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G4 RAID

herd

Well-known member
FYI, the rocketRAID cards seem to work fine in the G4 towers. I've tried this card with an AGP and a Quicksilver. I've never had a need for something like this, but the prices are low enough now that "just for fun" is a good enough reason to play with one. I added a stack of old laptop drives and have been tinkering with RAID 5 and trying to fill it up with my movie collection. The card came with software version 1.04 and if anyone knows of any updates I would be interested in trying them. The old web sites are gone and the new one is just terrible.

RAID 0 is pretty speedy, and RAID 5 can read fast but only write about as fast as a regular drive. It generally outperforms anything I can connect to the IDE port or to the FW800 card.

The only other RAID card for PowerPC Mac that I know of is Areca, but these may only work on the G5. Has anyone tried one in a G4?

sea2qs.pngraid1.jpgraid2.jpg
 

ArmorAlley

Well-known member
Do the RocketRAIDs work in Mac OS 9 or are they Mac OS X only?
I have a R1742 & RR2220 that I plan to try out on my PM G3 B&W sometime this summer.
Which one are you using?

For Mac OS 9 (and probably below)
Acard have the PCI-to-SATA RAID adapter AEC-6890M, which I haven't tried out yet. There is also the AEC-6880M which has 2x IDE ports.
Formac made 2x SCSI RAID cards: ProRAID I & II (Archive.org: https://web.archive.org/web/20001018191416/http://www.formac.com/2k/products/product_frame.html)
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Very neat!

That about tracks, RAID 5 is in theory capable of faster writing but most RAID cards prioritized being basically Good Enough at writes. Nominally RAID by this time was about either building a single bigger volume for convenience reasons or about fault tolerance should a disk fail. I don't see why a very fast CPU and perhaps some RAM backed write cache couldn't make RAID 5 significantly faster at writes. (this makes me want to do some testing, hmmm)

Do you know if there's any notes on what the biggest disks that card supports? 2.5-inch disks now ship up to 5TB but anything 1TB and over you can commonly buy today (on your own and not from, say, HP or Dell) will be an SMR disk, although for PPC and as a data drive that may not matter that much. (one of the squillion things on my testing list)

Is there any AJA video hardware or is this just running the AJA disk benchmark software? I see one other card but it's not particularly big, is that an Sii3112 or an external interface of some kind?

if I remember right AJA (as blackmagic does today) used to offer their disk benchmark as freeware and it got used in magazine reviews and stuff.
 

herd

Well-known member
I'm pretty new to RAID stuff, so I'm not much of an expert. I've previously played with software RAID using IDE drives and Mac OS X, but this is an 8-port Highpoint rocketRAID 2220 card hooked to a stack of SATA laptop drives. It shows up in Disk Utility as a single drive. There are other options for this, configurable on the card through a web interface. Putting 10 full size drives in a Quicksilver would be more of a challenge I think, particularly with IDE or SCSI drives. Though based on this experience I believe any of the PCI rocketRAID cards in this series would work in a G4. I saw reviews of this card in a G5, and one archive.org link mentioned G4 support so...

I bought this card because of the Mac OS X support (I have no idea about OS9). There even used to be a dedicated Mac Highpoint website (archive.org). From what I could find, most of the comparable cards to this one only support pee see. This card is probably the "low" end for RAID cards because it seems to use the CPU to calculate parity for RAID 5 (with a kernel extension), whereas I think the expensive cards will do this directly on the card. For example, I get higher RAID 5 write speeds with a faster CPU. I think the Areca cards are more high end and have larger RAM-cache and hardware support; but would they work in a G4?

At least this card is clearly using the 64-bit PCI bus to achieve more than 200MB/s bandwidth. This is faster than any other drive technology I've seen on the G4. Do any other G4 compatible SATA cards do this? The other card in the picture is the FW800 card. I can't tell whether that one is really using 64-bit PCI because the most I can seem to put through it is ~75MB/s. Maybe even multiple ports on this card share the same 800Mbs; I've not been able to test this before the rocketRAID card made greater speeds possible. My PCI IDE cards are well below the 32-bit PCI limit. Maybe a gigabit NAS could beat the FW800 card?

The AJA program was just used to speed test the array. Do they make hardware too?

I don't know about sizes, but my "for fun" array is 8x500GB and shows up fine in Mac OS X as 4TB RAID 0. The version history for the included software does mention a fix for drives bigger than 2TB in Mac OS X.

This is where I got the card:

www.ebay.com/itm/184480567837

There are other sources but this one was a complete unopened box with the software CD. This may be important because I don't know where else you could get the Mac software.
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
Back in 2005 I setup a new G5 server for work. It was the dual CPU G5 which had the PCI-X slots. I purchased the appropriate Highpoint Rocketraid for it, but we eventually moved the server to a dual core G5 before deploying it. So I had to purchase the PCIe Rocketraid for that.

Running a RAID 10 setup, I seem to remember achieving 600MB/sec transfer rate on the PCIe version.

As for the PCI-X version, I never truly used it. Still sits in a box on a shelf at work. I did try it once in a MDD G4 and while it worked it was not bootable (which the PCIe version was also not capable of doing).

The performance of these cards was pretty decent. I’d love to try a RAID 10 of SSDs to see how well it benches but I’ve never got around to it.
 

jeremywork

Well-known member
Putting 10 full size drives in a Quicksilver would be more of a challenge I think
Challenges are fun...
CIMG7519.JPG
(context; this was built purely as a joke and only started long enough to see if they were all recognized. They were, but this has terrible idea written all over.)

Your speed results are compelling though; given that 2.5” drives got so relatively fast and cheap since this photo was taken, and have a much better chance of fitting “properly” I may try something like this more seriously.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Putting 10 full size drives in a Quicksilver would be more of a challenge I think

Yeah, I suspect the Mac was an incidental market for that card and that the primary market was big PC cases with the needful number of disk bays, whether wired or hot-swappable.

For Macs, if there was a version with an SFF8088 or similar connector on the back, for use with a desktop or rackmount diskbox, that would be fun and sort of in line with what LaCie and Apple did themselves, and then what Apple resold from Promise as the replacement for the xserve raid. (Although the xserve raid and maybe the promise vtrak were fiberchannel, but same idea in terms of externalizing the disks themselves.)

Do they make hardware too?

AJA makes production a/v gear for video editing, streaming, broadcast, etc. Part of why they had the speed test was to confirm built solutions would suffice when capturing or editing video.

I don't know about sizes, but my "for fun" array is 8x500GB and shows up fine in Mac OS X as 4TB RAID 0. The version history for the included software does mention a fix for drives bigger than 2TB in Mac OS X.

Nice. I forget the exact cutoff but 10.2/3 support 8TB volumes and 10.4 supports up to 16TB, I think either 10.5.x or 10.6.x further lifted that into the exabyte region. Though it wouldn't surprise me at all if that was broken at some point.

Some RAID cards from the 2000s have trouble with individual disks bigger than 2TB (I've got a PERC6 with that limit, for example) but that can still get you a lot if the need comes up.

Challenges are fun...

There's still room if you take out the optical drive! :p

There was a product called G5 Jam that, if I remember correctly used the space at the front of the card/slot chamber if you weren't using full-length cards.

Dunno if this ever happened in the G4/G5 era but the manual for the Beige G3 server shows information on what you can put in the floppy and cdrom bays if you pull those drives, which was always entertaining to me.
 

ArmorAlley

Well-known member
There are other sources but this one was a complete unopened box with the software CD. This may be important because I don't know where else you could get the Mac software.
Would you make an image of the software CD and put it up on the Macintosh Garden, Archive.org or your public repository of choice please?
 

jeremywork

Well-known member
There was a product called G5 Jam that, if I remember correctly used the space at the front of the card/slot chamber if you weren't using full-length cards.
I had one fall into my hands once. They provisioned for three drives sitting like dominos in front of the CPU fans (where I have four sitting without brackets in that photo.) I wasn't comfortable with that blockade in the area which arguably needs the most airflow (least on LCS machines,) so I sold it. I wish I had hung onto it for the sake of obscurity.

Given that the G5 Jam did it, I didn't think my build was entirely stupid until the 10th drive, blocking the remainder of the CPU airflow and half the PCI airflow :oops:
 

herd

Well-known member
At least this card is clearly using the 64-bit PCI bus to achieve more than 200MB/s bandwidth. This is faster than any other drive technology I've seen on the G4. Do any other G4 compatible SATA cards do this?

Maybe I should make a different thread to ask about this. I've seen some info online about the PCI SATA cards on PowerMac and some say they are 64-bit and some say 32-bit.
 
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