RAID setup issues (areca 1880 + maxconnect kit)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by PieMan77, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. PieMan77 macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    i'm planning to install a raid array inside my 2010 macpro, which, after reading this and this threads (that were, by the way, extremely helpful, thanks to you guys and especially nanofrog), comes out as follows:

    1. 4 x sata enterprise-class hdd's in standard bays

    2. 2 x ssd hdd's in lower optical drive bay (for now, maybe i'll expand them to 4 or 8 in the future)

    3. areca 1880ix-12 card (if i got it right, there's no sense in using a low-profile version in macpro, whereas a ram module supplied with the standard-profile card is a good thing to have)

    4. maxupgrades backplane attachment kit

    5. optical bay mounting assembly like this, this or maybe even this, if i choose to expand to 8 ssd's instead of 4

    most of these products don't ship to my country so i'll probably ask some friends in the usa to bring it to me, and that's why i can't afford choosing the wrong things (or configurations), one simple connector missing - and the whole set becomes almost useless :)

    so, that is my first question - is all the above enough to install 4 x sata hdd's (raid-5) and 2 x ssd hdd's (raid-0, or maybe even as separate discs) in 2010 macpro?

    to be more specific, which maxconnect backplane attachment kit should i get - SZ-MACPRO10-SA06 or SZ-MACPRO10-MS06 (with mini-sas cable)? i'll be using sata discs, but areca 1880ix-12 comes with 3 mini-sas cables (they do include cables, right?) and i hear they are sata-compatible, but maxupgdares offer both sata and mini-sas backplane attachments, so which one should i use? or either? :) all this is sort of confusing :)

    further, about optical bay mounting, do i need some extra cables/connectors or i can just run the whole ssd set with the ones supplied with the areca card + the internal one (from ICH)? btw, am i right that with my current setup (4 x hdd's + 4 x ssd's max) i do not need extra PCIe controller, just the very mounting kit plus areca card? (in terms of speed throughput, not in terms of "bootability" under both windows and mac os, that's not an issue for me)

    and just one software question - do i have to flash the raid card with efi if i'm not booting mac os from it, it's just that my home directory will reside there (in other words, do the software drivers for the card load prior to logging in)?

    hopefully for someone all this is not as confusing as for me :)
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Just make sure you choose disk model/s from the HDD Compatability List if you don't want to be a guinea pig and test out an unlisted drive.

    This will be fine, but OS requirements will determine what disk is attached to which controller for boot reasons.

    That is, you'd need to boot a Windows disk off of the MP's SATA ports. You have the option of booting an OS X disk from either the MP's SATA ports or from the ARC-1880ix12 once it's been flashed.

    You'll also have to contend with getting power to the SSD's as well, so the specifics will matter here.

    Good card. If you look around, you can find it cheaper than newegg (one such example).

    The SZ-MACPRO10-MS06 is the specific version you need (MiniSAS = SFF-8087 connector = those used on the ARC-1880ix12).

    Any of these could work, but you will have to make sure you get power to the unit (MaxUpgrades' gear will come with the cables you need; the other products will not, so you'd need to find a way to do that).

    Past this (i.e. how to get power), the specifics will have to be nailed down first (which 2.5" backplane adapter/MaxUpgrades kit you'll use).

    Separate disks may be of a benefit for you, so let us know what you're planning to do with them (i.e. scratch would be best done on an independent SSD).

    Yes, the Areca will come with 1x internal fan-out cable (SFF-8087 on one end, 4x SATA/SAS ends on other - works with either SAS or SATA disks) per internal port on the card. So in this case, 3x total.

    The disks use the same connector (SAS or SATA = same connector) for the disk.

    Where your confusion comes in, is on the card side. Most use SFF-8087 (Female), which contains 4x disks on one connector. But some do use SATA ports, so they need 1x per port. These are SATA only, and a 12x port card would have 12x SATA ports (would use stacked SATA connectors you find on motherboards). The ARC-1210 is such an example (4x port SATA model).

    You won't have to in such a case (driver support only).

    But you'd need to use the cable in the empty ODD bay for a boot disk (presume one of the SSD's). This will make power for a second a tad more difficult, but by no means impossible (you'd need to make a cable out of a pair of readily available cables = easy, and won't void your warranty).
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
  4. PieMan77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2011
    thanks for replying, nano, as usual you've made things clearer :) now i've got the whole point about the card/backplane/sleds setup, thanks again :)

    as for the ssd's usage, i'm contemplating several configurations:

    a) first ssd will be partitioned and contain both the mac os (system minus the applications) and windows bootable volumes. hence, it will be connected to ICH via the cable from the empty opti-bay (so far, no problem). second ssd will contain the /Applications folder from mac os (done through the usage of /etc/fstab = simply changing the mounting point for the disk from /Volumes to root, like this). this disk will be connected to areca card (data signal) and, if i got it right (?), i've got to figure out a way to somehow connect it to the power signal as well.

    b) first ssd will be mac os bootable, connected to ICH. second disc will be windows, connected to areca (again the power supply problem?), also bootable since the card remains bios-flashed

    either way, the main sata array will be raid-5, connected to areca and holding my mac os /Users directory (mounting point change again) and whatnot - rw in mac and read-only in win (bootcamp hfs+ drivers).

    so far, in both cases, i see only one problem - connecting the second ssd to the power cable. did i get you right, that the maxupgrades' ssd mounting assembies will contain solution for both data and power signals (= i won't need any DIY work)? if so, i'll definitely choose maxupgrades 2'5 unit, either 4x or 8x - i guess there's no difference between them other than the max number of discs?

    because you know, all this is a sort of long-term investment and on one hand i can hardly imagine why i would want as much as 8 ssd's, but on the other, technology stuff and amounts of data throughput increase rapidly, who knows if i won't change my mind in say 2 years... so i'm still thinking. there's a good japanese proverb, not sure how to translate, "the one who had a little of thinking, has lots of crying" :)

    in general, i see this 2x ssd assembly expanding to a 4x one (in future, and perhaps not even near future), where i will have 3x discs for mac os in raid-0 attached to the areca card (of course, i'll have to flash it with efi to boot) and 1x ssd will be windows bootable, attached to the ICH. considering this expansion, i guess i won't need any extra hardware/cables other than the ones i'm buying for the current 2x ssd's setup, except for the discs themselves of course :)
  5. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    If I understand you correctly, you want to boot Windows from an Areca-connected drive. Unfortunately that configuration is not supported (i.e. won't work).

    Not sure what your goals are for this build, but you may want to consider getting an expander and making your RAID 5 array external. This will give you flexibility to expand both internally and externally.
  6. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    This configuration will work, as the Windows installation is attached to the ICH, and the Applications will be accessible via driver support to the ARC-1880ix12 (OS loads first, then will access the applications).

    But there is another alternative that I'd recommend (Windows disk must be attached to the ICH in order to boot; OS X can be booted from the Areca or ICH, but the Areca is easier).
    Use a separate SSD for each OS (size them accordingly), and keep the applications on the same disk as the respective OS (predominately reads, so there's no unusually high wear as a result of doing this). The advantage, is if one of the OS's dies, you can still boot into the other as a means of speeding up a fix (i.e. can access the web for tech support/hunt down an answer if needed, or even start an RMA if the disk is still warranted, or buy a new one if it's not).​
    This configuration will not work, as a Windows (or Linux) installation must be attached to the ICH in order to boot.

    The ARC-1880ix12 can boot OS X because of a combination of:
    1. You can flash the card with EFI capable firmware.
    2. You can set the array/single disk on the card as a boot location for OS X (it's a utility within OS X that allows access to the system's firmware to set the boot disk, but this is only possible for OS X).
    The cables they include won't cover every situation, so it's likely you'd need to make something as well (i.e. they'd just pull power from the unused ODD cable, and include data cables).

    As you need to use the unused ODD cable (aka backplane connector = power + data on a single connector) for the Windows disk in order to boot, you'll also have to tie into it for power for the remaining SSD's. It can also allow you to use cheaper mounting solutions, including DIY (velcro, zip ties, ...).

    How To (retains the DATA signal on the optical bay cable):You'll need to cut off the male SATA end, and splice the power cables together (tie the wires you just cut to those on the Backplane Extension Cable; don't leave any power lines un-connected). Just follow the wire colors and locations, and connect using solder + heatshrink tubing, crimp connectors, or wire nuts (any of these will work; cleanest = solder + heatshrink tubing IMO). No matter the splicing method however, it gets power without sacrificing the DATA line on the original cable to the optical bay and won't void the warranty. :)

    The above How-To will keep the data to the Windows disk on the ICH as well as provide power to another pair of disks (SSD or HDD for that matter). You can use additional splitters from these to power additional disks or tie into the wiring if you prefer. ;)

    I'm concerned that this is going to be a waste of funds though. Software usage is the key, as I see it as a waste of money if your specific applications cannot utilize the improved disk I/O that you're prepared to spend a small fortune on (that's why VirtualRain and cutterman posted what they did IMO).
    The OP's option A or my alternative would work. Option B however, would not.

    Using an internal to external cable, there's the possibility of using an external MiniSAS based enclosure with the card (but not if the OP is dead set on running all 12x ports internally in the MP).

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