Mac Pro Upgraded - 3xSSD's in RAID0

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by VirtualRain, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #1
    As many of you know, I've had a couple of Gen1 80GB Intel SSD's in software RAID0 in my Mac Pro for many months now... and I'm a huge advocate of SSD's to the point of becomming obnoxious about it around here ;)

    I also use the stock 1TB Black that came with my Mac Pro for archiving project work. In addition, I have a 1TB Time Capsule I use for backups.

    As you can imagine, that empty drive bay in my Mac Pro was driving me nuts... just begging for another SSD to slot in there. In addition, the 160GB of my dual drive array was getting a little strained and either needed some serious house-keeping or some additional capacity.

    Both of these problems were solved recently when I saw a Gen1 SSD for sale on Craigslist... I couldn't resist. :p

    Since I had to rebuild the array anyway, I thought it would also be a good opportunity to both secure-erase the old drives and also install Snow Leopard and all my apps from scratch since it's been many months since either had been done.

    You can read all about the process I used to secure-erase the drives in this thread.

    Here's the results... :D

    [​IMG]

    Note that the anticipated ICH limit of 600+MBps seems to be a reality as AJA's max read is 623MB/s compared to what should be closer to 750MB/s for three Intel SSD's. The write throughput is as expected... about 3x70MB/s showing that the drives and Mac OSX software RAID0 scales directly with the number of drives in the array.

    Xbench, which hasn't been updated since 2006, and whose results are terribly inconsistent, turned out much different scores. It simply doesn't seem capable of saturating these SSD's as these scores and throughput measurements are not much different than my dual drive array achieved.

    [​IMG]

    Not surprisingly, perceived real world performance hasn't really changed. The dual drive array was already blindingly fast. Now it's just silly. The biggest benefit is actually the added space.

    Using the Icydock enclosures makes install a breeze as you can see from the photos. The Mac Pro internals really are a work of art! :D
     

    Attached Files:

  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #2
    You don't say... :eek: :D :p :p

    The ICH is definitely an issue for more than 2x SSD's in a stripe, and possibly a single if run simultaneously with a mechanical array with the fastest units (i.e. 4x drives @ 500GB/platter density and 7200rpm).

    The only way around it is with a PCIe based RAID card that can boot EFI. The cheapest I can think of is the ARC-1210, but I'm not so sure if there won't be a problem with it for more than 2x SSD's as it's an IOP332 @ 333MHz(unaware of 3 - 4x run on it though, hence the hesitancy). Lane bandwidth is fine, but it's not specifically designed for SSD's, so it's unoptimized for them. The ARC-12x1ML or one of the SAS models (1212/1222 or 1680 series) have faster IOP (and different series as well; 341 and 348 respectively). Mount wise, you could use a Scythe Rafter (3x 2.5" stack in a 5.25" drive bay). The mount is inexpensive, but I'm not sure of a UK supplier. Span.com carries the card though (as well as others, if you want a faster card). Cables for power of course, but that's not too bad.
     
  3. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #3
    LOL... that comment was especially for your benefit! :p

    I had an ARC1210 when I dismantled my last PC and purchased this Mac Pro. I actually considered using it in the Mac Pro but when I found out it's max throughput was 500MB/s, I decided to sell it and just go with the software RAID0 through the ICH. You would definitely want a faster RAID card as you suggest to fully exploit multiple SSD's.
     
  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #4
    For some reason, I figured that was the case. :D

    I couldn't recall it's actual throughput, but didn't think it could handle 3+ SSD's (~500MB/s is where most of the single core 333MHz IOP based cards come in).

    That's why I mentioned the other models. The cheapest that would do it, is the ARC-1212 (£285.53 incl. VAT from span), assuming you don't want more than 4x ports. Then attach the drives with the SFF-8087 to 4i*SATA cable that's included (saves ~$30USD, so a nice little bonus). :D
     
  5. ildondeigiocchi macrumors 6502a

    ildondeigiocchi

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Location:
    Montreal
    #5
    Amazing results. OSX must fly with those 3 SSD's.:D Just out of curiosity. What made you opt for the G1 drives instead of the G2 ones? Were you able to find them at a cheaper price then the g2s?
     
  6. ncc1701d macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2008
    #6
    "Engage Ludicrous speed!" ;) :D Very nice set up VR!
     
  7. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Aug 1, 2008
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    Vancouver, BC
    #7
    I purchased a couple of G1 drives back in May when they were the only choice. I recently considered selling them and going with 2 160GB G2's which would have been more total investment but there was no compelling performance reason to do that and by adding another G1 (purchased off CraigsList) I could get the same write performance and better reads. Hence, here I am with 3xG1's. It may also save me some headaches as there appears to be some issues with the G2's running in RAID on Mac Pro's.
     
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #8
    But you need a decent RAID card to get that performance though, which kills the economy portion of the argument for the 3x 80GB's. :eek: :D

    That just leaves speed as the logic behind the upgrade, to which I've a good ideo of you're response. For some strange reason I've got an image of Tim Allen from the Home Improvement show, screaming "More Power... Argh argh". :D :p
     
  9. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    #9
    LOL... the real motivation was to increase my SSD capacity. 2x160GB G2's would have about 500MB/s read and 200MB/s write and cost me about $500 net while doubling my capacity. This combo has 600MB/s read and 200MB/s write with 50% more capacity and cost me an additional $200.
     
  10. acurafan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    #10
    that's sick! me likes. :D

    i'm going to pick up another corsair p256 and set my raid0 after the new year ;)
     
  11. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #11
    Money does matter, as we've been down that road before.... ;) But it's fun to tease a little... :D :p
     
  12. frimple macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #12
    Here's the results of the same test with a 4x Gen 1 RAID 0 array on the Areca 1231 ML

    [​IMG]

    You can see some strangeness which pulls the average down, but it's typically between 800-850MB/s read. Write of course is seemingly this fast with the 2GB cache on the card.
     
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #13
    Try pulling one of them, and see what happens to the performance. I stumbled on something odd, where another person was in your situation. They pulled one (for a 3x set), and the performance went up on the advice of Intel IIRC. Really odd, but it worked.

    Obviously it will reduce the capacity of the set, but if you do see the performance increase, and you need that much, it might be worth it. Up to you.

    At any rate, if you try it, please report back, as I'd like to see the results on a RAID controller I'm familiar with. ;)
     
  14. frimple macrumors 6502

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    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #14
    I can do that but I'm lazy and it sounds like work :p

    I'll let you know when I've got results :D
     
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #15
    Thanks. :) I'm looking forward to the results. :D
     
  16. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Vancouver, BC
    #16
    There must be at least write back caching contributing to those results. No way 4xIntel SSD's will provide 800MB/s writes.

    I wonder if the hiccup in the graph has something to do with the cache getting full or depleted or whatever.

    At any rate it's a great testament to the benefits of using a dedicated RAID card. How long does the card take to initialize at boot? My old 1210 was terribly slow.
     
  17. frimple macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #17
    Oh the write is almost completely a product of the 2GB cache module in the 1231.

    I've wondered that too, on larger files you can see it "hiccup" between changing from reads to writes. For example on a 4 gig file I'll get a few frames through @ 10-20MBb/s for the first second or so then it flys back up to ~850 for the rest of the test. Kills my averages ;)

    Despite this being show in the benchmarks, I've never seen or experienced that in real world usage. For example, by using a program called SQLIO in my windows VM's their read's are ~880MB/s a second and writes have been as high as 920MB/s. I've done this on file sizes of 2-16Gb and the speeds are consistent. So it surely helps quite a bit!

    Yeah boot time sucks, it's maybe 30 second before it's done. I'm considering done when I see the apple logo. Once the spinner starts it's usually < 10 second from there.
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #18
    The cache most certainly helps it out quite a bit. I've the same controller (ARC-1231ML), and 2GB on it as well.

    It adds ~25s to the system's boot time (firmware initialization + PCIe bus test). So it's not that bad, and if you don't reboot the system all the time, it's not a big deal at all. ;)
     
  19. D3 Shooter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Location:
    Florida
    #19
    Having problem with SSD..

    Maybe you can help....

    I have purchased one Crucial SSD 256GB for my recent MP. The startup time is twice that of the OEM hard drive. Any suggestions for the start up problem? I had installed a copy of the OS directly to the SSD. Prior to that I had formatted the SSD with the standard Mac ext. journal.

    Next, the write times are degrading fast, down to 120/mbs. I heard that Crucial is going to issue some FW update for the problem, but I do not see any support for Trim or Garbage Collection for the Mac.
     
  20. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

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    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #20
    If write performance is degrading, then the only thing I can think of is to secure-erase the drive... you would have to backup your drive, secure erase it, and then restore. See the link in the first post for how to do a secure-erase.
     
  21. robains macrumors regular

    robains

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #21
    I'm using a newer Patriot Torqx 128GB (128MB cache) M28 drive in another computer I have an it's holding up well even at 90% full mark.

    I'd be interested to see how your drives continue to test after you use them a lot and start to fill them up -- I went with the Patriot Torqx drive because it's performance doesn't fall off any (no hickups like you see in your graph) all the way up to 98% full mark.

    I still think SSD still needs another generation or two to mature and hopefully get cheaper. Right now SSD can be a hit or miss and one really has to do their homework to get the right SSD.

    But to be honest, even at 1080 10bit 24p any drive or RAID 0 set that can get around 180-200 MB/s sustained is enough.

    Rob
     
  22. ungraphic macrumors 6502a

    ungraphic

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #22
    I downloaded AJA System Test just to see how fast (or slow) my Western Digital 250gb Caviar x2 in software RAID0 perform, and im getting 115mb/s read and write speeds.

    I see some SSDs perform around 150mb, the low end ones, and the high ends 220+ mb/s.

    The odd thing is, my Western Digital Green 1TB storage drive performans at around 90mb/s in single form. These drives are way quieter than the Caviars I've got.

    Hmmmmmm...........interesting find.
     
  23. robains macrumors regular

    robains

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Location:
    California
    #23
    I get about 182 MB/s using AJA Test on two WD Black drives 32MB cache 750GB in RAID 0 - 179 MB/s using BlackMagic's Speed Test.

    Unfortunately SSDs vary greatly in performance and are even subject to OS versions making them perform better or worse. Low end SSD can perform as low as 60MB/s with wild fluctuations in access times causing "stutters" in overall work flow.

    Here is a good article on the SSD Performance New vs. Used

    If you want the ultimate peformance out of an SSD today, it's best to look at SLC based SSD is they are faster and more reliable and don't suffer as much of a degradation in performance. But SSD is definitely going to have a good future, just gotta workout some of the "issues" along the way.

    If you want a better tool for truely benchmarking performance of SSD or and Hard Drive for that matter, take a look at SiSoftware Sandra 2010 -- (unfortunately only available for Windows OS's). This tool will benchmarks and report on performance across the platter (for mechanical drives) but also knows about SSDs and will measure performance at 95% capacity. Sandra's 2010 HD benchmarks can take a long time to run (pending the size and speed of your HD or SSD).

    Although MagicDesigns Speed Test and AJA Test are interesting tools, they only reflect relative performance at a snapshot of time, not how the drive is going to really perform when loaded up.

    Rob.
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #24
    They need time to mature. Current models are aimed primarily at enthusiast users = willing to pay for it, and be test subjects (even if they don't realize it). Newer Flash technology that's being developed will help as well, such as FeRAM, which as a write cycle limit of 10E16 on it's own, before wear leveling.

    OS's also need time to catch up, as most are only optimized for mechanical models.
     
  25. superock macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2002
    #25
    Have you had any problems with your Raid setup ?
    I had 2 80GB G1's in a Raid 0 and one of my drives died last week! I just can't believe I have that bad of luck...LOL
    But, Intel just replaced the dead one with a G2 so I guess i'm lucky there !
    I'm not gonna Raid them this time- Gonna put the G1 in my Macbook Pro.
     

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