Windows on SM951?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Draeconis, Sep 10, 2016.

  1. Draeconis macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Hi chaps,

    I was wondering if anyone had successfully installed Windows 10 or another Windows flavour on an SM951, and if so, how did they do it?

    I seem to recall having to boot into the EFI installer for it to work, but Windows can't see the drive for some reason. Any ideas?
  2. SoyCapitanSoyCapitan macrumors 68040


    Jul 4, 2015
    There's no benefit though. Won't be faster in general use than a SATA2 SSD and you'll have less space. Boot up initialises later too.
  3. Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Thanks, but I'm asking if it's technically possible, not what people's opinion of it is.

    I can see one person put up a guide, but my disk has OS X on it currently, so I'm wiping it to set out if this works. Can't see how it would though, since Windows can't see the disk, so surely can't manipulate it with diskpart?
  4. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    Not true, I successful installed windows 10 on a second SM951 and got the full pci speed i could at 1500mbps. If your claiming that the extra speeds arnt usefull then it really depends what you do, if you play games it'll load faster, if you do editing it'll edit faster and extracting/compressing files is alot faster. If all you do is browse the internet then it wont be any better.

    If your splitting the sm9511 it to use windows on it then you have to use bootcamp, bootcamp can split the partition and install windows 7 or windows 10 if you have that.

    If you want to install it on a second sm951 using slots 1/2 (4x slots) then you'll have to install remove the osx drive, then bootup windows using efi boot (holt alt select efi boot thats on the windows 10 disk partition) Also windows 10 has this efi option for native on the disk, windows 7 requires a custom made disk. Then install windows like normal, the only difference is that in order to boot into windows again you will have to hold down alt and always choose the efi boot partition and not the windows partition. I'm not sure why this is, but im guess efi boot is simliar to a boot disk ect...
  5. Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    The reason for the EFI boot is because installing the EFI version adds data to the EFI partition. It must boot from there initially, then load Windows after.

    I removed all other drives when I tried earlier, the Windows 10 installer complained about requiring a driver, and there isn't one for the SM951. How did you get past this?
  6. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    Are you installing this on the same drive as osx or on a seperate sm951?

    When i did the install i didn't have any driver requests, it just installed like normal. Did you also download the support software to a usb drive, and keep that plugged in?
  7. Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Well I backed up the OS X install that was on the SM951 and wiped it, so I could run the commands mentioned on the other thread I posted in.

    Ran all of those and diskpart can see the disk, I can even assign a drive letter and see it when browsing for drivers(!) but Windows complains after clicking 'Install';

    'A media driver your computer needs is missing'.

    No, I didn't do it through boot camp, did it all manually so didn't bother with the support software at the moment.
  8. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    I've always had the support software connected to a usb 2.0 port on a flash drive when i did the install. Maybe that is the difference. If you have another mac computer insert the windows 10 disc, then run bootcamp and get the windows 10 support software.

    Another possibility is the windows 10 disc your using. I got mine from the free upgrade support software, it allowed me to download the iso and burn it and that's the disc i used to install windows 10. If that is now how you got your iso, or your using an official disc then i don't know why you having these issues.

    Id first try getting the bootcamp windows 10 support software on a usb drive first, then move onto burning a new iso if its still not working. If i had to guess the support software from bootcamp might also have installation drivers that allows windows to proceed with the install. I've never tried without the drive in the usb slot since it didnt matter to me if it was in or out when i did the install so i never removed it.
  9. frou macrumors 6502


    Mar 14, 2009
    Just another data point, but I got a nicely behaving install with zero BootCamp stuff involved before, during or after.

    Method in the big thread:

    Though I acknowledge that @Draeconis seems to be encountering a unique issue.
  10. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    Yeah his issue reminds of older discs that don't have all the correct drivers on them. Maybe he's using a Windows 10 disc from launch and the newer ones work fine. Mine was downloaded from Microsoft two months ago so it was pretty upto date. Another possibility is trying to install from a usb instead of the disc drive. Hopefully he figures it out, but it's definitely something odd.
  11. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    But...none of these require install Windows on the SM951.

    No matter you boot from the SM951 or a HDD, you can always install games on the SM951, or use it as scratch disk (if fact, it's better not to use the boot drive as scratch disk), or compress / extract files on it.

    So, he is not entirely wrong this time. There is almost no benefit to install Windows on the SM951, but just make it leave you less space for something else.

    If the computer can't boot faster, or the system apps won't load faster (I mean at a measurable scale, but not 0.02s faster), then there is not much reason (apart from learning / testing/ etc) to go through a complicated process and put Windows on the PCIe SSD.
  12. Draeconis, Sep 10, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016

    Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    So the DVD works fine installing on a VM or on another machine, so it isn't that. It's also a disk that was burnt today, and is the 1607 build, downloaded today.

    Incidentally my other machine also can't boot from it, but I think that's because the BIOS doesn't seem to support booting from PCIe. It's a 2011 PC built for FreeNAS with the latest 2013 BIOS, and there aren't any updates coming any time soon.

    Since I've not really given my reasoning for this, I'll do my best to explain what I'd like to do;

    I'm planning on booting from the SM951. I have 2x Intel 335 240Gb SSDs which I'd like to stripe under Storage Spaces, and 4 2Tb disks I'm thinking of migrating from ZFS to Storage Spaces (Parity) and also to try out ReFS.

    One of my 335s is currently running Windows 10 just fine, but it only boots when connected to an ODD port or Bay 1.

    Since other people have managed to get it working I thought I'd give it a go, but every time I've tried moving Windows boot to a PCIe slot I always ran into issues. :/


    So I tried installing it on my other PC, then transferring it across. Didn't work, some issue with BSD.

    Tried collating the drivers (.sys and .inf) on a USB drive for the installer to use, looked hopeful but rejected them. Maddening that I can actually see the drive and manipulate it using diskpart, but not with the Windows installer.
    --- Post Merged, Sep 10, 2016 ---
    Ok, so for the first time ever, I think I've managed to get it working. Installation appears to be the weak point, not actually using it.

    The BSD issue I ran into earlier looks like after a reboot the install media is still required for something. I didn't have the disk in the Mac after re-installing the SM951, so the install broke.

    So I guess my advice would be if you have a secondary system you don't mind ripping apart to initially install Windows on this is ideal. Run the install on a regular PC first, but rather than reboot, shut down. Take the SM951 and Windows 10 media out, install the SM951 in the Mac Pro and start, holding Alt. At the boot screen load the Windows 10 disk, but boot from the EFI Boot partition on the SM951, and the install should continue :)
  13. Draeconis, Sep 11, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2016

    Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    So it looks like my pride might be short-lived; using Storage Spaces or even creating mirrors or stripes in Disk Management is failing, can't figure out why for the moment. :/


    Issue appears to be ReFS. Can format disks to be two-way mirror, three way mirror or parity so long as they're NTFS formatted. The moment I try ReFS, I get issues. Same for formatting with Windows itself, or the Disk Management window, or even diskpart.
  14. Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Interestingly I've tested this at work and got the same result; in build 1607, try and set up Parity with ReFS fails.

    I guess it's a Windows bug? :/
  15. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Yes, here.
  16. Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008
    Managed to get it all up and running now. Abandoned Parity with ReFS as apparently the performance is dreadful. Opted for Two-Way Mirror and ReFS instead, apparently the self-healing only works with Mirrors anyway(?).

    Had two SSDs I wanted to stripe but that didn't work either, ended up just spanning them, but I'm only using that for Steam, so if one of them dies it doesn't lose me anything important.

    Could only span the SSDs by using Storage Spaces and the Simple setup; Disk Management refused to Span, Stripe or Mirror drives itself, and so did diskpart.

    RAID was an option mentioned by diskpart, but when I tried to use it I was told that RAID wasn't supported with this version of Windows(!). Oh well!
  17. buster84 macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2013
    Thats very strange. Maybe your hardware on your mac is going out?

    I used to have a raid 0 setup on two ssds using the to slots for the dvd-roms. Windows 10's disk management worked perfectly fine, no errors, no problems. I simply followed this videos instructions and its pretty much exactly the same for windows 10. I really dont understand how your having so many problems something is definitively off. Try running the apple hardware test to see if your hardware is good.

    Apple Hardware test
  18. Draeconis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 6, 2008

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