MP All Models PCIe SSDs - NVMe & AHCI

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The first post in this thread is a WikiPost, and can be edited by anyone with the appropriate permissions.

MisterAndrew

macrumors 68020
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Sep 15, 2015
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This is a general info thread for blade SSDs that can be used in the Mac Pro. This is a WikiPost so anyone with the proper credentials may edit it.

NVMe SSDs can be used as a boot drive in the MP5,1 and MP6,1 with the latest firmware installed (beginning with version 140.0.0.0.0 for MP5,1 and MP61.0120.B00 for MP6,1). The new MP7,1 support booting from an NVMe SSD when external booting is enabled with Startup Security Utility.

Note that PCIe SSDs installed in a Mac Pro 5,1 (MP6,1 have exactly the same PCIe 2.0 limits too) are limited to ~1,500 MB/s unless installed on a PCIe switch card in slot 1 or 2 such as a HighPoint SSD7101A-1 or Amfeltec Squid that converts the Mac Pro PCIe 2.0 x16 to the PCIe 3.0 x4 needed for full throughput.

Also note that 3rd party SSDs have varying compatibility with the Mac Pro and not all listed below may be fully compatible.

macOS NVMe Support:

  • Genuine Apple NVMe drives are supported beginning with macOS Yosemite 10.10.2 with the correct firmware installed. 3rd party NVMe drives with 4096 bytes/sector are supported beginning with macOS Sierra with expanded support beginning with macOS High Sierra.
  • macOS High Sierra, Mojave and Catalina supports both 4KiB and 512 bytes / sector NVMe drives.
  • macOS Sierra supports 4KiB / sector drives like Apple OEM and some uncommon Toshiba/OCZ/Intel/WD blades. This post on InsanelyMac lists the blades that work with Sierra and hackintoshes, please note that most of those blades don't work with a Mac Pro at all or work with 750MB/s throughput only. Don't use this list to buy blades for a Mac Pro, it's linked here for information purposes only.
  • For Sierra compatibility choose an NVMe blade that supports the 4Kn disk sector format. See 4Kn section below.
  • Apple supports the 1.3 NVMe standard. Any blade that need a special NVMe module/driver won't be supported; seems that's the case with Samsung 970 EVO Plus without the firmware 2B2QEXM7 and some of the Plextor blades.
  • To boot from a NVMe drive, for Mac Pro 5,1 you need to upgrade BootROM to at least 140.0.0.0.0, supplied with MAS Mojave full installers since 10.14.1. 10.14.4 has 141.0.0.0.0 and 10.14.5/10.14.6 have 144.0.0.0.0. For Mac Pro 6,1 you need to upgrade BootRom to at least MP61.0120.B00 included with macOS High Sierra 10.13.0.
  • High Sierra boots/works perfectly both 4KiB and 512 bytes drives if you have MP5,1 BootROM 140/141/144.0.0.0.0.
  • If you install MP5,1 BootROM 140/141/144.0.0.0.0, Sierra can boot from a 4KiB / sector NVMe M.2 blade.
  • You can read about it on the first posts of these two threads:
    1. MP5,1: What you have to do to upgrade to Mojave
    2. MP5,1: BootROM thread

NVMe boot support and Mac Pro year models:

Mac Pro year model:Model Identifier:NVMe boot support:
2006 Mac Pro / Original Mac ProMP1,1not possible, can't run Sierra/High Sierra. Native support for PCIe AHCI blades.
2007 Mac Pro / Mac Pro (8-Core)MP2,1not possible, can't run Sierra/High Sierra. Native support for PCIe AHCI blades.
Early 2008 Mac ProMP3,1possible but risky procedure, need to inject APFS/NVMe EFI modules inside the BootROM and run 10.12/10.13*. Native support for PCIe AHCI blades.
Early 2009 Mac ProMP4,1cross-flash to the MP5,1 firmware and update to at least 140.0.0.0.0 and 10.12/10.13*. Supports natively PCIe AHCI blades.
Mid 2010 Mac ProMP5,1upgrade to BootROM 140.0.0.0.0 or newer, current one is 144.0.0.0.0, and install 10.12/10.13* to have full native NVMe support.
Mid 2012 Mac ProMP5,1upgrade to BootROM 140.0.0.0.0 or newer, current one is 144.0.0.0.0, and install 10.12/10.13* to have full native NVMe support.
Late 2013 Mac ProMP6,1upgrade to BootROM MP61.0120.B00 or newer, current one is 136.0.0.0.0, and install 10.12/10.13* to have full native NVMe support. Needs a 12+16 adapter to use standard M.2 blades.
2019 Mac ProMP7,1native support, can boot from AHCI or NVMe blades/drives when external booting is enabled with Startup Security Utility.
* 10.12 only supports 4Kib / sector M.2 blades and U.2 drives while 10.13 and newer macOS releases supports both 4Kib /sector and 512 bytes / sector M.2 blades and U.2 drives.


What are internal storage for the Mac Pro firmware:

Mac Pro year model:Model Identifier:What Mac Pro firmware recognise as internal drives:
Mac Pro (2006)MP1,1SATA drives connected to the 6 southbridge SATA ports plus the two PATA drives connected to the PATA cable inside the ODD bay.
8-Core Mac Pro (2007)MP2,1SATA drives connected to the 6 southbridge SATA ports plus the two PATA drives connected to the PATA cable inside the ODD bay.
early-2008 Mac ProMP3,1SATA drives connected to the 6 southbridge SATA ports plus the two PATA drives connected to the PATA cable inside the ODD bay.
early-2009 Mac ProMP4,1SATA/SAS drives connected to the 4 southbridge SATA ports plus the two SATA drives connected to the SATA cable inside the ODD bay.
mid-2010 Mac ProMP5,1SATA/SAS drives connected to the 4 southbridge SATA ports plus the two SATA drives connected to the SATA cable inside the ODD bay.
mid-2012 Mac ProMP5,1SATA/SAS drives connected to the 4 southbridge SATA ports plus the two SATA drives connected to the SATA cable inside the ODD bay.
late-2013 Mac ProMP6,1Only the PCIe SSD is an internal drive.
2019 Mac ProMP7,1Only the T2 Storage is an internal drive for T2 Security.

While the two SATA ports of the logic board are internal for macOS, T2 Security definitions override macOS and you can only boot from SATA native ports with relaxed T2 Security, with external boot enabled with Startup Security Utility.

Any PCIe connected storage are external for the firmware and T2 Security.


NVMe and AHCI Blades:
Apple SSDs: Proprietary Apple 12+16 pin to PCIe adapter needed for Mac Pro 5,1 & older and also 7,1. No adapter needed for Mac Pro 6,1.

SSUAX & SRIUP: Based on Samsung XP941 with UAX controller (S4LN053X01) and Toshiba with Marvell 88SS9183 controller: AHCI
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 2.0 x2 (128GB, 256GB, 512GB) & PCIe 2.0 x4 (1TB)
Speeds: ~1,000 MB/s read, ~800 MB/s write
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status: Good

SSUBX: Based on Samsung SM951 with UBX controller (S4LN058A01): AHCI
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~1,500 MB/s read, ~1,425 MB/s write
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status: Good

SSPOLARIS: Based on Samsung SM961 or PM961 with Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
2D & 3D MLC or TLC
Available in 24GB, 32GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~2,700 MB/s read, ~2,350 MB/s write
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status: Good

SSPHOTON: Based on Samsung PM971 with Photon controller: NVMe
48-layer MLC
Available in 32GB and ? (LPDDR4 DRAM)
PCIe 3.0 x2 ?
Speeds: 1,500 MB/s read, 900 MB/s write ?
Sector size: 4 KBytes per sector
Compatibility status:Good


Good article on Apple blade SSDs: The Ultimate Guide to Apple’s Proprietary SSDs

Samsung SSDs: M.2 PCIe adapter needed for Mac Pro 5,1 & 7,1. M.2 to proprietary Apple adapter needed for Mac Pro 6,1 or external Thunderbolt adapter.

XP941: UAX controller (S4LN053X01): AHCI
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
PCIe 2.0 x2 (128GB, 256GB, 512GB) & PCIe 2.0 x4 (1TB)
Speeds: ~1,000 MB/s read, ~800 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

SM951: UBX controller (S4LN058A01): Both AHCI and NVMe versions
2D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~2,150 MB/s read, ~1,500 MB/s write (512 GB model)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet (AHCI), Datasheet (NVMe)
Compatibility status (AHCI): Good
Compatibility status: (NVMe): Good
4Kn support: Unknown

950 PRO: UBX controller (S4LN058A01): NVMe
3D MLC
Available in 256GB and 512GB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~2,500 MB/s read, ~1,500 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: (NVMe): Issues/not compatible
4Kn support: Unknown

PM961: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
3D TLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,000 MB/s read, ~1,500 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

SM961: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
2D & 3D MLC
Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,200 MB/s read, ~1,800 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

960 EVO: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
3D TLC
Available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,200 MB/s read, up to 1,900 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

960 PRO: Polaris controller (S4LP077X01): NVMe
2D & 3D MLC
Available in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,500 MB/s read, ~2,100 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

PM981: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (64-layer)
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,500 MB/s read, up to 2,400 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Issues/not compatible
4Kn support: Unknown

PM981a: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (64-layer)
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: ~3,500 MB/s read, up to 2,400 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Issues/not compatible
4Kn support: Unknown

970 EVO: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (96-layer)
Available in 500GB and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to 2,500 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

970 EVO Plus: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D TLC (96-layer)
Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to 3,300 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Requires at least firmware 2B2QEXM7 to work with macOS
4Kn support: Unknown

970 PRO: Phoenix controller (S4LR020): NVMe
3D MLC (64-layer)
Available in 512GB and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to ~3,000 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

Intel SSDs:

Optane 900p: NVMe
3D XPoint
Available in 280GB and 480GB
PCIe 3.0 x4 Half Height Half Length (HHHL) Add-in-Card.
Speeds: up to 1,500 MB/s (due to PCIe 2.0 bus limitation)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

HP SSDs:

EX920: SM2262 controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,200 MB/s read, up to 1,800 MB/s write (1TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

EX950: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to 2,900 MB/s write
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Unknown (may have issues: see post #1,733)
4Kn support: Unknown

Toshiba/KIOXIA SSDs:

XG5: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
Toshiba 64 layer BiCS3 3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,000 MB/s read, up to 2,100 MB/s write (1TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Yes

XG5-P: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
Toshiba 64 layer BiCS3 3D TLC
Available in 1TB and 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,000 MB/s read, up to 2,200 MB/s write (2TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Yes

XG6: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
Toshiba 96 layer BiCS4 3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,180 MB/s read, up to 2,960 MB/s write (1TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good (@zhpenn is using one with a MP7,1)
4Kn support: Yes

XG6-P: TC58NCP090GSD controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
Toshiba 96 layer BiCS4 3D TLC
Available in 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,180 MB/s read, up to 2,920 MB/s write
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Unknown (most likely good)
4Kn support: Yes

Western Digital SSDs:

WD Black: Western Digital in-house: NVMe, M.2 blade
3D TLC
Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to ~ MB/s read, up to ~ MB/s write (1TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Unknown
4Kn support: Unknown

WD Blue SN550: Western Digital in-house: NVMe, M.2 blade
Sandisk 96 layer 3D TLC / Controller DRAM less
Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 2400 MB/s read, up to 1950 MB/s write (1TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Issues/not compatible (don't work from cold boot/sleep issues)
4Kn support: Unknown

WD Black SN750: Western Digital in-house: NVMe, M.2 blade
Sandisk 64-layer 3D TLC
Available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3400 MB/s read, up to 2900 MB/s write (2TB)
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown

Sabrent SSDs:

Rocket: Phison E12 or E16 controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
Toshiba 3D TLC
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,450 MB/s read, up to 3,000 MB/s write (4TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Yes

Rocket Q: Phison E12S controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
Micron 96L 3D QLC
Available in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, and 8TB
PCIe 3.0 x4
Speeds: up to 3,400 MB/s read, up to 3,000 MB/s write (4TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Datasheet
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Yes

SK hynix SSDs:

PC401: NVMe, M.2 blade
Available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1 TB
Speeds: up to 2,700 MB/s read, up to 1,450 MB/s write (1TB)
Sector size: 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical
Compatibility status: Unknown
4Kn support: Yes

PC601: NVMe, M.2 blade
Available in 256GB, 512GB, and 1 TB
Speeds: up to 3,400 MB/s read, up to 2,500 MB/s write (1TB)
Sector size: Unknown (most likely 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical)
Compatibility status: Unknown
4Kn support: Unknown (most likely yes)

Gold P31: SK hynix controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
128 layer 4D NAND
Available in 500GB and 1 TB
Speeds: up to 3,200 MB/s read, up to 3,200 MB/s write
Sector size: Unknown (most likely 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical)
Compatibility status: Unknown
4Kn support: Unknown (most likely yes)

Platinum P31: SK hynix controller: NVMe, M.2 blade
128 layer 4D NAND
Available in 2 TB
Speeds: up to 3,200 MB/s read, up to 3,200 MB/s write
Sector size: Unknown (most likely 512 bytes per sector (emulated), 4 KBytes physical)
Compatibility status: Unknown
4Kn support: Unknown (most likely yes)

ADATA SSDs:

XPG SX8200 Pro: NVMe, M.2 blade
Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB
Speeds: up to 3,500 MB/s read, up to 3,000 MB/s write (2TB)
Sector size: 4 KBytes
Compatibility status: Good
4Kn support: Unknown
Datasheet



Recommended PCIe adaptors for Mac Pro 5,1 & 7,1:

Standard PCIe x4 cards (tops at 1500 MB/s with MP5,1, double with MP7,1)(no switch):

Low cost:

No heatsinks. Be warned, don't use AHCI and NVMe blades without having a heatsink installed, you will have thermal throttling frequently and may cook your blade. (Note: Not as important for Apple proprietary blades which have better thermal management under macOS, but still recommended.)

  • Lycom DT-120
  • For proprietary Apple SSD: generic adapter from eBay (e.g. "2013-2014 Macbook Air SSD PCIe adapter 4X") (no brand)

Medium cost:

All adapters have heatsinks.


PCIe x8 & x16 switch cards (up to ~6200MB/s with MP5,1, double with MP7,1):

Better performance / higher cost (up to 3,000 MB/s with MP5,1, double with MP7,1), tested in the thread:

  • IO Crest IO-PCE2824-TM2 (aka Syba SI-PEX40129): Supports 2 blade SSDs. Uses ASMedia x8 ASM2824 switch. Heatsink with a fan over the blades and PCIe switch. Up to 2900MB/s with MP5,1 and a little less than 6000MB/s total throughput with MP7,1. Warning: several recent posts ( #2,146 ,) that recently I/O Crest cards are freezing with MP5,1. Seems newer cards are now incompatible.
  • OWC ACCELSIOR 4M2 Supports four (seems to require single side M.2 blades, to be confirmed) 80mm M.2 blades. Uses x8 ASMedia ASM2824 switch. Heatsink over the blades and PCIe switch. It's a PCIe 3.0 x8 card, ~2900MB/s with MP5,1 PCIe 2.0 slot1 and slot2 and double that with MP7,1 PCIe 3.0 slots. Several reports that the original version have problems with 2019 Mac Pro and only the revised version works with MP7,1.

Top performance / high cost [tops at 3200 MB/s with one blade, 6200 MB/s (10000~120000 MB/s for MP7,1) with two to four], all tested in the thread:

ProductUniquePCIeLanesChipsetBootM.2 SocketsSpeed MB/s
Amfeltec Squid
SKU-086-34
Has offset PCI
Slot 2 cMP5,1
Gen 3 x4/x8
PCIe 2.1
32PLX PEX8732:apple:4x NVME
M2 1.0
2210
2280
2260
2242
2230
5900+
Amfeltec Squid
SKU-086-36
Has offset PCI
Slot 2 cMP5,1
aux Power
Gen 3 x16 x4/x8Optional Gen 3 x8
PCIe 2.1
unknownunknown6x 110mm NVME M2 1.1
2210
2280
HighPoint SSD7101A-148PLX PEX8747:apple:
W ✅
4x NVME
M2
Sonnet
FUS-SSD-4X4-E3
LongPLX PEX8747:apple:
W ⛔

Untested in the thread yet, but should work:


Recommended M.2 to Apple 12+16 pin adaptors for Mac Pro 6,1:
  • Sintech ST-NGFF2013-C: Supports one M.2 blade
  • Amfeltec AngelShark Carrier Board™ for M.2 SSD modules: Supports two M.2 blades plus one Apple 12+16 pin blade, or three M.2 blades using a single 12+16 pin adapter on the board. Note: All SSDs installed on the carrier board are seen as external by the Mac Pro, even the original Apple SSD. It must be removed to update the system firmware (boot ROM).
Don't buy PCIe adaptors list:


Any multiple M.2 blades card from ASRock/Asus/Gigabyte/MSI that don't have a PCIe 3.0 switch and requires a motherboard with PCI Express Lane Partitioning support, also known as bifurcation support, like the cards listed on the table below.

It's confirmed that off MP7,1 PCIe slots, just the two MPX ones are connected to the CPU and the rest are behind a 96-lane PEX8796 PCIe switch, so no PCI Express Lane Partitioning support for 2019 Mac Pro, and the same requirements for PCIe M.2/U.2 adapters as MP5,1 are valid, the only difference is that 2019 Mac Pro slots are PCIe 3.0.

Being crystal clear, 2019 Mac Pro doesn't support the cheap multiple M.2 adapters that require motherboard bifurcation support and only the first blade of the four is recognized. While MP7,1 has a chipset compatible with lane bifurcation, no Mac has the firmware or the configuration options necessary for it to work.

No blade works when the cards that require PCI Express Lane Partitioning support of the table below are installed on a MP5,1, the chipset is too old and don't support it at all.



Adapter:Impediment for not working:Prequisite missing in cMP
ADWITS Quad M.2bad design, requires MOLEX or SATA power even with 1 blade. @combatphotog bought one and tested, card keeps shutting down his MP5,1.Power via Molex
Aplicata Quad M.2 NVMe SSD PCIe x16 Adapterrequires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
ASRock Ultra Quadrequires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
Asus Hyper M.2 x16
Asus Hyper M.2 x16 v2
Asus Hyper M.2 x16 Gen 4
requires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation). Confirmed working for one blade, not working for more than one.PCIe Bifurcation
ASUS Support Note
Dell Ultra-Speed Drive Quad NVMe M.2 PCIe x16 Cardrequires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
GIGABYTE AORUS PCIE x16 M.2
GIGABYTE AORUS Gen4 AIC Adaptor GC-4XM2G4
requires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
GIGABYTE CMT2014, CMT4032 and CMT4034requires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
HP Z Turbo Drive Quad Prorequires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
MSI Xpander-Aerorequires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
Squid PCIe Gen 3 Carrier Board for 4 M.2 SSD modules (M-key ) (full or half-height bracket) SKU-086-B4requires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
Supermicro AOC-SLG3-2M2requires motherboard PCI Express Lane Partitioning support (aka bifurcation)PCIe Bifurcation
Supermicro AOC-SLG3-8E2Pfried @handheldgames Mac Pro
Synology M2D18it's a ~$200 PCIe 2.0 switch card with SATA + M2 that tops at 1500MB/s

4Kn Disk Sector Format (needed only for Sierra or if your application requires it)
For best compatibility convert your 4Kn capable NVMe blade to the 4K Native disk sector format like a genuine Apple SSD. Wiki article on this format. Many recent NVMe blades support 4Kn, however, you must verify if your NVMe blade supports it before converting it. How to section is below.

Note the following warnings:
  • Converting your NVMe blade to 4Kn will result in loss of all data currently on the drive.
  • Attempting to convert an NVMe blade to 4Kn that does not support it will probably ruin it.
  • Convert an NVMe blade to 4Kn at your own risk.

How to convert your 4Kn capable NVMe:

  • Make sure the NVMe blade's firmware is up to date. You will probably have to do this in Windows. For example, firmware updates for Toshiba/KIOXIA SSDs are available from Dell. Choose a new Dell PC such as the Precision 7920 Tower in the support section to find the firmware update for your SSD. Find the model number of your SSD in the Windows Device Manager.​
  • If Windows can identify your NVMe blade and has assigned a drive letter then you can use the command prompt to see if your NVMe blade is 4Kn capable. Run Command Prompt as an Administrator. For example, if your drive is letter E you would type fsutil fsinfo sectorInfo E:. If the PhysicalBytesPerSector value is 4096 then your NVMe blade is 4Kn capable. If the LogicalBytesPerSector value is 4096 then it is already in 4Kn format. If the LogicalBytesPerSector value is 512 then it is currently in 512e format (emulated 512 bytes per sector). If your NVMe blade's firmware will allow it you can convert it to 4Kn.​
  • Check to see if there is a sector size conversion app available from your SSD's manufacturer. For example, Sabrent has an app to do this in Windows. Link for Sabrent’s Sector Size Converter (SSC). Intel has firmware and an app that achieve this for some of their SSDs: link.​
If there is no firmware or app available from the manufacturer then follow the directions below to convert it manually.

  1. Make a bootable Linux flash drive such as Ubuntu following one of the various guides online.​
  2. Boot from the Linux drive and enter try/live mode.​
  3. Make sure the internet is connected. For example, select your WiFi network in the upper right corner of the screen.​
  4. Open the Linux disk utility app (such as Gparted) to find the device path and name for your NVMe blade​
  5. Open the Terminal app​
  6. Install the NVMe-CLI app: (make sure the top 4 package sources are selected in the Ubuntu software update app)​
    • Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install -y nvme-cli
    • CentOS/RHEL 7.x or 8.x: sudo yum install nvme-cli
  7. Check which disk sector size formats your NVMe blade supports (important!): For example: sudo nvme id-ns /dev/nvme0n1 -n 1 -H |grep “LBA Format”
  8. Note the LBA number corresponding to the 4Kn format (4096 bytes). Note: If there is no 4096 byte LBA number listed then your NVMe blade is not 4Kn capable! Do not proceed!
  9. Format the NVMe blade referencing the correct LBA number. For example, if the correct LBA number is 1: sudo nvme format /dev/nvme0n1 -l 1
  10. That's it. You successfully converted your NVMe blade to the 4Kn disk sector format. If you want you can verify it by entering the command from step 6 again to find the LBA number. It will show "in use" by the 4096 bytes LBA number. The drive can then be formatted with the macOS Disk Utility to HFS+ or APFS.​
More info on the open source NVMe-CLI app.
https://nvmexpress.org/open-source-nvme-management-utility-nvme-command-line-interface-nvme-cli/
 
Last edited by tsialex:

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,129
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Just to remember:

Samsung 950PRO 512GB is NOT compatible with Mac Pro as a boot disk, only as a data/scratch one. Not even with the most recent firmware (2B0QBXX7).

Screen Shot 2018-10-10 at 05.03.36.png


The 950PRO incompatibility to MP5,1 is so weird that if I do clear the NVRAM, I have to remove the PCIe adaptor from the Mac or I can't boot from the other disks. If you set another disk as the boot drive, the 950PRO can be used as a data drive - until you need to clear NVRAM…

Another thing, if the 950PRO is installed, boot picker stops working, just a white screen - and that happens even if you don't have the NVMe EFI module injected.
 
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meanmean

macrumors newbie
Jul 31, 2016
13
5
Virginia, USA
Just to remember: Samsung 950PRO is NOT compatible with Mac Pro. Not even with the most recent firmware.
To clarify the point, the 950 Pro does work with the NVMe patch on 139, as I'm currently running Mojave with it. But does not seem to work on 140.
 

MIKX

macrumors 68000
Dec 16, 2004
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657
Aussie in Japan
Might be a good idea to mention the differences between Sierra 4kb and High Sierra 512 kb sectors.
My Samsung M.2 960EVO & 970 EVO are not seen in Sierra but are OK & bootable in High Sierra 10.13.6 with the '89 bootrom.
 
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MisterAndrew

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 15, 2015
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Just to remember: Samsung 950PRO is NOT compatible with Mac Pro. Not even with the most recent firmware.
Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
[doublepost=1539135278][/doublepost]
Might be a good idea to mention the differences between Sierra 4kb and High Sierra 256 kb sectors.
My Samsung M.2 960EVO & 970 EVO are not seen in Sierra but are OK & bootable in High Sierra 10.13.6 with the '89 bootrom.
Thanks. Can you explain that more? Do the Polaris SSDs and newer have 256 kB sectors and older SSDs have 4 kB sectors?
 

w1z

Contributor
Aug 20, 2013
588
406
Just a quick note on the 970 Pro 1TB blade running on the SSD7101A - The max write speed I was able to achieve was 3014MB/s

This is with filevault enabled.

2018-10-10_05-32-42.png

Reads fluctuate from 3000MB/s to 3530MB/s but writes are mostly consistent.
 

MIKX

macrumors 68000
Dec 16, 2004
1,783
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Aussie in Japan
Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
[doublepost=1539135278][/doublepost]

Thanks. Can you explain that more? Do the Polaris SSDs and newer have 256 kB sectors and older SSDs have 4 kB sectors?
It's just a fact of Sierra. I managed to get my 960 EVO "seen" in Sierra but it was a hassle . . then i set the EVO up with a USB stick in a Fusion setup to do a " kind of " NVMeM.2 boot. But still Sierra cannot natively "see" 256kb sector blades.
 

MisterAndrew

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 15, 2015
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Portland, Ore.
It's just a fact of Sierra. I managed to get my 960 EVO "seen" in Sierra but it was a hassle . . then i set the EVO up with a USB stick in a Fusion setup to do a " kind of " NVMeM.2 boot. But still Sierra cannot natively "see" 256kb sector blades.
I was asking which blades have 256kb sectors. That info appears to be missing from the datasheets.
 

tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,129
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Might be a good idea to mention the differences between Sierra 4kb and High Sierra 256 kb sectors.
My Samsung M.2 960EVO & 970 EVO are not seen in Sierra but are OK & bootable in High Sierra 10.13.6 with the '89 bootrom.
You are mistaken, there's not 256KB sectors.

There's two sectorizations, the old 512 bytes per sector and new 4Kbytes per sector.
[doublepost=1539149698][/doublepost]
Okay, thanks. Does that mean the SM951-NVMe is also not compatible?
I can confirm that the 512GB 950PRO don't work, have one here right now. I can't say about the SM951-NVMe - I'll have one to test later this month.
 
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MIKX

macrumors 68000
Dec 16, 2004
1,783
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Aussie in Japan
You are mistaken, there's not 256KB sectors.

There's two sectorizations, the old 512 bytes per sector and new 4Kbytes per sector.
[doublepost=1539149698][/doublepost]
I can confirm that the 512GB 950PRO don't work, have one here right now. I can't say about the SM951-NVMe - I'll have one to test later this month.
Sorry tsialex .. you are correct 512kb . . I didn't get much sleep last night, I was up 'til 2:30 am PMing with you :p
 
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Theophany

macrumors 6502a
Nov 16, 2008
633
186
NW London.
Is there any good resource for finding M.2 add in boards that will work with MacOS?

I was looking at this StarTech board as it seems like it could provide an inexpensive way to get hardware RAID 0 for a pair of NVMe drives to use as a boot disk: https://www.startech.com/uk/Cards-A...TA-Cards/m2-raid-controller-card~PEXM2SAT3422

Specification says it works with MacOS 10.14 - but I'm not sure how you'd configure the RAID array?
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,496
7,026
Hong Kong
Is there any good resource for finding M.2 add in boards that will work with MacOS?

I was looking at this StarTech board as it seems like it could provide an inexpensive way to get hardware RAID 0 for a pair of NVMe drives to use as a boot disk: https://www.startech.com/uk/Cards-A...TA-Cards/m2-raid-controller-card~PEXM2SAT3422

Specification says it works with MacOS 10.14 - but I'm not sure how you'd configure the RAID array?
This card is NOT for PCIe SSD at all.

You better avoid the term "m.2", this is the form factor, not the connection standard / protocol.
 
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TheStork

macrumors 6502
Dec 28, 2008
281
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Any adapter without a PCIe PLX switch will get a maximum 1500MB/s throughput, read the first post.
Are the two NVMe M.2 SSD adapter cards mentioned in Post #1 the only adapter cards with PLX? (I bought an Angelbird Wing PCIe NVMe M.2 adapter card from all the recommendations in the Mac Pro forum section.)
 
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tsialex

macrumors G3
Jun 13, 2016
8,129
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Are the two NVMe M.2 SSD adapter cards mentioned in Post #1 the only adapter cards with PLX? (I bought an Angelbird Wing PCIe NVMe M.2 adapter card from all the recommendations in the Mac Pro forum section.)
At the moment, it's the only two confirmed working on a Mac Pro. Other cards with ASM2824 PCI-Express 3.0 x24 switch could work, but someone has to buy one and test it for the rest of us :p

This is a good candidate:

SYBA Dual M.2 NVMe Ports to PCIe 3.0 x16 Bifurcation Riser Controller - Support Non-BiFurcation Motherboard, SI-PEX40129
 
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TheStork

macrumors 6502
Dec 28, 2008
281
163
At the moment, it's the only two confirmed working on a Mac Pro. Other cards with ASM2824 PCI-Express 3.0 x24 switch could work, but someone has to buy one and test it for the rest of us :p

This is a good candidate:

SYBA Dual M.2 NVMe Ports to PCIe 3.0 x16 Bifurcation Riser Controller - Support Non-BiFurcation Motherboard, SI-PEX40129
Those Post #1 cards are very expensive for the performance. They must be targeted to users of NVMe M.2 SSD RAID. For single NVMe M.2 SSD, the Angelbird Wings PCIe adapter is probably good enough (bang for the buck) at $60 USD.
 
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