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  #1  
Old 02-22-2016, 04:50 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Looking for the most cost-efficient way to upgrade my Nehalem:

MacPro4,1
2,66 GHz
2 x Quad-Core
32GB RAM

I have the impression that a faster system drive (SSD) would be a good first step.
Then maybe RAM and/or CPU upgrade.
Donít want to spend to much, and need advice making some wise decisions since at some point I Ēhave toĒ get a newer machine, maybe with a Thunderbolt chassis.

At the moment I have my system (Mavericks 10.9.5) on a Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB in the lower optical bay.
Donít see any big improvements compared to an ordinary SATA drive.
I assume that optical bus has something to do with that.
System boot is 44 instead of 56 sec, and loading a Pro Tools session isnít any faster.

Iíve been looking at the Sonnet PCIe Drive Cards, and also lately at the Create Pro solutions.
I have the original NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 graphics card in slot 1 and one HDX card in slot 2 installed.

I read that those cards must be installed in a PCIe 2.0 x4 slot for maximum speed.
What PCIe slots in the Nehalem are x4?

The Create Pro 2TB / 1TB cards are on the expensive side:

2TB Samsung SM951 PCIe 2.0 x16 card for Mac Pro | 5,700MB/s read & write RAID 0
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2TB-Samsun...-/181942239511

But they also have the 256GB / 512GB cards:

512GB Samsung SM951 on PCIe 2.0 x4 card for Mac Pro | 1,500MB/s read & write
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/512GB-Sams...d=181942239511

Then there is the new Sonnet, but can the PCIe 2.0 slots in my Mac take advantage of the PCIe 3.0 specs?

Tempo PCIe 3.0 SSD Card
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/tempopcie3ssd.html

Lastly, these Sonnet cards, that have the advantage of using 3rd party drives, so when prices comes down I could buy a large one to host my sample libraries instead of mechanical drives:

Tempo SSD 6Gb/s SATA PCIe 2.0 Drive Card for SSDs
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/tempossd.html

Tempo SSD Pro Plus 6Gb/s SATA Dual 2.5" SSD PCIe 2.0 Card with eSATA Ports
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/tempossdproplus.html


Any thoughts appreciated
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2016, 04:51 PM
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Chief Technician Chief Technician is offline
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Lightbulb Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazer View Post
Looking for the most cost-efficient way to upgrade my Nehalem:

MacPro4,1
2,66 GHz
2 x Quad-Core
32GB RAM

I have the impression that a faster system drive (SSD) would be a good first step.
Then maybe RAM and/or CPU upgrade.
Don’t want to spend to much, and need advice making some wise decisions since at some point I ”have to” get a newer machine, maybe with a Thunderbolt chassis.

At the moment I have my system (Mavericks 10.9.5) on a Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB in the lower optical bay.
Purchase a bracket to make the SSD fit on the SATA HD sleds and move it to one of the four SATA HD bays. That should give you a noticeable boost.
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Apple Certified - Technical Coordinator (v10.5), Support Professional (v10.6 through v10.10)

Last edited by JFreak; 02-23-2016 at 12:41 AM. Reason: fixed the quote
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2016, 06:26 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Forget RAID 0 or anything with a RIAD controller in the data path, that is just silly with an SSD. Doubly so for a boot drive (where you want as little complexity as possible that can go wrong). Just go JBOD. And without seeing extensive benchmarking I'd be dubious of any RAID controller performance claims. You can get huge bang for the buck (or pound) here with very simple one or two M.2 cards in plain adapters. And likely be better off long term with a simpler system.

The SM951 drive are now kind of outdated by the Samsung 950 Pro (also PCIe 3.0 x 4 but NVMe not AHCI) may help lower the 951 costs over time. But NVMe likely won't be bootable on old Macs. Just go buy the SM951 drives anywhere and get a commodity PCIe to M.2 card adapter, now real value add there and they are a few $10 at most. Or if the 950 Pro are available cheaper, get them if you don't need to boot the drives. I think you needs OS X 10.10 for NVMe driver support but check.

e.g. price comparison: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-426-_-Product

Your Mac Pro is PCIe 2.0, with the simple adapters you will not see the PCIe 3.0 speeds claimed for these 4 x PCIe 3.0 M.2 drives. But who cares, if that really makes or breaks your old Mac Pro you likely should be getting off that onto a faster computer. Would you really see the faster speeds with a fancy RAID 16x PCIe 2.0 card doing lane aggregation?... who knows... who cares. It is very unlikely to be worth the cost of trying to find out.

And all this depends on what you are doing. We have *no* idea what problem you are trying to solve. For many IO related runtime issue just stuffing more RAM in the system and enabling a larger disk cache will cover up a lot of IO performance issues. The number of systems I see with Disk Cache not even turned on just make me scratch my head... if you are trying to fix session startup or VI sample load time etc. then disk cache may not help you.
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  #4  
Old 02-22-2016, 11:56 PM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chief Technician View Post
Purchase a bracket to make the SSD fit on the SATA HD sleds and move it to one of the four SATA HD bays. That should give you a noticeable boost.
Thanks, I was a bit unclear in my original post.
The boot times I mentioned was with a Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB in the lower optical vs the SATA HD bays.
System boot from a SATA bay is 44 sec and lower bay 56 sec.
Loading time of a Pro Tools session equal.
I had expected a bit more of a difference.
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  #5  
Old 02-23-2016, 12:20 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Thank you, Darryl!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
Forget RAID 0 or anything with a RIAD controller in the data path, that is just silly with an SSD. Doubly so for a boot drive (where you want as little complexity as possible that can go wrong). Just go JBOD.
Iíve never tried a JBOD configuration. Maybe should try that on my sample library drives.
Does it work on boot disks, too?

Quote:
And without seeing extensive benchmarking I'd be dubious of any RAID controller performance claims. You can get huge bang for the buck (or pound) here with very simple one or two M.2 cards in plain adapters. And likely be better off long term with a simpler system.
M.2 cards in plain adapters looks interesting.

Quote:
The SM951 drive are now kind of outdated by the Samsung 950 Pro (also PCIe 3.0 x 4 but NVMe not AHCI) may help lower the 951 costs over time. But NVMe likely won't be bootable on old Macs. Just go buy the SM951 drives anywhere and get a commodity PCIe to M.2 card adapter, now real value add there and they are a few $10 at most. Or if the 950 Pro are available cheaper, get them if you don't need to boot the drives. I think you needs OS X 10.10 for NVMe driver support but check.

e.g. price comparison: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-426-_-Product
Will the 950 be faster than the SM951 in my 2.0 slots or is it overkill?

Quote:
Your Mac Pro is PCIe 2.0, with the simple adapters you will not see the PCIe 3.0 speeds claimed for these 4 x PCIe 3.0 M.2 drives. But who cares, if that really makes or breaks your old Mac Pro you likely should be getting off that onto a faster computer. Would you really see the faster speeds with a fancy RAID 16x PCIe 2.0 card doing lane aggregation?... who knows... who cares. It is very unlikely to be worth the cost of trying to find out.

And all this depends on what you are doing. We have *no* idea what problem you are trying to solve. For many IO related runtime issue just stuffing more RAM in the system and enabling a larger disk cache will cover up a lot of IO performance issues. The number of systems I see with Disk Cache not even turned on just make me scratch my head... if you are trying to fix session startup or VI sample load time etc. then disk cache may not help you.
I have no real problem with my configuration.
Just checking out options to boost the performance.
Regarding the disk cache; Iíve never messed with that.
As far as I know itís on by default, and flushed at restart?

Thanks again.
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  #6  
Old 02-23-2016, 03:02 AM
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groundcontrol groundcontrol is offline
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

http://www.amazon.com/Lycom-DT-120-P.../dp/B00MYCQP38

Cheap and proven with 4,1 and 5,1 towers.
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  #7  
Old 02-23-2016, 07:22 AM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is online now
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazer View Post
Thank you, Darryl!

I’ve never tried a JBOD configuration. Maybe should try that on my sample library drives.
Does it work on boot disks, too?
JBOD... you likely should be running your system on plain disk (not RAID) now.

If you've got huge sample libraries and the loading thse is slow then that's another whole thing to look at. And SSD may or may no be worth the cost there. Maybe something like a 2TB Samsung Evo SATA drives may be more affordable/compelling for samples. OTOH if sample load time is not an issue leave stuff along. Buy more RAM and/or upgrade the CPU.


Quote:
Will the 950 be faster than the SM951 in my 2.0 slots or is it overkill?
I suspect it will be hamstrung by PCIe 2.0 as much as the SM951. NVMe is more efficient then AHCI but not bootable in your old system so just may not be worth the hassle of using the 950 Pro. Especially if the first thing to upgrade is the boot/system drive. One reason to go M.2 even with PCIE 2.0 only is the SATA controller in your Mac Pro are only SATA II, so by the time you dick around putting in SATA III PCIe controllers you might as well stick in a PCIe card with M.2 on it. And a SM951 slowed down by PCIe 2.0 is certainly going to be a lot faster than a SATA III SSD slowed down by SATA II.

The SM951 and just about any M.2 dumb adapter card should work in your Mac Pro... include be bootable, but it might be nice to know for sure from somebody who has done that or be able to return if it does not work. M.2 cards can run hot, make sure nothing is obstructing airflow around the board.

Quote:
I have no real problem with my configuration.
Just checking out options to boost the performance.
Regarding the disk cache; I’ve never messed with that.
As far as I know it’s on by default, and flushed at restart?
No it's more off by default. You need to specify a cache size in the playback engine dialog to really turn it on.

If there are no problems then spending money on exotic RAID SSD gizmos is very likely a waste of time. A plain simple SSD boot/system drive however often does make lots of things just seem faster/better.

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 02-23-2016 at 07:37 AM.
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  #8  
Old 02-23-2016, 07:42 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
No it's more off by default. You need to specify a cache size in the playback engine dialog to really turn it on.
Oh, I thought you meant some settings in OS X.
I always use the disk cache in Pro Tools.
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  #9  
Old 02-23-2016, 08:13 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

Regarding JBOD:
I guess it wouldnít get any faster, since the slowest drive determines the overall speed, as far as I understand.
It would be easier to manage my three sample drives if they were treated as one, though.

Since I already have my system on a Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB, the least expensive route would be to get the small Sonnet Tempo PCIe card that holds only one SSD 2,5 disk.
According to their webpage the theoretical read speed limit would be 500 MB/s, and the write speed 460 MB/s.
http://www.sonnettech.com/product/tempossd.html

Then I could get an SM951 and some M.2 adapter card in my fourth and last slot.
Maybe put some important workhorse sample libraries or sessions in progress on it...
Iíve seen some controller cards with 2 or three slots on them, so I could possibly get a smaller M.2 first and then add another larger if it turns out well.
Read somewhere that the sm951 has 2000 mb/s read and 600 mb/s write speeds, and a x4 lane in a PCI 2.x slot would allow 4x500 MB/s?
Sorry if Iím thinking out loud, but all this is new and a bit confusing to me.
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  #10  
Old 02-25-2016, 08:42 AM
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TVPostSound TVPostSound is offline
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Default Re: PCIe SSD cards and Mac Pro upgrades

I use this card, along with the Electra 480G drive to boot my 4.1 converted to 5.1 MacPro.
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/SSD/P...sior/S-Carrier

Less than 1/2 price of the Sonnet.

OWC is a very trusted company.

Boots in 5 Seconds, and very noticeable speed increase.

This leaves my 4 bays open for work drives. 1 Video 2 Audio 3 Sound effects 4 Vault storage.
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