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Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)



I'd like to buy a SSD drive for my Mac Pro model 4,1 (2009) Quad 2.66, not to be used for booting OSX but rather audio sample playback. I have a Sonnet PCIe Tempo SATA 6Gb/s installed which I use for eSATA connection to my LaCie d2 drives. Assuming the SSD is a top-performer, I'd like to know if I should connect it to the Sonnet card and have it dangle outside the case, or rather plug it into the spare internal SATA connector which I've heard was available (for the optional second DVD drive) and have it dangle inside. Aesthetics don't matter, it's only a question of performance & possible caveats.


Thanks for your help.

Logic Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • X423424X Level 6 Level 6 (14,215 points)

    Attaching an ssd to eSATA is, IMO, a waste of money since you won't see the full performance of the drive.  On the other hand, placing it anywhere on the internal sata is the ideal thing to do.  So yes, you can stick it in the optical bay if you wish or any of the other bays if they are free.  You need a physical adaptor to convert the 2.5" ssd to 3.5" for the standard bays but some folks have just let them rest, just connected to the cable in the optical bay (no moving parts in the ssd after all).  But there are adaptors for the optical bay too if you which to physically screw the ssd into the bay.  OWC has all you would need and I recommend them.

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    OK thanks, I think I'll just let it rest because all four HD bays are taken.


    You *did* notice that the PCIe card was 6Gb/s, right? Just making sure.

  • X423424X Level 6 Level 6 (14,215 points)

    Yes, I noticed, but that doesn't make any difference since Mac Pros are SATA2, not SATA3.


    Also, I should have added another IMO -- it may be a waste of money using it just for your intended use of "audio sample playback".  Doesn't your audio playback sound just fine with what you currently have?  Using anything faster isn't going to change the audio quality I don't think.


    SSDs for the macpros should really be used for your boot drive or for a data intensive work disk (e.g., video editing).  I use an SSD for my boot and it really speeds up boot times and process launches.

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I see. I was hoping the 6Gb/s could up the internal bus but it's just fine at 3Gb/s too (it's a very affordable card).


    I'm running around 200 gb of hard-disk based sampled instruments which take up almost 16 gb of RAM when loaded. Loading them takes ages, and even playing several dozen simultaneously makes the Caviar Black they're on seek itself into oblivion. Imagine 40-50 instruments, each with 72 sampled notes at four velocity layers each, and you get the idea... I can spread them on external drives but I hate the cable fuss. And all three other HD bays are occupied with other stuff (OSX boot, work files, Time Machine...)


    Thanks a lot for your help.

  • X423424X Level 6 Level 6 (14,215 points)

    Ok, I see.  So based on what you are describing, place it in the spare optical bay and I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I'm sure I will be.



  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,915 points)

    I have no idea why you are not getting clear feedback.


    Your PCIe controller is faster (500MB/sec) than the internal drive SATA ports.


    If it wasn't such a PITA it would be easy also to add 8x PCIe 6G controllers with internal ports and put 2-4 drives in lower optical drive bay.


    External is okay too, I would have to look and see what OWC has that wouldn't limit performance, many such drive cases are not going to support the SSD well unless they are vanilla SATA only style and can take SSD adapters to line up and connect.


    I have tried the icy dock adapter and it does not work in most external and some internal drive bays, being too tall for soe.


    Your SSD if it is SATA3 and capable of more than 250MB/sec would be limited in the optical bay's SATA.


    I read earlier than while the best 10K VR or even SAS can handle 100 audio tracks, SSD can handle more like 1000.


    A pair of 6G SSDs if you can swing it, and I would aim for 50% utilization (100GB on 240GB SSD) if it also has to do writes.


    Your limit is whether the controller itself is PCIe 2x or 4x or 8x whether it will have the bandwidth. And as to how many drives it will support.


    PCIe R4 SSD controllers with 100,000's of IOPS and 1-2-4GB/sec like OCZ are going to be more popular for high intensive database, audio and other users.

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I'm lost now. If I understand correctly, this is the complete opposite of what X423424X wrote. It's not like it's a major deal-changer for me, since I don't have the money for the 6gb/s drives and the connection is pretty easy to test and switch (internal vs external). Still, it would nice to be sure about this.


    Any other users, maybe with some real-world experience with this kind of setup, care to comment please?



  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,915 points)

    Internal = 250MB/sec max


    your PCIe 6G = 500MB/sec


    You said "top performer" and you were interested in performance. So that equals buying a 6G SSD in most cases. And your ssd is what depends on where you get the max performance but I assumed you were using an OWC 6G line of SSD


    That card has ZERO, NO EFFECT on internal drive bays.

    Only affects when you connect something to it.


    The card goes to waste a bit on a LaCie D2. And LaCie is one brand I would walk away from. If you do upgrade to Lion, be sure to check about their software and if your D2 is affected.


    The Mac Pro internal drive bays (4) all run off and share a common bus channel and less than the advertised "300MB/sec independent for each" that is marketed. It is more like 700MB, not 1GB let alone 1.2GB bandwidth.


    Sonnet is bootable. Nice. But you said you don't need that.

    NewerTech has a 6G also (two, one supports PM which you don't need)

    FirmTek has 6G cards also.


    NewerTech MAXPower 6G PCIe eSATA Controller. 2 x eSATA ports w/data transfer rates up to 500MB/s


    SeriTek/e6G Snow Leopard 2-Port SATA PCI Express Card for 32/64-bit Macintosh & Windows PC

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thank you for the information.


    I know the card has zero effect on internal drive bays, obviously. But I thought the Mac Pro's entire internal data bus was limited to 3gb/s, therefore something externally connected to a 6gb/s would still be limited by the PCI bus itself (i.e. between the card and the motherboard). But I'll just discuss it with OWC directly.


    BTW, their "pro" 3gb/s SSDs (Mercury Extreme Pro 3G) are about the same price as their "consumer" 6gb/s ones (OWC Mercury Electra 6G). Which one would you recommend for my purpose (very few writes, large amount of seeks of simultaneously sample playback)?


    BTW the Sonnet Tempo SATA 6Gb/s only supports booting under Windows 7. I don't need that, though, like I said.

  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,915 points)

    I just saw Sonnet's big bold "Bootable" and jumped to conclusion they were talking Mac OS. I knew FirmTek and Newer had Windows bootable cards.


    Mac Pro 2009 the southbridge and using a 4x slot is capable of more than 6GB let alone 6Gb. With the proper controllers (ATTO, Highpoint, Areca, etc) Your card is fine for one or two SSD 600MB/sec lanes.


    Your graphic card, like 5870 GDDR5 interface with 153.6 GB/sec of memory bandwidth, and that is just one 16x slot. On notherbridge processor, memory bandwidth has in theory 32GB/sec


    Mac Pro SATA controller has half what any X58 PC board has, and there you can get 1.2GB/sec from 6 Intel SATA ports. The optical bay is on a different bus and avoids the 700MB limit and glass ceiling.


    To max full use of any SATA3 (6G) SSD then you need a 6Gb/s controller, which you have, and only makes sense to find a way to use it.


    A PCIe controller, better than but like the Apple Pro RAID card, which DOES just plug in and take over the SATA bus controller, would be nice if it was  (there are SAS controllers with 12GB/s now), with 'just' 2GB/s to support 4 x SATA3 6G SSDs. You would need 2GB, 3GB for six.


    3GB is way more than we have but would make a new Mac Pro sell and make more sense.

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Thank you again. Very informative and helpful post. I'll see directly with OWC about their SSD models.



  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,915 points)

    I'll be interested. OWC no longer sells a dual SATA drive case from FirmTek ($199) that has hot swap drive sleds. May not work with SSDs. OWC does have a louder 2-drive case, SATA only, $49 and obviously SSD would not need the fan.


    Running cable off the card and back inside is a mess and probably need 24" SATA3 to reach the optical area, better to just find a way to house the SSD(s) on top of the Mac Pro - unless any cats/dogs call that home. or could be knocked off.

  • Nawyecky Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Well I was planning on sticking it back there with some gaffer tape... or rest it at the top of the case, which is where my gigabit switch lies. I don't stare at the back of my Mac when I'm working and there are no animals around that I know of.


    If I get some interesting info from OWC I'll post back here.

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