Mac Pro RAID Card Installation

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Transeau, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. Transeau macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #1
    I just received my controller via FedEx Overnight. I figured I'd post the unpacking pics before I started the install.

    http://gallery.mac.com/djoyce101/100008

    It looks like the install is a bit complicated. all of the shrouding needs to be pulled out, and the iPass cable needs to be pulled from the motherboard and attached to the card. I'm going to take the time to connect an external SATA while I'm in there.

    I'll try and get some benchmarks for you guys too. Nothing too fancy, just going to compare RAID 0/1/1+0, Sorry, not on a full install, that would just take too long.
     
  2. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #2
    Okay, that was fun. It took about 30 minutes to install the card.
    The hardest part by far was getting the iPass cable connected to the card. It's in a very tight location, and you have to plug the cable in with the card installed. Here is a quick benchmark...


    • Single 150GB Raptor - 77.33
    • SoftRAID: 2x 160GB RAID 0 - 116.89
    • SoftRAID: 4x 160GB RAID 0 - 215.93
    • Hardware RAID: 2x 160GB RAID 0 NO WRITE CACHE - 247.26
    • Hardware RAID: 4x 160GB RAID 0 NO WRITE CACHE - 332.63

    I'll try the same hardware RAID tests with the write cache on once the battery charges... This leads me to my notes.

    1. The battery did not come charged, so the write cache is disabled until the charge is completed.
    2. The RAID utility provides no way of telling how much charge the battery has, or a time frame until complete.
    3. Disk Utility is not used to create the RAID volumes, once the array is set. Once the volume is online, the Disk Utility can see the volume and access it.
    4. Disk Utility reports the RAID Volume as SAS
    5. Full status is available in the System Profiler (less the battery level)
    6. It looks like the card does in fact support SAS drives.
    7. initial system power-on is longer as the controller spins the drives up one at a time. (Good news for those who are going to run 4x 15,000RPM SAS drives)
    8. The card is PCIe x8, you will need to make sure you have your slots configured correctly for maximum performance.

    The battery being DOA is a BIG bother to me. This causes RAID 1+0 and RAID 5 to take A LONG TIME to resync. we are talking hours here.

    More later, once the battery charges.
     
  3. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #3
    VERY VERY VERY annoyed with the lack of info on the battery status.
    "Charging" doesn't help me. I want to know HOW LONG.
     
  4. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #4
    So how do you migrate from separate drives to a single RAID5? Right now I have four drives (two of them back up to the other two nightly), but I'd like to get the RAID card. I don't understand your comment #3. Is there additional software besides Disk Utility to manages the RAID array? Also, are you benchmarks MB/s? Keep us updated!
     
  5. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #5
    Comment #3... You use the RAID Utility to configure the RAID Array, and the initial Volume. Once the volume is created via the RAID Utility you can use Disk Utility to do the normal stuff.

    Migrating can be tricky, based on how much data you have. And VERY slow. It's best to backup everything and restore it to a new array.

    Benchmarks are an Xbench Disk-Only score.. I'll post a RAID-5 score as soon as the damn battery charges.
     
  6. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #6
    one more note - don't bother installing to a RAID-5 or RAID 1+0 array until it's finished Initializing. A "format and install" causes the installer to freak out because it can't remount the drive, and a standard install is REALLY REALLY REALLY slow.

    My RAID-5 is at 95%..... 2 hours in. Thank god I used the 160GB's and not the 500GB's!
     
  7. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #7
    Sorry...I'm not following you. Presumably after installing the card and reconnecting the drives the machine boots and everything looks as it once did. The RAID utility then let's you configure whether you want RAID0/1/0+1/5 etc., right? Is this what you call "initializing" (above)? After that you can transfer data from (presumably) an external drive? Do you have an eSata card? There's no eSata on the RAID card, right? It makes sense that you would want to archive to an external drive and then migrate that to the new RAID, but it sounds like the RAID utility can handle (albeit slowly) the RAID set-up and migration...is that right?

    I suppose this would all make sense if I had the RAID Utility to look at.

    Lastly, what is your back-up strategy? Do you have a eSATA that you back-up to? Firewire? NAS?
     
  8. trancepriest macrumors 6502

    trancepriest

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    #8
    Transeau,

    Is your OS on the RAID volume? I am interested in a RAID 5 setup with Leopard running on the volume. Any information you can report on this would be appreciated. My order shipped out today... should receive it by Wednesday or Tuesday. Your posts have been very helpful in understanding the setup... Thank You.
     
  9. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #9
    Oh Dear God This is insane!

    Please, for the love of God and for your own good... put the card in your box and let it charge fully before connecting the drives to it.

    Setup hung and I hard to cold-start the box. This caused the volume to show an error and now the system is slow. REAL slow, like almost 20 minutes to boot.

    This is stupid. 8 hours of charging now and still not charged. I think Apple REALLY dropped the ball on this. There is no reason that they couldn't have shipped it with a charged battery.
     
  10. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #10
    Maybe they'll offer a fully charged version in two weeks for an extra $100. Sorry...searching for some levity...

    At least your efforts will save me and others some time.
     
  11. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #11
    Yes, The Leopard installer has the RAID utility built in. I was able to boot from the Leopard DVD, Configure the RAID Set and the Volume as a RAID-5 setup, then installed to the new Volume created.

    HOWEVER, I don't recommend this.

    FIRST, put the card in you Mac Pro BEFORE doing the full hardware installation. Let the battery fully charge for 24 hours.
    SECOND, once you create the RAID-5 (or RAID 1+0) set, allow the new volume to Initialize FULLY before starting the leopard install.

    Doing these two things will make your life MUCH simpler.
     
  12. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #12

    Okay, lets backup a little...
    The RAID Utility (Built into Leopard and 10.4.10) is a very simple utility used to configure the drives attached to the controller. Once you select your configuration, you may need to initialize it. RAID 1+0, RAID 1 and RAID 5 require initialization, while JBOD and RAID 0 do not. (Fault Tolerant vs Non-Fault Tolerant) You are still able to read and write to a drive while it is "in transition" (as Apple calls it), however it is VERY VERY slow.

    Next.. Personally, I prefer to never Archive and Install. I ALWAYS have my home folder fully backed up, and I keep many of my 3rd party apps in there. So, I didn't transfer anything to the new RAID yet. At this time, I only have 10.5 installed.

    Migrating - In my experience with RAID, I've always found that it's faster to backup data and restore it to a new Array than to migrate drives into an array.

    eSATA - No, the card has no external connections. In fact the only connection it has (other than the PCIe) is the iPass connection to the drives. I do have a SATA to eSATA cable in the box, but it's mostly unused.

    Lastly, my backup strategy. I have an external 500GB Firewire 800 drive. (a G-Drive) that I'm using for Time Machine. I have several folders that are excluded to keep it from filling up to quickly. So, Time Machine is basically my hourly / daily backup. Next I have an Infrant ReadyNAS NV 1.5TB NAS on Gigabit (with jumbo frames) that is my nightly and weekly backup. Each of our desktops and notebooks gets backed up to it at least once a week. It's actually almost out of space again, once the new firmware is out, I'll get bumped up to 3TB (4x 1TB, X-RAID)

    I think I answered everything...
     
  13. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #13
    Excellent. Very helpful. I'll be migrating to a very similar set-up soon. Thanks for clarifying everything.
     
  14. Macinposh macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Woot!

    Cheers Transeau!
    Greatly appreciated about the tests and reviews,good info for all of us.


    Ps.
    Have you used your eSata cable a lot?
    Have it worked well?What kind of transfer speeds have you gotten out of it,if you have tested it?
     
  15. trancepriest macrumors 6502

    trancepriest

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    #15
    Thanks for the info. Will definitely install it per your instructions and let the battery charge. I'm hoping that my battery comes charged though.
     
  16. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #16
    19 hours and still not charged. I'm wondering if I got a defective card or battery.
     
  17. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    #17
    It could take anything up to 72 hours I would imagine. Have you tried calling Apple about it?
     
  18. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #18
    No, I haven't called yet. For the time being, I've reinstalled on a RAID 0 stripe. I need a usable box this weekend. I'll have to deal with the RAID-5 later.

    I have another gripe. Not so much about the card, but the software. They provide NO advanced configuration. EVERY RAID controller I've ever used has had an Expert setup. I would like to be able to configure the chunk size, read-ahead, etc on my own and not just let a simple GUI do it for me.

    Oh yeah... Installing on a 4 Drive Stripe, from a USB drive takes about 4 minutes :)
     
  19. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    #19
    I would be very interested in knowing if you can put 15k RPM SAS drives in a Mac Pro with this card.
     
  20. trancepriest macrumors 6502

    trancepriest

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    #20
    Seems absurd that it would take over 24 hours to charge the battery. Any information you can find relating to battery charge time would be very appreciated. I'm planning to install on a new RAID 5 volume. I don't really have that much data to carry over so no backup worries.
     
  21. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #21
    40 minutes of phone support with Apple.... WOW...

    ...I answered "No, It's a Mac Mini" Just felt like being a dick.

    "Uh, yeah. I followed the directions"

    "When I installed the card, 24 hours ago"

    "No, I didn't get any RAID errors without having RAID."


    Does Apple actually train people? Or are end users REALLY that stupid?
     
  22. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    #22
    My semi-ignorant understanding is they get basic training in common problems, but are often over their heads in advanced Mac Pro issues. Ergo, they're given a list of questions on their computer to ask. (If the caller answers no, say this and ask that. If he answers yes, ask this and this.)
     
  23. trancepriest macrumors 6502

    trancepriest

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    #23
    They have no idea what a Mac Pro RAID card is. I went into a local Apple Store last week and asked if they had one... the guy gave me a strange look... I could tell he never heard of it before.

    It sucks to talk to tech support when you know that you're more technical than they are. When I receive the card... will give Apple a call and see if there's any useful info on the battery... hopefully we'll hear something before.
     
  24. Transeau thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Transeau

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    #24
    DO NOT BUY AN APPLE MAC PRO RAID CARD

    This card is being returned Monday morning.
    According to the Product Specialist, the battery takes 7 days to charge.

    Every 30 days days the card will recondition the battery. A recondition cycle is draining the battery for 24 hours, then charging it for 7 days.

    ANY time the battery is not fully charged, the write cache is disabled.

    SO, 8 days EACH MONTH the system will run slow.

    This is the single worst RAID controller that I have ever worked with.
     
  25. hayduke macrumors 65816

    hayduke

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    #25
    WTF? Christ. That's crazy. How can that be?!? This can't be a mega mA•H battery. What a crazy charge/conditioning scheme. Again, WTF? So will you try another non-Apple card? Keep us posted.
     

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