Nehalem Mac Pro, RAID and Bootcamp

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by sputnikv, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. sputnikv macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    #1
    Hello all,

    I'm new here, so firstly I would like to thank you guys for having such a great user base. I've browsed the forums from time to time with issues in the past, and you guys are really the best.


    My question pertains to the 2009-revised Nehalem Mac Pros, RAID and Bootcamp. As implied, I have a 2009 Nehalem, (8-Core), and have recently inherited the Apple Raid Card associated with my 2009 Mac Pro model. It is my understanding that Bootcamp is not supported or compatible when the card is connected to the logic board, regardless of your bootcamp-drive's independence from the RAID array.

    I currently have 3 2TB drives in a RAID-5 configuration (bay 1, 2, and 3). My intent was devote the 4th bay to a drive exclusively Bootcamp. This is not possible without removing the card and the RAID'ed drives.

    I have done a significant amount research into this, though most of my findings relate to 2007/2008 Mac Pros which have different logic boards. Some users had suggested using an iPass cable along with changing said drive from IDE Legacy to AHCI. Other posters had mentioned using a separate SATA controller. I have since to find a method for the previous SKUs that have conclusively worked and is applicable to the Nehalem Mac Pro SKU.

    So consider this a revitalization of that Mac Pro, Apple Raid Card (2009)/General Raid, Bootcamp thread, though for the new 2009 Nehalem Mac Pros. Suggestions, workarounds? What exactly makes Bootcamp impossible to boot when the card is connected?

    Edit: I have no intention of being able to access files from my RAID once in Windows
     
  2. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    #2
    Personally I would run Windows through one of the extra SATA ports after the proper reset - I think you can mount the drive forward a little and use a 90º SATA cable to connect to the drive - dunno too much about power options.* If I had a '09 model I could say more about the internal mountings, but as you can tell I'm still in 2005.

    Anyways, Bootcamp will not boot off of RAID primarily because its not allowed in the firmware, IIRC. Once again, IIRC, this is a common problem with RAID cards in the MacPro (unable to boot Windows and OSX from the same array). Gugucom has tried spectacular measures to achieve a dual-boot array but hasn't met much success, if any - from what I remember, OSX/Linux is more friendly for dual boot, although the Apple RAID card probably wouldn't allow for anything but booting OSX or letting any other OS read it.

    *EDIT - could one run a very short SATA power cable between the motherboard and drive for power? Dunno if its kosher (on the motherboard rather then a PSU connector).
     
  3. sputnikv thread starter macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

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    Oct 3, 2009
    #3
    I've had a tough time finding information on the 2009 logic board, though maybe I've been looking in the wrong place. Upon inspecting it for other reasons, it seemed to vary from the previous model. Can anyone confirm this? I'm under the impression that those extra SATA ports have been either removed or relocated. Otherwise, this seems like a viable option worth looking into.
     
  4. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    #4
    [​IMG]

    Maybe this? I believe this is a 2009 MacPro (Thanks to WonderSausage for the pic, been looking for a LONG time). Pics from #24 in this thread

    Also in the picture you can see the direct-to-mobo SATA ports on the top part of the motherboard. I was under the impression that they used the iPass cable in previous models, but I could be mistaken. I know they were cabled, though, not the direct-soldier.
     
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #5
    Remember, Boot Camp is a methodology where both OS X and Windows can share the same drive. It won't work with RAID, whether it's software based (OS X), or on most RAID cards (CalDigit is the only exception, and it won't work in the '09 models).

    The simple solution, is to use a separate drive for Windows. You will have to install it in the empty optical bay though, as the HDD bays are under the RAID card's control (and won't work). It must be on a separate controller, and the 2x ODD_SATA connectors used are still attached to the ICH10R on the logic board.

    There's no need to touch Boot Camp in this particular case, as it's just a partition utility, and you're not sharing it with OS X. You will need to use the disk for the drivers and other software though (such as mapping the eject key so it will work). That's it. Rather easy actually, including mounting the drive in the empty optical bay. :D
     
  6. sputnikv thread starter macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

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    Oct 3, 2009
    #6
    I see. I was planning on keeping Windows on its own drive anyways, so that fits in line with what I want. I was hoping on not using the optical bay, but I guess I don't have a choice. I've heard some conflicting statements that you can't boot from there, at least from previous models. :confused:
     
  7. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    #7
    OOD_SATA ports interface via "Legacy" instead of "AHCI"... From what I've read one has to somehow get the Windows install media to use a certain driver. I'm not too sure what to recommend as most of what I've read is about the 2006 MacPro, but it should be doable on the 2009 MacPros (maybe a different driver). I'm sorry about terminology errors here - I just know it can be done, but its not exactly a plug-and-play process like on PCs.

    EDIT - Try this thread. See post #16. Thank you Gugucom. I will quote.

    However, in this case, the OP (Tesselator) I think was using soft RAID instead of the RAID card (could be wrong, though), so the process might differ slightly, such as whenever the RAID drives are removed the RAID card has to be removed - there might be some more, but I dunno. Wish I could test it out, though.

    EDIT #2 - sorry about the necromancy of the other thread.
     
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #8
    There's been different issues with other machines. Once Apple went with EFI64, the only issue that came up ('08 models), was you had to use the AHCI drivers to make it work.

    IIRC, you don't have even that bit of difficulty with the '09's. But even if you do, it's not hard to get around.

    The '06 - 07' MP's used EFI32, and was why you had to use the method gugucom posted. It was no longer required in the '08 models when they made EFI 64 bit. :) You did have to install the AHCI drivers, but it's not that bad.
     
  9. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    May 21, 2009
    Location:
    Munich, Germany
    #9
    I am not familiar with Apple's RAID card but I have used native booting Windows and other RAID cards and SW RAID with the 2006 Mac Pro. I'm also using all of this with the 2009 Mac Pro.

    The 2009 Mac Pro still has 2 ODD SATA ports shown in the picture of this thread but the cabling is rather special. It is a special harness that features a 4 pin power supply (probably 12V and 5 V) and two 90° SATA cables ("A" and "B") that you can see in the picture. The nasty thing from there is that it dives under the logic board and from there runs through the hole in the bulk head to the optical bay. There it ends in two integrated connectors with SATA data and power each. If you want more power options in the optical bay or in the PCIe bay you will have to replace this cable which means to disassemble the logic board and determine the nature of the non standard 4-pin power connector on the logic board. It is really the only available source for 5V power that I have found. The two PCIe power connectors have only 12V.

    In my machine the first ODD integrated SATA header (labeled "A") is currently used for an LG GGC-H20L SATA BD ROM. I can boot install disks in OS X and Windows from the drive, burn DL DVDs and can play or rip Blu-Ray disks under Windows with it. I'm currently using my second optical bay SATA port for a 180 GB Intel 2nd Gen SSD which runs Windows. Although I had it running in legacy mode I personally prefer my Windows drives to run in AHCI mode. Setting it to AHCI was not much different to the 2006 model. You edit the registry for Vista or Seven which is not necessary for XP. Then you set the 4 port HDD device of the 5520 chipset to AHCI (either Intel by the Floppy drivers or MS AHCI 1.0) and patch the Master Boot Record of the Windows drive with Johnsock's patch in OS X terminal. After this patch the Intel executable file will run and set your system up completely including the Matrix Storage Utility.

    I use an Areca 1210 RAID card to run two 80 GB Intel 2nd Gen SSDs in RAID0 for Snow Leopard. The SSDs are mounted together with my Windows SSD in a 5,25" Addonics internal enclosure which sits in the second optical bay. It can take four 2,5" drives. The SATA cables from the Arc1210 are routed through the bulk head hole to the SSDs in the Addonics. I ran an additional SATA cable which replaced the "B" SATA cable in the harness. The "B" SATA cable I fitted with a rubber cap and it dangles there unused. I use the additional cable to connect the "B" port on the logic board with the Windows SSD in the optical bay. The integrated SATA header I used to fit an adapter which gives me Molex power for my enclosure. The enclosure in turn powers the three SSDs. It works out quite nicely. I would have preferred to run Windows from two 80 GB SSDs as well but with the Areca card it was not possible to set up a Windows array or boot Windows properly from a single drive. The OS X drives boots all without problems though.

    This setup leaves my four 3,5" HDD sleds for mass data storage. Currently I have just one 1TB and one 2TB drive fitted but I'm sure the ports will get filled at the rate that I'm putting HD content on the disks. My backup is by a 2 TB TC which is connected by Gigabit Ethernet but I'm also having HDD clones of my OS X which I keep in the cupboard. Windows is cloned with Winclone with the image stored on the TC for backup. So if I screw up my OS X or Windows systems I have very quick replacements. The two empty Arc1210 SATA ports are run to a PCI bracket with eSATA ports. I can hook up my Sharkoon dual quickport for any maintenance or data feeds from outside.

    I use two screens for work and entertainment. Both are currently hooked up to the standard GT120 that came in the system. One is a 20" Dell 2001FP for work and the other is a 46" Samsung LE46-A956 HDTV with local dimming LED back light for entertainment. I also own a patched XFX4870 which I can use when the GT120 should be insufficient for any tasks. At the moment I do not have it fitted because it would pull a lot more power for no real gain. I also would have to leave the GT120 in there because I drive the Samsung by VGA via the MDP. The patched 4870 will not do that.

    I still run in the original RAM configuration but I will buy six 2 GB replacement sticks at the next opportunity when some cash roles in.
    So this is the way I have set up my 2009 Mac Pro. Any questions or suggestions are welcome. Sorry for being unable to say much about the Apple RAID card. I do not know how it interfaces withe MP4,1 model.
     
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    May 6, 2008
    #10
    Actually, you don't have to do this to obtain power. The connector used is a backplane connector (SFF-8484). You get a backplane extension cable, and splice into the power wiring in it with either a Molex or SATA power cable. I won't invalidate the warranty either, as nothing of the original system is modified. Rather easy actually, though the additional wiring may get a little messy. ;)
     
  11. sputnikv thread starter macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

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    Oct 3, 2009
    #11
    Hmm. I'm going to go ahead and try this and see how this plays out. I'll be back in a few days.
     
  12. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    Location:
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    #12
    I was wondering if such an extension cable with y-splitter for the power already existed. Or even better with separate SATA and power connector.
     
  13. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #13
    I'm not using a RAID card, rather, software RAID for my 4 drives in the HD bays. For Boot Camp, I stuck a spare drive in the 2nd ODD bay, hooked it up, booted off the Windows 7 CD and it recognized that spare drive right away and installed and works about as well as you'd expect Windows to work. This is on a 2009 quad core. I'm not sure if a RAID card complicates things, but installing Windows to a drive using the ODD port shouldn't be a problem.
     
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #14
    I've not seen them ready-made, but if they exist, OWC, MaxUpgrades and Trans Int'l would be the most likely places to carry them. I just haven't spotted them, nor have I noticed a post of anyone else that has either.

    They're easy enough to make though. Just get the extension cable, and which ever power end you want. Solder and heat shrink the joints.

    But if you want separate cables for power and data, you can do it, provided you can find the power extension locally (M + F connections). Here's an example on the UK eBay site (most I've found are 30 - 35cm, so maybe a bit long for the application) They should fit, but I'm not sure how well they'd stay latched (not tried this myself).

    Here's another handy little device, if you're interested. :)

    Hope this helps. :)
     
  15. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    #15
    Well, when it comes to RAID in the 2009 MacPro, are SAS drives worth it? From my understanding the low data density is offset by the higher rotational speed and more heads/disc :confused:

    However, for this one needs the SAS connectors; that means one has to shell out cash for an appropriate card, if I'm not mistaken.

    And I wish I could garner more information on available SAS drives, but I'm not getting any favors from search engines... This doc says that the transfer rate to/from media (for the MBA series) is 179 MB/s, but considering how that's the spec for all three HDD sizes, I can't help but think that there's more going on then meets the eye. And its the ONLY transfer rate I've seen regarding these drives. Its frustrating :mad:
     
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #16
    Sort of. The platter density is lower on the 15k rpm models (i.e. 73GB/platter), but they are still faster. Fast servo's do help, especially with random access. But you can't forget the impact reading off of multiple platters (and sides) has. So the MBA3300RC for example, has 4 platters, and 8 heads. Think reading 8 tracks effectively at once (there's switching involved to keep the data in sync, or it ends up out of order). SATA does the same thing, with higher platter densities. But the spindle and servos are slower.

    So the question of if it's valid for use, depends on the specifics. If you need speed, and greater capacities than you can obtain from SSD (say on a fixed budget especially) that's not possible for some reason with SATA (random access requirement is too high for SATA for example), then it's the way to go. Reliability is another factor. SAS, though mechanical, is tested in the enterprise market by far more than SSD is, and is particularly so in writes.

    Correct. But you can get SAS cards that aren't RAID cards. Just a SAS controller on a board, perhaps (likely actually), a boot ROM on it.

    You have to try to search out the exact model number, not a series. That usually takes you to the manufacturer's site only. Even then, it's hard to find the information you're looking for. I find it best to go to specific sites, such as StorageReveiw, AnandTech, and Tom'sHardware. Then search their sites specifically. You'll have much better luck. ;)

    But the MBA3300RC is a good drive (I use 4, and figure ~150MB/s per drive on avg., as the 179MB/s figure is max/burst rate), and leads in workstation use. The Seagate Cheetah's are the fastest at sequential throughputs (last I saw), with Hitachi's close behind it (for sequential throughputs). Not terrible on workstation either, IIRC.

    Specific use matters for this level of drive, so choose carefully, if you dare try. :eek: :D :p
     
  17. gugucom macrumors 68020

    gugucom

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    Location:
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    #17
    I have seen all these but they are not really ideal. The little PCB with male and female combo connectors would be useful if it were 2 times male. The way it is now I guess I keep my adapter solution and fit a simple SATA power y-cable with floppy connector. I just need power for my eSATA bracket and I don't want to thread a big connector through the bulk head hole. Floppy probably is the way to go.
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #18
    You won't find the PCB adapter that way though, as SATA isn't capable of interleaving without a PM chip. I've not seen a PM board with SFF-8484 connectors to the drive, as there's no reason to. The SFF-8484 is in the backplane itself.

    Floppy connector??? I'm used to seeing those with 4 pin Molex (not the mini version) to get power to the external drives on those that even offer it. :confused:

    Linky to a pic?
     
  19. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816

    Dr.Pants

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    Jan 8, 2009
    #19
    Thanks for the explanation! I figured that myself (heavily considering SAS) and the rest of this thread could use the info.

    And then I finally find some fruit on Tom's Hardware with this drive in comparison to some other drives. All in charts, tho. Link to SAS charts! I can imagine I'll be using the large write transfer with video capturing and the read transfer not just for the hobby but also scientific computing.

    And I figured the original figure I said was something along the "burst" lines :( But all in all, I assume that its a good number.

    What do you mean, dare? I thought there wasn't a question :rolleyes::D

    (Minus the hole in the wallet:eek:)
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #20
    :cool: NP. :)

    You'll have to figure out the balance that best suits your needs. If you do a lot of random access, then the workstation performance is something to look at (i.e. the Fujitsu's might be in the running). OTOH, if its more sequential, then check out the Cheetah 15K.6 models.

    Both are good drives, but not built for the same performance profile.

    It is. Higher is always better, but it doesn't do much good if the rest of it is crap. :p

    Hence the comment. :D

    Think about it. ;) If you're starting from scratch, you'd need a good RAID card, and drives. If it's an external implementation, it's worse. Up to say $2700 for a decent 8 port card that can boot in OS X (maybe a 12 port model), 8 drive enclosure, external cable (1 per 4 drives, not included with enclosure), and running 4x drives (MBA3300RC used for drive prices). :eek:

    It leaves you with room for expansion, but the $$$... OUCH! :p
     
  21. sputnikv thread starter macrumors 6502

    sputnikv

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    Oct 3, 2009
    #21
    Hey guys,

    I removed the second optical drive (sata labeled b) from my optical bay and replaced that with my sata drive, formated as fat. I started up once the connections were made and booted into the windows disk. It didn't detect my apple RAID which was fine and the installation proceeded as normal. Everything nominal. Seems like that's it really. I'm going to look into a mounting option for that drive.

    I have to admit, some of the stuff said above went over my head, though I'm glad you guys helped me on this. :D:D:D
     
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #22
    :cool: NP. Glad you got it up and running. :)
     

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