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  #11  
Old 05-28-2024, 03:56 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Expansion chassis would be my very last resort, and it seems you might have other options here. Just too many potential problems with Thunderbolt, PCIe to PCIe may be OK but why mess around doing stuff like that unless you absolutely have to.

Can you consolidate more SSD storage onto the Sonnet 4x4 card? Are you running 4TB M.2 drives on that card? I'd be going with Samsung 990 Pro 4TB drives. You can repurpose any older SSD drives into external Thunderbolt chassis if you want. Maybe handy as fast daily backups/transport to other systems etc.

And you have the choice of upgrade the old Fusion 4x4 PCIe 3 card to a current gen SONNET M.2 8x4 PCIe4 Card. Your Mac is still only PCIe 3 but the 8x4 card lets you pack more SSDs into a PCIe3 x 16 slot. For single drive performance the switch based Sonnet card should do PCIe link aggregation and talk PCIe 4 to a PCIe 4 SSD so you will likely often be able to Max out the individual SSD performance (please don't run RAID/striping) so it's still likely worth running fast PCIe 4 M.2 drives. That is what I'd try to do.

I don't have the slot configs in my head for these Macs but be sure to use the config utility to confirm the Sonnet card is in a x16 lane electrical slot.
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  #12  
Old 05-29-2024, 02:49 PM
fsavell fsavell is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazer View Post
Anybody runs a chassis with the MacPro7,1?
According to the Pro Tools Thunderbolt Chassis Compatibility list none is supported, not even the Pro Tools | HDX Thunderbolt 3 Chassis.
Hi stargazer

Yes the Avid/Sonnet HDX Echo Express Thunderbolt 3 chassis works with the 2019 Mac Pro.

I upgraded from the 7,1 to a Mac Studio where I needed the chassis. I had to bounce between the two computers due to some sessions incompatibilities (related to OS differences). I just kept the HDX & UAD octo cards I had in the chassis and plugged into each computer as I needed to. Worked fine without any drama.

I should note that I also have the Sonnet 4x4 NVMe card and was using that in my 7,1 as my audio drive. It does not want to be in the same chassis as the HDX card, so I'd keep that one in the computer.

Forrester
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  #13  
Old 05-31-2024, 02:58 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Many thanks for you taking the time to help and giving me advice!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta Music Belgium View Post
+ a Sonnet Fusion Flex J3i bracket mounted containing 2 x 20 TB SATA 3.5" HDDs (for Time Machine back-ups) and a 2 TB SATA6 2.5" SDD, but there are much cheaper solutions then a Sonnet Sonnet Fusion Flex J3i bracket
I have one of those with two HDD:s for backup and a SSD for Pro Tools sessions/projects.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta Music Belgium View Post
+ a CalDigit - TS3 Plus TB3 docking station

When looking at your configuration at first sight, the Apple Radeon Pro Vega II could be swapped by an Apple Radeon Pro W6600X with just 2 HDMI ports but you will loose 4 TB3 ports. But by using a CalDigit - TS3 Plus TB3 docking station (or a 'CalDigit TS4' TB4 docking station) you get the TB3 ports back and a lot of USB ports, so you can also ditch the USB card.

I chose the CalDigit - TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 docking station because it has an S/P DIF Optical Output for an easy digital output of Core Audio. Those CalDigit docking stations are meant for laptops so they have a strong external power supply and are built like a tank but they are not cheap by any means.
The TS3 Plus looks great with the optical out and everything!
Regarding the TB ports on my Radeon Pro Vega II, Iíve tried my iLok in some of those ports, but itís not recognized in all of them.
When it comes to the HDX cards, I hesitate to buy more mostly to get a higher voice count.
Is the limitation of voices in HDX something that could be changed in the future, or is it a physical limit?
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  #14  
Old 05-31-2024, 10:34 AM
Delta Music Belgium's Avatar
Delta Music Belgium Delta Music Belgium is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazer View Post
The TS3 Plus looks great with the optical out and everything!
Regarding the TB ports on my Radeon Pro Vega II, I’ve tried my iLok in some of those ports, but it’s not recognized in all of them.
I like the CalDigit TS3 Plus very much, it is really a jack of all trades. I have my iLOK's and USB dongles connected to an old Belkin 6-port powered USB 2 hub that is connected to a USB 3 port on the TS3 Plus that is connected to a TB 3 port on the Apple I/O card in slot 8. Btw, it is also possible to connect your iLOK to the internal USB 3 port in the drive bay and that is also a very safe place for an iLOK (unless someone steals your entire Mac Pro 7,1

I have no experience with a Radeon Pro Vega II but I do have the original Apple Radeon Pro W5700X that came with the Mac Pro 7,1 in storage that also has 4 TB 3 ports. But I replaced it by an Apple Radeon Pro W6600X with just 2 HDMI ports to free up a PCIe slot (actually I have 2 Apple Radeon Pro W6600X installed for 4 HDMI ports). And I don't miss the 4 TB 3 ports on the Apple Radeon Pro W5700X because the TS3 Plus provides sufficient ports, combined with the 4 ports on the Apple I/O card in slot 8.

These are my connections to the Apple I/O card in slot 8:

- TB 3 port 1: TB 3 CalDigit TS3 Plus with various TB 3/USB-C and USB 2 and USB-3 hubs

- TB 3 port 2: a USB-C 2,5"/3,5" docking station with a large collection of SSD and HDD backup drives (you just put the drive itself in the docking station and it mounts + it is hot swappable, it works very nice).

- USB 3 port 1: powered USB 3 Extension cable to the control room with a generic passive 7-port USB 3 hub with USB keyboard, mouse and 2 powered USB 2 Extension cables that go to 2 synths that don't have DIN MIDI IN and OUT connections (all other MIDI connections go by 4 iConnectivity mioXL interfaces by RTP/Network-MIDI connected to an Ethernet switch (+ Avid S3) that is connected to one of the 2 Ethernet ports on the Mac Pro 7,1 so the RTP/Network-MIDI network has its own dedicated Ethernet connection, the other Ethernet port is connected to the internet)

- USB 3 port 2: powered USB 2 Extension cable to the control room with an old passive D-Link USB 2 hub connected to 2 Raven MTI2 touch screens

So there is quite a TB 3/USB-C, USB 3, USB 2 and Ethernet network connected to my Mac Pro 7.1 that works like a charm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazer View Post
When it comes to the HDX cards, I hesitate to buy more mostly to get a higher voice count.
Is the limitation of voices in HDX something that could be changed in the future, or is it a physical limit?
A few years ago Avid announced a voice upgrade to 768 voices on a HDX card by a firmware upgrade. But after testing it turned out a small percentage of HDX cards did get locked by the firmware upgrade and needed to be replaced (or repaired, I don't remember). In the end Avid could not guarantee a safe firmware upgrade to 768 voices so they abandoned the idea. So if you want more voices you need to buy more HDX cards, there is no way around that.

Btw, as Daryll Ramm mentioned, you can configure your Mac Pro 7,1 with very fast SSD/M.2 drives if you want to, but I never bothered to do that except for an OWC - Accelsior 4M2 + 4 x 1 TB Samsung SSD 980 PRO M.2 NVMe SSD (RAID 5 = 3 TB). That's because I don't mind how fast a sample bank loads or how fast data gets copied from one drive to another because it goes more then fast enough for me already. I had my first Pro Tools system in 1998 (Pro Tools III TDM) on a Mac PPC 7100-AV with a 80 MHz processor and 16 MB RAM with Nubus Disk I/O cards with very slow SCSI drives connected to them, so I have come a very very long way
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Mac Pro 2019 - 3.2GHz 16-core - 384 GB RAM - macOS 14.5 - PT HDX3 - Pro Tools Ultimate 2024.3.1 - Avid HD I/O 16x16 (x2) - Avid HD I/O 16x16 Digital - Digidesign 192 I/O - Digidesign 192D I/O (x3) - Avid SYNC HD - Apogee Big Ben - Apogee Rosetta 200 - Avid S3 - Slate RAVEN MTi2 (x2) - iConnectivity mioXL (x4) - Genelec ĎThe Onesí 9.1.6 Dolby Atmos Music monitoring (AES/EBU) with 8341A (x5) + 8331A (x10) + 7360A (x2) + 9301B - Almost all available AAX-DSP plug-ins

Last edited by Delta Music Belgium; 05-31-2024 at 10:51 AM. Reason: Grammar
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  #15  
Old 06-02-2024, 10:21 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Thank you very much!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
Expansion chassis would be my very last resort, and it seems you might have other options here. Just too many potential problems with Thunderbolt, PCIe to PCIe may be OK but why mess around doing stuff like that unless you absolutely have to.
Thanks - staying away from chassis for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
Can you consolidate more SSD storage onto the Sonnet 4x4 card? Are you running 4TB M.2 drives on that card? I'd be going with Samsung 990 Pro 4TB drives. You can repurpose any older SSD drives into external Thunderbolt chassis if you want. Maybe handy as fast daily backups/transport to other systems etc.
I have 4 SAMSUNG 2TB M.2 NVMeTM SSD 970 EVO, in two Raid 0 sets, 4TB each.

But Iíve ordered an OWC Accelsior 4M2. I have a couple of Kingston NV2 M.2 NVMe Gen 4 4TB drives I think will be more than enough (3500 MB/s) to read samples from, which I plan to try on that card.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
For single drive performance the switch based Sonnet card should do PCIe link aggregation and talk PCIe 4 to a PCIe 4 SSD so you will likely often be able to Max out the individual SSD performance (please don't run RAID/striping) so it's still likely worth running fast PCIe 4 M.2 drives.
What is PCIe link aggregation and why donít you recommend RAID?
I use RAID 0 on my Sonnet Fusion 4x4 card to get fewer and larger volumes.
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  #16  
Old 06-02-2024, 10:24 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Quote:
Originally Posted by fsavell View Post
Hi stargazer

Yes the Avid/Sonnet HDX Echo Express Thunderbolt 3 chassis works with the 2019 Mac Pro.

I upgraded from the 7,1 to a Mac Studio where I needed the chassis. I had to bounce between the two computers due to some sessions incompatibilities (related to OS differences). I just kept the HDX & UAD octo cards I had in the chassis and plugged into each computer as I needed to. Worked fine without any drama.

I should note that I also have the Sonnet 4x4 NVMe card and was using that in my 7,1 as my audio drive. It does not want to be in the same chassis as the HDX card, so I'd keep that one in the computer.

Forrester
Thank you!
Good to know if I need to expand this system in the future.
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  #17  
Old 06-02-2024, 10:57 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Thanks for all your help and info, Marc! Great setup and nice place you have!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta Music Belgium View Post
I like the CalDigit TS3 Plus very much, it is really a jack of all trades. I have my iLOK's and USB dongles connected to an old Belkin 6-port powered USB 2 hub that is connected to a USB 3 port on the TS3 Plus that is connected to a TB 3 port on the Apple I/O card in slot 8. Btw, it is also possible to connect your iLOK to the internal USB 3 port in the drive bay and that is also a very safe place for an iLOK (unless someone steals your entire Mac Pro 7,1
Iíd like to put my iLok inside the Mac, but I have an SSD on my Sonnet Fusion Flex J3 where I keep my Pro Tools sessions connected to that USB port, if thatís the port you have in mind.

I think Iím going to start with adding an OWC Accelsior 4M2 card and then remove that little USB card and maybe move the SAMSUNG 2TB M.2 970 EVO from the single drive card to the Accelsior too, when (and if) I add HDX cards.
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  #18  
Old 06-02-2024, 11:08 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Quote:
Originally Posted by stargazer View Post

I have 4 SAMSUNG 2TB M.2 NVMeTM SSD 970 EVO, in two Raid 0 sets, 4TB each.

But I’ve ordered an OWC Accelsior 4M2. I have a couple of Kingston NV2 M.2 NVMe Gen 4 4TB drives I think will be more than enough (3500 MB/s) to read samples from, which I plan to try on that card.

What is PCIe link aggregation and why don’t you recommend RAID?
PCIe link aggregation is combining multiple slower PCIe lanes to get faster performance, and is what any good switch based M.2 expansion system/card should do. Say in your case your Mac Pro only has PCIe 3 lanes but modern M.2 cards have 4 x PCIe 4 lanes. So if you connect that to a 4 lanes in your Mac Pro you risk throttling the drive. A switch based card doing link aggregation can take the bandwidth from say 8 x PCIe 3 lanes down to 4 x PCIe 4 lanes to talk to individual M.2 cards at their maximum speed. But clearly you need an adapter card that has more lane bandwidth at any time than the M.2 drives in use need. The large sonnet cards should help you get lots of storage in a slot but you can also peak to the M.2 PCIe 4 drive performance if not using all the drives at once.

The OWC card is at least switch based, but is only PCIe 3, I'd be looking at the latest large Sonnet PCIe4 cards for the reasons mentioned.

Quote:
I use RAID 0 on my Sonnet Fusion 4x4 card to get fewer and larger volumes.
The main downside of RAID is another layer of complexity and opportunities to have problems. Not just getting stuff running. If you start getting filesystem errors how do you tell which of the drives in the stripe might be faulty? How are you backing up and restore those those large volumes? How do you check and update the firmware on a drive? (not issues for software RAID but can be for hardware).

The number of times I've seen large systems managed by professional ops staff corrupted by RAID or virtual disk/striping/mirroring/concatenation etc. being misconfiguration is depressing. And with striping you've ~halved the reliability of that volume due to drive failure. I would just try to avoid striping. If things like all samples won't fit on a 2TB or 4TB drive I'll manually split up what samples go where. And then if a drive fails at least the other drive(s) are still there. But sure there can be cases where it makes sense to live with the complexity and reduction in reliability to do this. For many typical systems and our uses users probably won't notice practical performance increase from striping fast PCIe SSD. Overall I have a very strong KISS approach to systems... Keep it Stupidly Simple.

Last edited by Darryl Ramm; 06-03-2024 at 01:51 AM.
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  #19  
Old 06-03-2024, 01:53 AM
stargazer stargazer is offline
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Default Re: Mac Pro (2019) MacPro7,1

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
PCIe link aggregation is combining multiple slower PCIe lanes to get faster performance, and is what any good switch based M.2 expansion system/card should do. Say in your case your Mac Pro only has PCIe 3 lanes but modern M.2 cards have 4 x PCIe 4 lanes. So if you connect that to a 4 lanes in your Mac Pro you risk throttling the drive. A switch based card doing link aggregation can take the bandwidth from say 8 x PCIe 3 lanes down to 4 x PCIe 4 lanes to talk to individual M.2 cards at their maximum speed. But clearly you need an adapter card that has more lane bandwidth at any time than the M.2 drives in use need. The large sonnet cards should help you get lots of storage in a slot but you can also peak to the M.2 PCIe 4 drive performance if not using all the drives at once.

The OWC card is at least switch based, but is only PCIe 3, I'd be looking at the latest large Sonnet PCIe4 cards for the reasons mentioned.
So, if I understand correctly, a PCIe4 card would perform better in some situations even in my Mac with PCIe3 slots?
I wonder how that works in a real-world situation, using VSL Synchron Player, Kontakt, SINE etc. When I, for example, look at the speed in my Synchron Player the fastest drive shows 498 MB/s. Thatís with a SAMSUNG 2TB M.2 NVMeTM SSD, 970 EVO in slot 7 (8 lanes). I donít know what card it sits on, it came with the machine, but Link Width in System Information says x4.
The SONNET Fusion SSD M.2 4x4 PCIe Card in Slot 4 (x16) with 4x SAMSUNG 2TB M.2 NVMeTM SSD 970 EVOs is a bit slower, 467.8 resp. 393.4 according to the Synchron Player.
The single drive in slot 7 is in Pool B, which is at 109%.
The dives on the Sonnet card in slot 4 is in Pool A, at 100%.
Still the single drive seems faster in this configuration.
Found this documentation that could be of help setting up my cards and drives: https://softron.zendesk.com/hc/en-us...-of-PCIe-slots
Again, regarding a real world performance, thereís also the issue with different sample players and the balancing of pre load buffers etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Ramm View Post
The main downside of RAID is another layer of complexity and opportunities to have problems. Not just getting stuff running. If you start getting filesystem errors how do you tell which of the drives in the stripe might be faulty? How are you backing up and restore those those large volumes? How do you check and update the firmware on a drive? (not issues for software RAID but can be for hardware).

The number of times I've seen large systems managed by professional ops staff corrupted by RAID or virtual disk/striping/mirroring/concatenation etc. being misconfiguration is depressing. And with striping you've ~halved the reliability of that volume due to drive failure. I would just try to avoid striping. If things like all samples won't fit on a 2TB or 4TB drive I'll manually split up what samples go where. And then if a drive fails at least the other drive(s) are still there. But sure there can be cases where it makes sense to live with the competitive and reduction in reliability to do this. For many typical systems and our uses users probably won't notice practical performance increase from striping fast PCIe SSD. Overall I have a very strong KISS approach to systems... Keep it Stupidly Simple.
Iím going to take your advice and avoid RAID, many thanks!
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