diglloyd Mac Performance Guide

Max Your Mac Pro at OWC

SSDStorageMemory

OWC PCIe SSD Card Coming Soon

OWC has posted a sneak peak at their new PCIe SSD card, compatible with Macs and PCs:

This card has a “stackable” design, allowing you configure the drive in sizes between 60GB and 2.oTB. This is done using individual mini PCIe daughter cards that attach to the main card. There’s no requirement for all the daughter card slots to be filled at once, which means you can easily expand capacity over time as you need it.

The main card is based around the Marvell 88SE9445 SATA RAID Controller and the individual daughter cards will feature a SandForce 2200 Series controller. It’s compatible with both Mac and PC, and as such, will be the first Mac supported PCIe SSD solution of its kind.

I anticipate having a full test of one of these cards early on, with a report to follow. As soon as it becomes available, I’ll be incorporating this card as an option into the MPG Pro Workstation. (Note that the Fusion-IO card is listed as Mac compatible, but “of its kind” probably refers to the daughtercard approach).

Several things are worth noting:

  • The card is not bootable (just confirmed with OWC engineers).
  • Available with up to 4 x 480GB modules for 1.92TB of user addressable space.
  • Mac Pro users could in theory run a system which has no hard drives installed yet has ample storage— I personally prefer the computer hygiene of separating data and system, so I’d use a separate SSD for my system drive, along with the PCIe card for data storage.
  • A PCIe solution runs at full PCIe bus speed of gigabytes per second. Unlike using SSD drives in the drive bays— current Mac Pro SATA ports limit speed to ~250MB/sec per SSD, and ~600MB/sec as a whole.
  • High end users looking for the ultimate in performance with capacity now have this card as a 2TB option. Since there are 3 slots in a Mac Pro, in theory one could 4 of these cards installed with 6TB of internal SSD storage.
  • By using a PCIe card, all drive bays remain available for use. So one could have 4 X 3TB hard drives as well as 2TB of SSD storage, and another SSD or hard drive in the lower optical bay.
  • I expect that the card will support some forms of RAID (e.g. RAID-5), for the ultimate in SSD reliability.
  • The card capacity can grow with you— add daughter-card modules to expand capacity as your needs grow.
OWC PCIe-based SSD for Mac Pro  
OWC PCIe-based SSD for Mac Pro

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