Trouble with 4 Velociraptors and MAC PRO RAID Card

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by bucnastyflo, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. bucnastyflo macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    This has been a long and very painful month...

    About a month ago I received my brand new 2.93GHZ 8 core MacPro tower with Apple Raid Card installed. I purchased 4 brand new Western Digital Velociraptors 10k 300GB drives to install in the 4 bays of the Mac. Bay 1 would contain the system drive and Bays 2-4 would be in a RAID5 configuration.

    After installing the drives and booting up I got a RAID Disk Failure message from the Apple RAID utility on Bay 3. I instantly thought I had a bad Hard Drive so I shut down the system and swapped drives 3 and 4 to see if that drive would fail in Bay 4. Upon bootup the drive in Bay 3 failed again. Curious...

    I called Apple Care and they sent an on site tech guy to replace my RAID card with a brand new one. After installation the exact same problem occured... The drive in Bay 3 failed. It was then decided that I must have a bad SATA connection on the Logic Board and they would swap out my old Mac for a new Mac Pro.

    Great!!! I was happy with the Apple care people and felt confident that this would remedy the problem... Unfortunately my RMA fell through the cracks and I ended up getting my new mac 3 weeks later.....

    Well yesterday I received the new mac and installed the four drives, booted up and everything was perfect... I then created a 3 drive RAID 5 with bays 2-4 and it worked swimmingly.... Until I rebooted... Guess what reared its ugly head...
    Bay 3 had failed to boot and my raid was broken again... So here is where it gets tricky...

    I powered down then took the stock Hitachi hard drive that came with the mac and put it into bay 3. So i have 3 WD Raptors (no OS) in bays 1 2 and 4 and the Mac system drive in bay 3. I restart the computer and it tells me that Bay 2 has failed to launch...GEESH!!

    So I then pull all drives out and place the WD raptor with the OS in bay 1 and test the other 3 drives individually in bay 2 and they all boot up fine. Apple blames Western Digital and Western Digital blames Apple of course...

    Western Digital only ahs diagnostic software that runs on PC and will only replace my drives with refurbs (not cool in my book) and I have already replaced 3 raid cards and 2 mac pros... I cant return drives since its over 30 days cuz I was waiting on my new mac to come in...

    So as a man at his wits end and not wanting to eat the 929.00 dollars in Hard drives begs and pleads to this board if they have any insight or ideas?

    Pretty Please???
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Can you get to Windows via a PC, Boot Camp on a Mac, or by VM?

    You'd need to check the drives for SMART and bad sectors though, and this also requires access to Windows (or just DOS if you preffer/only access available).

    But I'm actually thinking the TLER values need to be adjusted (from 0,0 to 7,0). This happens with RAID cards and drives that weren't set for RAID use at the factory. You can find the utility in a search, BTW. :)
  3. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    I doubt I can help, but for the benefit of those that might be able to, it's difficult to understand what exactly you've narrowed the problem down to... is it a particular drive, a particular bay, or some combination that doesn't play well together (and if it's a combo, what combo's don't work and which do?).
  4. bucnastyflo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    Very interesting you mention that NanoFrog!

    After Apple support shut me off due to not "officially" supporting the VRaptor drives I called Western Digital. One of the Techs mentioned TLER but then abandoned the idea making it sound like it was an "On or Off" setting... not adjustable like you are suggesting. He looked at my drive serial number and said it had been turned "ON" and left it at that

    I don't have access to a PC in my house which is really frustrating... All of my friends are MAC users so I'm at a bit of a loss...
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I agree. :)

    But the drives (all) need to be tested to verify they're operating correctly anyway. I always do this before creating an array. Time consuming, but worth it IMO.

    If the drives are good, then the TLER values are the likely culprit. ;)

    bucnastyflo, I forgot to mention, that the drives would have to be operating off the logic board SATA connections, NOT the RAID card. Just unplug the MiniSAS cable from the card, and back into the logic board location. ;)
  6. bucnastyflo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    Virtual Rain...

    Sorry if my post wasn't clear... its a bit of a process to describe... Here are the the different drive configs I have tried and their outcome...

    4 WD VRAPTORS with drive #1 being boot volume and 2-4 being RAID 5
    Result: Drive/Bay 3 fail to mount

    4 WD VRAPTORS with drive #1 being boot volume and 2-4 being RAID 0
    Result: Drive/Bay 3 fail to mount

    4 WD VRAPTORS with drive #1 being boot volume and 2-4 being JBODS
    Result: Drive/Bay 3 fail to mount

    3 WD VRAPTORS + 1 MAC OS Drive with Bays 1,2, and 4 being blank WD Vraptor and Bay 3 being boot volume
    Result: Drive/Bay 2 fails to mount

    1 WD VRAPTOR system drive + 1 WD VRAPTOR blank drive in Bays 1 and 2
    Result: works!

    1 WD VRAPTOR system drive and 2 WD VRAPTORS in bays 2 +3 in RAID 0
    Result: Works!

    Different combos on WD drives with above config
    Result: Works!

    My Head is Spinning!!!
  7. bucnastyflo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    But the drives (all) need to be tested to verify they're operating correctly anyway. I always do this before creating an array. Time consuming, but worth it IMO.

    Duly Noted! I just need to track down a darn PC...

    Can you please explain this better...Not sure what you want me to do? To disable the RAID card or just reseat its connection? or niether?

    If the drives are good, then the TLER values are the likely culprit. ;)

    Anyway to adjust these besides trial and error? Seems painful..
  8. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    To check the drives or adjust the values, you'd want to attach the drives back to the logic board (forgot to mention this earlier).

    The WD Tech's response was a bit cryptic, but he may have meant it has the default values set at 7,0 rather than 0,0. It makes sense to me, but isn't that clear. :eek: :p

    Hmm... Do you by chance have a USB floppy at your disposal?
    (Having one of these is a life saver with a Mac, and easier than a USB stick). You'll also need to be able to handle .zip files. ;) (Just need to make sure). :D

    There may be another way yet, but it will be the hardest. Involves downloading a .zip copy of a DOS boot disk, load it to a USB stick, and booting that way. Then loading up the diagnostics, and finally the TLER util, if needed.
  9. bucnastyflo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    I dont have a USB floppy... I do have a memory stick though and yes I can work with .zip files ;)

    To bypass teh RAID card I need to repatch or unpatch the cable?
  10. Dr.Pants macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2009
    I apologize for interjecting something on-topic but slightly deviant from the current discussion; it could be helpful if the failures keep occurring even after all the drives are reset to their proper values.

    The RAID card on the 2009 MP (Which I assume is your model) routes itself through hard-wired PCIe lanes to the SATA drives which you are attempting to RAID. This could be a logic board problem...

    But it is probably TLER values :p
  11. bucnastyflo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    Thanks Dr. Pants,

    I am on my 3rd mac pro RAID card and 2nd tower because we thought it was a bad logic board before...I think I've eliminated a faulty mac product...

    It sounds like the TLER values could be the culprit but I have no clue how to edit them or what they should be... minor problem :confused:
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I was thinking of the '06 - '08 methodology for connecting the card to the drives.

    In your machine, the drive data is routed via PCB traces, and the SATA connectors are soldered directly through the board.

    So to get the drives on the SATA controller on the logic board, you're going to have to remove the RAID card all together. (Setting the drives as Pass Through won't work, as it doesn't support any other OS than OS X).

    This is getting harder....
    OK, try this, but it's not going to be easy, if you can make it work.
    1. Get a DOS boot disk image of some sort via download. (.zip) is common, and works, but others are avalable, such as .dmg, or .iso. Your choice.

    2. Find the WD DOS util, and download it.
    3. Same goes for the WD TLER Utility.
    4. Load these to the USB stick (it may have to be reformatted to FAT16, and you may not be able to access all the capacity this way)
    5. See if you can boot off it.

    If so,
    6. Run the WD util on all the drives.

    If they're all good, open up the WD TLER util, and check the value settings. If they're at 0,0 , then change them to 7,0. That would be the default RAID settings.

    7. Shut the system down, and reinstall the RAID card.

    Observe the system behavior.

    Bad drives are obvious, but if the TLER values are at 7,0 already (no changes needed), then it's something else. Odd though, as I'm understanding that you've got a new logic board, and RAID card.

    Perhaps not off topic, as I had it in my mind it wasn't an '09. DOH... :p

    The method the data is transferred is relevant, as the proceedure is different, and may bring the SATA connectors into play. But if I've understood correctly, the system now has a new logic board in it (new system), so those would be less likely.

    It seems trying to write drive firmware on a Mac is a major pain, and the diagnostic utils aren't written for OS X. :( Always has to be difficult... :rolleyes: :p
  13. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Here's a download link I found for you (you won't find it on WD's site, as they want people to buy the RAID drives; RE family).

    Hope this helps. :)
  14. bucnastyflo thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2009
    Thanks for the outlining of steps nano!

    I also read that the TLER app only turns it on or off... Rep said they have all been set to "on" since late 2008... I will try this test to confirm though...

    I am having problem finding the WD Dos util as well as a bootable volume..
    Im gonna rip the RAID card out anyway and try SOFTRAID to see how drives react...

    Anyone want to buy a 2 day old apple raid card? ;)
  15. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Can you return it for a refund, perhaps minus a restocking fee? :confused:
    (I had no idea of how old it was).

    You would be much better off going to a different RAID card, as the Apple card is junk (rather slow, too few ports, only works in OS X, and is too expensive). Or you can try a software implementation (likely a different array type). I know this would be the case with OS X's Disk Utility, but not sure on SoftRaid.
  16. Cynicalone macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2008
    Okie land
    I have the 09 Pro with the Apple RAID card. It works okay with WD Blacks, but it is damn slow. A good example is migrating from JBOD to RAID 1 with just system files took over 12 hours. :eek: :rolleyes:

    I'm waiting for more options for the 09 models to become available then this card has got to go.
  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There's some much better cards out there already. They just can't use the PCB traces, and are usually x8 lane cards (so the 2nd x16 slot is needed to run at full bandwidth). BTW, the initialization process in anything other than a stripe tends to be slow on a hardware controller, and gets worse as the drive quanity increases. But it is a slow card, no doubt about that one. :p

    Details help, so I can try to steer you to the best candidates, as I don't think the potentials will get any company in the near future. :eek: ;)
  18. Cynicalone macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2008
    Okie land
    My main need for a RAID card is protection. I'm probably overly protective of my data. I have a 2 1TB drives in a RAID 1 setup just to protect my work projects, and then on top of that hourly backups.

    I'm sure you and Tesselator know far more than I do about these things :eek:. I did the dumb thing and went with the Apple RAID card because it was the easy solution.

    If the truth be told what I have been interested in for a while is finding a good external RAID solution that I could load with 2.5" drives. But that topic is for another day. SSD RAID array's have been on my mind lately.
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    What kind of specifics?
    Drive quantity (ports; consider future expansion)?
    Does it need to be able to operate with other OS's (driver support)?
    Do you want to be able to boot from it, and which OS(s), if this is the case?
    What array type support (0/1/10/5/6/50/60)? (That is, anything beyond type 5)?

    The details will help, as the cost can vary wildly, depending on these specifics. ;)
  20. giffut macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2003
    I ...

    ... would suggest you buy a third party RAID card and hook your drives to it. I am sure you can return it within the 30 days limit without a hazzle, if your trials go wrong. Regarding your description it is most likely that the Apple RAID card doesn´t well communicate with those WD drives when in RAID 5 mode.

    My recommendation is the Highpoint RocketRaid 3510 for 4x HDs (the 3520 for 8x, 3530 for 12x HDs; if you might think to get more drives via the optical bay etc.):

    The advantage here would be to have a fully motherboard (machine) independant hardware RAID and getting RAID 6 capacity, too. It´s also bootable, so it beats Apple´s RAID card in all aspects.

    As a sidenote regarding RAID usage: RAID is about performance and availability, it is NOT by any means about backup. RAID gives you more speed, more uptime, more space. Backup strategies involve getting the sensitive data off your productive drives to multiple other sources - depending on your security needs. Your RAID 1 will protect you from drive failure only, it can´t save files you accidentally deleted or get destroyed by other means. Here Time Machine jumps in, but yet you need full backup copies (system and/or data) on an external system to gain redundancy. To make a short point: Do never rely on RAID only for backup purposes.
  21. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Other possibilities as well, and much better performers. ;)

    But I wanted to wait for some details, though I'd expect an 8 port card and good enclosure to be sufficient. :)
  22. giffut macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2003
  23. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    There's a few models from both Areca and Atto that would work, but the specifics make a major difference, epecially on cost. :eek: :p

    That is, models range from 4 to 24 ports, mixture of SAS and SATA cards, various booting options, and driver support. Then there's the possibility of using internal port cards via particular cables (SFF-8087 to SFF-8088). (More possibilities this way as well). Too broad to really narrow it down, when price fluctuations can be more than $500USD between models. ;)


    Hence my request for details. :)

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