Mac Pro PCI-E SSD Boot Drive

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by -SD-, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. -SD- macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2009
    Peterborough, UK
    Hello all

    I'm looking for a PCI-E SSD boot drive for a 2009 Mac Pro. I'd like to leave the main internal drive bays free for four 1TB SATA drives in a RAID 10 array. I don't really need anything bigger than 32GB, 64GB at an absolute maximum. Just big enough to hold OS-X and the main applications I use.

    I'd appreciate any recommendations for decent PCI-E SSD drives that are available in the UK.

    Ta very much

  2. 300D macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2009
    There are plenty, but they all cost well over $1000 and are in the 512GB-1TB range. PCI-E SSD drives are aimed at studios that need extremely fast data transfer without sacrificing capacity or having to live with the latency or failure risk of multiple hard drives.

    For only 32/64gb, there is no need to waste money on something so expensive. Just get a normal 2.5" SSD and stuff it somewhere out of the way.
  3. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    I'm more curious as to whether there are any that actually work with OS X at this point. I haven't heard of any that are, which is kind of a bummer.
  4. playalistic macrumors regular

    Sep 27, 2007
    Surrey, UK
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I haven't either. The Fusion I/O is supposed to get OS X support, but AFAIK, it hasn't happened yet.

    So that leaves a SATA based unit, which can be located either in the empty optical bay or via PCIe bracket mount as already mentioned. It's even possible to stuff it other places via DIY using zip ties, ... but you do have to make sure you won't create a short where ever it's placed.
  6. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004
    I'm thinking about doing this also...

    I currently have 4 drives set up in a RAID with the Apple Raid card.

    I really don't have a separate partition that is my "boot" there an easy way to do this without losing all of my data (it is backed up on a TC)
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Ouch. Not a good card.

    Install the SSD, and then clone the OS and applications you want on the SSD. Then delete the OS.

    Personally however, once the OS is cloned to the SSD, I'd wipe the array, and restore the data you want on it from the TC (gets the unwanted files off, as pulling the OS manually could leave "orphaned" files which consumes capacity needlessly).
  8. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004
    HAHA thanks....I didn't know that when I bought it...its fine for what I do...but now wish had a better card, especially for that price premium.
  9. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It's an expensive card with too few features (single OS is a big one IMO) and too slow, even if it didn't have any flaws (namely the battery issue).

    Combine them though, it's neither worth what they want for it, and it's certainly not trustworthy (especially if you're running RAID 5 without a UPS).

    I realize you've already got it, but it would be in your best interest to get a better card (you can actually get a good 4 port card, including SAS functionality, for less money). Additional ports would cost more of course, but can still come in under what the Apple card sells for. At any rate, you can sell the Apple card off (eBay or Craig's List), and it might generate enough to completely pay for the new one. :eek: ;)

    Even if you lose some cash in the deal, the security is worth it IMO.
  10. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004
    I do have it as a RAID 5 but have an UPS.

    What would you suggest? Currently I have 4X1tb in RAID 5. I don't have a lot of stuff on it, but it's my important stuff. Pictures, Final cut movies, business items etc...

    I have the esata connect and an 2tb hook up to it as TM back up.

    I have filled up my TM and was looking for other solutions...speed is nice...always like the fastest but not necessary.

    If I purchased a new RAID card, I would lose the data correct and have to restore it?

    How would you set up the system? SSD boot in the optical bay and the 4x1 in a RAID 5 with a Drobo as a TM?
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    You've a few choices.

    If you want to stick with a 4 port card, you could get an Areca ARC-1212, and connect the HDD bays to it. I'm not sure of the system you've got, so you'd need an HDD bay adapter kit for an '09 ($165USD), or possibly an iPass extention cable ($90USD); both are from Max Upgrades. Use the eSATA for backups, but you'd need a multi drive enclosure (uses a Port Multiplier chip).

    The other route, would be to use an 8 port card (say an ARC-1222), and get an external MiniSAS 4 disk enclosure + correct cable (future expansion and backups). In this case, you can use an internal port card only, and still make it work (just need the right cable, and run it out a PCI bracket).

    I prefer the second method if you're starting from scratch.

    Which ever way you're interested in, I can help you find the right gear (no links this time around, as I'd like more details as to what you want to do, and specific use would help).

    Going to a new card would mean losing the data, as the array must be initialized on a new card, which will wipe any existing data. So a proper backup is necessary before proceeding with a card swap.
  12. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004
    so you wouldn't do a SSD boot drive?

    I have a Macpro 2.8 quadcore. I think that's the early.

    I mainly make nonprofessional movies with final cut pro and work with some family pictures with Aperature/raw files.

    So nothing super intensive, but just do not want to lose data.

    Speed is a luxury, which I like...but not necessary. It's just nice.

    I mainly use it as my "work horse" when I am ripping movies. I use it as my itunes library to stream to my apple tv and the rest of my house.

    Typically I am on a macbook for internet/email and use "screen sharing" to run processes on the macpro unless it is something visual I need to do (such as final cut or aperature).

    Thanks in advance for the help! I remember searching the forums before and got conflicting advice.
  13. 300D macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2009
    No reason not to. An SSD is faster than any raid in latency and small file transfers, some can even rival a RAID in read throughput.
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    An SSD is fine for an OS + application drive, and figured you will use one (see post #8). Put the posts together, and it will work (including the cloning).

    SSD = boot disk
    RAID = data (possibly backup as well on separate drives)

    eSATA = backup if the RAID card isn't used
  15. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004

    Awesome. Thanks....what would you recommend for brands for parts. You mentioned the ARC 1222. I would use that to connect to the SDD correct in the the optical bay spot? I assume I can use my current esata from the mother board for the back up? What mini sas enclosure would you recommend? Is it quiet?
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    In an '09, I'd use the 2nd ODD bay and cable for the SSD (uses the logic board = ICH controller in the chipset).

    Then use a RAID card to attach to the internal HDD bays (a $165USD adapter is needed for an '09 with any 3rd party internal port card; here).

    As per card maker, I'd go with Areca, followed by Atto. Highpoint's RR43xx series is also a posibility, but the low cost is a bit of a misnomer in some cases, as they don't come with cables (Areca's do, which combined with the feature set and lower cost vs. Atto, is the best bargain for EFI bootable RAID cards). Fine for what you want to do as it happens (the Max upgrade kit has the correct end to plug into the card, and if you go with an 8 port card to take 4x drives external, you'll need a different cable that never comes with a card; kit only if it exists).

    But Highpoint doesn't design or manufacture their own gear, so the support is lacking (it really sucks, especially getting the EFI firmware if you wanted to boot from it - you won't need this in your situation, just the OS X drivers to gain access to the card).

    The ARC-1212 is a good 4 port card, and the ARC-1222 is the same unit with an additional port (handles 8x drives). There's also the ARC-1680 series that can offer additional features (i.e. some have faster processors - 1200MHz vs. 800MHz that comes in the 1212/1222, and can use a DIMM for cache, which allows you to upgrade it, and finally, this line also supports SAS expanders, but I seriously doubt you'd need this).

    I'm not sure how heavy you are into FCP, but am under the impression that you do need throughput to improve workflow. But at 4x drives, this will be your limitation, not the card. Even then, I think the ARC-1222 would be just fine, and it's less expensive.

    For an external enclosure, I typically go with an Enhance E4-MS (MS = MiniSAS). They come in silver or black BTW, and the silver version will match the MP's asthetics. ;) This is the cable you'd need (the length matters, so do NOT exceed 1.0 meter with SATA). Sometimes they're quiet, other times, not so much (it seems they get a wide variance in fan quality, which might be due to multiple suppliers). Fortunately, they can also be replaced for a quiet unit (Noctua or Noise Blocker would do well).

    Sans Digital's TRX4 is another one you could take a look at, and is comparable (also a silver model). I'm not sure about noise, and would expect to have to swap out fans in this one as well.

    Ultimately, I'd go with what ever you can find that fits the bill for the lowest cost (I am presuming that asthetics are important to you, and have stayed away from the units available from; they're ugly as heck, but less expensive and work).

    Also note, that you need to use enterprise drives with Areca's RAID cards, and this is doubly important with SAS units (those mentioned are, as the SATA versions are actually more expensive). Check the HDD Compatibility List (.pdf file). Personally, I use WD RE3's for primary arrays right now. Use the WD RE4-GB for backup disks (cheaper, and 2TB).

    This would give you up to 8x drives to be used between the primary array and backups (split is up to you). As your capacity needs grow, you can eventually go to eSATA for backup, and it's not too expensive without the need to swap out the RAID card or buy additional enclosures for it, unless you require additional ports (12/16/24). It saves you money and aggravation in the long run (online expansion is your best friend to increase capacity :D). ;)

    Hope this helps. :)
  17. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004

    thanks a lot. Ok, this is going to be costly...

    more than I expected. I also don't have compatible drives so would have to upgrade tho$e!

    But THANK YOU. That gives me some direction. Where does the SSD plug into?

    Thanks again.
  18. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I would just use OSX software RAID 10. It's not like a dedicated RAID card is needed for RAID10... is it? It certainly is not going to add much value for the cost.

    The SSD can easily connect to the SATA connector that's dangling in the 2nd optical bay.
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'd still like to know exactly what you're doing, as I'm making stabs in the dark per se. I don't want to have you go spend more than you need.

    If it's just music and video libraries, etc. (finished content you DL'ed, ...), you don't need to go this route. But if you're creating content (i.e. FCP), then it does make sense to do so, as I presume income is made from content creation.

    There's a power + data cable hanging in the empty optical bay (it's a backplane connector; SFF-8482). The other ends are already attached to the logic board for you. :) It's as easy as it gets. :p

    SFF-8482 Connector

    Attached Files:

  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    10 is definitely doable with software RAID, and is a lower cost alternative, since the 7racer has drives on hand (3x for sure, possibly a 4th, though I don't know if this is in hand, or needs to be purchased). If more are needed, then a PM enclosure and eSATA card would be doable (Disk Utility can still be used over eSATA).

    What I'm not sure of, is the content meant for the array, let alone the actual throughput requirement. So I'm concerned that the 7racer will buy a level of gear that's not really needed for casual use.

    But if it's professional, then what was linked/recommended (i.e. suitable for content creation), then it's very applicable. The budget limits and mention of FCP have me thinking professional may in fact be the intended usage. But I need to be sure.

    7racer, please do yourself an massive favor, and elaborate on the specific use so we can direct you to the right equipment.
  21. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004
    ahh thanks for looking out for me...

    My profession is medicine...not film. I make movies of me and my friends golf vacations and occasional epic journeys like the recent climb up Kilimanjaro.

    I use to only have a Macbookpro. When rendering movies, I would basically have to leave my laptop alone for 8 hours before a 15 min movie was completed.

    With the Macpro, I let it run and still have use of my laptop. But's done in 20 mins.

    I use the HD space for photos/raw and video. I use it as my itunes library for my apple tv.

    I have not filled up the space on my current I am not in a need for more HD space. BUT I do need more room for my TM backup.

    That's the practical aspect.

    But like anything, I like the latest and greatest, fastest, etc...
    Would like a faster system, but to be honest, the current one "seems" fast enough for my use. It would just be nice to have a SSD boot drive.

    With that, I was looking for a backup solution....a cheap drobo with firewire 800 could do it.....It's not fast, but for backing up, should be fine?

    BUT don't get me wrong, I appreciate your suggestions. It is helping educate me on some high end aspects that I was not even aware of.
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    From what you're indicating here, you don't need to go with a hardware RAID card at all.

    Use software RAID (level 10 if you want redundancy, or 0 if you're willing to restore lost data from backups in the event of a failure). Backups can be done with a Drobo or an eSATA card and a PM enclosure (example). A 2 disk unit can be had inexpensively (it's a Port Multiplier unit when it only has one port for more than one drive). Here's a non PM 2 drive enclosure for $60USD (2x bay can provide you with 4TB right now, and WD's Green Power drives are great for backups).

    A level 10 would require 4x drives, and as it's on the logic board (software RAID = Disk Utility).

    2 port eSATA cards can be had inexpensively as well (seriously, you can get SIL3132 card of of eBay for $13.47USD including shipping; here). Drivers are available here.

    Now wasn't that easy? Now you know it won't cost you an arm + leg. :eek: :p
  23. 7racer macrumors regular

    May 3, 2004
    hahahaha OK OK...too easy. Thanks a bunch.

    just for my information. When you mentioned the SSD drive in the optical slot, i just connect it to the sata cable there? That's it???
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Yes. This attaches it to the logic board's SATA controller, and is the easiest way to have a bootable drive (no EFI compatible cards required). It happens to be the least expensive and easiest way to go. :D

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