Needed: An idiots guide to configuring a Mac Pro 8 Core

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by scouser75, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. scouser75 macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    Guys, I am about to commit to a 2.26 8 Core MP.

    But I've been doing some research on here and a lot of stuff makes sense... but then a lot of stuff is double dutch to me :eek:

    I will be using the MP mainly for Final Cut Studio 3, PS and the usual Office and surfing.

    Ideally I would want 8GB of Ram. 640GB HD for Apps storage. And 1TB HD for media storage.

    Could you guys please explain the following to me:

    What on earth is SSD?

    What on earth is Raid0?

    From a recent thread on here I understand that SSD is far better and recommended over RAID0. I'm in the UK so I understand prices are still OK for SSD. Could someone in the UK recommend a good place to get one of these. Pref the recommended 2 80GB SSD's which I can Raid.

    From what little I understand it's recommended to have an SSD to store Apps on and have a large normal HD to store media on. Is this correct?

    Now on to the matter of Ram. What would be the best way to configure 8GB of Ram? From stuff I've read Ram should be installed in 3's. How would this work with 8GB of Ram.

    Appologies in advance for my stupidity. I honestly have done my reading but not a lot of it makes sense as its fat too techincal for me :eek:

    Thanks guys
     
  2. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

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    #2
    SSD is a 'solid state disk'. it is storage, like a hard drive, but made with flash memory, kind of like a USB flash drive or ipod touch/nano. If you buy a quality brand, they are very very very fast, and will blow away a hard drive in terms of speed. the drawback is that the don't have real high capacity models yet and they are quite expensive.

    RAID stands for "Redundant Array of Independent Disks". the most common implementation of users on this forum is RAID 0. It's when you kind of connect several drives together, causing the computer to "see" the array as one volume. The reason to do this is speed. info is spanned across disks, and read and seek times are much faster. the drawback is that they can be kind of finnicky. if you do a RAID 0, you'd better have a GOOD backup solution, because when one drive fails, the whole array is toast, along with all the data. And of course, it's not if the hard drive fails, it's when the hard drive fails.

    more...

    Many people locate their boot volume on one drive, and their "home" folder, which contains all media, files, prefs, etc, on another drive. and you are correct, you'd want the boot volume to be fast, so an SSD or two SSDs configured in RAID 0, would be super fast.
     
  3. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

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    #3
    SSD = Solid State Disk. It's pretty much like the stuff in a memory stick/USB stick. Pro's - fast, no moving parts. Con's - Price...at least for a couple of years.

    RAID0. RAID is the use of several storage devices for one purpose. Wiki for more details. RAID 0 in particular takes 2 hard drives and uses them as one, effectively doubling your speed from the hard drive (which is by far the slowest part of a computer system).

    And yes, the logic is to use the fastest storage device for operating systems and applications.

    And RAM should preferably be installed in 3's. So I'd ask yourself whether you could get away with 6. If not, the easiest way would be to get 3 x 2GB sticks to replace the 3 of the 6GB the octo comes with to get 9GB...

    EDIT: lol..beat me to it
     
  4. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Thanks Bozz for your reply.

    160GB is the highest you can go on SSD, right? I reckon this will be more than enough space for me so will consider it. What's the decent going rate for these in the UK

    As for Raid0 - for someone as IT illiterate as me I think this is not a good idea :eek: Really cannot afford to lose my data!

    Therefore I reckon I should go for 1 SSD and 1 1TB HD for data.

    What do you think?
     
  5. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

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    #5
    more yet...

    RAM. Yes, it is fastest when configured with 3 DIMMs, because of a technology called triple channel, wherein having them configured in threes gives a bit of a speed boost. having two or four DIMMs works in dual channel, not as fast as triple channel, but still a boost over having one single DIMM. Most people agree that you won't be able to really feel a difference between running in triple vs. dual channel. bottom line, if you want 8GB of RAM, do 4GB. you could get 4x2GB from apple, or you could visit a webstore like macsales.com. you could even go for 12GB for a decent price, as they sell 4GB DIMMs for $165. not bad...
     
  6. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

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    #6
    your plan sounds good. I think you are right to stay away from RAIDing hard drives. you could get a single 160GB SSD (I have seen them as large as 256GB) and use that as boot volume. When I get the money, I personally am going to buy 2 80GB SSDs, and RAID them, for even more speed. As for buying in the UK, I don't know. I am in the US, so I suppose you'll have to ask someone a bit more worldly than me.
     
  7. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7

    Thanks Genghis too :)

    I'm getting there with the SSD and Raid0 thing :)

    But re. Ram - Genghis, you say if i can get away with 6 I should. But if not I should "get 3 x 2 sticks to replace the 3 of the 6GB the octo comes with the get 9GB".

    3x2 would be 6GB. Or was it a typo and you meant get 3x3gb to get 9gb?

    If I did want 6GB instead, I should get 3x2gb sticks, right?
     
  8. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #8
    Either one still needs a backup. Running either without a backup is equally as dangerous (and stupid). So, take your pick; Huge storage space and high-speed or tiny space and high-speed (for the same price) - but either way you need a backup drive for the SSD+HDD or RAID+HDD. Keep in mind that your backup drive only needs to be slightly larger than the data you're backing up. For example I have a 4.5TB RAID0 boot drive but my backup drive is 1.5TB and it still has 400 GB free. :)
     
  9. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #9

    Oohhh! Raiding!!! May avoid this. Although I shouldnt be such a wimp and should have some faith in myself :)

    If I were to Raid to SSD's (80gb each) how easy would it be for a techno idiot to do?
     
  10. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Huh? I thought that SSD was far far speedier than a normal HD - or even speedier than a Raided HD???

    Regarding backing up - would Apple Time Capsule be a good way to back up? I would only need to back up some of my media - not all of it. Would I also need to back up the drive which stores my OS and Apps?
     
  11. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

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    #11
    the SSD is faster. RAIDing is not difficult. Learn how to do it. And yes, you'd want to backup everything. just get a huge hard drive and stick it in your mac pro, set that as the time machine drive, and it will automatically back up everything. you can go into the preferences to exclude anything you want from being backed up. very easy.
     
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #12
    Given this usage, I'm surprised no one's mentioned the option of using an '08 model. It's performance is very similar, it has 8 real cores, and uses EFI64, which you'll need for current and future graphics cards, and for future OS support from Apple.

    At the reduced price, you can go for a higher clocked model, even the 3.2GHz model, which can not only compete, but out perform it for some things, particularly single threaded applications. For LESS $$$ than an '09 base, last I saw. :D

    Then you can take the savings, and get the upgrades you need (graphics, memory, and drives). :) The '09's just aren't worth the price, and just don't make sense unless you're using it in a fashion that can actually use the architectural differences to their full extent, such as for a server. Not the case with the applications you've listed. ;)

    It's the fastest drive type for Random Access there is. So it's good for audio use and as an OS/applications drive.

    It takes multiple drives, and stripes them. That is, they run in parallel, sharing the load to perform the data request (read or write) over a greater bandwidth. This it's faster at Sequential Access (large contiguous files). This is good for large data files, such as what you may make with your applications.

    Ideally, you could use both, but in a pinch, for a cost effective POV, you'd be better off going with RAID0 of mechanical drives, if you can only get one or the other.

    As mentioned though, no matter what you do, make sure you have a proper backup. RAID or not.

    Yep. :)

    For the Nehalem architecture, it can operate in single, dual, or triple channel mode. Triple channel is obviously the fastest, but most applications can only run dual channel at best. It just doesn't consume enough memory bandwidth. So far, it seems very few applications do, and those are server apps.

    So triple channel with 2GB sticks would give you 6GB total, and in dual channel, you can fill all 4 DIMM slots per CPU, to get 8GB on a Quad, or fill 2 DIMM's/CPU if it's an 8 core model (still assuming you wish to use with 2GB sticks and have 8GB total).

    In this case, the additional capacity would make more sense. :)

    Software RAID off the board's SATA controller (ICH) is actually easy. :)
     
  13. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    Thanks guys a million for all your replies, help and advice. Really appreciate if :)

    Shockingly most of this stuff is finally sinking in :D

    I've been Googling for the last hour or so and just can't seem to find SSD's for Mac Pro's in the UK. I did find 1 place but they only had a 64gb drive.

    Can you guys recommend a good make for a 128 GB drive please? And if anyone knows of a good UK retailer please.

    I checked the Apple site but they don't offer the SSD option.
     
  14. bozz2006 macrumors 68030

    bozz2006

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    #14
    first of all, you don't need to find an SSD "for the mac pro". They don't make special ones for the mac pro, you just need to get a good one, as the fit is universal, just like a a hard drive. The new OCZ are supposed to be good, but i won't buy my SSDs until I have enough money to go for the Intel.
     
  15. Abidubi macrumors 6502

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    Montreal
    #15
    Well... you could go with the $500 2TB time capsule... or you could just by a $250 2TB HD off of a site like newegg.

    You do realize the Mac Pro has 4 HD slots? Right now you are talking about using 3 Max (1 or 2 SSDs plus 1 HD, or 3 HDs). Why not just install another HD to use for backup. The only advantage of the time capsule is that it is outside the computer, so if it bursts into flames your data is safe... but then again if your house blows up it doesn't make much of a difference now does it?

    And don't forget if you go with SSDs you need to get a special mounting solution since they are 2.5 inch drives instead of the standard 3.5 inch.

    The best solution for you is 2 small SSDs in RAID 0 (I would go with 64GB disks since that already gives you 128GB for system and apps, of which the OS + standard iLife apps takes about 15GB of space) and get 2 1TB HDs (or 2 640s if you don't need too much space) for your data/user folder and put them in a RAID 0, then get a 2TB HD for backup simply using time-machine unless you really really want to go all out with crazy backup solutions.

    2 64GB SSDs - $400
    2 1TB HDs - $200 (or just $100 if you use the one your get with the computer plus buying the same model)
    1 2TB HD - $250
    Total $850 or, if you just put everything on the HDs (not using SSDs) $450.

    For RAM... 6 X 2GB is $30 per stick, making it $180 for 12GB. Don't see the problem with that over having only 9GB.

    edit: oops, RAM is $40 per stick. It's cheaper in canada than in the US, lol ($41USD in US, $39CAD in canada)
     
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #16
    bozz2006 is right. You just need an SSD. They're all SATA drives, and will fit any SATA port.

    It might be a little different if it were attached to a 3rd party hardware RAID controller, but as that's not been mentioned, I presume won't be the case. ;)

    I do recall a post in the forum that the Intel's are hard to come by in the UK, but not impossible (Intel G2 availability thread, recent post). It's the best drive to have so far, but there are other options, and your budget may find them more attractive.

    Whatever you do, make sure you do the research before buying anything (particularly if it's not an Intel), as the devil's in the details. ;)
     
  17. Tesselator macrumors 601

    Tesselator

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    #17
    Nope. All things considered the VERY FASTEST SSD is about the same speed as a slowish 3-Drive RAID0 comprised of 1TB drives. A 4-Drive RAID0 smokes an SSD and a fast 3-Drive RAID0 is mostly faster than the fastest SSD.


    I dunno about TC. I haven't even read very much about it so I don't even have any hear-say for you. :p The qualifications for a "good" backup are:

    • It's external so that a bad PSU or an act of God might not knock it out.
    • It's fast I/O. Either eSATA or iSCSI or maybe 1Gb Ether-net.
    • It's a single drive (or as few as possible) with as few platters as possible per drive.
    • It has a good warrantee period. 5 Years generally.
    • It's large enough.
     
  18. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

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    #18
    If you're an editor (like i am) you don't need an SSD.

    They don't offer nearly enough space. FCS3 is 50 gigs alone. Add in CS4, your iTunes collection and you filled it up already.

    Stick with a 1TB boot drive and you'll be fine.
     
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #19
    To clarify, this is true for sequential throughputs. It's not as fast as SSD for random access, but it's still faster than a single drive, even if only by a small amount of time (0.x ms for example). The larger the set (members, not capacity), that will improve.

    Given the cost/GB, mechanical based RAID is still viable, and remains the dominant method. Until SSD's are really cheap, it will almost certainly continue to be that way. :)

    If someone wants both, then both types of drives would be needed (SSD for OS/apps, and mechanical for data storage due to it's inexpensive capacity). Specialization of hardware to task is how I see it (break the usage down into groups, and solve each independently). ;)
     
  20. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    Wow! I'm beginning to understand all this computer lingo.

    Bozz I read the "How to...." guide. It seems pretty straight forward :)

    My initial thinking right now is this:

    Get the Octo 2.26 with:

    9GB Ram which I'll insert in 3x3gb formation (I'm getting a fairly hefty discount on the entire computer package so reckon the Ram price will be as cheap as if I were to go to another retailer :) )

    1 1TB HD (as I have to get 1 interal HD off Apple)

    24" Cinema Display (unless someone can suggest something better?)

    THEN once I have the machine with me at home I'll look into getting 2 64GB SSD's. I'll insert these in slots 1 & 2 and Raid0 these.

    The 1TB HD which I would already have in the machine from Apple I'll re-insert in the 3rd slot. This will leave me with 1 slot free for the future.

    And I'll buy 1 500GB external HD which I'll use for backup. I'm assuming I can choose what documents/folders/media I wish to backup? If not I'll buy a 1TB external drive.

    What do you guys think?
     
  21. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    FCS3 is 50GB :eek:

    OK. I think I may scrap the SSD idea until the become a lot bigger and cheaper :rolleyes:

    Instead I'll go with a 640GB drive for OSX and Apps (is this what you'd call a "boot drive"?) And have the 1TB drive as my Media drive.

    PS Would my iTunes collection not normally go in my Media drive and not my OSX/Apps drive? Or does the iTunes library count as an App?
     
  22. scouser75 thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    I'm now officially on info overload mode :confused: Gonna call it a night in regards to all things techy and come back to this tomorrow :)

    Once again lads, thanks a lot for all your help, advice... and for putting up with my stupidity :eek:

    Right, now to go and watch a DVD..........................................
     
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #23
    I think you'd want to up the clock speed if at all possible, as it will make a big difference for both single and multi threaded applications. As most tend to be single threaded, you'd "feel" it more. ;)

    You've lost me on the RAM capacity. Apple offers it in 6 (triple), 8 (dual), 12 (triple), 16 (dual), and 32GB (dual) capacities. That's due to the fact it's a mixture of dual and triple channel configurations, and the UDIMM size is 1, 2, and 4GB sticks offered. (Take the capacity and divide by 6 used slots. If the result is a whole number, it's triple channel operation. If not, well, you get the idea). ;)

    So the base model having 6GB = 6x 1GB parts (triple channel), and 8x 4GB = 32GB (dual channel operation).

    I'd think you'd need more than 500GB for backup purposes with both a 128GB SSD array and 1TB single disk. Best to get a 1TB as a minimum IMO, as it can run out faster than you think. ;)

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  24. Abidubi macrumors 6502

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    #24
    You would be much better off with your OS, apps and data all on the same RAID 0 volume than you would be having the OS on 1 HD and data on the other. Better yet is making 2 partitions out of the RAID so that your OS stays in roughly the same place on the disk (at the top/edge).

    For backup with time machine you can choose what disk or folders NOT to back up.

    Your iTunes library goes wherever your user folder is. Where you put your user folder is up to you.
     
  25. snakesqzns macrumors regular

    snakesqzns

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    #25
    As you don't know much about computers, is there some reason you think you *need* the Mac Pro 8-core? Or do you just want it?
     

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