would work in this case, though it should). There's also additional safety by using separate arrays (why I like this route), as if one array fails, the other is unaffected. But when the disks are shared (partitioned), everything is affected (greater potential for data loss, and definitely more work restoring from backups).

    For OS X, you can do the same, or flash the card with the EFI firmware and boot from the RAID card (array or separate disk). But a separate disk/array from the primary data has advantages, namely a bootable OS if there's ever a problem with the card or data array. That is, if the OS disk dies, the array is still in tact without any work to occur there that could cause problems. If the data array goes, you still have a working OS to get it fixed and restored faster (think catastrophic failure = data loss, so you're restoring from backups).

    Please understand, RAID or not, you still need a proper backup system in place. There is no substitute for a backup system. So if you're caught without one, and you end up with data loss, it's gone.

    Improved performance (ICH does not scale as you'd expect with SSD's in an array). This won't be an issue on the card, and why we've both recommended it.

    It's shorter trays and cables that get power off of the backplane board (SATA ports are soldered to it), and get data to the card (via an internal MiniSAS cable = end you need to plug into the card).

    The cables used in the optical bays are called backplane cables (connector has both power and data).

    By using the Backplane Extension cable assembly How To linked, you can still use that cable (connection to the ICH) for a disk. If this doesn't matter to you, just use the SATA Y Splitter to get power to a pair of disks. But it would be needed for say separate boot disk for Windows for example on the ICH as mentioned previously, and get power to another drive.

    As stated, SAS controllers can handle SATA disks. But the reverse is not possible (SATA controllers cannot handle SAS disks).

    So nothing to worry about in this case. :)

    Another couple of notes:
    You must use enterprise grade HDD's for stability reasons (has to do with the recovery timings in the firmware of the drives). Check the HDD Compatibility List from Areca.

    The WD RE3 1TB disks will work (my brand of choice), and that particular capacity can produce the best balance of performance, capacity, and cost vs. larger drives (more members in a set = increased throughput due to the additional parallelism).​
  10. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    Thanks for the detailed response, Nanofrog.

    I am still not sure about the cabeling you mentioned. Right now I have two SSD drives in the optical bay and they make use of the cabeling that was already there (for the super drives). Now if I understand correctly, I can not easily keep this in place (if I'd want to keep my SSDs there) but have to change something when using the Areca plus MaxUpgrades extension?

    Again, about the MaxUpgrade extension: So I get 4 drive sleds that replace the original ones that connect the drives to the backplane to get power. But how does the data get to the raid controller? With one combined cable? Where does that cable connect to?
  11. cutterman, Nov 20, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2010

    cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    I use 2 of the Maxupgrade sleds, leaving 2 bays for a backup disk and Bootcamp disk. The sleds have a pass-through connector that powers the drives from the MP's SATA plug on the backplane. The kit comes with a breakout cable that has a SFF8087 connector on one end (standard internal plug for RAID adapters) and 4 individual SATA data connectors on the other end. There is a place on the drive sled to connect these to, one for each drive.
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    How do they make use of the cabling already there for the 2nd optical bay?
    Power only? Or are you using the data connection for one of the disks as well?

    The cable there = backplane connection, which contains Power + Data. Depending on what you're doing, you need Power only, or Power for both disks, and DATA for one of them.

    If it's the latter case, you have to make a custom cable that I linked the How to for. For example, if one of those disks will be a Windows boot disk would be a case where you have to do this (way you need to boot a Windows installation - off of the ICH, which is why you must use the DATA connection on that cable).

    If not, you just need a simple SATA Y splitter (also linked).

    I'm just not sure what you're trying to do with the SSD's.

    Now if both SSD's are going to be connected to the RAID card, then you only need to use the SATA splitter.

    I need clarification here, as you seem to be confused about what you have and what you're trying to do (not realizing the current configuration is going to change).

    See cutterman's description.

    The power cable solution is a custom solution designed by MaxUpgrades (components are standard, but not usually found in this configuration due to Apple's choices of soldering a backplane connector to the board for each HDD bay).

    Here's a picture of the cable we're talking about for DATA (SFF-8087 to 4i*SATA). Smaller ends on the individual red cables = SATA ends (4x of them), and the larger end at the sleeved side = SFF-8087 end that plugs into the RAID card.

    Hope this clears things up. ;)
  13. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World

    here is my current configuration:

    1.) Two SSDs are installed in the optical drive bay. I am using a kit from MaxUpgrades for that. See

    So they are connected to the Mac ICH and power is done via a special cable from the MaxUpgrades kit. The optical drive is connected to an additional, simple SATA controller (that also came with the MaxUpgrades Kit).

    The SSDs are a software RAID-0, and I boot Mac OS off of them.

    2.) The internal drive bays are unaltered. Four drives are connected there, three of them in a RAID-0 software array.

    What I initially wanted to do:

    Replace the software RAID-0 on the internal drive bays with a hardware based RAID-5, leave everything else as it is.

    What I might want to do after people's suggestions in this thread:

    1.) Put the two SSDs in the hardware RAID controller, using RAID-0, booting into Mac OS X

    2.) Put 3 of the hard disks in the internal drive bays on the hardware RAID controller (Level 5) for more data protection.

    3.) May add some external drive case at a later date for more flexibility (use for backup etc.)

    4.) Get the optical drive back on the Mac's IHC because the SATA controller that came with the MaxUpgrade kit sucks (when booting into Windows, the controller's BIOS makes me wait 5 minutes for drive detection).

    What I want to avoid, if possible:

    1.) Having to rip apart my Mac and making a mess with additional cabling.
    2.) Adding a card to the system that introduces more noise (e.g. fans).

    I hope that makes things a little clearer. Sorry if I seem to be confused at times, but I think it's more of a language barrier than confusion (english is not my native tounge).
  14. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    More questions:

    1.) What's the difference between the Areca 1880 and 1680 series? The 1680 is cheaper and seems to have the same port density. Just wondering.

    2.) Why wouldn't I be able to boot into Windows with the Areca cards? Is it because I must flash them with an EFI firmware for Mac OS X booting and Windows won't recognize this?

    3.) I've seen different product photos of the 1880. Some picture them with a fan, some without a fan. What's right? If they have a fan, what other options do I have? I would hate to introduce more noise into my setup.

    Thanks guys. You are really helping me here! I guess I owe you all a couple of beers :)
  15. khollister macrumors 6502a


    Feb 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    The 1680 is/was 3Gb/s SATA, the 1880 is 6G. There may be other differences - I'm sure nanofrog will jump in here with more definitive information. Not sure if the 1680 is still being produced.
  16. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    I would put your optical back on the ICH then

    I would keep the boot on the ICH you can use Icydoc adapters ?
    and put my storage externally

    bootcamp will work for sure your ICH can handle two SSD fine since not to much more will be on it ?
    I might also put a extra HDD on the ICH to use for backup or boot clone

    I would not mess with the sleds ? keep it easy and not bother trying to reuse them with your raid card !! just use one external case is nice and easy

    I again am not sure why you need a boot to be raid 0 ?

    depending on space and funds

    my two SSD in sleds one and two
    extra boot clone in extra optical bay
    sleds 3&4 = 2 or 3TB HDD in raid 0 or JBOD used to backup your raid box

    external raid box from raid card

    this way if your raid card dies you are still working off your BU
    if your boot dies you can still boot up and keep working
  17. cutterman, Nov 22, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010

    cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010

    I will chime in here and try to address your questions. BTW, I am using the 1880i card and am quite happy with it.

    1) The 1880 series support 6G and are optimized for SSD's, unlike the 1680's.

    2) The EFI firmware allows booting in OSX, not booting to windows a la bootcamp on a RAID-connected disk - that is not supported. You can still boot Windows from a MP-based disk.

    3) You're right, some have fans and some don't, including my 1880i. I also have a 1221x Areca card with a fan and it is inaudible.

    Hope this helps.
  18. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    That sounds like a reasonable concept. I am on a budget though and I am not sure wether I want to spend additional money on an external RAID box and new hard drives. I want to use what I have right now (in terms of drives) and come up with external stuff at a later stage (my wife, you know... :-D)

    Why RAID-0 on boot? Speed. Actually, it's not just my boot volume, there are apps on there as well and I use part of the space as a scratch volume for photoshop. I am just calling it boot drive to make clear that I am booting off of the SSDs and that needs to be considered when designing the new setup. I guess.

    So bascially, the setup at first stage will have to look something like this:

    1.) Keep the SSDs as a boot/app/scratch volume in RAID-0
    2.) One drive in the drive bays is bootcamp and time machine.
    3.) Three drives in internal bays will be my new RAID-5 volume

    As for backing up my RAID volume, I have an external iSCSI storage solution (Dropbo Pro) which is used for backing up my data.
  19. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    Thanks Cutterman, appreciated!

    So I looked at the 1880 series, and there are different models. One with internal ports only, one with external ports only, and then some with external and internal ports. Since in the future I might want to add an external RAID box, I figured the 1880ixl-8 might be the right choice:

    What do you think? And it doesn't seem to have a fan, when looking at the photo on that page (why this model doesn't have one, while those with less ports do, is beyond me).
  20. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    I am pretty good at PS :) I can say you will find your scratch is better off on a dedicated drive that is the fastest you can offer

    it will be a touch slower on the OS ? my testing and others have shown this ;) so just good info

    I bet if you did real world testing you might be better off using one SSD for boot and one for scratch cache kind of drive

    if you want to move your 3 HDD onto a better card and setup and the cards you are looking at in the Areca line usually have a external you can get a 4 bay case for about $230 from newegg and will have the cable and such you need so that would be the only added cost ?

    getting the card is the biggest expense making sure the drives you are going to use for the areca are on the list of OK drives is the first thing to check :)

    but instead of trying to convert your internal sleds to work with the card and internal connections I still think spending $230 to get 4 HDD external is worth it :)
    if you want to expand later you can always get another case 4 or 8 bay and then get internal to external cables to hook up to the 8088 on the cases
  21. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    Get a card with the most ports you can afford. These RAID cards are a significant investment, and the 1880 series has the features that should keep it current for years. Leave yourself the opportunity for future expansion, as you can never have too much storage;)
  22. nanofrog, Nov 22, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010

    nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Did you connected the second disk to one of the HDD bay connectors for a DATA signal (meaning all 4x of those + 2x optical bays are also connected = all 6x SATA ports in the system are used)?

    Or do you mean there is a PCIe card involved here?

    I ask, as I'm only aware that the kit contains is the mount and some cables.

    This is re-affirms my thinking that there's just a SATA cable (DATA) attached to one of the HDD bay connectors for the second SSD (OS X boot array), and the OEM optical drive is still installed in one of the ODD bays (likely the top bay).

    This is doable, but you'd be better served by taking a different route (you really want all 4x HDD bays on the RAID card).

    Using SATA cables (right angle versions on one end), you can still connect disks to the ICH.

    Namely a Windows boot disk if you still want to do this (possible for other OS's as well), and a scratch SSD or even array (not shared; read on for this).

    This would be the smart thing to do.

    Just keep in mind, you will have to install the card, then flash the firmware with the EFI component before you create the OS X boot array.

    OS Proceedure
    1. Install the RAID card
    2. Clone the OS to a single disk and make it the boot disk (temporarily)
    3. Flash the card with EFI (done via a browser; use Firefox, as Safari tends not to work)
    4. Shut down, move the SSD's to the card
    5. Restart, and create the array
    6. Clone the temporary OS disk to the new boot array, then set it as the boot location

    It's actually not all that difficult, so don't panic (method makes sure all of the drivers, applications, ... installed make it to the final boot array, as all existing data will be wiped out during the initialization process that will occur when you create the array on the card). ;)

    But you will want to move your scratch space off to a separate disk or array, as it's going to wear out the disks faster (limited write cycle life for SSD's). If you keep it as is, you'd end up losing your boot disk.

    Separation will allow the system to boot when the scratch space dies, and needs replaced. OWC has cheap SSD's that are perfect for scratch space (i.e. single or pair of 40GB or 50GB versions; different models have 7 <Pro series> and 28% <RAID Edition series> of over-provisioning respectively).

    Get the kit for 4x disks, and at least have another space available (remember, you can still use the SATA ports on the logic board if you run the right cable for a data signal).

    I don't exactly know what you have on hand, but you must have a backup system in place from day one.

    There is no such thing as a substitution for a proper backup solution, including RAID (RAID can be used, but you need a separate, non RAID means of duplicating the data; means no RAID 1 of the primary and secondary sources).

    See above (you will have the OEM optical disk in the system when I'm done ...). :D

    1. You may not have a choice, but it's not going to be as bad as you might think. ;)

    2. Fan or not, you will not hear it (they only move about 10CFM).

    Your English is fine. :)

    RAID is confusing as the details are extremely important to get the right solution. No matter the native language. :eek: :p

    The biggest difference that causes issues with SSD's, is that the 1680 series is 3.0Gb/s, while the 1880 is 6.0Gb/s compliant. And when using SSD, you really want 6.0Gb/s, as current SSD's are already at, or even over the throughput limit of 3.0Gb/s.

    Generally speaking, the main reason is that the card can only contain one form of boot firmware (there's actually multiple parts), so it's only able to contain BIOS or EFI code, not both.

    So to make it work, you'd need 2x cards (one for OS X, and another for Windows). Booting the right card would be handled by selecting the intended boot location in the boot manager. Another way would be to use the ICH for OS X, and the card for Windows (single card method).

    Unfortunately, testing the latter on an '09 system did not boot Windows (test card = ARC-1210, which is an entry level 4 port SATA model). So it seems Apple's implementation of EFI firmware is the problem (based on EFI 1.10 spec, but there's proprietary elements that do not follow spec).

    I do know the firmware between the '09 and '10 is different, but I suspect the problem lies in the BIOS Emulation portion, which likely was carried over unchanged (they just adjusted the memory to recognize SPD timings and the CPU code to handle Westmere based processors).

    You could try 2x cards, but you'd be in unknown territory (guinea pig land), and a strong chance it won't work (what was tested on the '09 should have worked).

    If you do this, others could benefit though (could try the method used on the 2009, and see if it will function; if so, it could be an indicator of better odds of a second card functioning properly).

    Again, you won't be bothered by the fan if it's present. Seriously (it does make a difference on the RAID controller's temps though; typically run ~10C cooler with that little bit of airflow).

    The designs are based off of different chips (Intel IOP348 series for the 1680 series, Marvell's 88SE9480 for the 1880 series as I understand it; ATTO's R6xx series as well).

    Both Areca and ATTO tend to follow the same reference designs (ATTO's R3xx and Areca's 1680 series both used the IOP348, and seem to have done the same again for their 6.0Gb/s models). Which explains their similarities in performance (any differences in performance for the same port count are down to cache capacity and firmware).

    Boot Camp is not supported (never has been by Areca or ATTO; one of CalDigit's products did, but it was garbage - rebranded Accusys).

    Would you be willing to try putting an OS X array on the ICH, flashing the 1880 with BIOS, and see if it will boot a Windows disk (doesn't need to be an array)?

    Just need to see if it will boot, as it could prove highly informative for other users (see if 2010 system or different card model will make a difference). ;)

    I know its a lot to ask, but if you're willing, it would be truly appreciated (my testing was limited to a 2008 system I no longer have, and never went past a single, separate boot disk per OS on the ICH as a means of avoiding problems).

    Your current mechanical disks will not work properly on the RAID card if they're consumer grade units, which I suspect they are.

    You must run enterprise units due to the differences in recovery timings needed (RAID 5 array for your Primary Working DATA) in order for it to be stable. I really cannot stress this enough.

    The SSD's should be fine, but there is a small potential they won't (just a warning, so do not panic; but I do want you to be prepared for that small possibility).

    It's mechanical that's critical, and especially so for parity based arrays (you do not want to go through frequent drop-outs = drives become unstable, and can't read or write any data). Worse, when a dropout occurs, the card will usually try and rebuild the array when it does re-appear (major headaches in such a situation, which is why you need the enterprise disks).

    Separate the scratch from the OS boot disk, as the scratch usage will wear out the disk (cheaper to use a separate single for the OS and scratch space, as scratch will have to be replaced in time, say 1 - 1.5 years if you're really dogging the thing). Sufficient RAM capacity will help to reduce this, but at least OWC has inexpensive SSD"s suited for the task (why I mentioned the 40 and 50GB models previously; they're good for OS's too, if they're small, otherwise, you keep the larger capacity units longer for OS use due to the separation of scratch).

    Hope this makes sense.

    Now we get into the nitty-gritty as they say.... ;)

    The ARC-1880ixl8 will share the external port with one of the internals for this particular model, as it's an 8 port model, not 12 (there is such a thing as an ARC-1880ixl12, which is the 12 port model for the Low Profile models in the series).

    You'll need a true 12 port unit for what you're intending to do if I'm understanding you correctly (BTW, ixl versions = Low Profile for servers, which isn't a concern in the MP). To make it a Low Profile, they removed the DIMM socket off of the ARC-1880ix12, and soldered a reduced cache capacity to the board (512MB v. 1GB between the models; swapping out the DIMM also will allow you to eek out additional performance if ever needed).

    As per your current configuration ideas:
    1. Separate it (use one of the SSD's for the OS, the other for scratch). At this point, leave them on the ICH (no longer in an array, and the ICH will have enough bandwidth to run them).

    2. Stuff this disk in the empty optical bay if at all possible, as you really want to be able to use the 4x HDD bays on the RAID card (you can get the kit for 4x bays and leave one out to start with if you have to).

    3. The reason for using the 4x HDD bays to start, is the additional drive in the RAID 5 set will improve your throughputs (3x disk set isn't that fast; assuming each drive is capable of 100MB/s, then you'd get an average sustained read throughput of ~255MB/s or so). The 4th disk will push this to ~ 340MB/s, and writes are slower than this.

    Hopefully you get the concept here, as you want the write speed of the RAID 5 to be near the read speed of the scratch SSD's sustained read throughputs (assumes that at least some of the data on the SSD is "finished", and only needs to be strung together properly for a final data file which will be written to the RAID 5). Hope this makes sense.

    From what you've posted, here's a configuration that will do the job, and have some room to grow.


    RAID card:
    ARC-1880ix12 would be a better choice IMO as a minimum (4x ports externally will allow you some growth with an enclosure at a later time; just add disks to the RAID 5 via Online Expansion, and there's no need to restore data off of the backup). :) BTW, Provantage will ship internationally if you can't source it anywhere closer to you.

    But the ARC-1880ixl12 would also suffice (same port count, half the cache, and no DIMM slot to upgrade it). :rolleyes:

    Optical Bays:
    • ODD Bay 1 = OEM optical disk (you get this back as you'd like)
    • ODD Bay 2 = 4x 2.5" Backplane unit (whatever unit you can get that's similar; this one is for reference, as newegg won't ship to Europe)
    • 1x disk = OS X boot disk (attached to card)
    • 1x disk = Scratch (attached to ICH via RT angle SATA cable or card if you wish)
    • 1x disk = Windows boot disk (attached to ICH via RT angle SATA cable)


    • 2x disks = OS X boot array (can get more capacity for less than a single larger capacity disk in some cases, so you have an option here; additional throughput could be handy as well, but random access doesn't scale as you'd expect <it won't double in throughput as is theoretically possible - that's beyond rare>)
    • 1x disk = Scratch (or you can double up here as well)

    There's other options with this, and will depend on whether or not the Windows disk is 2.5" or 3.5". But there are other mounting options as well, so clarification would be helpful.

    How To get Power to the Backplane Cage:
    These units (unit linked from newegg), requires a Molex power plug (male end). I've not found the proper gender cable (easily found in reverse genders), but you might be able to.

    Otherwise, you will need to get both a Molex extension and SATA extension cable and make one (each cable has both genders on them, so you'll be able to make it easily; just keep the wire colors connected to the same and you're good to go; solder + heatshrink tubing are cleanest, but wire nuts will work nicely too). Then attach it to the SATA power side of the backplane cable for optical bay 2 and the Molex end into the unit (no data cable located there, so no need to shave the connectors on the 3rd party cables to try and get them to fit). :)

    And voila .... it works. :D

    HDD Bays:

    Additional Notes:
    You need to get a good UPS (say 1500VA Line Interactive with Pure Sine Wave output at a bare minimum; particularly the Pure Sine Wave aspect).

    Ideally, you'll also want to run a Battery Backup Unit (BBU) for the card as well. What you need to realize with this, is there's 2x different units, and it matters as to the model you actually get.

    The T-113 version (higher current rating) is meant for the units with DIMM slots on them (ARC-1880ix12/16/24 units; the other unit will work with the rest of the 1880 series).

    Good to know, as this will serve nicely as an on-site backup solution (may want to use different backup software than Time Machine - up to you, but it could offer additional options such as cloning, which you'll need to be able to do, and easier configuration of customized settings). :)

    I agree, this would be the better usage of resources without spending more than is necessary on SSD's.

    WHEW.... This one took some time to write. :D :p
  23. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    Thanks big times for your reply. I think I never received such a detailed and helping reply in a forum before, so KUDOS :D

    That's a lot of info to process and I need to think it through.

    I am not particulary fond of the idea of separating my SSDs out of the RAID array and make them stand alone volumes. If there really is no speed gain when putting them in a RAID-0, I at least gain a single volume with more space.

    So that being said, I want to keep the SSDs in a RAId array. Whether on the ICH or the RAID card, I don't care, as long as I will not lose any bandwidth on the ICH.

    As for your question how my ODBs are currently being used:

    The original optical drive is *not* connected to the ICH, it is connected to a separate PCIe SATA controller. The two SSDs on the lower ODB are connected to the ICH. Together with the four other drives in the internal drive bays that makes 6 drives total on the ICH, so the answer to your question is *yes*, all 6 ICH connections are in use (by 2 * SSD and 4 * HDD).

    As for booting into Windows - that would be nice to have, but it's not important, really.

    I am sold on putting all 4 internal drive bays on the RAID card. :D

    Also, point taken re: enterprise grade disks. Budget was updated accordingly. Don't tell my wife though!

    The only concern I have with your recommended setup is my Windows boot disk (which also serves as a time machine destination). I really don't know where I should put that, now that all internal bays are being reserved for the Raid controller and the optical drive bay is consumed by the two SSDs.

    oh, and one more important question:

    You guys mentioned the Raid controller should go into PCIe slot #2 (I guess because it is 8x so has higher performance?). The thing is, I have one of those grafic cards that occupy the first *two* PCI slots. Will that be a problem? Because I can't lose that card!

    Again, thank you all for sharing your knowledge!
  24. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    One more thing:

    I will follow your advice to get enterprise grade disks for the RAID 5 array. This will also make it easier to migrate my data, as I can just copy it from the old drives to the new array.

    Now... those old drives are in a softare raid-0 array. What if I unplug them and put them in a cheap external eSATA case (I do have an eSATA controller)? Will OS X recognize the software raid array and let me use it? Any recommendations here?
  25. funkahdafi thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2009
    Planet Earth, Old World
    I just checked with their website and also with their german distributor, but none of them mention that the 1880ixl is sharing one of the internal ports with the external one. They are saying I can connect up to 12 drives to the controller (8 internal, 4 external). Although the "8" in the name does actually suggest otherwise....

    the price difference to the "true 12 port model" you mention is not that big, but you may know how wifes react if you spend money on something that's not for them :D

    So can we confirm this information somehow?

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