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eSata express card. - opinions wanted

4893 Views 15 Replies Latest reply: Dec 19, 2010 6:08 PM by Freddie Herbst RSS
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Freddie Herbst Level 2 Level 2 (275 points)
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Nov 28, 2010 11:25 AM
I've got a Lacie 1.5Terabyte HD and a Lacie eSata express card. I have created 2 partitions on HD, one for installing MAc OS X and the other one for data. Inserted Mac OS X disk that came with Mac, restarted Mac, boot up fine but the Lacie drive is not shown in the list of drives I can choose from to install the OS on. Am I correct if I say that is because the Express Card needs its driver to function ? Connected the drive with fire wire and installed the OS, connected drive to eSata card again. When I go to preferences, I can select the Lacie drive to start up from but the computer do not start up from it, it start up from internal HD, Am I correct if I say it is because the eSate express card is only seen by the Mac after the driver is loaded ?
2007 Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 XEON, 2.8 Duel Core, 2009 17" MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.4), 500Gig Time Capsual
  • dubprocess Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
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    Nov 29, 2010 5:23 PM (in response to Freddie Herbst)
    Did you wanna install MAc OS X disc onto one of your partitions? If so you need to insert the MAc OS X disc restart your computer and hold down "C", this will boot off of the install disc. then when you get to the Mac OS X installer screen you should be able to select one of your partitions to install Mac OS on, considering you partitioned your drive correctly...
    Your drive via eSata may not be available because many of the Sata cards on the market will not mount properly until you boot into your OS. I myself am looking for a decent Express card that actually works. Almost all of the express cards that I have tried have caused a kernel panic on my system every time! Try doing the install of the Mac OS booted to firewire if all else fails
    MacBookPro 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 15-inch OCT 2008, Mac OS X (10.6.5)
  • T1mur Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
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    Dec 15, 2010 3:29 PM (in response to Freddie Herbst)
    1) Only JMicron chipset based cards can be booted from.

    2) There is a more current SIL driver out for your card (1.2.5)

    3) 2008/09 Unibody Macbook Pros suffer from an epidemic failure of their ExpressCard slot. You will not find any eSATA card using any of the three available chipsets that will work fully reliable in these Macs.

    Blame Apple. I'm onto this for two years now and will get a 2010 MBP replacement soon. According to Other World Computing (OWC) the 2010 models should work (they just put some BIG red crosses over all 2008/09 MBP to mark them incompatible). Once I get the 2010 one I will test it and post results.

    I will also publish my case number once this is through.

    Message was edited by: T1mur
    Macbook Pro 2.8 (Unibody), Mac OS X (10.6.5), Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • T1mur Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
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    Dec 16, 2010 1:31 AM (in response to Freddie Herbst)
    Problem is that cards based on all three chip-sets can produce errors during normal operation, most likely with JMicron 360, then JMicron 362 based cards. The SIL and the Marvell are less likely to suffer, but it still happens.

    If you are only copying some files from time to time there is a good chance that you don't get into troubles, or just don't recognize it. I.e. you can do a full clone backup via Disk Utility without any error message, but when you verify the disc afterwards it can be that the cloned destination partition is broken beyond repair (other than format).

    But that's only half of the story. All ExpressCard cards I tested (including Firewire and audio) suffer from grounding problems of the Macbook Pro. The combination of 2-prong and 3-prong plugs that your external devices use play a critical part here.

    It may easily and reproducibly happen that you only touch the Mac with the plug of an external display or powered USB hub and instantly any eSATA data transfer is broken, which in turn can leads to Kernel Panics (Spotlight and Time Machine) or downright freezing of the whole Mac. In the latter case you don't even get any message after restarting the computer.

    It took 22 months of contending with Apple's phone support until finally an Apple Store opened in our town (only 4 of them in all of Germany). After a short demonstration, exchanging of log files and test-scripts and another few weeks at the Store the issues were verified and the Genius had to acknowledge that a Logic Board change does not help (I had 2 different Macbook Pros, each with an original and a changed Logic Board).

    I informed both OWC and Sonnet (anyone knows how to contact LaCie without registering a product?) about their eSATA cards being unusable in the 2008/09 Macbook Pros. They both wait for my experience with the 2010 ones (I'm waiting for weeks to get one, since the first got stolen on its transport from China to my Apple Store).

    In all the 2 years no one at Apple took the time to thoroughly test the ExpressCard slot for such issues except for my Genius Bar who had no other choice once I put a frozen Mac on their counter (I came to the store with the running frozen Mac and even reproduced the freezing on their counter).
    Macbook Pro 2.8 (Unibody), Mac OS X (10.6.5), Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • T1mur Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 16, 2010 8:42 AM (in response to Freddie Herbst)
    If the issues were easy to reproduce it wouldn't have taken 22 months to get Apple to verify/acknowledge them. I can do it within seconds/minutes with a special script.

    As long as you don't experience problems everything is fine for you. I will go though with this until no more errors occur on my or other people's units (there are whole web-pages and threads about eSATA/ExpressCard issues with Unibody Macs).
    Macbook Pro 2.8 (Unibody), Mac OS X (10.6.5), Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • T1mur Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 19, 2010 12:27 PM (in response to Freddie Herbst)
    It can be used for audio interfaces mostly and for moving a couple GB in files. But for reliable data-transfer it's useless (plus it can cause sporadic Kernel Panics and system freezes).

    Don't attach (as in even touch) any powered external devices while doing eSATA transfers. Even watch out about touching the Mac with your hands near the ExpressCard port.

    Else even the 200 Euro expensive Marvell based Sonnet Tempo Pro may produce errors like this one: "Sep 9 21:21:17 Timurs-MacBook-Pro kernel[0]: SonnetSATA::mv (ERROR) 56080 1: Unrecoverable HW error detected."

    It's a rather ugly mess, but with Apple categorizing the ExpressCard slot as "SD card" even internally it's no surprise they don't care.
    Macbook Pro 2.8 (Unibody), Mac OS X (10.6.5), Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • T1mur Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 19, 2010 4:47 PM (in response to Freddie Herbst)
    Concerning the Symphony I can at least tell you that I was not able to make the RME HDSPe + Multiface 2 crash, freeze or lose contact with its driver regardless of how hard I tried. But some people on the RME forum did report issues some months ago.

    One problem that did occur was that the Firmware flash utility had a failure rate of around 50%, which did not happen with the pre Unibody Macs. RME changed the utility since then (in effect slowed it down to half), which helped.

    What will very likely happen with the Symphony as much as with the HDSPe is that you will get audio crackling if you connect/touch any other external port of the Mac with powered devices while audio is playing.

    http://img193.imageshack.us/i/screenshot20101116at145.png/

    Concerning your SATA/SCSI riddle. The SATA controller driver most likely registers itself as SCSI device. It's most likely a SIL based card whose drivers does that. It's removeable, but not bootable, no S.M.A.R.T. and no temperatures.
    Macbook Pro 2.8 (Unibody), Mac OS X (10.6.5), Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
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