Please recommend a 6G RAID card with internal ports for the Mac Pro 2010

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by JollyJoeJoe, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. JollyJoeJoe, Apr 12, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011

    JollyJoeJoe macrumors regular

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    #1
    Want to put up a 4-disk RAID5 array (not to boot off, just storage, boot drive will be from an SSD) into the 4x drive bays on the Mac Pro 5,1 and don't want to use the Apple RAID card that takes advantage of the internal drive channels as I herd bad things about it the apple card and its not too hot on specs either.

    So I am pondering whether to go for something like the:

    ARC-1880LP
    http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Areca/ARC1880LP/

    With this card I'll have 4x 3TB drives in RAID5 and 2x SSD in 5"25 with Multi-mount adapter. Will probably have to use the two onboard SATA2 ports for the SSD's considering there's only one set SATA power/data connector set left that I can use that was intended for the ODD. Or is there more sata/power connectors there or can I buy/connect more?



    Or use something like the Areca ARC-1880-ix-12 that can be connected to some 12x internal drives via SAS expanders. With this card I can connect both the 4x 3TB HDD RAID5 volume and 2x 6G SSD (non-raid) to it at same time.


    Does anyone have any experience with any of the above cards? e.g ease of setting up, bugs, reliability etc. Also does it get messy cable wise when you don't use the apple raid card and run the SAS expanders to the drives? How did you go about flashing the card to EFI firmware ?

    Which other 6G RAID cards can you recommend that I can connect 4x HDD in RAID5 and 2x 6G SSD's (non-raid) to, if there's a good one that takes advantage of internal drive channels it would be a plus.




    Thanks..
     
  2. cvelezv macrumors newbie

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    Apr 14, 2009
    #2
    Areca Card

    I have the ARC-1880i card so I can answer some of your questions

    1. Setup. Very straightforward ARECA provides a web interface that is very reliable
    2. Reliability. So far I had no problems, I cannot say the same for highpoint, with that card I already had 2 RAID 5 crashes. The areca is handling an array of 4 SSDs on RAID 0 (I perform daily backups for this one to a velociraptor)
    3.I just flashed the EFI driver following NANOFROG's advice and with that I was able to boot from the SSD that look as a 480GB image to OS X
    4.Cable setup. I have 2 SAS-SATA cables and was able to route them to the second ODD were I have the 4 SSD drives
     
  3. JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    Looks like for the four 3.5" bays on the Mac Pro I'll need something like in the below link to use the 1880 series Areca raid controller with 4x HDD's in those bays.

    http://www.maxupgrades.com/istore/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_id=189%20

    Care to post the instructions or link to the thread with details on flashing the Areca card that NANOFROG gave you?

    How many RAID volumes can you configure using the one Areca controller using the internal ports? I am guessing all drives that connect using the ( MiniSAS- SATA 4x multiplier). So for two internal 6G ports on the RAID controller (8 drives in any number of RAID configs). I want to run a 4x HDD RAID5 and 2x SSD's in non raid off the one controller. Maybe even go for the 1880-ix with external RAID support for a 3rd external RAID1 volume, all of the same controller. Wondering how much RAM I will need in this case, would 512MB default be enough you think?
     
  4. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #5
    You could do without the RAID-card altogether and just install 4 drives in the bays in the Mac Pro and use the ZFS filesystem to make a dynamic stripe in RAID-Z, so you will get RAID-5 like performance but with better protection and data integrity.

    RAID-5 is prone to something called the "RAID-5 write hole" in case of a power outage, something RAID-Z specifically is designed to handle.

    Just listing this as another option.
     
  5. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #6
    Unfortunately, Apple ditched their development on ZFS, so no ZFS love for the Mac Pro and OS X.

    If you chose FreeBSD or OpenSolaris, there is little point in buying a Pro in the first place as you can get better boxes for less for that kind of requirement.
     
  6. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #7
    Funny thing, as I am running ZFS as we speak on my Mac Pro and several servers.

    If you clicked the link I provided you could even download it and install it in Mac OS X ;)

    Also ZFS is returning big time for Mac OS X come June/July with a full up-to-date implementation of ZFS, called ZFS-410 by Ten's Complement LLC.

    Ironically, one of the engineers behind ZFS-410 was the technical lead behind the original HFS+ filesystem and one of the persons porting ZFS to Mac OS X until Apple ditched it. You can find a good read about it here
     
  7. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #8
    Didn't know of that one. How does it run? Any problems?

    I'm always a little careful when it comes to third party things on OS X as you never know what Apple might do in their next OS update.
    That being said, I'm running ZFS systems (BSD/Solaris) for years now and absolutely like the system, never on OS X, though.
     
  8. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #9
    It runs on an old but stable release based on onnv_74, which provides zpool version 8 and zfs version 2, so it doesn't include RAID-Z2, RAID-Z3 or any of the newer functions, which is why I am very interested in Ten's Complements up-to-date version. It's an external kext, so it shouldn't suffer from anything when Apple updates Mac OS X.

    It's solid in my experience and there have not been a single case of lost data in the project's history (knock on wood) :)

    I'm using it on one of our Mac Pro's running Mac OS X Server (10.6) and haven't encountered any problems, other than lacking some features. Well, the most important feature is, of course, Copy-on-Write and the other features that enables the high data integrity. Got to love the zfs snapshot command!
     
  9. JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Hmm not really keen on a software based RAID solution on a non officially supported file system for the OSX, after all I want to run some new 6G SSD's off the RAID card too in addition to a RAID5 with 4x UltraStar 6G interface drives, so I would first and foremost benefit from the faster ports on the 6G RAID controller. I might also use the external RAID support/connector on the controller for an external RAID solution. Also surely RAID-Z would take some toll on the RAM and processor too where as with the hardware controller all the processing load will be handled exclusively on the controller.
     
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #11
    You don't need to worry about Low Profile versions for the Mac Pro, so others are viable options (say the ARC-1880i all the way to the ARC-1880ix24).

    ATTO Technologies is another company to look into (both offer 6Gb/s, bootable in BIOS and EFI based systems, work in multiple OS's, and have additional features not found on other cards). But ATTO's products are more expensive (good if you're new to hardware RAID controllers, as they're located in New York State so the Support Staff speak English natively), and on some models, Areca has an advantage (namely those that use a DIMM slot for the cache - none of ATTO's products do).

    Areca's support staff do speak English (phone or email), but it's a 2nd language (based in Taiwan). So deciphering their response can be challenging at times.

    The 2009/10 systems use a single backplane connector per ODD bay, so you'd need to use a Y splitter off of that (example if you don't need to retain the data signal off of the ODD backplane connector).

    If you do need to retain the data connection, there's a way to do that too, but it will take a bit of effort on your part (means getting a couple of off the shelf cables and splicing the power wires together <backplane extension cable + SATA Y splitter>; no mods to the system, so your warranty will remain in tact :)).

    Yes.

    You can run multiple arrays or arrays + single disks via Pass Through mode. You cannot run a JBOD (concatenation) + RAID simultaneously though (must select between RAID or JBOD mode).

    SAS expanders are easy cable wise (and no different between any computer for the same configuration and equipment).

    All of Areca's settings, including flashing the firmware, are done via a web browser (BTW, Safari tends to fail for this, so use another browser, such as Firefox).

    If you chose an ATTO product, it installs it's own interface application.

    The only card that can use PCB traces with the HDD bays, is the Apple RAID Pro.

    All 3rd party cards require an adapter, which you've found (maxupgrades.com adapter kit you located).

    See above.

    The EFI firmware (EBC actually), can be found on the disk provided with the card, or on the support site (you will have to dig a bit, but it's there). Then install it via a browser (use Firefox, as there's been too many instances where Safari has failed - including multiple versions of it).

    The # of volumes = however many you want (all of the 1880 series can actually run 128 disks via SAS expanders). You can do this via an internal to external cable (stick to 1.0 meter with SATA disks, or it won't be stable). Or just use these cables for a 1:1 port to disk ratio if you wish in an external SAS enclosure.

    Not sure if you're asking, but you're not stuck to even numbers once you exceed the minimum disk count (i.e. minimum for RAID 5 = 3 members).

    512MB would be enough, as you're not using that many disks (only functional during writes, not reads). More can improve your write throughputs, but I'm not sure of your file sizes, or if you'll be adding more disks (via expanders or in a 1:1 ratio).

    For software implementations of parity arrays, you're absolutely right. RAID 5 wouldn't be the way to go. But a hardware RAID controller has a hardware solution to the problem. :)

    Interesting.

    Ouch.

    We'll have to keep an eye on this, and hope it delivers as expected (nice if Apple's updates won't break it).

    There are 6.0Gb/s non-RAID cards out there (ATTO H6xx series), that would solve the hardware portion (uses SFF-8087 connectors just as the RAID versions do, so the cabling is identical). These can even boot once flashed with EFI64 (ATTO uses EFI rather than EBC like Areca, so you do need to be sure to install the correct version <32 or 64 bit> if you use any of their products).

    As per using system resources, it would. But how much depends on how complex, and from what you've listed, you wouldn't be presenting the system with that much (Z-RAID1 is equivalent to RAID 5).
     
  11. dyn macrumors 68030

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    #12
    You can't boot OS X from zfs, you can't use spotlight very well on zfs, quite a lot of applications/games won't work properly because zfs isn't case-insensitive and there are some more small problems. Zfs is great for a fileserver and various other kind of servers but in a Mac it's still hfs+ that is the best option (even though zfs is a much better filesystem).
     
  12. Pressure macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    #13
    We are well aware of this.

    The boot drive is NOT going to be ZFS based, Mac OS X cannot boot from ZFS anyway.
     
  13. JollyJoeJoe, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011

    JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    Thanks for all the advice nanofrog!

    With the MaxConnect BackPlane Attachment for Mac Pro [2010] Systems (SZ-MACPRO10-MS06) I can't make it out too well from the picture but it appears there's a small adapter attached onto the back of the hard drive ports correct?

    The adapter then connects to the backplane and uses the PCB channels and draws power (hence not requiring any SAS cables to be run)? Or do I connect to the drive a miniSAS-SATA cable from the controller and the adapter is just for power ?
     
  14. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    #15
    The small adapter is required to power the drive. miniSAS is data only, so you still need power.

    The miniSAS cable connects the controller with the hard drives.
     
  15. JollyJoeJoe, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011

    JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    I see, thanks. So I take it without these adapters I can't use any 3rd party RAID solution for HDD's in the four internal bays as by default the hard drives in those bays just connect to the internal PCB channels and SATA power which are both located on the backplane? but with the adapter (for power only) it creates some space causing the HDD to be not plugged into the DATA PCB channels, thus allowing to connect the SAS cables from the controller into the hard drive sata ports.
     
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #17
    Yes.

    The kit includes all the cables needed to connect the disks to a 3rd party card (gets power off of the backplane board <where the disks usually plug into>, and uses a break-out cable to attach the disks data signals to the card). They make room for this via the drive mounts (fit shallower than the stock units to allow for room to plug the data ends into the drives).
     
  17. JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #18
    cheers.

    If using the 1880-ix-12 controller will the non-raid 2x SSD drives in Pass Through mode that I want to attach to the Areca controller be bootable? Does the Areca card at all allow for the system to boot off it or will any attached volumes only initialize once in the OS ?
     
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #19
    Yes.

    Once you flash the card with the EBC firmware, and the desired disk on the card has been selected as the boot location in OS X, it will boot (array, JBOD, or pass through).
     
  19. JollyJoeJoe, Apr 22, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011

    JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20
    So I decided to go with the Areca 1880ix-12 since word on the internet :) is it outperforms the latest offerings from ATTO. Does it come with an 8088 cable as well to connect external storage solution or just the 8087 internal?

    Also with this MaxConnect HDD adapter solution for 3rd pary RAID should I go with this one with no miniSAS cable:

    MaxConnect BackPlane Attachment for Mac Pro [2010] Systems
    4 pcs of MaxConnect RAID Attachment (4 Disk Drives)
    2.5 inch Form Factor Disk Drive - SAS/SATA
    3.5 inch Form Factor Disk Drive - SAS/SATA
    Mounting Screws for the Disk Drive

    Or this one with miniSAS:
    MaxConnect BackPlane Attachment for Mac Pro [2010] Systems
    4 pcs of MaxConnect RAID Attachment (4 Disk Drives)
    2.5 inch Form Factor Disk Drive - SAS/SATA
    3.5 inch Form Factor Disk Drive - SAS/SATA
    Mounting Screws for the Disk Drive
    MiniSAS Cable for the Controller


    I presume the Areca controller already comes with an 8087 miniSAS to 4xSATA header cable, do I still need the miniSAS cable that MaxConnect are including in that latter package ? In general do you I need any other accessories besides the ones that come with this MaxConnect pack to connect my 4x SATA HDD's to the controller ?


    As for flashing I'll take your advice and do it through firefox, the older version too and not the new 4 that just came out. So it's browser management\flashing utility is available irrespective of whether the card is flashed to EFI yet or not? Considering that it would by default be with BIOS I presume this to be the case?

    Thanks..
     
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #21
    The card only comes with fan-out cables (SFF-8087 to 4i*SATA/SAS ends; 1x per SFF-8087 port, so in the case of the ARC-1880ix12, it will come with 3x of them).

    In theory, you could order the version of the Maxupgrades kit without the MiniSAS cable, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to go ahead and get it (it may be shorter, as those that come with the Areca are 0.5 meters in length). Assuming the cable with the kit is shorter, it won't be as messy as a longer cable could be in terms of routing (those that have used that particular kit haven't mentioned it was a mess that I recall).

    You won't need any other cabling to connect the card to the HDD bays (it all comes in the MaxUpgrades kit).

    If you want to use an internal port with an external enclosure, there's a special cable you'd need to get for this. If you want to use the external port (keep in mind, this typically shares ports with an internal connector in past models, such as the 1680 series), you'd need to buy one. Either way, these do not come with the card, and you'd only need to get them if you're planning on running an external enclosure/s.

    BTW, stick to 1.0 meters or less with SATA disks (1.0 m tends to be the shortest you can get off the shelf, but other lengths are possible via a custom order - I've done this before), and do not use the PCI bracket mount adapters to take internal to external cables (results in instability due to contact resistance - been through this battle before). These adapters are meant to be used with SAS, which runs at a much higher signal voltage (20V) than internal SATA (400mV).


    You don't need to use the older version of Firefox. I was referring to Safari in terms of older versions that had been tried and didn't work (not tried Safari 5, but given past revisions, I'd skip even trying it when I know Firefox will work properly).

    As per how to do it, a browser works in any OS supported by the card (browser connects via an IP address assigned to the RAID card). Now the firmware is actually in 4 parts (i.e. what you'd get in a firmware download off of Areca's support site). Assuming you don't need to upgrade anything else, you just use EFI to replace BOOT.bin, which is the BIOS version (leave the others alone).

    There should be instructions in the manual that comes with the card fif you're a bit confused (it's in the others, so it should be there this go around as well). There's also confirmation check boxes to be marked before any flash is actually performed anyway (nice little safety feature), so you can look around without causing problems.
     
  21. JollyJoeJoe, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011

    JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22

    Thanks, you've really helped out.

    One question that does come across though is once I flash the card with EFI and select the SSD as a boot drive from an existing OSX install I will want to install Mac OSX fresh on this now bootable SSD and ditch the default OSX installation on which I chose the SSD as the boot drive. Can I do this? Or must I clone the existing OSX install onto the new SSD drive first?

    I was thinking after making the SSD boot drive I could simply boot off the OSX install discs and install OSX on this SSD?

    It's going to be a new system with no important data, so I don't care about cloning the existing OSX install which comes on the 1TB HDD with the 8-core 2010 Mac Pro. In fact I am going to pull that drive out altogether.

    Perhaps I am complicating things too much here and after flashing the card to EFI, I can just shut down, take out the original 1TB HDD with OSX. Start the PC, launch the Areca EFI RAID BIOS menu with the right key press, put the 2x SSD's in pass through mode and 4x 3TB in RAID5. Afterwards just boot off the OSX cd and it will see the 2x SSD drives and the RAID5 volume and just install OSX on one of the SSD's like I want? Will I have troubles installing Win 7 through bootcamp on the 2nd SSD drive when its running off the Areca in pass through mode ?

    Also maybe you know, for installing 2x 6G SSD's in the 2nd 5'25" optical bay I obviously need either the OWC multimount adapter bracket 2.5 to 5.25 or other, but for power do I need a SATA power Y splitter or something to get power to both SSD's ? Both of these will be connected to the Areca in pass through mode, the length of the included miniSAS cable should be fine to reach to the SSD's in the optical bay right ?

    Finally the one question that I can't find a definite answer to from anyone is if the X5690 Xeons will work in the 8-core Mac Pro, I know the X5680 do from others on this forum. OWC is offering the X5690 in their CPU upgrade options so I take it works. But maybe they flash/alter the EFI to support the microcode for the X5690 ?
     
  22. nanofrog, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011

    nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #23
    You can do it either way.

    Cloning is easier (already has both the OS and card drivers installed), but if you want a clean installation, you use the install disks, then the disk that came with the RAID card (card settings are on the card).

    Another alternative, is start clean on the existing OS disk, then clone (this would should be more "fool proof" than trying to use the DVD installation disks directly to the SSD, as you could potentially run into an issue setting the SSD as the boot location if that's not already set (which makes a change in the system's firmware).

    If the current installation isn't cluttered with things you no longer want/need (i.e. just the OS and RAID card drivers), creating a clone would be the fastest and easiest way to go.

    If it is cluttered with crap you no longer want (reason for a clean OS X installation), see above.

    Perhaps I am complicating things too much here and after flashing the card to EFI, I can just shut down, take out the original 1TB HDD with OSX. Start the PC, launch the Areca EFI RAID BIOS menu with the right key press, put the 2x SSD's in pass through mode and 4x 3TB in RAID5. Afterwards just boot off the OSX cd and it will see the 2x SSD drives and the RAID5 volume and just install OSX on one of the SSD's like I want? Will I have troubles installing Win 7 through bootcamp on the 2nd SSD drive when its running off the Areca in pass through mode ?[/QUOTE]
    Put the Windows disk on the ICH (system's SATA ports), as the card cannot dual boot like that in a MP (been tried before and has never worked).

    Other than the Windows disk, it will work.

    Well, since one of these needs to be connected to the DATA portion of the backplane cable and you need to split the power off for the OS X SSD (presume this is to be both the OS X and Windows disk locations, as it's the most logical), then do the following:

    How to make a cable that retains both the DATA and splits power to multiple drives in the empty ODD bay.
    Cables to buy:
    Tie the power leads together (follow the wire colors and locations <pertains to 2x black wires>) from both cables using solder + heatshrink tubing (best way to go if possible), crimp connectors (not my favorite, as a proper crimp tool <example> is required so the wires don't slip out or have exposed copper that can short <~$300USD>, not the el-cheapo specials you find in Walmart), or wire nuts (bulky by comparison, but make a good contact).​

    This not only does what you need, it won't invalidate your warranty as there's no modifications to the existing cabling in the Mac Pro. :D

    Yes, it will work in the 2010's (same TDP and steppings = CPU cooler is sufficient for the thermal load, and the firmware will recognize the CPU and be able to run it).
     
  23. JollyJoeJoe, Apr 23, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011

    JollyJoeJoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24

    So I take it you mean something like in the bottom diagram:
    Not too keen on the whole soldering part, do you think there
    would be 22-pin male to female extension cables where the female part is split up/separate i.e: 1x Power (Molex if available), 1x SATA DATA cable, in this event I would just connect one 2xSATA power to molex cable on it and no need for soldering. Something like in this link here , but the power having only two wires looks odd?

    I see what you mean about cloning being more preferable then doing a fresh OSX install from the Install DVD's onto the SSD connected to the Areca controller as it may indeed pose problems if changes to the firmware are lost or not made in the first place for it being the boot drive or the areca drivers provided on disc play up or not allow OSX setup to detect the drives etc.

    Thanks for clearing up the processor question, I too would think the X5690 would definitely have to work with 5,1 2010 8-core Mac Pro, just that I overhead some rumor that OWC in fact modify the EFI firmware on the 2010 Mac Pro for it to be able to support X5690 processors.

    ?
    [​IMG]
     
  24. nanofrog macrumors G4

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    #25
    As per the diagram, it's correct (hard to follow the wire colors as the bend around, but it looks right in terms of location as well as color). :)

    What you're asking about (backplane cable that splits into two separate connectors with 4 wires for power) do exist (here). It's not as clean IMO, but functional, and at least from this link, is more expensive (would have expected it to be cheaper, as they're used more often in PC's). If you look, I suspect you'll be able to locate it cheaper (just make sure you've more than 2 wires on the power connector - only get it if it has 4 power wires).

    As per soldering, it's not hard, particularly soldering 2 wires together (buying a stick soldering iron, heat shrink tubing and solder won't be that expensive; should be able to manage it for under $20USD <example>, and it's handy for other projects). You can get a pack of heatshrink tubing from Walmart for under $5USD, and stay around the $20USD mark (as I assume you don't have any of the equipment or supplies to do it based on your aversion to soldering).
    • You don't have to solder, but it is the cleanest way to go about it (solid connections, and stays thin when bundled up together).
    If you go with wire nuts or crimp connectors, stagger them if you can (won't get "pregnant snake syndrome" when you bundle the wiring up if you do this).

    This actually isn't an issue on any other system (have access to the firmware during the boot process to access settings such as to set the boot location). But is on the MP since Apple doesn't grant this form of access to firmware settings.

    I've not gone and taken a look at the OWC forums, but I'm wondering if it was for a 2009 system (where modification of the firmware would be necessary for any B1 stepped part).

    It actually has been done with special equipment on a 2009 (involves soldering equipment for SMT parts, the Flash ROM that contains the firmware to be specific, and a Universal Programmer). I described the process some time back, and someone either followed it or already knew the process, and did it themselves. Works, but is a lot of effort to do something any other system can do with a free firmware upgrade :)mad: at Apple for doing this).
     

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