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Cracking The Code:
TransIntl Pro Cable

Posted Friday, August 14, 2009, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist.

Apple has removed the mini-SAS connector on the motherboard of the Nehalem 'early 2009' Mac Pro. That's fine for the newest Apple Pro RAID host adapter whose presence is automatically sensed when installed in slot 4. But that leaves third party host adapters with internal SATA or SAS ports out in the cold. But where there's a will, there's a way.

I mean there are clever ways to get around this limitation. For example, if you want to bypass the built-in SATA ports, why not design a sled that rotates the drive 180 degrees? That's exactly what TransIntl has done with the Pro Cable kit. But they add one more twist. They include special cables that pull power off the built-in ports and position a data port at a 90 degree angle. Now all you have to do is run the data cables from the third party host adapter to the drives.

burly video RAID 8

We used the kit to install four Seagate Barracuda 7200.12s SATA drives backwards in our Nehalem Mac Pro. Then we connected them to a RocketRAID 2310. We also used it to connect two Seagate Savio 15K.2 SAS drives to a RocketRAID 2640. My goal was to demonstrate total flexibility to create any kind of high performance storage system your heart desires.

The Pro Cable kit works with the 2006-2008 Mac Pro as well. Yes, they do have a mini-SAS connector on the motherboard that you can use to connect your third party host adapter to internal drives, but it's a pain to access and may require an extender cable.

One other bonus: if the host adapter supports it, you can hot-swap the drives while the Mac Pro is running. Try doing that with the Mac Pro's built-in ports!

Cuda*4 = Four Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB SATA drives installed using Pro Cable and connected to a HighPoint RocketRAID 2310
Savio*2 = Two Seagate Savio 15K.2 145G SAS drives installed using Pro Cable and connected to a HighPoint RocketRAID 2640

The TransIntl Pro Cable is a great example of third party ingenuity. Mac Pro users don't like being boxed in. The Mac Pro should be an open system. The Pro Cable enables the user to choose any host adapter to use with their internal drives and makes the connection process a snap.

A related product for the Nehalem Mac Pro is the TransIntl Pro Caddy 2. Many Mac Pro users want to have four drives in a RAID set using the factory bays. But they also want a separate boot drive or stripe boot pair using either fast HDDs or SSDs. The Pro Caddy 2 enables you to mount a fifth and sixth drive (2.5 or 3.5 inch) in the unused second optical bay. (TransIntl also has a Pro Caddy 2 for the 2006-2008 Mac Pro.)

Actually, the first company to solve the third party host adapter issue on the Nehalem was MaxUpgrades. Their special backplane sleds provide a bypass for the data cables while drawing power off the backplane. See our article about it.

Apple Online Store

You can order the Pro Cable kit (sleds and cables) direct from TransIntl.com either with or without a host adapter. Ask them about the Pro Caddy 2.

MaxUpgrades has taken a different approach to solving the problem of connectiong third party host adapters to internal drives on the Nehalem. They offer special backplane sleds that provide a bypass for the data cables while drawing power off the backplane.


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copyright 2009 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"