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Archive 2012 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?
  
 
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


For a number of reasons, I have been using my Mac Pro with an external FW800 Boot drive. The main reason is data security. The Mac Pro is in an office, and I felt comfortable detaching the boot drive and take it home so no one can touch my data and I can make backups at home.

When it comes to speed, I don't really find any real issues, except that the drive goes to sleep and it takes about 15 seconds each time to wake it up. Once it rolls, the Mac Pro is "OK" speed wise.

Now I purchased a SSD for my very ancient Macbook Pro (Late 2006) 3GB RAM and man did this machine take off. Simply amazing. So now I'm contemplating on shifting the OSX Boot drive back inside the computer and maybe even get one or two SSD's for it to reside on.

My #1 question to you guys is: would the Mac Pro benefit a lot from this?
My #2 question is: which SSD (brand and model) would you recommend? My current boot drive is using 53GB of space, so I'd say any size between 90~128 would be plenty.

Tech specs:
Mac Pro 5,1
Quad Core 2,8GHz (base model, bought in 2010)
16GB RAM, mostly not full

Thanks you for your insights.

Ralph



Nov 08, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Brit-007
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


I would say that you need to contact Other World Computing for the drive update.

http://eshop.macsales.com/



Nov 09, 2012 at 08:24 PM
abqnmusa
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


you could add one of the E-sata controllers from OWC
then boot off an external E-sata drive
or SSD in with an E-sata connector


I use the OSC E-sata controller for my Time Machine drive. not issues at all with it




Nov 09, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


For an internal SSD on a Mac Pro you can get a PCIe version from OWC that effectively has two SSDs in a striped array for maximum performance. The PCIe interface allows faster data transfers than the SATA 3Gbps interface for internal drives. How much you benefit depends on what you use it for, how much RAM you have, etc.

You could use a standard slow 3Gbps SSD in the external FW800 case. It will easily use the full FW800 bandwidth and run faster than a standard external hard drive. Mostly you will be benefiting from the minimal data access times compared with a HDD, so whereas the HDD heads flit about a lot and interfere with data transfers, the SSDs do it almost instantly and keep transferring the data.

Better still would be to install a suitable PCIe card that gives you speedy USB 3.0 and run a 6Gbps SATA 3.0 SSD in an external USB 3 drive case. That will easily outpace the FW800 interface and will be bootable. For most purposes it will be like an internal SSD except that you will benefit from 6Gbps performance that you cannot internally without using a PCIe card. OWC probably have drive cases that work with USB 3.0 and FW800 so that the drive will still be usable at home.

- Alan



Nov 10, 2012 at 03:50 AM
gpchase
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


The Mac Pro would most certainly wake right up. I prefer using Intel ssds and currently run 2 160 gig in striped raid in my Mac Pro. I'd say you'll be so impressed with the new found performance that going any further i.e. PCI cards etc would not really be of interest.


Nov 10, 2012 at 04:27 AM
gpchase
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


I also use a sata to usb dongle that allows connection of an ssd providing a bootable option.
Carbon Copy Clone is your friend



Nov 10, 2012 at 04:33 AM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


Thanks guys. So if I get all this I have the following options and suggestions:

* Internal options:
option 1. PCIe interface for two SSD's in striped array (Alan). I have 16GB RAM and I use it for Lightroom and CS5.
option 2. 2 interna SSD's in striped array (gpchase).

* External options:
option 3a. E-sata controller (is that PCI as well?) with external E-sata drive (Stephen/Paul)
option 3b. Same with external SSD (Paul)
option 4. 3Gbps SSD in FW800 case (Alan)
option 5. PCIe card for USB3.0 with external 6 Gbps SSD in USB3.0 case (Alan)

Questions:
#3. Option 2 sounds the same as option 1, except no PCIe interface, so no eSATA but standard SATA. Do I get this right gpchase? Do I use Apple's drive assistant to create the striped array?
#4. Option 3b and 5 both involve a PCIe card with an external SSD. But which is faster: USB3.0 or eSATA?

Based on this I think I'd prefer a fast single external drive, so option 3b or 5, so I can take that single drive home (and back it up easily) vs. two external drives.

#5. Would two internal SSDs in striped array be an option and use filevault to protect the data? Or does FileVault affect the performance?

Thank you.



Nov 10, 2012 at 07:46 AM
matthewbmedia
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


Without a doubt, YES. Put an SSD in your mac pro.

In my opinion:
1. Get a 120GB or higher. Smaller drives aren't as fast.
2. OWC and sandforce drives are fast with compressible files - Crucial M4 is 2x faster for video/raw files. You can use "trim enabler" to enable trim on the crucial.
3. I would not bother with RAID on the SSD.
4. Install the SSD in the second optical bay - it's super easy to do and there are cables there waiting for you to plug it in.
4a. Or, get a 6gbps card from OWC and run the cable internally.
5. Lightroom and aperture libraries FLY on an SSD - SSDs are literally 50x faster in small file random read/write ops. Just store the Catalogs on the SSD and store your images on a plain old Drive.



Nov 11, 2012 at 04:23 AM
 

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Alan321
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


Options 1 and 2 are different.
Option 1 involves installing a PCIe card that has on it an SSD that is internally configured as two SSDs in a striped RAID array. To the computer it appears as a very fast non-RAID drive. Apart from the RAID speed advantage it benefits from using the speedy PCIe interface that is faster than the internal SATA 2.0 (3 Gbps) interface of the Mac Pro.

Option 2 involves using two internal drive bays (or doubling up two 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay) to hold separate stand-alone SSDs that you have to configure as a RAID array using suitable software. The combination will only be as fast as a single 6 Gbps SSD because each of the two SSDs is on a 3Gbps interface.

Check out performance comparisons at www.macperformanceguide.com

For external drives USB 3.0 is faster than standard eSATA but 6 Gbps eSATA is much the same as USB 3 (some cards offer 600 MBps which is 4.8Gbps, while USB 3 is 5Gbps). If the PCI card is not crippled then all of them are at least as fast as your internal SATA ports on the Mac Pro.

Until a new Mac Pro is released next year none of them have 6 Gbps internal SATA or the even faster Thunderbolt external interface that are now standard on recent MacBook Pros and iMacs.

I don't have the latest Mac OSX and have not tried FileVault. It is said to not affect speed much on modern computers and will certainly have less impact on SSDs than on HDDs.

If you go for the single external SSD option then just be sure that the case you get can connect to both of your computers. Be aware that new MBPs will not have eSATA and probably won't have FW800. They will have USB 3 and Thunderbolt. Choose a case that works for everything by having the right multiple interfaces so that you won't need to buy another case later on. OWC has a good selection. There metal cases are easier to open and reassemble than their plastics cases.


- Alan



Nov 11, 2012 at 07:51 AM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


Hi Matthew,

Thanks for your advice on internal SSD's. Please let me layout my current setup and how I should interprete your advice:

Current system for Lightroom 4.2:
My system is in the office
I have a Mac Pro 2.8 GHz Quad Core with 3 internal drives:
- 2 2TB internal 7200RPM drives each have a "Master" partition (750GB) and a "Mirror" (1250GB). The two "Masters" together form a 1.5TB RAID0 striped RAID and te two "Mirrors" form a 1.25TB RAID1 mirrored RAID.
- 1 single 1TB internal drive (the original drive that came with the MP) in 3 partitions: "Archives", "Boot" (unused for Lightroom) and "Scratch".
- 1 external FW800 drive, in 3 partitions: "Boot", "TimeMachine" and "Data"

Note #1: "Master" is a vulnerable drive, so it is backed up hourly on an a pair of external LaCie2TB drives: one resides at home and one at the office. I switch them at home each day I go to the office.
Note #2: "I use TimeMachine to backup the external Boot drive. It's on the same drive, so not secure. That is not a problem. I use it for retrieval of accidentally deleted files.
Note #3: "Boot" and "Data" on the external FW800 drive are backed up daily on a separate FW400 drive.

Here are the partitions and what I use them for:
- RAW files are stored on the RAID0 (striped) "Master" drive
- Critical data is stored on the RAID1 (mirrored) "Mirror" drive - this drive hold no
- LR catalog is stored on "Archives"
- CS5 and LR scratch folders are on "Scratch" (same physical drive as the LR catalog, not good)
External FW800 drive:
- "Boot" is used for Mac OSX 6.8. Clean, no data.
- "Data" is used for my iTunes library and other important data.

This setup has worked for a while, but it's not ideal speed-wise.

As an alternative, this is what I'm thinking now:

1. External SSD on a 6Gpbs PCIe card (either eSATA or USB3.0)
Store OSX and LR catalog. Take it home for data security (my computer might get stolen as it is unguarded in the office) and backups.

2. Internal SSD to store my current RAW files (say the RAW files from the running year). I'll need about 200GB. Is this significantly faster than RAW files stored on a 7200RPM drive?

Thank you.



Nov 11, 2012 at 09:01 AM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


Alan321 wrote:
Options 1 and 2 are different.
Option 1 involves installing a PCIe card that has on it an SSD that is internally configured as two SSDs in a striped RAID array. To the computer it appears as a very fast non-RAID drive. Apart from the RAID speed advantage it benefits from using the speedy PCIe interface that is faster than the internal SATA 2.0 (3 Gbps) interface of the Mac Pro.

Option 2 involves using two internal drive bays (or doubling up two 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay) to hold separate stand-alone SSDs that you have to configure as a RAID
...Show more
Thank you Alan for your explanations. If I go for an external drive connected to a USB 3.0 PCIe interface card, will I be able to use the internal striped RAID configuration, or is this unnecessary to obtain the 6Gbps speed?

I'll look for appropriate cards. And thanks for the tips on cases.

I'm planning on buying a new MBP17" in 1 or 2 years, so USB3.0 seems the appropriate way to go. Agree?

Now this:
What if I want to install two SSD's in my current Mac Pro:
- one internal SSD to store RAW files on
- one external SSD to store the OSX and my LR library on, Using USB3.0
Can I do this using a single PCIe card?

Thanks!



Nov 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM
matthewbmedia
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


rabbitmountain wrote:
1. External SSD on a 6Gpbs PCIe card (either eSATA or USB3.0)
Store OSX and LR catalog. Take it home for data security (my computer might get stolen as it is unguarded in the office) and backups.

2. Internal SSD to store my current RAW files (say the RAW files from the running year). I'll need about 200GB. Is this significantly faster than RAW files stored on a 7200RPM drive?


For #1 you will have pretty much no performance loss, and you need a 6gbps card anyway so it would be faster than an internal drive.

For #2
In general, I would say that RAID for processing raw images is overkill if you do it for speed. Raw files are mostly less than 50MB and most 3tb drives can read 150mb/second for concurrent file reads. With 2 raids split over 2 partitions over 2 drives that seems a little risky...

Many people forget that working with images in Lightroom or aperture is not like editing video - The apps Rarely load more than one Image at a time, so it is up to you if the 1/3rd of a second loading the raw file into memory is "too long" or not before the CPU decodes it.

However, for the catalog or Library in aperture land - the SSD is a night and day difference. Thumbnails/caches/ etc.

I would move away from raid for your masters, and instead just use 2 drives, one internal, and one external that you take home with you. A RAID is convenient for no-downtime backup - but if your computer gets stolen, a RAID hasn't backed up your raw files. I know you already back this drive up externally, but you may not be gaining much from the RAID.




Nov 12, 2012 at 05:03 AM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


Well in that case, the following modification would do the trick. Please advise if I got this wrong:

1. Add an external SSD (USB3.0 case) for Mac OSX and my LR catalog (and take home at the end of the day)
2. Add an internal SSD for LR4 Adobe Camera RAW Cache and Photoshop Scratch disk
3. Unmount my internal 2-disk striped RAID and store RAW files on a single 7200RPM internal drive.
4. Keep backing up the RAW files to an external FW800 drive (and take home at the end of the day).

Thanks.



Nov 18, 2012 at 04:01 PM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


OK I'm sorry for posting so many questions, but I have to ask this one more:

I've been studying some info on the web. This is what I found:
- Mac Pro offers SATA2 speed (up to 3Gb/s or 300MB/s)
- I'll need a PCIe card to take full advantage of such SSD's speed.

However: Matthew you are saying Lightroom/Aperture catalogs run much much faster on an SSD because "small file random read/write ops" go so much faster on an SSD.

Question:
So is it correct to conclude that this performance jump is about seek times and will be there even if the SSD is connected to SATA2? And is it safe to say that going from SSD-on-SATA2 to SSD-on-SATA3 will have a marginal effect on Lightroom catalog performance? In that case I'll save the money and just get a good internal SSD.

Thanks.



Nov 18, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


rabbitmountain wrote:
I'm planning on buying a new MBP17" in 1 or 2 years, so USB3.0 seems the appropriate way to go. Agree?


Better make a new plan. Apple dropped the MBP 17" line this year. They seem to figure that we want extra pixels more than we want square inches of screen space. If they had their way we'd probably be using iPad 4 or 5 (or windows laptops) in 1 or 2 years.


I can't make any comment about PCIe cards that are based on personal experience. I had been talking about OWC Accelsior cards that have an onboard ssd raid pair. I guess that an internal SATA card could handle internal and external SSDs. The cards and the SSDs are available in 3Gbps and 6Gbps varieties, whereas the standard SATA drive connections inside a Mac Pro are all 3 Gbps.



Nov 22, 2012 at 07:55 PM
rabbitmountain
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Mac Pro - Abandon External FW800 Boot Drive?


So maybe I just need to bite the bullet and get one of them accelsiors. a 240GB version is 495 USD, or 381 Euro's at current Euro/dollar conversion rate. A 256GB Samsung 830 is 170 Euro's, so it's 200 Euro's more for the same space. I wonder if the accelsior is worth double the money when all I use it for is a LR database, Mac OSX and PS scratch disk (and i don't really use PS that much).

The other option is still a USB3 PCIe card (http://www.mobile-harddisk.nl/caldigit-usb-30-superspeed-pci-express-host-adapter-p-1443.html or http://www.mobile-harddisk.nl/caldigit-fasta6gu3-2x-usb-30-2x-esata-p-1873.html?cPath=23_106), a USB3 enclosure and the Samsung 256 830. Total cost will be about the same, but I can use it externally.

Hmmmmm



Nov 24, 2012 at 10:38 PM





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