OWC SSD in a Pismo experiment. Results so far:

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by ziggy29, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. ziggy29 macrumors regular

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    #1
    ...failure.

    I figured they gave a 30-day money-back policy, so what the hell, I'd try it. A week or so ago I received an SSD from OWC that is said to be compatible with the ATA/IDE interface of the Pismo and some early G4 PowerBooks. Well, sort of. I hooked it up, the Pismo saw it, I could format it, read/write and all that, but when it came down to the real test....

    I used SuperDuper to clone my mechanical hard drive (a 60GB Toshiba), using both a USB flash drive and an old Firewire Iomega Peerless drive I have lying around. Then I put in the SSD and tried to restore to it. It worked great for a while, would get usually halfway, maybe a little more, before.... it froze. Sometimes it worked longer than other times, but it would always freeze up and stop before the copy completed, usually 15-20 minutes into it, which would usually be 50-80% complete.

    I also tried to install Tiger directly from optical drive and it made it most of the way, then hung also. One time, somehow, I succeeded in installing Tiger, but when it ran for a few minutes.... it just stopped. The Finder wouldn't respond, and I had to shut down. It seems to have a problem with sustained writes for more than a few minutes.

    Disappointed, I obtained an RMA for a replacement. Got a new one this morning.

    Same thing. I should note that my mechanical drive has no problems and I've installed plenty of software that steadily hit it without any problems. I think it's time to pursue a refund this time.

    Don't know if it's a problem with my Pismo, the drives themselves, or maybe two drives from a same questionable batch. But this was more of a whim than anything, to see if I could get somewhat better performance and battery life than with the mechanical Toshiba. Maybe it's heat? I don't know. The CPU and the mechanical hard drive never have problems, even when they have done 30+ minutes, even an hour or more, of sustained writes together.

    One curious thing: It seems like when the SSD was installed, the Pismo fan wouldn't turn on, whereas it does with the mechanical drive.
     
  2. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #2
    Was this the OWC Mercury Pro Legacy? I was outbid on a Pismo that had a 60GB version installed so it seems as if at least some OWC IDE SSDs work in a Pismo. Cannot really help more than to add that some anecdotal evidence (for what it is worth) indicates issues with OWC drives - speed and reliability mainly. I just went the DIY route with mine with a Kingston mSATA and have had zero problems with it, fans and all.
     
  3. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #3
    Your experience sounds a lot like what I went through when I put an mSATA in a 2.5" IDE enclosure in one of my Cubes. I think I finally did fresh OS installs on it, and it would work fine for a few minutes but then give a hard freeze(no cursor movement). I ended up going back to a good 7200 rpm drive, which actually is not a huge amount slower than the SSD on the ATA/66 bus in the Cube.
     
  4. ziggy29 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Yes, it was. Worked great for a few minutes but after sustained writes, it would just freeze, the OS couldn't read it any more, beachballs and the whole nine yards. I think it may be because these drives shut themselves down at temperatures lower than these laptop CPUs can operate at. I've heard the *fan* on a Pismo doesn't even kick in until around 170ºF, and the "safe" operating temperatures for most SSD caps at 70ºC (about 158ºF) so I'm wondering if the combination means the SSD shuts itself down before the rest of the machine thinks it's too hot.

    It was worth a try, and since I trust the return policy I'm only out a little time (which isn't much since I'm mostly doing this as a hobby anyway). The Toshiba in there is actually pretty good, and already 60GB, so mostly I was going to see if it gave much better battery life (since batteries for a Pismo are at an extreme premium). With that bus speed I wasn't expecting a huge speed boost but was hoping for longer battery life.

    I put an SSD in my Digital Audio, too, and it works great. Perhaps there's no heat issues in that spacious enclosure.
     
  5. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #5
    I would have thought that ANY mechanical hard drive would start having I/O issues at 70ºC. That would be warm enough for the platters to start warping enough to hit the read heads. I know that for desktop hard drives 35ºC is about the top of the comfortable tolerance range and I would seriously worry about any mechanical laptop hard drive once it hit much above 45ºC. 70ºC is just crazy hot.
     
  6. ziggy29 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    I'm not entirely sure, and I doubt this Pismo is even getting this hot -- as I said, the mechanical drive is having *zero* issues, even when I flatlined it and repartitioned it and reinstalled everything a couple months ago. But I don't know what else would let it work so well for a few minutes and then suddenly stop, and where the drive feels quite hot when it stops. Unless, again, this is a bad batch where extended writes are generating a lot of heat.
     
  7. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #7
    Might just be a firmware issue. That seems to be the first port of call for niggles with SSDs in general. The four Amazon.com reviews aren't very illuminating on this and Newegg no longer stocks this drive. Other review might be a bid dated but I would try Googling.
     
  8. flyrod macrumors 6502

    flyrod

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    #8
    That was my experience with OWC ssd's in powerbooks. Temperature is a factor. If I wanted to transfer a bunch of files/data I'd put the powerbook in the fridge for a while first (or during) and it would work. I didn't figure it out until it was too late to return. I RMA'd them several times and finally gave up because I was tired of dismantling the powerbooks. I've been using msata stuff from fleabay without issue for about a year now.
     
  9. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Just earlier today I was looking at the OWC site to see what was available for a Pismo.

    I have a 400 MHz Pismo I bought new back in 2000. My only regret at this point is that I'm unable to find replacement batteries, OEM or otherwise, after wearing out the original and two more from Newer Technology. The machine continues to work well with the original yo-yo power adapter, the new 1 GiB RAM (capacity 16 times the original), the new 60 GB drive (capacity six times the original), and a new PRAM battery.

    The only flaw? Just one; a minor hairline crack running from the click button to the front of the case. Known to her friends as "diane", the teenager PowerBook is still in use; it's run at least once a week for backups and application portability testing under OS/X Tiger.

    I have thought about replacing the slow, power hungry drive with an SSD which would also double the storage. (A Pismo has that old 125 GB size limit.) It turns out that OWC no longer offers any SSD for a Pismo; only a 60 GB Fujitsu 4,200 RPM spinner.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/MyOWC/Upgrades.cfm?sort=pop&model=88&type=Internal+Drive

    Maybe OWC got tired of handling the returns. But I wonder why there is no 120 GB drive for sale. Maybe because no one is making them.
     
  10. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #10
    No one is making IDE drives full stop. Any supplies are either second-hand or from the dwindling stocks of drives last made a few years ago. Prices for 2.5" IDE drives are eye-watering to match.

    There are OEM batteries for the bronze Powerbook G3s. Plenty of them on eBay from China. Prices are also much more than you would pay for the Powerbook. Your best chance of landing one cheap is to buy another Pismo/Lombard and hope for the best.
     
  11. ziggy29, Apr 13, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015

    ziggy29 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    They do still sell them here, including a 120 GB option:

    http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/OWC/Mercury_Legacy_Pro

    They gave a 30-day return, so I figured I'd try it to see how it affected performance and/or battery life (the latter being more a concern with the dearth of "decent" battery options left for Pismo, wanting to conserve what battery power is left for this model). But both of the ones I received for the Pismo (this model in the link I included) had the same problem: they would install an OS, copy a disk with SuperDuper, and so on for a few minutes and then it would just lock up before completing. And they were very hot when I shut down the Pismo, even though I tried it with the keyboard folded back and the drive positioned vertically to help heat dissipate.

    I also put one of their 120GB SSDs in my G4DA and am quite happy with that one. But the Pismo drive? Oh-for-two, both returned, the latter one for a refund. At least they are good about the return policy in my experience.
     
  12. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

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    #12
    I have found a number of vendors on the web offering drop-in replacement Pismo batteries, but I wonder if any of them actually have such in stack or have a way of obtaining more stock. Prices are in the $75 to $125 range.

    Buying a used battery is too often buying someone's problem.

    While OWC offers a 2.5" IDE 120 GB SSD, they don't include it or any other SSD as an option for a Pismo.

    I've got two theories why the SSD/Pismo implant didn't work:

    1. Overheating
    2. Faulty IDE adapter design

    For #1: Use an IDE extension cable and a pair of small water-tight plastic bags filled with ice. Connect the SSD to the Pismo via the extension cable and than sandwich the SSD between the two bags before starting the system installation process.

    For #2: OWC sells an adapter kit which will interface a USB port to various drives including those with a 2.5" IDE connection. Get this all hooked up to the Pismo which will then be forced to use its slow USBv1 connection to access the drive. The idea is that this will overcome a faulty IDE adapter design if the fault is triggered by too much data coming in too quickly.

    Also: It may be possible to use an OWC external drive enclosure connected via 400 Mbps FireWire. Or, use a Sawtooth or other Power Macintosh to initialize the drive. For a really desperate approach, buy a SATA SSD from OWC which uses the same blades as the IDE model, initialize the SATA drive, and then transplant the blades into the legacy IDE drive.
     
  13. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #13
    It's listed as compatible with the Pismo on the product page : http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/SSDMLP120/

    I can't imagine why it would be overheating. Most SSDs are rated to 70-75C temperatures. If the Pismo is hotter than that inside then there's an issue. As for the bags of ice idea ... I wouldn't. It'll create large amounts of condensation in/on the SSD for a start, and water and electronics generally don't mix well.
     
  14. ziggy29 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    The SSD was hotter than the CPU when it locked up, making me wonder about the SSD. And again I've had no heat problems with mechanical drives.
     
  15. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #15
    I almost wonder if you have some voltage regulation issues or maybe a bad cap in Pismo that's causing the SSD to get so hot.

    I've assembled several of my own SSDs, and have found that they never get anywhere near as hot in operation as a platter drive.
     
  16. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #16
    I once bought a Kingston V200 or V300. Cannot remember exactly what it was but was appalled to find that it consumed more energy at idle than the mechanical drive it replaced (and this was in line with published specs). Moreover, it had severe thermal issues; it regularly ran at 65°C+ even when not stressed. Others who bought the same drive reported similarly. I RMAed that POS pronto.
     
  17. comda macrumors 6502a

    comda

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    #17
    Wow really? Odd, i put a Kingston V300 240GB in my intel C2D macbook and ive found i get more of a battery out of it. almost 6 hours.
     
  18. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #18
    Looking back at my emails it was a V200. A real clunker.
     
  19. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Comparison with external USB2/3 SSD

    I have an external 240 GB SSD from OWC powered by its USB2/3 interface. It doesn't seem to get very warm at all, and I don't think it could because of the limited power available via USB.

    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other World Computing/ENVPROU3S240/

    I get I/O rates of 400+ MBps with the above on USB3, must faster than can be had with a Pismo's ATA/66 connection. So I think that any heating problem with the legacy SSD model is related to its IDE/SATA converter circuitry, the only part not present with my external set-up.

    Of course, using an external SSD on a Pismo cannot be recommended because of the lethargically slow speed of its USB1 interface.
     
  20. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #20
  21. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #21
    I try to keep a hard drive with a Leopard install handy for troubleshooting.

    I've booted TiBooks off that HDD a few times. The Ti has the same USB 1.1 bottleneck as the Pismo. It takes about 10 minutes to boot to a desktop.
     
  22. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

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    #22
    I've got a 1st gen iPod (10 GB drive), and I've used it to boot various PPC Macs via its 400 Mbps FireWire interface. Much faster than USB1.

    There may be ways of connecting an SSD to a Pismo via a FireWire port or a CardBus plug-in. From the wiki:
     
  23. ziggy29, May 1, 2015
    Last edited: May 1, 2015

    ziggy29 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #23
    For what it's worth, as a postmortem I successfully deployed a "Plan B" this morning -- I put a 60GB mSATA SSD into a mSATA to 2.5" IDE enclosure and ran with that. I used the old XBench 1.3 program to compare results. The reference system is a Pismo with a G4/550 and maxed out with 1 GB of RAM.

    With the old 5400 RPM Toshiba mechanical drive, also 60 GB, the overall score was 21.22 and the disk subsystem score was 38.71.

    With the SSD these numbers are 24.04 and 123.93 respectively.

    This is pretty much in the ballpark with what I would have hoped for, roughly a 10% boost in overall performance and a 3.5x improvement in disk. Jury is still out on battery life, though it feels like I may get about 15-20% more life out of a charge with the brightness turned one notch above minimum.
     

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