Mac Pro bootable SAS RAID card for 8xSSD RAID0

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Spacedust, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. Spacedust, Nov 6, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010

    Spacedust macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    Which one would you recommend or it's known to work ?

    I think only Areca controllers boots Mac OS X 64-bit.

    Can I run two arrays from one controller ? One for Windows and the other for Mac OS X or do I have to buy to separate controllers ?
  2. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    I am booting OS X (64bit 10.6.4) from a SATA RAID array on a Areca 1880 card. The card and arrays are visible in Windows 7 bootcamp.
  3. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
  4. Spacedust thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    I would like to make two arrays:

    8xSSD RAID 0 for Mac OS X SL 64-bit (inside one optical bay)
    4xSSD RAID 0 for Windows 7 64-bit (inside disk trays)

    Do I need two RAID cards or one Areca controller will work and boot for all 12 drives ?
  5. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    You wont be able to fit 8 SSD's in 1 OD bay- 4 is max.

    As noted above, you choose your card based on the number of ports. For your project I would suggest the 1880ix-12 or 16.

    If you need that many drives you may want to consider an external enclosure, which can attach to external port(s) on the RAID card
  6. Spacedust, Nov 7, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010

    Spacedust thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    You can put 8-drives in optical bay:

    Will I see both arrays and startup using Areca cards (I mean normal Apple boot manager) ?
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There's two companies you should look at; Areca and ATTO Technolgies (ATTO is more expensive though, which is why the Areca is more popular; better price/performance ratio).

    Yes (there are conditions, so read on).

    But you cannot boot both EFI and BIOS off of the same card. The ROM only contains one or the other (BIOS by default, so if you want to boot OS X, then you'd have to flash it with the EFI portion; file will be on the disk that comes in the box, or you can download it off of the support site).

    You can however run multiple arrays for multiple OS's by means of driver support (say boot EFI, but a separate boot disk for Windows, and drivers will allow Windows to access the card and subsequent arrays, so long as the file system is recognized). Don't try to use Mac Drive either (reports of problems), and I suspect Paragon would have similar issues as well. So keep them separate (as I presume you're willing to do).

    In theory, you should be able to run 2x separate cards if you need to for boot purposes (one running EFI for OS X, another with BIOS for Windows/Linux). But I've not tested this out, so there's no way to be sure if it actually works in a MP (can't, as I returned the MP I had, as it wasn't the best solution for me in the end).

    See above.

    Given you want to use SSD's, you should narrow yourself to 6.0Gb/s models (given the additional bandwidth per port), so it's either the 1880 series from Areca, or the R6xx series from ATTO (do not get the H series, unless you don't mind using Disk Utility, as they're not RAID cards, just SAS controllers - price is a major hint, as they're much cheaper than the RAID versions).

    But with that many disks, you'd want the RAID version anyway for the cache.

    Another small note; there's a few of the Areca 1880 series that use a DIMM slot for the cache, which means it's upgradable (currently capable of installing a 4GB DIMM).

    Now if you get a single card (only boot one OS, not both), and will not need additional ports, you should look at the ARC-1880ix12 (12 port card, and it does have a DIMM slot for the cache; comes with a 1GB stick). The Areca will also come with internal cables per port (3x, as each cable connects to 4 drives; saves you ~$30 per cable = additional value for that particular brand).

    Also, to use the HDD bays, you'd need another adapter from MaxUpgrades (here).
  8. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
  9. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I'm curious can the 1880 series with 12 ports actually handle the throughput from 8 SSD's in a strip set? That's a STR of potentially 2GB/s! :eek:
  10. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    there was a guy on extremesystems forum that did this and got just over 2GB/s if I remember correct
  11. seufert macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2010
    US, Austria
    Getting the Areca 1880 to boot?


    since i only recently switched from Windows to Mac: How can i get the Areca 1880 to boot MacOS. rEFIt shows the controller under drivers, but it is not shown as available bootable drives on start? Is there something i don't get?

    Thanks for your help
  12. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    Download the mac drivers from

    Look for file ARC1880EBC.BIN, in folder MacPro-EFI_BiOS

    Update the card's firmware with this file

    It should now boot OS X
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    cutterman's right; you must flash the firmware with the EFI file in order to boot OS X. Otherwise, you can use it, but via driver access only (can still use it, but will need to boot off of a separate disk attached to the ICH).
    • You can also find the file on the disk that came with the card. ;)
    As per how, you'll do this via a browser since you cannot gain direct access to the card's firmware in a MP (run ARCHTTP; it loads the IP address:port into the http address line, and gives access). Sign in, and go to to System Controls (Update Firmware is one of the available options).

    BTW, Safari has been problematic for this in the past (doesn't work for firmware flashing), so I'd recommend using FireFox for this.
  14. seufert macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2010
    US, Austria
    a bit more information


    i will try to give some more information what i did so far: 2010 Mac Pro, 2 HDs from Apple. I installed the Areca 1880, installed 4 SSD, installed the driver for the existing MacOSX, created a Raid 0. I also installed the EFI Firmware (how can i verify, that it is really installed?!). With rEFIt i can call the Firmware tools of the Areca.
    My problem now: How to install a MacOSX on the Raid 0 attached to the Areca?! i tried it from extisting MacOSX. Works, but on the next boot i cannot boot from the Areca to continue the installation (cannot select the Areca during boot).
    When i boot from the OSX install DVD i cannot see Areca Volume at all (no driver installed?!).
    I think i misunderstood something or did not get a step?!

    Thanks and Br
  15. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    I have never installed OS X to a RAID-based volume on an Areca card from scratch, so cant verify that it actually will work. You may have to install to a temporary mac-based disk partition, install the RAID card drivers, and then copy the image over to the RAID 0 volume using Carbon Copy Cloner. Assuming the BIOS update was successful you should be able to boot from the RAID at that point.
  16. seufert macrumors newbie

    Dec 11, 2010
    US, Austria
    That worked

    Thanks. Seems like a clean install from scratch is not possible.

  17. NightSailor macrumors 6502


    Feb 24, 2008
    I bet it could be done, using 2.5" or smaller SSD's. There is a lot of free space in there. But it doesn't make sense. The whole point of SSD's is speed. Speed is limited by the RAID controller. Add up the costs of such an idea and you are better off with a large bus mounted SSD.

    It would be nice to carry more drives internally in a Mac Pro and I could make them fit, but why?

    You would probably tap out the through-put of the RAID controller with 5 SSD drives, and the RAID controller would cost $1500. Although there may be faster controllers out there now, last I checked 1-1.2 gb/s was the limit.

    The fastest solution for someone looking for speed is a bus mounted SSD, which makes more sense for the amount of money you would be spending on an overly complicated system that makes no sense.

    Then put in four (4) 3TB drives in soft RAID 6TB concatenated (less chance of data loss) and mirrored (for redundancy) in the standard bays. That would give you good speed and capacity for backup. Use the optical bay if you want more storage or for booting (depending on which MP you have). And the bus SSD for speed.

    I have a cheaper solution and it works for me--for the most part.

    I have four (4) 2.5" drives in my optical bay. Which is a bit easier to do. My 2008 MP has the two extra Sata ports. I use those for two of the drives including my SSD boot and my backup boot drive. I use a Sonnet four port esata card to connect the other two (not bootable), and the final two sata cables go to my G5 case which I gutted and put in ten (10) 2TB drives in 2x10TB mirrored array using port multipliers.

    By the way, you can't boot anything but OS X on the two extra 2008 MP sata ports.

    My 4x1TB internal soft RAID 0 has better than SSD performance for my user files. I only use the fast part of these drives. Performance is quite good.

    I don't need speed for my backups. Port multiplied two sata cables drive ten (10) 2TB drives. I would be ok if this backup was over my GB Ethernet. I'd be happy to lose the sata cables and hide the extra drives someplace cool and out of the way. If I had only one machine to backup, I'd probably rent the drive space online. As it is, I am using these drive to back up several machines.

    A combination of SSD boot, big hard drives in a RAID 0 for user files, plus a port multiplied backup solution like mine makes sense. It is the most bang for a buck.

    I stumbled on this thread because I'm still thinking about upgrading my system. I'd like two SSD's for boot, and I'd like to RAID my backup--not for speed but for reliability. I don't like esata cables for connectivity--they are too fragile and don't make a secure connection.

    After reviewing what is available for RAID controllers, I'll pass on them because they are too expensive, and wait for prices to drop on bus mounted SSD's. If I get bored I'll add a second SSD for my boot system in soft RAID.

    Or I can wait for Apple to offer a Mac Pro, or maybe a Mac Mini with built-in bus speed SSD's that will make my machine obsolete, and use the cloud for my backup. It is coming.

  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It can be. MaxUpgrades makes a solution to do exactly that (here).

    But there are RAID controllers that are fast enough to be used with SSD's (6.0Gb/s units from either Areca or ATTO). Both are 8x lane Gen 2.0 compliant, so can push quite a bit of data (4GB/s is the slot limit, assuming there are 8x lanes available in it). If you stuffed it in a 4x lane slot (#3 or 4), then it would be gimped from it's full potential.

    Now I assume you're getting into the RAID controller's design itself, but it is fast enough now. Previously, the cards were 3.0Gb/s, and limitations were seen (especially on the smaller port count models, as the processor/s are clocked lower; Intel IOP 333 for example).

    As per cost, the numbers need to be run, but I think for less money, you can get higher thoughputs with say 8x SSD's on a RAID card vs. a single PCIe Flash Drive (i.e. 1TB unit from Fusion).

    Reduced cost and complexity.

    This has changed.

    You can get an ARC-1880i (6.0Gb/s compliant 8x internal port card) for ~$543USD. And it's faster than 1 - 1.2GB/s with enough disks.
  19. Vanamonde macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2010
    not to thread-jack, but I just created a similar setup. 8x crucial 6Gbps ssd's with Areca 1880i. Results speak for themselves:




    Thanks for all the help and info guys!
  20. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    :eek: WOW, incredible sequential speeds.

    But be honest, did you experience a considerable speed increase from using this massive striped array over a single disc in terms of OS performance and app launching?

    Cause your 4k results are pretty similar to the ones of a single C300 drive.
  21. vicentk macrumors regular


    Feb 24, 2008
    Hong Kong
    Dear Vanamonde
    May I know some about the 1880i.
    1: It had 2 SAS port, one I will connect 4 SSD, any one I will use some connecter to connect to mac pro SAS, will it also support SATA 6.0 ?
    That on :
    2: Is ARC-1880i support bootable ?
    3: Can ARC-1880i support to set up 2 raid array, in my first question, first array will use 4* ssd and set to raid0 for OSX, second array I want set to raid5 or raid0, it is workable?
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    1. Yes, it's 6.0Gb/s compliant.
    2. Yes, once you flash it (use FireFox, as Safari doesn't do this properly).
    3. Yes, you can operate more than one array on the card.
    You won't gain any benefit from using a striped set as an OS/applications disk however, as it only improves the sequential throughputs (large files). OS/applications disks rely on random access performance, which unfortunately, is about the same as a single SSD.
  23. Spacedust, Feb 17, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2011

    Spacedust thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    Max Upgrade removed their 8x SSD in 5,25" backplate, but I've found 6x SSD backplates:

    I just got Areca ARC-1210 controller, but I've got a question. What BIOS should I use if I want the array to be bootable under BootCamp (for Windows only) - normal BIOS or EFI BIOS ?

    The seller didn't gave me the passive heatsink, but heatsink from old GeForce 2 MX 200 fits perfectly ;)

    How to remove this from Event Log:

  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It should be able to work with BIOS, but you may also have to try EFI (EBC actually).

    Unfortunately, past attempts didn't work. :( But I presume your attempt will be a bit different (only running the ARC-1210 under Windows, not multiple OS's), so it could work. If you already have the card, give it a shot, and keep us posted. :)

    BTW, skip Boot Camp, as it will not work with RAID cards from what I've seen (it's just a partition tool to share a single disk with both OS X and Windows/Linux).

    Worst case, you may have to put a Windows installation on a single separate HDD attached to the system's ICH in order for it to boot.
  25. Spacedust, Feb 18, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2011

    Spacedust thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 24, 2009
    OK. I will try it when I got a backplane and a pair of new SSD's :)

    The problem is when I use EFI BIOS I don't see what's going on, because my HD5770 is a flashed PC card.

    BTW I hate this "beep" and startup. My Mac is now starting like a cheap PC.

    Anyone used something like this:

    It could be great to put 2 drives inside one Mac Pro sleds.

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