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EXTERNAL STORAGE INNOVATIONS
for Mac Pros

Posted Friday, September 24th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Updated September 29th with ATTO R680 results for ST8-U5.

The obvious way to expand storage in the 2010 Mac Pro (or other models of Mac Pro) is to add HDDs or SSDs to the four factory drive bays. But sometimes that's not enough to satisfy the professional or consumer or pro-sumer. Let me tell you about three new, innovative, external storage solutions for the Mac Pro.

USB 3.0 STORAGE
One of the newest products is the USB 3.0 AV Drive from
CalDigit. "Wait a minute. Apple hardware and software does not support USB 3.0." Yes but CalDigit has developed OS X drivers for their PCIe and ExpressCard USB 3.0 host adapters. We tested their PCie adapter and their USB 3.0 AV Drive on the 2010 Mac Pro. The transfer speeds for this single 7K HDD USB 3.0 enclosure is impressive. Also impressive is the write speed of the FireWire 800 port on the same unit. (Order from CalDigit or PowerMax.)

(NOTE: The CalDigit USB 3.0 host adapter produces the performance documented above only when connected to the CalDigit AV Drive. Non-CalDigit USB 3.0 enclosures are currently only supported at USB 2.0 speeds. Also, the CalDigit USB 3.0 ExpressCard makes it possible to add USB 3.0 storage to a MacBook Pro 17" but the write speeds are lower than with the PCIe card on the Mac Pro. We will post those numbers in a future article on MacBook Pro storage innovations.)

COMPACT 8-BAY Six Gigabit (updated Sept 29 with R680 results)
Stardom
recently released a true 6 gigabit per second enclosure, the SOHOTANK ST8-U5. My mad scientist mind compelled me to measure the maximum possible real world throughput by loading up the ST8-U5 with eight OWC Mercury Extreme Pro RE SSDs. I needed a high-end 6Gb/s host adapter with dual mini-SAS ports to complete the picture but wasn't able to get one. ATTO provided their ExpressSAS R380 3Gb/s RAID host adapter. On September 29th, we were able to re-run the benchmark on the eight SSDs using the ATTO ExpressSAS R680 6Gb/s RAID host adapter.

We also included results for four 15K Seagate Cheetah drives and eight 7K Seagate Barracuda drives. All sets of drives were in RAID 0 sets. (Order the ST8-U5 from Trans International or Other World Computing or Silverado Systems). Get $500 off from Silverado with coupon code "BFRAID."

PORT MULTIPLIER "multiplied"
Port Multiplier enclosures are convenient in that you only need one cable to connect multiple SATA drives to your Mac Pro. However, the downside is that no matter now many drives are installed or how fast they go, the MP channel maxes out far less than the theoretical 300MB/s -- usually around 230MB/s. That's not fast enough for certain uses such as capturing uncompressed HD video.
MacGurus has a solution. They put two ports on their 6 bay Burly Port Multiplier enclosure. Each port "feeds" three drives, giving you double real world transfer speed -- a much better concept than one port feeding five or six drives.

We tested the Burly with six fast 7K SATA drives and the FirmTek SeriTek/2ME4-E host adapter. (Order the 6-Bay Dual PM Burly Box direct from MacGurus.)


MANY MORE
This article highlights just three interesting external storage solutions. There are others that we have tested in the past if you troll through our index of articles. Plus we are busily testing some other new external storage solutions like the ProStor735 that requires no tools and no screws for drive installation.

COMING SOON
Internal Storage Innovations for the Mac Pro
External and Internal Storage Innovations for the MacBook Pro
External and Internal Storage Innovations for the iMac
More External Storage Innovations for the Mac Pro

If you have comments or questions, feel free to email , mad scientist.
Follow me on Twitter @barefeats

WHERE TO BUY THE CALDIGIT AV DRIVE
Order CalDigit USB 3.0 AV Drive and compatible USB 3.0 Host Adapter direct from CalDigit or from a dealer like PowerMax

WHERE TO BUY THE RAIDON/STARDOM SOHOTANK ST8-U5
Order from Trans International or Other World Computing.

WHERE TO BUY THE MACGURUS DUAL PORT MULTIPLIER 6 BAY
Order it with or without drives direct from MacGurus.com

WHERE TO BUY A MAC or any other APPLE PRODUCTS
When you purchase products at Apple USA, please CLICK THIS LINK or any APPLE BANNERS. It's a great way to support Bare Feats since we earn a commission on each click-through that results in a sale.

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APPLE RESELLERS and VARs

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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