Thunderbolt SSD Boot on the iMac

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Sirmausalot, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Sirmausalot macrumors 6502a

    Sirmausalot

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    Sep 1, 2007
    #1
    Let's assume the new iMacs have a price prohibitive SSD option. But the main benefit of SSD is operating system boot up and application launch speed. So how would it work to get an external Thunderbolt enclosure with a smallish SSD and use it as a boot/application device. Then you still have the optical drive (yes, I need one of those) and a large internal HDD at a reasonable cost

    :apple:Pros, cons, and confusions appreciated.:apple:
     
  2. Terrador macrumors regular

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    Aug 22, 2008
    #2
    I'm interested in this as well, but with FW800 rather than Thunderbolt. Hope someone has some insight on this.
     
  3. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #3
    Thunderbolt provides up to 10Gb/s so you should get the same speed as with internal SSD (since all affordable SSDs are SATA). AFAIK it also supports booting.

    The biggest con I can see is that until we have adapters and stuff like that, you cannot use the TB for anything else (thus most likely no ext monitor). When different adapters hit the shelves, then this shouldn't be an issue.

    Of course the price of TB enclosures is still unknown so might actually be cheaper to get Apple's BTO option.

    FW800 is much slower, only ~80MB/s in real world. Most SSDs provide speeds over 250MB/s. It will work and you gain the latency which is the whole point of an SSD but you wouldn't be able to take full advantage of the SSD.
     
  4. washburn macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I've thought about this though, how fast would the boot up time be on a Sandy Bridge + SSD...I saw a video on youtube it took 5 seconds on an older i7/SSD...what do you predict it to be?
     
  5. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #5
    A faster CPU does not speed up boot time. The fastest boot times I've seen are around 15 seconds. The issue is that the more devices you have connected to the logic board, the more time it takes to boot since all devices have to be checked somehow. That's why Mac Pros are slower at booting that MBAs with similar SSDs because Mac Pros often have lots of components connected to them. Every single RAM module, HD or USB peripheral add some boot time.
     
  6. rnb2 macrumors regular

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    #6
    One big snag at this point - tests with the new MacBook Pros indicate that you can't currently boot a Mac from a Thunderbolt-connected device. Thunderbolt does work for Target Disk Mode, and Apple does plan to add the ability to boot via Thunderbolt in the future, but it's not there yet. Once it is available, performance via Thunderbolt will exceed SATA3 on devices that completely saturate SATA3 (RAID 0 SSDs, for instance). Of course, it's probably only a matter of time before internal drives are on Thunderbolt, as well.

    I've been booting my 2009 i7 iMac from a FW800 Intel X25m 80GB SSD since the day I got it. Startup times are a bit faster than the internal WD Caviar Black drive, and application launch is much smoother. My user folder is on the internal disk, so there is no contention between reading OS files and user files simultaneously, as there would be if I was booting from the internal disk. I definitely recommend it - you don't need to buy an expensive SSD, since any decent one will saturate FW800, and you don't need a ton of space if you put your user folder on the internal drive. My SSD is only half full, and that's with 10GB of Xcode 4 installed.
     
  7. washburn macrumors 6502

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    #7
    ok but I'm talking about the boot time from the point where the circle starts spinning
     
  8. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #8
    In most RAID 0s, all drives get their own SATA port so SATA is not the bottleneck. I can only think of eSATA where the bandwidth would be shared by multiple drives.

    I doubt this will happen anytime soon. Unless Intel decides to drop SATA and replace it with TB, drives will keep using SATA.

    You have to look at the whole picture. It doesn't matter if it takes one second to boot after you get to the spinning circle screen if it takes 5 minutes to get there.
     
  9. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    Jun 27, 2007
    #9
    SSD on iMac would be about the same price as MacBook Pro.

    Apple 128GB upgrade is inexpensive.
    Apple 256GB and 512GB are less expensive than retailers that test their SSD for apple computers
     
  10. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #10
    The thing is, will Apple offer 128GB SSD? Currently they only offer the expensive 256GB while MBPs have had 128GB BTO option for few generations now. I would say 650$ for 256GB SSD is a ripoff since 3rd party SSDs can be had for less than 500$, even the ones that have no issues with OS X (such as Kingston SSDNow V+).
     
  11. Badger^2 macrumors 68000

    Badger^2

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    #11
    why do you people go around booting (re-booting?) all day?

    how has booting become a "benchmark"?

    I dont think I have "re-booted" in months?
     
  12. rnb2 macrumors regular

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    #12
    Sorry, I was actually thinking of port-multiplied eSATA when I wrote that, but didn't state that. A Thunderbolt RAID will be faster than port-mulitplied eSATA if the included drives are fast enough, as in the upcoming LaCie RAID that uses two Intel 510s.

    What is the timetable for SATA4? If SSD speeds continue to ramp up, it's not going to take a big jump for them to start saturating SATA3 in the next generation.

    Quite true - my i7 iMac takes a long time to boot, regardless of which drive I use, since there are five external drives (3xUSB, 2xFW) and four SO-DIMMs to account for. My fiancee's older iMac (a 2.4GHz 8,1) actually gets to her wallpaper faster than my machine, but mine passes hers while the dock and startup applications are loading. Mine is much faster to load applications, of course.
     
  13. jayhawk11 macrumors 6502a

    jayhawk11

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    #13
    I guess I'm unclear on why anyone thinks Thunderbolt would be used as an internal connection. They would just up the SATA spec (again). We've gone from PATA, to SATA (1.5Gb/s), SATA II (3.0Gb/s) and now to SATA III (6.0Gb/s). Nothing is stopping the SATA-IO group from bumping the spec again.
     
  14. Emathieu macrumors regular

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    #14
    LOL I always think the same thing when everyone focuses on "boot times" when discussing SSDs. Unless a Software Update requires a reboot, I never reboot my iMac. :) Even my MacBook is almost always just "asleep" and only rebooted every once in a blue moon.

    Of course, SSDs will be faster at all other data transfer as well over a mechanical hard drive, so I still have SSD lust anyway, but definitely not for "booting".
     
  15. washburn macrumors 6502

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    #15
    What do you get out of leaving your computer on all the time? Does it make your computer special?
     
  16. Hellhammer Moderator

    Hellhammer

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    #16
    I haven't heard any news about SATA 12Gb/s, 6Gb/s was integrated to Intel's chipsets until this year. SATA 1.5Gb/s was integrated in 2003 (ICH5), SATA 3Gb/s in 2005 (ICH7) and SATA 6Gb/s in 2011 (Cougar Point). Could be another 5 years till SATA 12Gb/s.

    It is ready to operate in less than 5 seconds. Plus you can continue straightaway as your apps will be where you left them
     
  17. old-wiz macrumors G3

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    #17
    The only times I reboot is when a software update wants to reboot or when I have turned the machine off when I've been on vacation.
     
  18. washburn macrumors 6502

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    #18
    Still makes a difference...and this is where a faster CPU does indeed help.
     
  19. washburn macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Plus a higher electricity bill, plus waste of energy.
     
  20. zweigand macrumors 6502a

    zweigand

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    #20
    Just bought an external FW800 SSD last night for this very purpose. Will report back with comparisons to the stock internal
     
  21. Terrador macrumors regular

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    Aug 22, 2008
    #21
    I know its asking a lot, but could you video it? I want to see it respond with my eyes.
     
  22. zweigand macrumors 6502a

    zweigand

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    #22
    I plan on it, along with some benchmarking. If you have anything in particular you'd like to test, let me know. If it's not too time consuming I'd be glad to. Right now i'm just planning on seeing how long it takes to boot and launch several Adobe/MS apps.
     
  23. Terrador macrumors regular

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    Aug 22, 2008
    #23
    The average boot time I see for Mac's on youtube with SSD's INTERNALLY is about 30 seconds...pretty universal across all of them, too (iMac, macbook air, etc doesn't seem to matter). The boot time with a hard drive seems to be between 0:45-1:00.

    While boot time is a reflection of how fast the drive is, its not the most important thing to me. I would like to see a test of Photoshop if you have it. Any other big programs are just bonus. Thanks!
     
  24. excommie macrumors regular

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    #24
    subscribing. Interested in boot time over FW800.
     
  25. rnb2 macrumors regular

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    #25
    You're not going to see a huge difference in boot time, but system responsiveness will be greatly improved. Photoshop CS5 64-bit launches for me in 1-2 bounces, and is ready to use in about 3 seconds or so.
     

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