HOW TO: Have you RAID 5 and 4 BOOTABLE SATA ports too!!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by TK2K, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. TK2K macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006
    Hey everybody, I thought I would share my useful advice with you. This gets a bit technical, so bear with me.

    It all stared a month ago when I wanted a full raid 5 array for my data. I got the CalDigit RAID card and 4x1TB hard drives. In additition, I wired the ODD_SATA ports for a 5th hard drive (mounted in the second optical bay) as a boot drive.

    This caused a few problems

    BootCamp In order for BootCamp to work on a Mac Pro, the EFI of the Mac Pro emulates a fake BIOS for Windows. This bios is different than the Mac Pro's EFI layer and lacks some features, such as...
    AHCI is a specific kind of SATA controller used for the ODD_SATA ports, however AHCI is not supported by most BIOS systems, thus do not work on the mac pro.
    Because of this, BootCamp would not recognize the main boot drive on the ODD_SATA port. In addition, since CalDigit has no support for windows installer drivers, I could not install on the RAID card.

    Stuff you need to know for this to make sense:
    iPass Cable: A mini-SAS cable that pretty much functions as a giant SATA connector, allowing the four Mac Pro hard drive bays to communicate with the motherboard via one cable. It's pretty nifty. In a RAID setup, this iPass cable is unplugged from the motherboard and instead connected directly to the RAID card.

    The Workaround
    Most people run a SATA cable up to their optical bay to get a fifth hard drive to work, or a SATA Blu Ray drive, the problem, as discussed before, is this will not work on any boot camp OS.
    Instead of running a SATA cable up, I routed everything through the iPass. I purchased a Mini-SAS to 4-SATA cable off of ebay for $20, connecting that to the place where the old iPass cable (that is now connected to the RAID card) used to be.
    This gained me FOUR additional SATA ports fully recognized by OS X, XP, Vista, Linux, etc . I wired two of these to the optical ports (one for my Blu Ray drive, one for my 5th/boot hard drive) and two to the back of the machine, giving me two E-SATA ports.

    This solution makes it possible to have a full RAID-5 configuration as well as four bootable SATA ports inside your Mac Pro. Theoretically you could even use those overpriced cases to have eight hard drive inside your mac pro, four by RAID card, and four by iPass motherboard.

    If you really wanted to, you could also use the ODD_SATA pots for OS X only and get a total of 10 SATA ports opperational inside your Mac Pro (not that you'd ever need that...) If you want to get the ODD_SATA ports working in XP or Vista there's a very technical thread over at insanelymac titled "[HOWTO] Boot Mac Pro in AHCI - XP / Vista / Linux, Add Blu Ray Drives in Windows & New Drivers for Sata controller"

    Good Luck!
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Mini SAS fan out cables are wonderful things. :D

    "Like peanut butter and chocolate" when used with RAID.

    //Great. Now I've gone and made myself hungry. :rolleyes: :p

    *Nelson Pass
  3. bigbossbmb macrumors 68000


    Jul 1, 2004
    That's perfect... I just got the Caldigit RAID card, but haven't installed it yet.

    I'm definitely going to pick up one of these cables for boot drive+external SATA. I know the ODD SATA ports aren't hot swappable (must reboot to connect), do you know if the iPass SATA are hot swappable?
  4. rylin macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2006
    Congratulations, you just broke the first rule of RAID.

    Do not buy disks from the same lot or production date.
  5. UltraNEO* macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    Sorry... been there done that...

    Only I prefer RAID6 to RAID5 pure because there's more redundancy.

    Actually, I've tinkered with my machine, I've managed to house all ten drives inside the MacPro (saerch, found and installed a BluRay via IDE, space under the optical is still free!), provided you don't mind losing the First PCIe slot, though you can always resort to using a video card that only accommodates a single slot, such as the 8800GT... SO technically there's 11 storage devices inside, gets a little hot!!!!

    STILL having problems with SLEEP! :(
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It happens often. :(

    I even wonder when I see Q = 20 drives (OEM packaging) sold by e-tailers that deal in RAID gear.

    Hmm... What are the odds the factory didn't place sequential drives in the box? :p
    Pics would be nice :D

    How hot does it get crammed with all of that gear?

    RAID won't allow sleep, as the card now has control of the drives rather than the logic board. The RAID card won't recognize the sleep function in the OS, and is intentional.

    MAID is a similar feature that simulates it to an extent, by allowing the drives to spin down after a user set time.
  7. TK2K thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006
    Bought one from Newegg, one from ZZF, two from OWC :p i just didn't bother typing all that out before.

    the iPass drives are hot-swappable.

    Nanofrog have you ever seen a MAID in use? Ive always thought it's a pretty cool idea.
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Yes. The Areca's I've used supported it. :D

    If you use it, just be careful not to get into a situation not to have the drives to spin up and down too often, as it can wear out the drives. But in cases, where, say the system won't be used for 8 hours, it's nice. :)
  9. oneflow macrumors newbie

    Jan 24, 2009
    any else try this yet?

    just wondering if anyone else has tried this yet. I ordered the parts to run this setup and they could be here wed. 28th. So i will be running this with both OS drives external on drive windows one drive OSX. sounds like everything should be great.
  10. TK2K thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jun 4, 2006

    Yeah I got it running on my system, wireing the SAS cable through that tiny hole to the optical bay was a real pain, but it was so worth it. Now all I need is Paralells to be able to emulate a 64bit CPU and it'd be even better...
  11. Nadav35 macrumors member

    May 18, 2008
    AHCI drivers and odd ports bootable


    Although, I don't use a RAID setup for my mac, I can say that yesterday I just installed the AHCI drivers for windows 7 and with my two sata optical drives in my 2008 mac pro connected to the odd ports, they are bootable. In fact on the mac side, I put in snow leopard install dvd and hit the option key and it booted right up into snow leopard. I also then tried a windows 7 dvd and it TOO booted up into windows(BECAUSE OF THE FACT I HAVE THE AHCI DRIVERS INSTALLED as per the instructions on insanely mac).

    So, to sum up.. Yes, the odd sata ports when used with sata optical drives(blu-ray or dvd) are 100 percent BOOTABLE on the mac side only(for those without AHCI drivers in windows), but if one installs the intel ahci drivers, then dual bootability is possible.


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