SATA Express meets the '09 Mac Pro - Bootable NGFF PCIE SSD

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by handheldgames, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. handheldgames, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015

    handheldgames macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #1
    ** SPRING 2015 Update **
    =================================
    The PCIe flash marketplace for the cMP continues to expand with the addition of multiple SSD's compatible with the cMP.

    April 2015 Pricing
    $300 - Lycom DT-120 M.2 Adapter with Samsung 256GB SM951. (1500MB/s) - fast at a lower cost.
    $500 - Sintech Apple PCIe Adapter with SSUBX 512GB - excellent performance without inflated prices (1500MB/s)
    $600 - Dual Lycom DT-120 M.2 Adapters with Samsung 256GB XP941s. (2300MB/s/s)
    $700 - Sintech Apple PCIe Adapter with SSUAX 1TB - Excellent storage value for the price. (1000MB/s)
    $900 - Sintech Apple PCIe Adapter with SSUBX 1TB - Massive fast storage at a price (1500MB/s)
    $1000 - Dual Lycom DT-120 M.2 Adapters with Samsung XP941s. (2300MB/s/s)
    $1400 - Dual Sintech Apple PCIe Adapters with SSUAX 1TB (2300MB/s)


    Apple PCIe SSD Options:
    A Sintech Apple PCIe SSD Adapter combined with the right Apple/Samung PCIe SSD provides a TRIM compatible solution and is competitive to most M.2/NGFF solutions in price and performance.

    Revisions of Apple/Samsung SSD's are clearly visible on the label:
    [​IMG]


    • Sintech Apple 2013/2014 PCIe SSD adapter - available for $20ish on eBay.
    • SSUUBX revision SSD's - This is the Apple equivalent of the Samsung SM951 PCIe SSD and is available in 512GB for $430ish and 1GB of $850ish on Ebay. All test revisions of the SSUBX are x4 PCIe devices that run at full speed in PCIe slot 3 & 4, maxing out data transfer of the cMP's PCIe 2.0 bus with max R/W speeds of 1500MB/S. :eek::eek::eek:
    • SSUUAX revision SSD's - Introduced in 2013, these SSD's are available in 128GB for $125ish, 256 for $225ish and 512GB for $350ish as x2 SSD's maxing out read/write speeds around 750MB/s. All 1TB SSDs are x4 parts and achieve 1000MB/s speeds for $650ish on eBay.


    Detailed posts regarding Apple/Samsung PCIe SSD's/
    SSUBX Boot Configuration testing - Post #917
    SSUBX issues with PCIe Slot#2 and 2.5 GT/s speed in the cMP - Post #756
    SSUBX slower on thunderbolt than in the cMP - Post #707
    SSUBX and SSUAX visual differences - Post #332
    1st end-user reports of Samsung SM951 based solution. 5 months before consumer availability!! - Post #308
    Pictures illustrating when the Sintech Heat Spreader should not be used - Post #721


    NGFF/M.2 M-Key PCIe SSD Options:
    Available as the interface for the 1st bootable options for PCIe flash in late 2013, the PC industry adopted interface for the PCIe SSD's. An interesting note, all PC's built BEFORE early 2014 lack boot support for these SSD's. This thread details the 1st reported OS boot support for PCIe SSD's in a desktop platform. TRIM support is missing from these devices, but can be easily rectified with TrimEnabler by Cindori.

    • Lycom DT-120 PCIe adapter - Compatible with the cMP and available for $25ish
    • Samsung SM951 - a 3D nand SSD delivering 1500MB/s R/W performance to the cMP available in 256GB($260ish), 512GB($450ish)
    • Samsung XP941 - a 3D nand SSD delivering 1100MB/s R/W performance to the cMP available in 256GB($260ish), 512GB($450ish)

    Multiple PCIe SSD's comparable to the XP941 and SM951 were announced in late Q1 2015 with constrained market availability in Q2 2015. More info as it becomes available.



    ** MID November 2014 Update **
    =================================
    Going into Mid-November and onto the holidays, Apple/Samsung SSD's continue to offer the best value for cMP upgrades to PCIe flash. Prices for the 1TB SSD hover between 500-600ish, and offer comparable performance to the $520 M.2/NGFF 512GB Samsung XP941.

    Apple PCIe adapter $10 on ebay
    The Snitech Apple PCIe SSD adapter is currently available on eBay for $10. While there is a newer revision with an unnecessary heat-synch, save your money and buy revision one.

    Apple SSD Deals continue
    Apple 512GB SSD's pulled from rMBP's have been seen on Ebay for $250(I bought one) and 256GB for $125 and offer great x2 performance at stellar prices. (this was last weekend). If you are in the market for an Apple/Samsung SSD, save some money be setting up a product watch on Ebay and buy when the deals show up.

    The Fastest SSD - Ever
    There have been two lucky ones purchasing 1TB Apple/Samsung SSD's on Ebay that have won the SSD Lottery! A new generation of NVMe based SSD's with 1.4 GB/s performance has started to show up prior to retail availability in any Apple product. Pushing the Classic Mac Pro as a "Benchmark" for the nMP to attain. (well once they have the SSD's.. lol) for now, we have the fastest consumer oriented SSD's available in the market... Sweet!!

    What should I buy?
    These day's it's hard to take a pass on Apple/Samsung SSD's for the cMP. With Adapters at $10, and great prices on gently used products for the low end, it offers a Trim ready plug and play solution to bring faster than SATA3 performance for the cMP for 128, 256 and 512GB variants. It's hard to recommend a XP941 512Gb. For <$100 more, you can jump to 1TB. The XP941 does hold the performance crown over Apple's 128/256 and 512GB SSD's, bit a hefty price increase.


    September 2014 UPDATE
    =================================
    Now available direct from Sintech: the bootable Apple PCIe Blade SSD adapter for 2006-2012 Mac Pro with Trim support.

    Compatible with late 2013 MacBook Pro, early 2014 MacBook air and 2013 Mac Pro blade style SSD from Apple. While Apple uses many manufacturers including Sandisk and Toshiba, Samsung variants offer the highest performance across the board. With a good supply available on eBay, Apple branded SSD's are readily available from a variety of resellers in auctions or available as buy it now. I am impressed by the quality of this adapter, compared to the products I have seen from Lycom and Bplus. Their implementation of the SSD socket locks the SSD in with a mechanical click. Ensuring proper installation.

    Currently, the 1TB Samsung/Apple SSD is the best option for the Mac Pro. At an auction price of around 550 with shipping from Korea, or $750 buy it now, the 1tb part matches the 1000MB/S+ performance of nMP SSD's AND the Samsung XP941. Most 128, 256 and 512gb parts sold on EBay are limited to PCIe x2 speeds and top out under 800MB/sec.

    For reference:
    512gb x2 Apple ssd & Adapter costs: $450 (good deal).
    1024gb x4 Apple ssd & adapter costs $600 (good deal)

    The 512 gb variant is $150 cheaper than the faster xp941, and $150 more than the 256 xp941. While the 1TB configuration matches the price of a xp941 512gb setup.

    The cheapest solution today is the 256gb xp941, currently selling for $250ish at newegg, delivering a complete solution for under $300.


    [​IMG]


    FWIW... They also have a new NGFF adapter supporting 4x PCIE and the SATA 6g variants for those who prefer the overpriced or underpowered versions:

    [​IMG]






    Bootable PCIE flash and the MacPro - 12/18/13
    With the nMacPro hours from introduction, a small batch of the Samsung XP941 128GB SSD's showed up on EBAY and I jumped on the opportunity to be a first adopter of a bootable 4x SATA Express platform for the 2009 Mac Pro. This is the first of many NGFF Technologies I'll be pushing through the paces on the Mac Pro.

    While there has been minimal coverage of the NGFF platform, Les Toker over at The SSD Review has had his pulse on the technology, most recently testing a Mac Pro bootable NGFF solution called Raijin from IOSwitch featuring a Plextor NGFF SSD solution. While extensive tests were completed on the Windows 8 x86 kernel, NGFF performance on the x58 based Mac Pro running OSX 10.9 has been an unknown. Until today.

    I've assembled a test platform that I'll be sharing the results from the perspective from an App developer using a mix of Apple's tools.

    Base Mac Pro Test Platform:
    • 2009 Mac Pro, Intel x58 based platform
    • Intel 990x CPU, 6-core, 3.46Ghz
    • 32GB 1066 RAM.
    • nvidia 680GTX 2GB(slot 1)
    • Lycom 4x NGFF PCI 3.0 adapter (slot 2)
    • Apricorn Velocity X2 - slot 3 & 4

    SSD Test Setup
    • Samsung XP941 128GB / Lycom 4x NGFF PCI 3.0 adapter
    • Samsung 840 Pro 256GB / Software Raid - x58 SATA II
    • Samsung 840 Pro 256GB / Software Raid - Velocity X2 (single)
    • Samsung 840 Pro 256GB / Software Raid - Velocity X2 (dual)
    • Samsung 840 Pro EVO 256GB / Velocity X2 (Single)

    LyCom 4X + XP941 Adapter info
    ngff hardware info.png




    Initial Results
    The SSD appears as a Boot device, OS X installed without a problem.
    There is no delay at boot. The spinner progresses for 2/3 of a turn before desktop
    Black Magic Speed test reports approx 480 MB/S write and 880 MB/S READ
    In XBench, the xp941 excels at small file performance.
    Slow write speeds probably due to number of NAND cells. with higher performance in 256GB and greater.

    XBench is one of the few apps that provides 4K analysis. The XP941 128GB offers some wins as a single drive, but quickly falls behind the Samsung 840 Pro Raid 0 with dual controllers.
    xbench stats.png

    Cost wise, the XP941 has the highest cost per GB @ $2.73 per GB.:
    xbench costs.png
    more detailed numbers and screenshots in progress.
     
  2. wonderspark macrumors 68030

    wonderspark

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Oregon
    #2
    Sounds cool. I still have one empty PCIe slot, too.
     
  3. gerardomare1 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
  4. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    Sagittarius A*
    #4
    Been waiting for a member to get one of these.

    Will be very interested to know whether bootcamp works off the same partition on the SSD or off the other cards like the x2
     
  5. handheldgames, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #5
    XBench is one of the few apps that provides 4K/256K analysis.

    • The XP941 128GB offers some wins as a single drive, Leading sequential reads and random 256k writes.
    • The 840 EVO holds single Velocity X2 and takes the lead in 4K random access.
    • The 840 Pro Raid 0 on 2x Velocity x2 takes the sequential read crown and excels in 256k random reads.
    • The 840 Pro Raid 0 on the native SATA II interface leads 4k random writes, with minimal improvements over a 840EVO on a velocity X2.a
    • Random performance is a mixed bag, with a different leader for each category.

    [​IMG]

    Cost wise, the XP941 has the highest cost per GB @ $2.73 per GB.:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. TheSSDReview macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    #6
    Confused....

    Just picked up this report and am wondering a few things.

    1. Did you say you were able to get the XP941 to boot?
    2. If so, is the XP941 the standard or is it the modified Mac version that we found in the MBA's?
    3. What adapter did you use?
    4. Is the adapter bootable?

    Concededly, I am not a Mac guy and am just a bit curious if OSX itself has the required drivers to enable the XP941 as a boot drive.

    When we examined the viability of the Raijin, they created that solution (with the M6e as a bootable M.2) because of the need for exactly that in Mac desktops.

    How would you have enabled the XP941 to be bootable without the boot instructions within the SSD as per new M6e, or the adapter itself? I wasn't aware that OSX provided that.

    Maybe I am missing something that should be hitting me in the head eheheh.

    Oh and thanks for mentioning our work!

    Les
     
  7. handheldgames, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #7
    Hey Les, I was just about to send across an email to update you on my progress.

    • The XP941 does indeed boot in OS X without issue.
    • This is the non-modified XP941 that I sourced from Taiwan. Not the custom apple interface.
    • I'm using a LyCom NGFF M.2 adapter.
    • The adapter is a pass through of the XP941, and is bootable.
    • LyCom DT-120 NGFF solution + the Samsung XP941 is $350 VS $593.98 for the ioSwitch model.

    Regarding booting on a MacPro, the XP941 is identified as a ACHI 1.3 device and boots on the MacPro without issue or a 10 second delay.


     
  8. TheSSDReview macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    #8
    The Card!

    Ya it is that card that is bootable and I wouldn't mind getting it into our tool chest, if only for my 512GB XP941.

    Thanks. Do you have a company contact or did you purchase that card?
     
  9. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #9
    I sent you an email with contact info. The difference may not be the card but the devices. The card is only a pass-through of the PCIE bus to the NGFF slot with no logic or onboard controllers. I'm going to test booting from an x58 based Hackintosh next. Here is some hardware info from the MacPro:

    [​IMG]

     
  10. TheSSDReview macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    #10
    Hmmmm

    I am not too familiar with Mac but would be shocked to learn that it would be easier to boot from a normal M.2 PCIe SSD in OSX than in a PC, especially since it has to boot before the system bios to work. Your motherboard would not accomodate for that in it's bios so it would either have to be done by the card (which states that it is a host card by the way) or somehow by OSX, once again before the system BIOS kicks in?
     
  11. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #11
    Before booting OS X, the MacPro EFI firmware picks it up the XP941 as a bootable device. Perhaps this is due to Apple's experience with EFI vs the WinTel motherboard manufacturer offerings?
     
  12. handheldgames, Dec 18, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013

    handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #12
    QuickBench Results

    Quickbench provides an extensive drive test suite, better illustrating the strengths of each storage solution:
    • Samsung XP941 128GB
      The XP941 excels at Random Writes in all but 2 tests and takes the lead in every sequential read test.
      quickbench xp941.png

    • Samsung 840 Pro x2 Raid 0 on 2 Velocity X2 cards
      The 840 Pro Raid 0 on 2 velocity X2 takes the lead in Random Reads and Sequential Writes on anything greater than 32K with a significant margin in most cases.
      quickbench velocityx2 x2.png

    • Samsung 840 Pro x2 Raid 0 on 1 Velocity X2
      The 840 Pro Raid 0 on 1 velocity Leads the 840 Pro on 2 Velocity X2's across the board for operations less than 64k.
      840 pro 1x velocity x2.png

    • Samsung 840 Pro x2 Raid 0 on SATA II
      SATA II.. Not much to say here except that if your still on it, time for an upgrade.
      840 pro sata II.png

    • Samsung 840 EVO on Velocity X2
      Across the board, a single 840 EVO outperforms a 840 Pro Raid 0 on SATA II.
      840 evo V x2.png
     
  13. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2009
    #13
    In real world usage, the performance difference between a standard 840Pro on a Velocity X2 is very notable. A 256GB or 512GB part would be ideal. I'm not sure if 128GB will work as a boot disk.

    Thx..

    The Mac Pro sees this as an ACHI 1.3 device, in theory it should work on the boot camp side. I have dedicated hardware for those needs and don't dual boot.
     
  14. Gav Mack macrumors 68020

    Gav Mack

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    #14
    Thanks for the benches - revealing. Wondering if the larger 512mb part will be faster than the 128. Perhaps TheSSDReview could be so kind and lend his to you ;)
     
  15. TheSSDReview macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    #15
    The 512GB is definitely faster and, as much as I would like to accomodate that request....sorry. It is still used for other reviews and, in fact, found its way into a post I released tonight on the Crucial M500 M.2 SSD.
     
  16. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

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    Apr 4, 2009
    #16
    I'm sure availability will open up on the XP941 > 128GB in size where I'll be able to source one from Taiwan / China or Korea and definitely from the blokes at RAMCITY in Australia.. They are no help what so ever, even though they advertise the XP941's availability, the appear to pick and choose whom they will sell it to.

    In the mean time, GAV MAC bring's up a very good point!!! It's hella unfortunate that the SSDReview is sitting on so much hardware that could find it's way into a MacPro with absolutely no hardware to test it on. Including 2 drives from IOSWITCH that could use a MacPro Raid 0 benchmark! While the PC platform is crippled, it's apparently not an issue for the cMP. It would be a shame if we have to wait for these results from Anand @ anandtech.com.. DOH!
     
  17. RamCity macrumors member

    RamCity

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    Apr 10, 2014
    Location:
    Sydney
    #17
    Hey just wanted to drag up this old post - we've had new stock of the Samsung XP941 in both 256GB and 512GB sizes for a few weeks now. Just google XP941 Australia and pretty much every link points to us.

    Thanks for posting this info BTW! We're also looking into getting some of those Lycom M.2 to PCIe cards in locally, but also have an equivalent product from Bplus already in stock.

    cheers, Rod
     
  18. TzunamiOSX, Apr 11, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2014

    TzunamiOSX macrumors regular

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    #18
    Can you make a Benchmark when everything has arrived you? I want more informations about the speed of Lycom D-120 PCIe interface.

    @handheldgames
    Please, take a look under PCI devices. Is the PCIe interface realy a x4 cabled or is it x2 like the Prextor M6e?
     
  19. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

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    Apr 4, 2009
    #19
    Ive posted all the benchmarks I can with the 128gb part I have. Although I've offered to benchmark higher end parts for thessdreview.com, they passed on the opportunity. Until I come across a 256 or 512 xp941, I can't contribute any more benchmarks.

    Regarding the lyCom part, it is a 4x pcie to ngff adapter. There is nothing between the pcie slot and the ngff slot to reduce the lanes to 2x. I believe the issue with plextor is their ngff m.2 design and not the pcie card it comes with.

    BPlus also has a card available with a heat sync for under 50 which appears to be a good option.

    IMO... These drives are the only option to bring nMP class performance to the cMP



     
  20. RamCity, Apr 21, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014

    RamCity macrumors member

    RamCity

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    #20
    Just so it's clear to other readers, we've had the 256GB and 512GB models of the XP941 available in stock for a couple of months now. You'll find them easily with a google search.

    You've done a great job Thomas in taking the initiative to test this. What I'd like to see is a wider audience being made aware of the pre-2014 Mac Pro's capability of natively booting the XP941 drive with an adapter, which is something no PC platform can do as yet (except for the Sony Vaio Pro 13).

    With that in mind, expect to see a review from a well respected site done in the next couple of weeks showing just what sort of performance can be had with the larger 512GB model.

    cheers, Rod
     
  21. handheldgames thread starter macrumors 6502a

    handheldgames

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    Apr 4, 2009
    #21
    Well it's about time! It would be good to see barefeats give this technology a push on the cMP platform. I poked Les on this back in January when I introduced him to Lycom.

     
  22. RamCity, Apr 22, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2014

    RamCity macrumors member

    RamCity

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    Location:
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    #22
    Yeah I talked to Les but Lycom didn't get back to him when he initially enquired with them. And he's a busy guy...

    Anyways, just got our sample Lycom M.2 SSD to PCIe 3.0 adapter today so I could grab some pics. Sending it up to our QLD warehouse so we can ship it overseas for the review with the rest of the gear next week.
     

    Attached Files:

  23. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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    May 5, 2003
    Location:
    Québec
    #23
    Hello,

    In a '09 MP: would we gain any performance by using a RAID0 of 2 256GB XP941 instead of 1 512GB? Are our PCIe slots maxed out?

    And: are there any dual slot cards for those SSDs?

    Loa
     
  24. RamCity macrumors member

    RamCity

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    #24
    Off the top of my head, there's about a 15% difference in performance between the 512GB and 256GB versions of the XP941, so yes I would expect a RAID setup of 2x256GB to provide greater performance than a single 512GB SSD There's still a lot of headroom left on the PCIe 2.0 bus, assuming it's at least a x4 (4-lane) slot.

    Yes, Bplus make one. Stay tuned to barefeats.com for a benchmark of this setup, but with 512GB XP941's - very soon.
     
  25. Loa macrumors 65816

    Loa

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