USB 3.x PCIe Cards for Classic Mac Pro

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by ActionableMango, Dec 3, 2012.

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  1. Nadster macrumors newbie

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    #1451
    If each controller has a single dedicated PCIe lane, plugging the card into an x1 slot would disable 3 of the 4 ports. This seems counterintuitive to me since “wider” cards in “narrower” slots should just lose bandwidth/performance rather than lose functionality altogether (using an x16 GPU in an x8 slot, for example…).

    Thanks for the follow up and I look forward to HighPoint’s response!
     
  2. crjackson2134, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1452
    Well I can't really speak to that, I don't own any systems with x1 slots. The card is designed to work in an x4 slot, and has backwards compatibility with PCIe 1.x at reduced performance.

    Now you are talking about putting a PCIe2 x4 card in a PCIe1 x1 slot. I'll let you know what I find out when May calls me back.

    The card was never intended to work in a x1 slot so if it works the way you want, consider it a happy surprise.
     
  3. flowrider macrumors 601

    flowrider

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    #1453
    Hey Gents, hold on here. The 3.0 Mac Pro has four slots. Two and PCIe 2.0 X16 slots and 2 are PCIe 1.1 X4 slots. There are no X1 slots in the bunch????

    Lou
     
  4. crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1454
    I know Lou, I think Nadster was just using that example to illustrate his point. I can't really speak as to that point. I've got no hardware that corresponds with what he want's do.

    I think the 1144C will operate at 1/2 speed on PCIe 1 x4 slots (vs the PCIe 2.0 x4 slots). He thinks it should work at full speed in the PCIe 1 x4 slot as long as not using more than 2 USB ports. What do you think?
     
  5. Nadster macrumors newbie

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    #1455
    I should have been a bit clearer with my speculation. The x1 slot example was just a thought experiment to figure out how this card might actually work in a PCIe 1.1 x4 slot.

    Reviewing the ASM1042A controller documentation, it states the chip supports a single PCIe lane, so it would appear your guess that each USB 3.0 port would run at half speed when installed in a PCIe 1.1 x4 slot is correct.
     
  6. Nadster, Jun 28, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015

    Nadster macrumors newbie

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    #1456
    And researching the ASM1142 controller used in the recently introduced ASUS dual port USB 3.1 card indicates it uses a PCIe x4 interface running at x2.

    So the new theory was that while it will not reach 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 speed when inserted into a PCIe 1.1 x4 slot, two such lanes could provide 5 Gb/s USB 3.0 speed to each port in isolation…

    …until I read the ASM1142 controller documentation:

    Support PCI Express Gen2x2 or Gen3x1

    I thought the PCIe specification required backward compatibility…?!?
     
  7. ActionableMango thread starter macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    #1457
    It probably works. "Support" does not mean "requires".
     
  8. crjackson2134, Jun 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1458
    I received an answer early this morning. If you put the 1144C in a x4 PCIe 1.1 slot it will run at 1/2 speed regardless of the number of devices connected, as expected.
     
  9. ActionableMango thread starter macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

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    #1459
    I've updated the first post to add Sonnet Allegro Pro and to clarify USB 3.0/3.1 text.
     
  10. Nadster macrumors newbie

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    Jun 27, 2015
    #1460
    At this point I think I will just sit tight and see if anyone introduces a dual/quad ASM1142-based expansion card.

    A 4 port/dual ASM1142-based expansion card might be ideal for the PCIe 1.1 x4 slots found in my 2008 Mac Pro. It would potentially allow up to 5 Gb/s USB 3.0 speed per port on each controller. And while I would be unable to tap the 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 rate, I suspect it will be a few years before that standard becomes widespread.

    Thanks again for contacting HighPoint!
     
  11. crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1461
    HighPoint is planning to release one next month.
     
  12. crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1462
    I'll be adding a review of the Allegro Pro model next month (God Willing).
     
  13. Nadster macrumors newbie

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    #1463
    Now that's interesting!

    Any word if it uses two or four controllers? PCIe 2.0 x4 or x8? A four controller card (like some of the USB 3.0 expansion cards are configured) would require a PCIe 2.0 x8 slot for full bandwidth, and that seems kind of high-end for just adding some 3.1 USB ports to a system.
     
  14. crjackson2134, Jun 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1464
    The 1st product will be
    Later this year a 4 port model & Possibly an 8 port model if there is a market for it.

     

    Attached Files:

  15. crjackson2134, Jul 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1465
    Did you ever do this modification? If so, where are those pics? I've been having a lot of BT mouse lagging lately even with nothing connected to ANY USB ports and I getting desperate. I even got a brand new MagicMouse (on Apple's dime) in hopes of improving the matter, but of course it didn't work.
     
  16. crjackson2134, Jul 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1466
    Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0
    Fresco Logic Chipset

    Today I installed the Sonnet Allegro Pro card in my cMP 5,1. The card is well made and fits tightly in its slot. This card requires no additional power connection, and driver support is built into OS X 10.8.5 or greater.

    My current configuration is arranged as follows:
    Slot 1 – AMD HD 7970 3GB by MVC
    Slot 2 – Apple/Samsung 512GB PCIe SSD using v.1 Sintech Adaptor
    Slot 3 – Sonnet Allegro Pro USB 3.0
    Slot 4 – Apricorn Solo X2 w/Samsung 840 Pro SSD

    The rest of my specs are in the signature at the end of this post.


    After trying every USB device type that I own (Many drives (up to 4TB), webcam, USB Thumb drives, Mouse/Mice, Keyboards (4), printers, scanner, drive docking station, and USB hubs). I found no compatibility or performance issues. I transferred 16TB of data in 4TB chunks in each direction and found no issues at all. I also transferred 4TB of data in small files (again in each direction) and the process was flawless. So far I’m impressed.


    About the Allegro Pro:
    This card has 4 independent controllers (one for each port) and each is totally isolated from the others. The system profiler shows 4 different x1 devices installed into a single slot, it is not reported as an x4 device.

    This card supports UASP and that is a specification I now demand on any USB card or storage device (except thumb drives) connected to my system. UASP is intended to speed up operations of USB connected SSDs, but I find it also brings enhanced performance to mechanical drives that are installed in UASP compatible enclosures. UASP allows you to perform multiple operations (renaming or moving other files/folders for example), while a file transfer to/from the same drive is in progress. It does this without slowing the transfer or being forced to wait for an operation to be completed. In other words, it feels like an SATA drive instead of a USB drive when manipulating files or folders.

    Summary:
    I my opinion, this is an exceptional card, that is slightly slower than the RocketU 1144C with similar specs. This card has additional features for charging devices such as iPhone, iPod, iPad etc… The Sonnet website recommends that you download a driver for charging support. I haven’t personally tested this, but the thread starter (ActionableMango) reports that this driver isn’t needed.

    The package includes the Sonnet Allegro Pro PCIe 4-Port card & documentation. A few other details are listed below.
    • 5 Year Warranty
    • PCIe 2.0 x4 slot
    • 4 Independent controllers
    • 4 USB 3.0 Ports
    • No additional power required
    • No external drivers required
    • UASP enabled
    • 7.5w Device Charging supported on each port
    • 5 Gb/s (450 MB/s) transfer rate per port
    • Up to 31 devices connected at once
    • OS X 10.8.5 and above supported OOTB
    • Windows 7 and above supported


    Conclusion:
    I really like this card but it's a bit pricy at $129 from most retailers. I feel this is a great choice for the long haul with it's 5 year warranty, and device charging capabilities. I noticed that when I plug devices into this card (especially large drives), the devices are recognized and/or mounted much quicker than with the RocketU. I plan to keep this card installed permanently.

    I whole heartedly recommend this card for heavy duty lifting. If your needs are less or if you are dollar wise, look at the Sonnet Allegro (non-pro version). This is a very nice addition to my cMP.

    NOTE: The card pictured below is a stock photo of the v.1 card. The card that ships now has a rather large heatsink located on the large chip in the center of the board.

    FullSizeRender 7.jpg

    image.jpg
     
  17. flehman macrumors 6502

    flehman

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2015
    #1467
    Thank you very much for the detailed review. This looks like a great card. Hard to imagine doing much better until the 3.1 cards and devices become more common. Of course, for $129 it had darned well better be a great card!
     
  18. crjackson2134, Jul 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1468
    It seems to be a very awesome card. I've tried to find something negative about this card all day, but it works perfectly with everything so far. The only thing I can find to complain about is the $129 price tag, but it really does seem worthy of the expense.

    I wanted to grab one up before USB 3.1 hits hard and makes the 3.0 supply dwindle. I was thinking grabbing the new Caldigit for testing too, but I've talked myself out of it for now.
     
  19. flehman macrumors 6502

    flehman

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    Feb 21, 2015
    #1469
    I'm not surprised to be honest. I have the previous "non-pro" version of the Allegro and have been very pleased with it. I can't justify splashing another $129 just to have the 4 separate controllers though, because I usually have only 1-2 devices plugged in at a time.
     
  20. crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1470
    I can't justify it either, I just wanted one so I could test it out. My RocketU really handles my needs well but I couldn't resist. I've done A LOT of testing on these things, and I've amassed a lot of information about the whole USB+BT+WiFi EMI problem. I was thinking of writing a post about it here that breaks it all down, and offers help on how to deal with it, but I'm not sure it belongs in this thread.
     
  21. flehman macrumors 6502

    flehman

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2015
    #1471
    Whether you post it here or start a new thread, I have no doubt there are many people interested to read it. I experienced BT reception issues on my 4,1->5,1 that I have mostly solved by upgrading to a 802.11ac/BT4 card and installing an external antenna through the blank PCIE plate, but I still experience occasional interruption of BT signal to my UE Boom that I have not been able to definitively attribute to USB 3.0 devices or any other cause. Plus, I always enjoy reading about a well-crafted experiment.
     
  22. ActionableMango thread starter macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #1472
    Yes I would love to know about it too. Right now I have a 802.11AC+BT4.0 upgrade kit in hand that just arrived yesterday so I'd love to read that before I install it rather than after.
     
  23. crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1473
    I won't get it written that fast. It's a good upgrade kit, I won't be reporting anything that would contraindicate the upgrade.
     
  24. ActionableMango, Jul 14, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015

    ActionableMango thread starter macrumors G3

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #1474
    I updated USB 3.1 information in the first post wiki.

    Okay, I'll install it some time in the next week. I was hoping for RF shielding tips that didn't involve masking tape.

    I think I'll just run the card bare at first and see if my BT reception is usable for my needs. I do have a USB 3.0 card installed and it does have an HDD hooked up, which is the classic scenario for BT interference.
     
  25. crjackson2134, Jul 14, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015

    crjackson2134 macrumors 68040

    crjackson2134

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    #1475
    Yeah, the problem is caused by EMI/RFI that's radiated along the data path of USB 3.0 as it scrambles the data in a spread spectrum environment. It's the spread spectrum clocking that is at the root of most of the problems. I don't see masking tape factoring into a good solution. I have pondered the construct of a faraday cage like assembly encapsulating the PCIe card, aluminum tape to aid in the construction of such a homemade apparatus might be considered. Also there needs to be a heavily shielded cable and the need to move your USB 3 drive as far as possible from your computer/BT devices. A lot of RFI/EMI is escaping right at the port connector as well. It really is a poorly designed standard.

    That said, BT could have been done better too. It's not very robust and has its own problems even with USB taken out of the equation.
     
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