Thread: Legacy Mac Pro Internal Hard Drive & Optical Bay speeds

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  1. #1 Legacy Mac Pro Internal Hard Drive & Optical Bay speeds 
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Question for Jeff.

    Are the internal hard drive bays and the optical bays on the same bandwidth? Do they both max out at 500 MB/s in practical terms?

    Wonder about building out a Windows 10 1TB or 2TB SSD for the Optical Bay. It's large enough to possible raid 2 to 4 together in a sled? Those SSDs are tiny.

    If I take out the DVD drive. I can add more storage? A 3rd Bootable drive or more potential storage?

    Can I ever link a raid in the optical bay and internal bays? Use drives from the both combined?
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  2. #2  
    All the internal SATA connections on the Mac Pro 4,1 and 5,1 are 3Gbps each. The two optical bay ports reside on a secondary SATA header and can maintain their full bandwidth. The 4 drive bays reside on the primary SATA/SAS bridge and while they are all 3Gbps (280MB/s) ports, the SATA host has a maximum throughput of 800MB/s and loses some of that to overhead processes. Under the best circumstances we can get about 700MB/s real-world performance out of the internal bays. Most HDD software RAID-0 setups perform great anyway and usually are crippled by the HDDs and not the SATA host. On my last Mac Tower, my 4 x 3TB RAID-0 was giving me about 450/400 MB/s read/writes. If you use the Apple RAID card, which allows either SAS or SATA devices to be installed, it provides better throughput. However, I wouldn't recommend this. Much better options out there if you're willing to take up a PCIe slot. The Apple RAID card is pretty much crap.

    You can build a RAID that uses drives in both the drive trays as well as the optical bays. Although, I would not recommend it. My typical Mac tower setup was always a boot/apps drive (or SSD) in one of the optical bays and then a 4-drive RAID-0 in the drive trays for reasonably fast workspace. In my last tower I had that and in the second optical bay I had another SSD that I used for cache and scratch space.

    You can RAID the two optical bay devices together just fine too. It's even possible to boot from that setup or software established RAID as the Macs save their drive/ RAID settings as EFI entries. It's tricky to set up though because using a RAID like that as a boot volume isn't really recommended.
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  3. #3  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    With SSDs of 500 MB/s speeds for a single. There doesn't seem to be much point to RAIDing them.

    Now they are over 2TB+. Is there a disadvantage to larger SSDs for booting times or for snappy response of applications?
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  4. #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by Will Keir View Post
    With SSDs of 500 MB/s speeds for a single. There doesn't seem to be much point to RAIDing them.
    But in the Mac tower, you won't get 500MB/s, you will be limited to 3Gbps or about 280MB/s as that is the speed limit of the SATA connectors. You want to go faster, you need to install a third-party SAS/SATA host adapter. The newest SSDs are no longer SATA, but NVMe and I don't think there are any PCIe adapters for NVM that work in the Mac Pro tower.

    Now they are over 2TB+. Is there a disadvantage to larger SSDs for booting times or for snappy response of applications?
    No, these new 2TB+ SSDs are pretty awesome. Their performance will be limited by the old hardware in the Mac Pro tower, though. :(

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  5. #5  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    The adapter for a 4.1 or 5.1 Mac Pro to install a Apple native Samsung blade like SSUBX is $13.

    I have one of those 1TB blades in my 4.1--flashed-->5.1 and get about 1450MB/s read/write from a single PCI drive. They've been out a few months.
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  6. #6  
    Senior Member Nick Morrison's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndreeMarkefors View Post
    The adaptor for a 4.1 or 5.1 Mac Pro to install a Apple native Samsung blade like SSUBX is $13.

    I have one of those 1TB blades in my 4.1--flashed-->5.1 and get about 1450MB/s read/write from a single PCI drive. They've been out a few months.
    Andree do you have a link to this adapter?
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Morrison View Post
    Andree do you have a link to this adapter?

    Sure: This is the adapter I've got. It's down to $7 now. and like $3 shipping.

    Remember, this adapter has no functionality in itself. It just allows you to fit the blade interface into a PCIe slot. The description of the item is a bit funky, but this is what I use and boot from.

    Here it is in action:

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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Windows keeps beckoning me. Harder and harder to resist.

    So with any SSD. I am limited to 280 MB/s per drive? The software raid 0 will double my speed to 500 MB/s+ and a third will hit the cap at roughly 780 MB/s?

    How does this work exactly? My current 2TB Samsung 850 EVO get's over 400 MB/s in Blackmagic Speed Test Utility.

    Thanks for clarification.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Kilgroe View Post
    But in the Mac tower, you won't get 500MB/s, you will be limited to 3Gbps or about 280MB/s as that is the speed limit of the SATA connectors. You want to go faster, you need to install a third-party SAS/SATA host adapter. The newest SSDs are no longer SATA, but NVMe and I don't think there are any PCIe adapters for NVM that work in the Mac Pro tower.



    No, these new 2TB+ SSDs are pretty awesome. Their performance will be limited by the old hardware in the Mac Pro tower, though. :(

    If you build a new PC, then you can configure it to the nines with all the latest stuff...
    Will Keir
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Will Keir's Avatar
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    Andree,

    What SSD are you using?

    What happens to the internal bays and optical bays in the Mac Pro now?

    Quote Originally Posted by AndreeMarkefors View Post
    Sure: This is the adapter I've got. It's down to $7 now. and like $3 shipping.

    Remember, this adapter has no functionality in itself. It just allows you to fit the blade interface into a PCIe slot. The description of the item is a bit funky, but this is what I use and boot from.

    Here it is in action:

    Will Keir
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member AndreeMarkefors's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Will Keir View Post
    So with any SSD. I am limited to 280 MB/s per drive? The software raid 0 will double my speed to 500 MB/s+ and a third will hit the cap at roughly 780 MB/s?

    How does this work exactly? My current 2TB Samsung 850 EVO get's over 400 MB/s in Blackmagic Speed Test Utility.
    I'd say Jeff has already covered it in pretty much detail. Each single bay is limited to the speed of the 3Gb SATA interface, which in practical terms means 275-280 MB/s. With RAID you can distribute the workload by using many drive bays in parallel. So in theory you could just add each bay to increase total speed: 280+280 (560 MB/s for a two bay RAID) or 280+280+280+280=1120 MB/s for a four bay RAID. Unfortunately, the scaling isn't perfect and at the end you reach total saturation for the controller. Look at Jeff's numbers from post two—they are accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Keir View Post
    Andree,

    What SSD are you using?

    What happens to the internal bays and optical bays in the Mac Pro now?
    I'm using a Samsung blade, similar to what you find in a MBP Retina. I bought mine for $700 and I've seen them as (crazy) high as $2500. Don't by at ridiculous prices.

    With my setup, nothing happens to the internal 4 HD bays or the two optical bays. It's not possible to do a layman upgrade of those speeds. You can buy a PCIe Mini-SAS card to upgrade to 6Gb. While the situation is far from optimal, a modern SSD in an internal bay will still feel pretty quick, since that is largely dependant on the fast access times (which you still get). But for high end video production you want the sustained high speeds.

    I've given my MacPro a pretty complete upgrade: 12 core 3.46GHz, latest WiFi and Bluetooth with Handover, added an additional 2x 8pin PCI power cables from the main PSU, USB 3 and the PCI blade SSD. Let's see how long it will last me...

    I think too many bend over backwards to edit in full resolution. In Resolve for example, it's much more common to edit in a HD/2k timeline and then just change back to full resolution for export. Resolve is resolution independent, so that is seamless. The only thing you lose is the pixel peeping 1:1 during the edit.
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