13 Replies Latest reply: Aug 10, 2012 4:53 PM by Kirby Krieger
Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

Hi.  Hardware, I'm sorry to say, generally makes my head hurt.


Today Apple's delayed Thunderbolt-to-FW800 adapter made it appearance in Apple Stores.


Purchasers of the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display (rMBP) now have a nearly full set of options for using external drives with Aperture.  I had been using a stable of FW800 drives (with my MBP 5,5).  I'm looking for recommendations on what to upgrade to.


(Aside: I've been too busy to post a comment recommending the rMPB.  It's my main Aperture machine (I use Aperture every day, but work in two different locations) -- I'm _very_ happy with it.  Highly recommended.  My machine is 16 GB RAM and 500 GB SSD.  But there's still this ports problem ... .)


The options I know of:

- use the new adapter and use the old FW drives.  These can be daisy-chained, as before.  Afaik, the total throughput is limited by what TBolt allows (which may be more than enough).

- move drives to USB3 enclosures.  I did this as a stop-gap measure while waiting for the adapters.  I got my enclosures from OWC.  The drives are not daisy-chainable.  The rMBA has two USB3 ports.

- buy eSATA hubs and use the eSATA ports on the drives.  This one just became available.  Expensive, imho.  Not sure how the Mac will handle it (I always have Originals referenced to external drives; I sometimes have Libraries on external drives).

- move drives to TBolt enclosures.  These are slowly coming on the market.  They are very expensive (imho).

- replace the drives with TBolt drives.  Also very expensive.

- replace the drives with USB3 drives


I'm looking for a reasonable middle-term (3-5 years) solution.  Fwiw, I'm not convinced that external drive throughput is even an issue with running Aperture.  It seem to run well on my rMBA even when a large library is connected via USB2.  (I assume Aperture is good at taking advantage of the 16 MB RAM and the SSD "scratch drive".)  I need to have one USB2 port, and one TBolt port, available at all times (various peripherals; the TBolt is for external monitors).



MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012), OS X Mountain Lion, 16 GB RAM; 500 GB SSD; NEC; Munki
  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (25,715 points)



    Given your current setup the quickest and cheapest way to go is to get the tBolt to FW adapter and go with the drives you have. If the need arises down the line to switch to something else you're only out the $30 you paid for the adaptor.


    The eSata adaptor sounds interesting, you'd probably get the best speed out of this but you would be limited to 2 eSata drives. Of course it opens up other possibilities but given the price I'd definitely place this down the list.


    Replacing drives or enclosures will quickly run up the bill and there would be no great advantage over the adaptor and you;d be locked into whatever technology you go with.


    No, I'd go with he adaptor at this point. It gets you going right away and you don;t have a lot invested so switching down the road, if something else comes along that is a better fit will be possible.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Frank -- thanks for the thorough reply  .  Off to buy TBolt-FW adapters.


    Because Apple missed the stated July 1 delivery of these, I'm out the cost of two USB3 enclusures.  O well.  Guess I'll keep them until SSD prices drop, and then put 500 GB SSD's in them.  (I don't have any use for any drives smaller than 500 GB.)

  • léonie Level 9 Level 9 (79,490 points)


    (I don't have any use for any drives smaller than 500 GB.)

    Oh, how modest, Kirby! I remember a time when we had to apply for a special research grant to be able to buy a 60 MB drive (back in 1980) and if I remember correctly, we had to pay a whopping 60000 DM for it, at that time about 20000 US$.  Not to mention the day we could upgrade the main CPU storage from 32 kB to 512 kB, that was like christmas!


    Learning to program image processing algorithms and motion tracking on a hardware that only could hold a small section of the image in the main storage was a great training for the development of streaming algorithms!




  • 1 Open Loop Level 2 Level 2 (350 points)

    If you don't have any eSATA enclosures, then I don't see a need for the eSATA adapter. I see these devices as bridges for people who are looking to move from eSATA to Thunderbolt.


    It seems to be, Thunderbolt is for driving displays and connecting fast disk arrays. (an eSATA replacement) Fast disk arrays for video, not really needed for photos.


    For USB 3.0, can't you get a hub for connecting (daisy chaining) multiple devices?

    Isn't USB 3.0 big in the Windows world? Lots of options? Including RAID 0 or 1 if you want it.

    I would think USB 3.0 is a fairly good solution for Aperture (photo) users. I'm guessing that's why Apple added (or dropped FW) USB 3.0. While a hub may not be as clean as a FW solution, it should get the job done at a reasonable cost.


    Of course, if you have FW devices, then the adapter is your best (lowest cost quickest) solution.


    Just out of interest, how do you manage backups?

    Time Machine? Dedicated drive(s)?


    It would seem USB 3.0 would be a good solution for these requirements.

  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 Level 8 (37,555 points)

    Makes my head hurt, too!


    I am today contemplating going out to buy the top rMBP that is sold in stores.  Probably would also buy the LaCie 4TB drive that you can swap SATA drives in and out of so I can still use my Mac Pro 8 Core (since it is too early for running ML) with such drives, also.  Means I would have to move production to Lion on the MP so my Aperture Library is compatible with the laptop and Mtn Lion.


    It should not be this crooked a path.



  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Ernie Stamper wrote:


    Makes my head hurt, too!


    It should not be this crooked a path.




    I so way agree!


    Aperture's very serious flaw is its inability to synch a single-user Library between two Macs. Inexcusable IMO; Apple's Filemaker DB has synched for decades.


    I switched to a single-MBP workflow from MP+MBP because Apple negligently fails to provide synch capability.


    I would prefer to still have the brute strength and unparalleled upgradability (graphics especially) of a MP. However portability is essential, and all the workarounds Apple touts for MBP+MP are not acceptable for a professional workflow.


    Note Apple forces me to no longer have one of their $3500 products. Makes no sense.



  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Deleted by poster.

  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)



    IMO a Matrox Thunderbolt box for the multiple displays:


    http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/press/releases/2011/dualhead2go_dp/triplehead2 go_dp/macbook_pro_thunderbolt/


    and FW800 for your existing hard drives setup.


    The problem with the Thunderbolt-to-Firewire cable is that it blocks the Thunderbolt port; a huge limitation. What we really need is a dongle that in addition to providing a Firewire connection also passes through Thunderbolt.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)



    I was never a programmer, but I do remember counting characters in documents, and taking apart a new-fangled 3.5" "floppy" disk to see if there really was a floppy disk in it.  High-tech stuff.

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Good stuff.  Thanks.  Agree in principle re: "TBolt for displays; USB3 for storage".


    I did get a USB 3 hub.  (Amazon link.  There is a 7-port hub as well.)  Highly recommended (at least for rMBP users).  This works well with how I use Aperture: I have several external drives with mostly Referenced Originals and some Libraries.  Since I rarely use more than one of these at a time, it doesn't matter that the hub throughput is limited to a single USB 3 channel.  The USB 3 hub, for me, functions as a quasi-data-server for Aperture, and takes up only one of the two USB 3 ports on the rMBP.  (Fwiw, with the rMBA I don't think there's much reason for storing Referenced Originals on a fast drive; because of the efficiency of the way Aperture caches, USB 2 may be fast enough.  I haven't measured this yet.)


    I mentioned eSATA only because almost all my external drives came with eSATA ports and cables.  I have never used eSATA.  At this point, I don't plan to.


    I have moved a few drives into USB 3 enclosures (purchased from OWC).  With the USB 3 hub, and the newly-available Apple TBolt-FW800 adapter (which supports daisy-chained FW devices), I am no longer in any practical way limited by the four ports on the rMBP (2x TBolt, 2x USB 3).  Whew. 


    I backup my system drive wirelessly to a Time Capsule every night (by design, the machine doesn't have access to the TC during the day when I'm working), and use SuperDuper to backup all Libraries and Referenced Originals to specific sparse bundles kept on leap-frogging external drives, with one always off-site.  At this point I make no practical distinction between FW800 and USB 3 drives for back-up, as they are all fast enough and the back-ups run unattended.  (But USB 3 seems to be much faster.) 

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    I agree as well.  In my case, I _need_ a portable work-station, so Apple's present solution works for me.  My Mac goes with me; I have no Libraries to sync.


    rMBP, Aperture Libraries and Referenced Originals on paired external drives, backed up to leap-frogging pairs of 2 TB external drives, and with large external monitors are each place I work.  The current Aperture/Apple ecosystem works well for free-lancers and mobile users.

  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Fortunately ( ) I have not yet had the need or opportunity to work on a double-external-monitor set-up.


    Waiting for 27" wide-gamut Retina® displays  .


    A TBolt-to-{TBolt with FW800} dongle is exactly what's needed.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Ernie Stamper wrote:


    I am today contemplating going out to buy the top rMBP that is sold in stores.

    Ernie -- take a look at the most recent offerings.  You no longer have to get the top rMBP in order to get it well-configured.  IMHO (do get a second, better, HO), you should not get an rMBP with anything less than 16 GB RAM and 500 GB SSD for Aperture.  It works _really_ well  .