OWC Mercury Accelsior PCI Express SSD Card

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by lssmit02, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. lssmit02 macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    OWC has updated its SSD page, saying that its PCI Express SSD card is coming soon. Their claim: "Get faster than 6G SATA speeds in your Mac Pro or PC desktop/tower." According to wikipedia, PCIe 2.0 allows up to 5GT/s (Gigatransfers per second) and 500 MB/s per lane. According to everymac.com, on the Mac Pro "Six Core" 3.33 (2010/Westmere):
    I assume the speeds are therefore achieved by using multiple Aura Pro Express cards in raid 0 format, run through the PCIe 2.0 slot.
  2. deconstruct60, Mar 6, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012

    deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    No. Only need one card that is 4-8x PCI-e . The "RAID" is on the card and orchestrated by the controller(s) on the card.

    SATA III 6Gb/s ==> 750MB/s

    PCI-e x4 (4 x 500MB/s ) ==> 2,000 MB/s

    PCI-e x8 (8 x 500MB/s) ==> 4,000 MB/s

    If you look at most SAS/SATA RAID cards (that talk to multiple drives at once) there are x4 - x8 lane card. It isn't a problem to transfer enough data to saturate multiple SATA drives with those cards. Nuking the drives and replacing the storage with Flash is that big of a difference (if have the money to pay for it. ;) ).

    OWC's card might use "controller + flash" expansion daughterboard cards but they aren't neccesarily Aura Pro Express format cards. [ Close but perhaps not the same size/fit as the MBA requires.



    It only adds to the overhead when the "sub controller" returns SATA data and that has to be flipped back into PCI-e data to get off the card. There are other ways of doing the "RAID on Card" where don't have to aggregate SATA data with an onboard SATA RAID controller.
  3. lssmit02 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    Yes, I think you're right. Sorry, my post didn't make clear that's what I meant. The Aura Pro Express SSD is the SSD they sell for the Macbook Air, which are 6G SSD "cards." Looking at the picture on their site, it looks like they have two of those installed on the PCIe card, which I assume they have raided on the card, as you suggest.
  4. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    That's a very creative way to reuse their "blade" SSD's. I wonder what these will end up costing (especially the maxed out 960GB). The 480GB drives are already over $1100 a piece + the controller card will probably put the maxed out one at $2500 at least. You can buy an entry level Mac Pro for that! It does state that it "starts at" $449, but I am not sure what that entry level one will use since their cheapest Blade SSD is $260 and if you pair two of them together that is over the $449 it is going to start at (even without the controller card).
  5. Boomhowler macrumors 6502

    Feb 23, 2008
    Check out http://www.angelbird.com/ for a similar product. I wonder if the OWC stuff will be even more expensive than this.
  6. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    Probably, it will max out at more than that price. The issue is for people who might have something like a 200GB "data mart" of data that they need to mine thoroughly every day for cost savings/patterns. If the answers come back in more than 24 hours intervals the results are not very effective in saving money if need to make the new orders for tomorrow this evening. So let's say the entirely flash based data saves $10/day because the answers come back in 4 hours instead of 29.

    It only takes 250 days for that storage to pay for itself. If you keep the storage for 500 days ( less than two years) you will have made $2,500. Throw it away and start with a faster and more affordable PCI-e flash drive with that $2,500 you saved up. [ I suspect someone was going to yelp about how a database on a flash drive would "wear out too quick". Throwing it away at the 2 year mark with more money in your pocket is only to illustrate that it isn't a problem even if it was true. ] $5/day then a 4 year cycle. Less than $5/day then have a problem.

    Those are a bit large (120GB). You are going to have to buy at least 2 (or perhaps 3 for that 4 slot version pictured in the blog) to start to see a substantial advantage using the card's RAID controller. If you buy just one card it is just as fast as SATA. So 60-90GB cards would be a more likely jumping off point (for a ultra-fast 120-180GB drive). There isn't much of a market for 60GB drives for MBA ( Apple has that covered), but this isn't a MBA.

    The only problem perhaps finding 4 flash modules that add up to 60+provisioning that matches the technology for the higher capacity drive cards. The sandforce controller needs multiple modules for its RAID to be effective.

    This stuff is likely being stored at RAID-0 so it isn't a good place for long term storage of valuable data. It should be data that is 'hot' and needs to be "used right now, real fast" . (on each card it is stored better than RAID-0 but if the entire card fails for some reason.... this data will be in trouble).

    The one pictured on the OWC website only has two sockets. It is highly unlikely they could do RAID-3 with two slots. If set to RAID-1 mode with two slots it isn't any faster than SATA.
  7. deconstruct60 macrumors 604

    Mar 10, 2009
    There were a couple of PCI-e drives announces/previewed at CES in a thread a couple of months ago....


    But yeah the general trend is to "rip the case off the SSD drive" to expose the much simplier internal board. Then mount these drive boards on a RAID card (instead of SATA sockets to plug into just insert board into sockets). Mount in PCI.

    I think the Z-drive R5 concept is a step-up though. Eliminate the SAS/SATA RAID controller and just transfer the data without SAS/SATA overhead. CPU is exposed to more drives. However, for apps that can handle juggling a long list of drives , their own caching, and the minimal additional administrative overhead, it will actually be faster throughput.

    But "cheaper" ? Yes ... merging known, working solutions onto a single board typically reduces costs.
  8. laserbeam273 macrumors 6502

    Sep 7, 2010
    Just dragging up this old thread as this product has arrived now. Sorry if someone already posted this, I know I haven't heard about it until now.

    Here's the site page:


    I guess I was hoping for a faster speed given some of the competitor solutions (2,400 MB/s), but I think it's still quite good at 780 MB/s and a max size of just under 1 TB. Works out to around $2/GB which I'd imagine many people would go for.
  9. itsamacthing macrumors 6502a

    Sep 26, 2011
    I have a few OWC SSDs and they have some serious firmware issues. My OSC based mac is NOT stable. I won't buy from them again.
  10. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    I've had nothing but trouble with OWC Mercury Pro 6G SSDs in a couple of late 2011 MacBook Pros. The SSDs were not recognized by the MacBook Pros. It's almost certainly their firmware. But OWC minimized the problem and were not helpful. I ended up returning the drives. This is just one anecdote but I too will never buy anything from OWC again.
  11. lssmit02 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    As people commonly say, YMMV. I've had the opposite, positive, experience. I've had an OWC Mercury Extreme Pro RE 200GB (SATA II) for 2 years. Right now it's installed in the optical drive in a Macbook Pro, working fine. There was one firmware update where I did have to return the drive. Had no troubles with the return. I do know that OWC advises against installing the 6G SSDs in the optical bay, because of a flakey connection in the Macbook Pros with the optical drive (Apple only rates the optical drive connection at SATA II now, I believe, although the chip itself is SATA III).

    Here is the review on macperformanceguide.com
  12. powerless macrumors member

    Dec 8, 2009
  13. wa5655 macrumors member

    Jun 12, 2010
    Same here, I had 3 RMAs out of the 4x 6G SSDs I have bought couple of months back. I won't touch OWC for a while. The funny thing is their tech support told me that I must be an exception.
  14. ValSalva macrumors 68040


    Jun 26, 2009
    Burpelson AFB
    That's exactly what they told me too.

    I was not trying to use their SATA III SSDs in the optical bay.
  15. lssmit02 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Mar 25, 2004
    That's sucks. I had heard that there were problems with the 2000 series Sandforce controllers. I saw this on Anandtech. I wonder if it was controller related. My SSD uses the earlier SF1200 series controller.

    These new Accelsior SSDs use the SF2281/2 controller [scroll down to the Mercury Accelsior PCIe SSD Features section for more info]. Hopefully any issues with the controller have been taken care of.
  16. lozion macrumors regular


    Jan 12, 2006
    Montreal, Canada
  17. derbothaus macrumors 601


    Jul 17, 2010
    Me too:( I got em on the fact they listed my Macbook as being unsupported AFTER they launched the product. They didn't even want to replace the drive that is malfunctioning on my SATA link. Very sketchy about the whole affair with people claiming they "OWC" themselves wrote the SF firmware. Except that the issue runs across all distros. Just be real with people. OWC did not write Sandforce firmware from the ground up. Don't make me laugh.
  18. Edge macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2005
    I posed the question on the OWC Blog if the "custom SandForce Driven Accelsior SSD blades” are simply two Mercury Auro Pro Express SSDs for the Macbook Air RAIDed together? OWC responded;

    I'm not sure what RAID controller they are using, but it could minimise ongoing problems between Sandforce firmware and OS X.

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