Mac Pro 5.1 and 6GB/s Drives

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lbeck, Jun 25, 2011.

  1. lbeck macrumors 6502

    lbeck

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    #1
    I have a 6 core Mac Pro and want to get one of the new OWC 6GB/s SSD's. Will my Mac pro be able to take advantage of the 6GB/s SATA 3 speeds or is it only compatible with 3GB/s SATA 2 speeds.

    If it currently can only handle SATA 2, is there a way to make it compatible with SATA 3?
     
  2. MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    Canada
    #2
    No to both questions.
     
  3. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #3
    So there is no chance of using SATA 3 in my Mac pro?
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #4
    The SATA controller built into the MP (part of the I/O Controller Hub, aka ICH), is only SATA II compliant (3.0Gb/s). But a 6.0Gb/s SATA drive will run on it in a reduced throughput rate (steps down to 3.0Gb/s).

    Now it's possible to get a PCIe SATA III card (6.0Gb/s) and get the drive's throughput at 6.0Gb/s. But the choices are limited, and most are eSATA (one internal version, and it could cause a heart attack due to the price; ATTO R608 = internal ports, which sells for $399 USD). You'd also need an adapter kit to work with the HDD bays, which will set you back up to $129 USD (kit that works with all 4x HDD bays in a 2010 model). So ~$530 USD is quite a bit more than ~$50 for a 2 port 6.0Gb/s eSATA card.

    One of the low cost 6.0Gb/s eSATA cards that comes to mind, would be this from newertech (note that it does not support Port Multiplier based enclosures). So if you do need PM support, you'll want this version instead.

    If it must be internal (via one of the cheaper eSATA versions), run the cable through an empty PCI bracket if possible, and install the disk in the empty optical bay. Get a SATA Y splitter for power (attach this to the cable located in the empty optical bay), and a SATA data cable to the card.

    Not as clean as an internal card, but cheaper than the alternative.
     
  5. derbothaus macrumors 601

    derbothaus

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    #5
    I bought 6G anyway. I run now at 3Gb (Mac Pro) and within the 5 year warranty of the drives I am sure I'll get a 6Gb Mac. Instant saturation of the new bus as well. All for 50.00 more. SSD's are the one thing to move from one machine to the other.
     
  6. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #6
    Thanks nano frog! Im trying to figure out exactly how I would set up the new 6GB/s drive internally with the newer tech card. I know I'd have to run the SATA cable out of an empty pcie slot so it can plug into the newer tech card. It's the power cord I'm confused on. The hard drive will only have one plug on the back for the SATA cable, right? That's how my current SSD is from OWC.
     
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #7
    This is why I mentioned the SATA Y Splitter (one end plugs into the backplane connector <power side> for the empty optical bay = Data + Power), and will provide power for up to 2x SATA drives.

    This solution won't allow you to use the Data portion of the backplane connector (example image of an SFF-8482 connector), but presume that's not an issue. If it is however, there's a way around that as well (won't go any further ATM, unless as there's some DIY work involved - easy to do, so don't get alarmed if you need this).
     
  8. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #8
    Ok, I want to make sure I have this right, this is new to me.

    The connector that is currently in my empty optical drive (let's call that the internal connector) supplies both power and data to the drive. I can connect a power y splitter to the power portion of the internal connector. That will allow me to supply two SSD's with power. Then, I'll install a newertech card in one of my empty slots. I'll take the SATA cables and plug one end into the two ports on the newertech card, and the other ends will run back into the Mac pro to the back of my SSD's in the optical bay.

    Is that right?
     
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #9
    Correct. :)

    Just keep in mind, that the newertech eSATA cards are only 1x PCIe 2.0 lanes, which is good for 500MB/s max. So running disks simultaneously could slow you down on a 6.0Gb/s SSD, as that bandwidth will have to be shared by both disks.
     
  10. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #10
    What cards could I get that would not slow down my fast SSD's?
     
  11. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #11
    Also, if that card's bandwidth is only 500MB/s then I wouldn't be able to get the max 600MB/s speed that the SSD's offer, right? Is there a card that allows that top speed?
     
  12. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #12
    So maybe the ATTO card is the best option. It would keep it cleaner because it would be all internal. If I did that, I'd need to get the card, plus the adapter kit like you mentioned. I found the ATTO card cheaper in you other thread. Is this link below e right one I'd need?

    http://www.provantage.com/atto-technology-esas-h608-000~7ATTO052.htm

    And then the adapter kit I'd need for my 2010 MP would be SZ-MACPRO10-SA06, right? The link is below.

    http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_id=189

    How exactly does the adapter kit work? I'm assuming it's for my four HD bays. What about my optical drive bays? I have one optical bay taken with my Blu ray drive, but id like to put some SSD's in the lower bay as well. I think the adapter kit is only for the four hard drive bays, right?
     
  13. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    #13
    I have previously tried the ATTO solution using a SAS to sata connector from max upgrades, and had difficulty getting consistent boots (kernel panics on restart) and also the 6gbs speeds were no where near what they should be especially for the write speeds. Your luck might be better, but be forewarned that this is not clear cut.
     
  14. MacUser2525, Jun 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011

    MacUser2525 macrumors 68000

    MacUser2525

    Joined:
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    Canada
    #14
    The adapters go into your optical drive bay allowing for the extra drives in there, I have one (4 drive model) in my machine works great. Now with your machine you want the one that gives you the two extra drives from the sounds of it and if only the two drives then no need at all for the expansion card as if your machine is like mine then you have two extra SATA connectors already on the motherboard that an be used and are bootable. You will also want to make sure of the power connector in the optical bay is of the 4 pin molex variety as if it is only SATA power connector in there I have never seen a splitter for it anywhere.

    Edit: Oh and you want to make sure the adapter will mount SSDs on it the one I have does not.
     
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #15
    Either a RAID card (example) or non-RAID HBA (Host Bus Adapter) like the ATTO H608 that's:
    • 6.0Gb/s compliant
    • More than 1x lanes (the cards I'm talking about in this case are 8x lanes)
    Correct.

    Keep in mind that 6.0Gb/s tops out at ~540 - 550MB/s for sustained throughputs anyway.

    Yes, this will work.

    You can also use a RAID card (see example linked above). Yes, it's more expensive. But it will also allow for future opportunities/flexibility in terms of RAID (which is particularly important if you're going to be earning a living with the machine; it can provide both speed and redundancy for critical data).

    Please understand however, that no matter what sort of storage system you have, you need a proper backup system in place (life happens, and it can really ruin your day).

    As per the empty optical bay, you use a fan-out cable to connect the card to disks in terms of data signals (you'd need to buy one if you get an ATTO card; Areca includes them), and use a SATA Y splitter for power (connect it to the system cable that resides in the empty optical bay, which contains both data and power). As per mounts, there are ready-made mounting systems as well as DIY methods (specifics will depend on how many you're trying to run).

    Hard to base it on a single instance though (not discounting what you went through, but it's hard with MP's, as to get a real picture, we'd need multiple machine models to test with, and it may even have been an early driver or firmware revision that caused all of the fuss - too many variables and not enough information).

    Areca has an external port non-RAID card (ARC-1320) that you're aware of IIRC. But no internal versions yet, and I've not checked to see if they've released firmware that will allow them to boot OS X (EBC based boot.bin).

    Personally, I actually prefer a RAID card due to the additional features. They also seem to get more attention than their non-RAID counterparts IMO as well. Not just the web page space/press attention, but in terms of speed support issues may be addressed (even amongst the likes of Areca and ATTO).
     
  16. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #16
    Thanks nanofrog, I'm not sure what I'll do now. I like the idea of a RAID card. If I bought a RAID card would I still need to buy the adapter kit from max upgrades? I guess I'm confused on what that even does, I thought you can just plug that drives directly into any card.
     
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #17
    I didn't mean to confuse matters, but it can offer features a non-RAID card cannot do.

    Ask yourself a few questions:
    • Are you currently, or will be in the near future, earning a living with this machine?
    • How valuable is your time?
    • What software are you using?

    The answers to these can determine if you need the additional speed and redundancy a RAID card can offer. But if it's just to hook up a 6.0Gb/s SSD, then it's overkill (and expensive).

    That is, is the data you work with critical and time too valuable to waste fixing problems on a software RAID implementation (assuming you were even looking into this). A hardware RAID can do levels OS X cannot, offer you the ability to run more drives in a set, and additional performance as well.

    If you wish to use it with the internal bays, Yes. The reason for this, is that Apple uses a connector directly on the PCB for the drives and power (aka backplane connector), and uses PCB traces on the logic board to transfer data (their own Apple RAID Pro can use these traces; 3rd party cards cannot however, and thus the adapter kit is necessary to connect those disks to an internal SFF-8087 port).

    BTW, Apple's RAID Pro is junk, so don't waste your time and money on it (expensive, slow, still has battery problems, and only works with a single OS).

    The card I linked is just an example of a 6.0Gb/s card. But there are others (internal ports v. external ports,different port counts - up to 24).
     
  18. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #18
    Cool, thanks. You didn't confuse my decision, you're helping me decide what I need. Your knowledge is invaluable.
     
  19. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #19
    From what I'm gathering, highpoints rocket raid cards are the better ones to buy for a Mac pro. Is this the general consensus
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #20
    :cool: NP. :)

    Mistakes are both costly and extremely stressful, so take your time to consider everything involved, as the smallest detail can make or break a configuration.
     
  21. lbeck thread starter macrumors 6502

    lbeck

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    Dec 5, 2009
    #21
    What brand or brands would you recommend? ATTO is one, righ?
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #22
    Areca and ATTO.
     
  23. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    Aug 6, 2007
    #23
    Nano, you should be advising Apple on how to configure the new mac Pro's for optimum use. Apple has a hard time thinking outside the stock Intel box.
     
  24. nanofrog, Jun 28, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011

    nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #24
    It's far less to do with Intel than Apple's decisions with the MP from my observations (want high margins bad enough to cut corners, and put aesthetics over functionality/ease of upgrade paths for example).

    Take a serious look at other workstations, and you should get an idea of what I'm talking about. Yes, other vendors get decent margins on workstations as well. But there's things like professional GPU's, 3 year warranties standard, and even additional features, such as hardware RAID controllers, SATA/SAS controllers (total port count exceeds the limit of 6 found in the ICH for example) as a means of increasing the system's value to users in that segment.

    Please understand, I am platform agnostic (pick the best platform <system + software> that fits the user's specific needs and go with it). But when you make a cost/performance analysis of other systems vs. the MP, the MP may lose out as a result of the added features (particularly on the hardware side).

    But if you must run OS X (i.e. extensive software investment in OS X and training), shifting to a system from any other vendor wouldn't be an option for a professional (can't afford the time and aggravation to deal with any potential issues that could occur with a hackintosh). So software can't be ignored either in the decision making process (actually let the software guide a potential buyer to the right hardware while reducing wasted funds).
     
  25. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    #25

    Coming from years of high end and highly customized (and overclocked) PC use, I would still find it hard to go back although from my limited testing of lion, they seem to be heading down the cute gadget road in general, so who knows. One of the reasons that I came to the MP in the first place is that I got tired of the endless hardware possibilities and endless hardware inconsistencies that went along with the constant upgrading of PC's. The price you pay is being boxed in to the very limited choices that Apple makes for you for the most part. As long as you can live with that and like the software side of it, as I do, then all is pretty good. Not perfect, but pretty good.
     

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