Help me make my mind up please - Mac Pro setup and RAID options

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by gmehje, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. gmehje macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,
    Been reading these forums for a while now and very impressed by the quality of opinions!
    I'd appreciate some thoughts on my suggested setup shown below. I'm in the UK if that makes any difference at all.

    Currently I have a MacBook Pro (c.2006), 320Gb internal with Time Machine backups and Dell 24" monitor. I want something much most robust at backups and also the much better speed of Mac Pro. Don't know much about RAID but would like suggestions.

    Applications:
    CS4 Ultimate plus some FCS4. No gaming.

    Things I'm pretty sure about:
    Octo 2.66 - Two 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    either ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB or Geforce GTX 285 (although not sure which one)
    16 GB RAM (from Crucial or macupgrades)
    1 x Crucial 128 gb SSD (for boot) - with the 3.5" holder of course
    1 x Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB 10,000RPM 3.5" SATA II WD3000HLFS (for Photoshop scratch)
    2 x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB SATA II 32MB (for project files)

    So that's my 4 HD slots filled. Does that all sound sensible?

    How should I go about back ups and RAID stuff?
    I was looking into the DROBO share http://www.ultimatestorage.biz/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=178
    This give me 4 disks of storage.
    How does RAID work?
    What configurations do you suggest?
    Is the hard drive setup above sensible?
    I currently have a couple of TB which I use for backups when I can. I want to be much more future proof than this esp. as I will be doing more video work (and possibily some 3D).

    Any help or suggestions greatly appreciated.

    Many Thanks
     
  2. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #2
    Looks good to me. ;)
    Go with a Firewire 800 Drobo instead and connect it directly to your Mac Pro. DroboShare is a NAS and slow.
    Clicky Clicky
    For your setup, go with a Drobo and forget about RAID. You could stripe your two project drives for slightly better read and write speeds or you could mirror the two project drives for redundancy.
     
  3. gmehje thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #3
    Many thanks for the quick reply.
    I wouldn't mind if you could explain striped and mirroring with the drobo 800 FireWire.
    How do I set it up ie what backup drives do I need for the drobo? How do I make sure my applications / boot drive is backed up? Is this mirrored as well? Sorry it's new to me and not sure what drive I need and how it all fits together.
    If I get drobo does that mean I don't need a RAID card?
    Many thanks. Replies are most helpful.
     
  4. Loa macrumors 68000

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #4
    Hello,

    Let me ask you to consider a few things before you buy all that.

    First: why do you need an octo?

    Second: you have 5 HD slots in your 09MP, unless you're planning on getting a second optical drive. Buying a very cheap 3.5inch adaptor will allow you to put a 5th SATA drive in the second optical bay. The SATA cable is already there, waiting. You could use that spot for your back-up drive.

    Third: are you sure you really need a scratch disk with 16GB of RAM? For PS4, I'm pretty sure you don't. Look it up on this forum: scratch disks are pretty much a thing of the past if you have 12GB+ of RAM. Don't waste a valuable slot for something that you may not even need.

    My suggestion:

    1) use the 2nd optical bay for a 1.5TB - 2TB time machine drive. This would be your first line of (back-up) defense. Using another external drive as secondary back-up would be great.

    2) use one of the regular bays for your SSD: a second generation Intel or Vertex SSD. If you move your home/data folders out of your OS disk, you don't need 256GB of space for your OS.

    3) use the remaining 3 bays for a 3 disk RAID0 set-up (you can choose the drives and sizes yourself, but I'd go with raid-edition drives instead of regular drives).

    As for how RAID works, there are a lot of info in this forum, but you can go here.

    Enjoy!

    Loa
     
  5. Loa macrumors 68000

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #5
    Oh, btw, very important info:

    RAID mirroring is NOT a form of back-up.

    Do not let anyone convince you that it is.

    Loa
     
  6. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #6
    Very true. Redundancy is not backup.
     
  7. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #7
    That is why it is not worth much if you diligently backup. It reduces the risk of loosing in process data. If you can afford that risk you better use your drives for striping RAID0 which gives you more speed.

    The suggestion to use the 5th SATA port is a good one. Obviously you can also cut your intended 160 GB SSD in two and run a RAID0 with 2x64 SSD. That would be faster.
     
  8. Check 6 macrumors regular

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    Nov 12, 2007
  9. gmehje thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #9
    Many thanks for your suggestions. It's really great to get some help as the options are quite varied.
    I'd like an the Octo because this is a puchase for 4 years so its be best I can afford and its a little more 'future proof' - hopefully Snow Leopard will like the new system.
    Using the optical bay is great idea. I'll certainly look into that.
    Question: For the 3 disk RAID0 setup, I presume that is a software RAID and I don't need a card?
    I use TimeMachine at the moment which seems good. Will Time Machine 'back-up' all my drives or do I use it to back up the RAID 0 clients file only (not sure of it does more than one hard disk). Do I still need another solution for my applications folder backup or should I just periodically back this up manually?
    In reply to the question on which monitor. I have a dell 2408wfp - but may also but a smaller 22" montor to sit alongside this setup as I'm used to having photoshop palettes on my MacPro 15" screen.
    Many thanks again.
     
  10. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #10
    Good idea to go for future upgradability. There will be a lot of options with the X55xx and the 1366 socket in the future I believe. Even 12 cores can be on the menue.

    Yes, any 2 or 3 RAID0 can be software RAID supported by OS X. It is very simple to set up.

    You can set up Time machine to do all your drives or only selected. It really depends of how much changes you make to big files. Time machine can grow really fast if you apply it across the board.
     
  11. gmehje thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #11
    Many thanks gugucom, much appreciated.
    I'm going to do few searches for Raid Edition drives as I've no idea that they existed. I presume they will be a bit more expensive.
    Can I just check with the forum about the basics of a 3 disk RAID0 setup. I understand its easy to setup in OSX. Does this mean that I store my data on one of the disks and the others are mirrors of this just in case of any problems?
    Thanks all,
    G
     
  12. Loa macrumors 68000

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #12
    I'm not so sure. There are a lot of apps that are not multiproc/core aware, and still a lot more that simply cannot be multi-threaded.

    Right now, give Photoshop 75 thousand cores and it still won't go any faster than a Quad.

    My guess is that we're forced to buy that multi-core party-line because the next technology (3D processors, holographic processors...) is simply not ready. We've essentially been using the same technology for the last few decades: 2D silicon chip processors. It's exhausted its potential now. That's pretty clear.

    For now, the multi-core systems only make sense for those that specifically need them. We simply can't suppose that an OS will suddenly turn single-thread apps/algorithms into multi-core-aware miracles.

    But then again, money doesn't seem to be a big concern for you! :)

    ---

    Concerning back-up, I use Carbon Copy Cloner, because it's a lot more flexible than Time Machine. And, also, I just don't need the fancy interface. You can choose exactly what to back-up, either form the OS files or your own. There is a great periodic back-up tool: daily weekly, monthly... And it's free! :)

    Loa
     
  13. Loa macrumors 68000

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #13
    Make a quick search to understand the differences between a RAID0 (stripe) and a RAID1 (mirror).

    My suggestion is to build a 3 disk RAID0 for speed, and use a regular back-up tool (TM or CCC) for you back-up needs.

    Remember: forget the association betwen RAID mirror and back-up: they're designed for 2 very different goals.

    ---

    Setting up a RAID0 is quite easy as long as you don't want to partition it. It's nearly intuitive in Disk Utility, but you can also go to the link I provided earlier to have a step by step explanation.

    Loa
     
  14. gmehje thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #14
    Hi there,
    Thanks LOA for your input.
    I understand your note on Photoshop - although I'm just tryiing to get the best I can afford (I hope).
    And I wish money wasn't a concern.:cool::cool: It certainly is but I've worked my socks off to make sure there's money set aside for this purchase and its damn well gonna last me a long time. My Mac Pro is a legend of a machine - although its 'only' a 2Ghz Core Duo its lasted me a good few years with serious workload - at least 8-10 hours 6 days a week. I'm prepared to invest decent money to make sure my next Mac Pro purchase is as good!
    Been looking into RAID edition drives and they are expensive (and not very available) a 2TB is c. £215 UK at scan.co.uk -
    2TB Western Digital WD2002FYPS RE4-GP, SATA 3Gb/s, IntelliPower, 64MB Cache, NCQ
    The question arises - whats the advantage of RAID0 - 3 disk array - if these are 2TB that gets very expensive. Do I need a 3 disk setup? or will 2 be enough?
    Many thanks all.
     
  15. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #15
    You do not need special RAID drives. Any drive will do it. I have used two old clapped out 160 GB SATA I Maxtor hard drives to get experience with the software (disk utility).

    Obviously when you write to two drives or three drives you store away the information much faster. That is the principle behind it.

    One important thing for RAID0 is that it works best with identical drives. If speed is your aim you obviously should use fast drives.

    The other thing that makes sense is looking at your best stripe size for the application. That depends of your drives and the way they are used.
     
  16. Loa macrumors 68000

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #16
    Hello,

    gmehje: if you're planning a 3 drive RAID0, you'll end up having 6TB of space if you go for 2TB drives. Are you sure you need all that space?

    True that you don't absolutely need RAID drives, but they're designed with RAID use in mind. After reading up on it before buying my set-up, I decided to go with the RAID versions. And if I'm to keep those drives for 3-4 years, the cost difference becomes less significant.

    To specify: if you use 3 drives with different sizes, the resulting volume size will be 3 times the smallest drive. For example: 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB drives in a RAID0 will result in a RAID volume of 3TB. So if you use different drive sizes, you essentially lose space. (Note: you *could* partition the extra space on your bigger drives "out" of the RAID, but it's way too messy for my tastes!)

    Loa
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #17
    It depends. You can get away with consumer drives for software RAID, but hardware based solutions may need them for the recovery settings in order to be stable.

    Though using them isn't a bad idea, as they have better specifications, notably the higher UBE (Unrecoverable Bit Error rate of 1E15 vs. 1E14 for consumer models), and MTBF ratings. Lately, the consumer drives have been getting lower warranty periods as well, which seems to be a response to the lower Quality Control standards used during production. Fix the product's issues, or change to a shorter warranty, we see which direction was chosen. ;) :p

    Definitely true :), and ideally, needs to be experimented with to determine the best fit for the specific usage (assuming that's not already understood & obtained through past experience). ;)
     
  18. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #18
    For myself I concluded that I needed RAID0 and SSD for my boot and apps drive. For my storage I am much less concerned because writing away large files is surprisingly fast on big two TB drives. So my ideal would be:

    2 x 128 GB SSDs RAID0 for booting and apps. Another 128 GB SSD for Vista (which the OP don't need), 2TB WD Green for storage and onother 2 TB Green for backup. If you go for an external backup you can RAID the two Greens.
     
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #19
    With a bit of skill, I think it's possible to stuff all that in the '09 models (only one optical drive), and use an internal SATA card (x1 lane model would suffice for a 2 ports).

    Physically speaking, not any different on your '06, but you've got an extra pair of SATA ports, though your still short one, and still need a SATA card. External is also rather easy, and eSATA might be an idea if speed is ever needed for external drives. ;)
     
  20. barnetda macrumors regular

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    Dallas, TX
    #20
  21. lemonade-maker macrumors 6502

    lemonade-maker

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    #21
    The warranty was set by marketing people. Its is a meaning-less thing designed to con users into thinking they are getting something of value. In reality a longer warranty just means the same product at higher cost. It does nothing to indicate the quality of the product, its a separate concept.

    I've had literally dozens of hard drives fail and have never used a warranty. Never even considered it. Its much easier, simplier, and less-frustrating to just replace the drive and chuck the old one (or give to kids to take apart).
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #22
    Perceptions have their place, and I understand where you're coming from. I tend to liken this to extended warranties. Charge enough to cover the replacement costs with additional profit.

    Unfortunately, drives have changed. Not only the move from MR recording to PMR recording, but more importantly, cost cutting measures. Once upon a time, drives used proper bearings. Now, you're more likely to find bushings instead. This adds "slop", or looser tolerances, which cause an increase in vibration. That can be mitigated by using a fly height adjustment circuit, but in the cheapest drives, that's not added. Similar issues have occured with the servos and spindle motors that affect longevity. The components on the boards have been changed as well. It all adds up to make a cheaper drive. Lastly, Quality Control has slipped, and the acceptable drive failure rates have been increased.

    So to offset the increased incidents of returns (to lower $$$ losses), the failure rates produced during product testing have influenced the warranty period in recent times.

    So in this case, it's not a coincedence or strictly a marketing gimmick. :(

    If you have enough drives laying about (DOA's), check out the drives from say the late 90's to what's out now (consumer models). You may notice the differences (some research on component P/N's would help). If possible, contrast that with enterprise models. You should get a good idea at any rate. ;)
     
  23. gmehje thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #23
    Hi all,
    Many thanks all the help and links - some very very informative reading over the weekend.
    This is where I am at in terms of decisions. I would be ever so grateful if a few people could take time to comment on this:

    Internal:
    2 x 128gb ssd boot in RAID 0
    3 x 1.5tb internal raid 0 *- size 4.5TB

    Backup:
    FW 800 drobo
    1x1.5 TB seagate for drobo
    1 x 1 TB I already have to go intro drobo

    I'm interested in your opinions on a few things :

    Photoshop speed and scratchdisks. I read on this site http://macperformanceguide.com/OptimizingPhotoshop-Configuration.html#StripedRAID
    about striped RAID for scratch volume - is this worth doing on my 3 x 1.5TB. Is it easy to do?

    Which drives should I put in which bays? I'm going to migrate from a MacBook Pro (with CS3) to this new Mac (with upgrade CS4 yet to install). Should I migrate existing setup files to the hard drive it comes with, then Carbon Copy Clone this to the ssd, then swop/install the SSD. Actually I cant do this as I need to set up the RAID 0 on my two SSD drives first?

    As you can read I'd very much appreciated some help!

    Many thanks in advance. I know this thread has taken up a lot of peoples time and I'm astonished at teh fantastic help and most grateful. :)
     
  24. Loa macrumors 68000

    Loa

    Joined:
    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #24
    Very expensive for no real benefit over a single SSD. You do know that having your OS on a SSD will only affect general snappyness? And that it won't speed up a single operation in photoshop or FCS?

    Also note that PS4 will not gain any performance benefit during opening and saving from a RAID0: it's CPU dependent, and until Adobe pulls their heads out of their a$$e$, the CPU is the bottleneck for opening and saving operations.

    My advice for your back-ups: have many (and at least one off-site) instead of one huge system. Do you really need to back-up everything you have???


    I repeat: make sure you need a scratch disk. With 16GB of RAM, I'm convinced that you won't.


    Worth it: not really. That RAID0 will be fast enough.
    Easy: not as intuitive as a regular unpartitioned RAID0, but the instructions are there on diglloyd's site.

    The location of the drives in the Mac Pro is not significant. All the 5 bays have the same speed. For practical purposes I'd put your RAID in the 4 regular bays, if you ever need to replace a drive.

    If you want to clone your current OS with a cloner app, you will have to create your 2 SSD RAID before. Boot your computer with your clone, create your SSD RAID and clone the system onto it.

    But again, IMO, a 2 SSD RAID0 as a OS boot drive is overkill and expensive. An OS without the home folders is usually pretty small, quite easy to put on a regular SSD. My OS = 25GB. And in any case, as it stand now, wear concerns are important for SSDs. The less you put on them, the better they'll perform and the longer they'll last. (At least that's today's "wisdom".)

    Get only one, and put that money on either a RAID0 with 4 disks or more RAM for your Octo.

    Loa
     
  25. gmehje thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2009
    #25
    Many thanks LOA for the swift response.
    It might be easier as you suggest to get one ssd for boot and applications.
    Looking at my Macbbok Pro I have about 45Gb of applications etc. so one 128GB will do for boot.
    Many thanks for advice on back-ups. I store critical stuff at box.net but its quite expensive and slow to upload large files. I'm looking into off-site storage but in the meantime might invest in a fireproof hard drive like this for really important stuff..
    http://www.thesafeshop.co.uk/Series/waterproof_fire_resistant_hard_drive/1.html

    Thanks for notes on cloning etc.

    I was thinking for getting 3 x 'normal' 1.5tb disks but someone mentioned RAID edition ones - don't know how to make the call on this one as my reading up seems inconclusive! Perhaps I can get 4x 1 TB RE3 for about the same?


    RAM - I ahve two options - 16GB from UK (Crucial or MAcupgrades) is about £270 (pretty much same as OWC). However I can get 24Gb 96x4gb) for $909.00 US plus 15% UK tax. so about £670UK. Plus can keep 2x1gb already pre-installed.
    Anyone think this is realy worth it?

    Many thanks again for any help.
    G
     

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