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Understanding Drive Limitations & Sorting Issues with SSD Media

jessenator

Well-known member
[128 GB+ drives are n]ot supported on **built-in** IDE.   No such limitation with PCI-PATA/SATA cards.
Cross-referencing this comment from a different thread, sorry. I'm dealing with some SSD woes, I wanted to circle back on this, specifically, so thought a separate thread was appropriate. I've been going two separate routes with my PCI machines as far as storage so I hope I'm specific when writing about each (where issues crop up), but for the most part my problems have centered around the media specifically, vs the interface. Because I see so many numbers regarding maximum "drive," "volume," and "partition" sizes and need a bit of clarity.

Additionally, I'm having some issues with my SSD media that I think is associated with drive activity/testing, and would like a bit more understanding and perhaps a reality check on what is a real-world expectation vs "I think my equipment is malfunctioning" kind of complaining, which I don't like to do, generally.

Also, since I'm more in the camp of fan/user than I am in the camp of engineer, I might ask strangely worded questions

  1. Is the 128 GB limit like a total, physical drive size limitation, or just partition size limitation?
  2. And to continue that question, say I have a 240 GB SSD sitting around; can I partition it to work, and if so what's the optimal scenario there?
  3. In the case of using a SATA-ATA adapter on the built-in interface, does the drive itself matter? I.e. the SATA spec etc.?



I've heard anecdotally that some modern non-CF SSD media just doesn't play nice with Mac OS 7-9, so I'd like to hear more evidence of that, if it's true.

Let me sort of set the scene for what's happening in two cases of mine:

Scenario A

Power Macintosh 4400/200 (or any LPX-40/Tanzania machine)

System 7.5.3 and kind of 7.6

PNY CS1311 SSD 240 GB (4,096 MB boot partition, remainder as one Mac OS Standard partition) done with Drive Setup
"ADP-06 v1.0" IDE-SATA adapter

======================

After using 7.5.3's Drive Setup utility, I ran the restore right off the 4400 CD. It was going okay for a bit, but then I tried transferring files to and from vTools and it would lock up, so I decided to run some tests. Running any publisher's disk testing suite would cause and almost instant system freeze.

Tried to install 7.6 and the update, but it would freeze part way through the installation process. I gave up after a second attempt and freeze at roughly the same point in the installation.

Scenario B

Power Computing PowerTower 604e/210
System 7.6.1

Flashed SIL3112 PCI SATA interface card

64 GB Samsung brand laptop SATA drive (which is either MMCRE64GTMXP or an MMBRE64GTDXP)
(with passive(?) pin adapter from the micro connector on the drive to standard SATA)
This drive has a similar setup of a 4 GB boot partition and the remainder as two equal storage partitions formatted with FWB Tools PE (from the PCC 7.6 disc image)

============================

I cannot consistently run any sort of disk testing suite on the drive. For the most part it's operationally stable, and infrequently I'll have issues where it freezes due to drive activity, most recently with attempting to install Windows 98 on the drive image file created by Apple's PC Setup 1.6.4 for the PC Compatibility Card. The oddball thing there is that the PC doesn't crash, but the Mac side does, necessitating a forced reboot. The install would fail at a roughly the same spot.
 

To contrast all of this, I have been running a 32 GB* SanDisk Extreme UDMA 7 CF card primarily in the PM 4400 for well over a year now with little drama. It's just plugged into one of the Syba/clone adapters you can get almost anywhere these days, (and has just barely enough room to be) socketed into one of the ATA connectors on the board. I can run test after test on it and rarely, if ever, does disk activity appear to be the root cause of a freeze (most recently it's been my woes with SetDate  :p ). And while I suspect that the specifics of the flash memory are vastly different, it's interesting that the older, CF technology is more stable, but given that these are older machines, maybe it's not a surprise to the knowledgeable.
*4 GB boot partition, ~26 GB storage parition

Someone on IRC remarked that the SIL3112 controller "isn't that great" as if I should expect such erratic behavior, but on my machines w/o native ATA and nothing short of highly-coveted Sonnet cards, I wonder what the best solution there is.

Anyhow, if anyone has any thoughts about what I'm doing wrong or what could be done better in these two scenarios, I'm open to your knowledge.

 
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johnklos

Well-known member
The 128 gig drive limit has to do with a mode of IDE. It's a whole drive limit, although there are ways around it.

Early controllers can, with proper software, see more than 128 gigs. For example, while Mac OS on a Quadra 630 can only see the first 128 gigs, this is primarily because the ROMs and all System software that a Quadra can run will only work with IDE with up to 128 gigs. But the Quadra can use larger drives in NetBSD because the hardware can.

Certain later machines can also use drives larger than 128 gigs, but the ROMs don't support it. I have a first gen iMac, for instance, for which this is the case. You can install Intech's ATA Hi-Cap driver which then allows full use of the full size of the disk, but since the driver has to load as part of the boot partition's boot process, the first partition has to be within the first 128 gigs. The only exception is the primary controller on the B&W G3 which has a hardware limitation.

On my iMac, I have a 2 TB drive with an 8 gig partition (OS X on the first iMac has that limitation, too), a 120 gig boot partition, then the rest of the drive is a Users partition. XPostFacto lets it boot the kernel off of the 8 gig partition but use the 120 gig as the boot volume.

If you have a 240 gig drive, you can always use the first 128 gigs no matter what.

If you're having issues with lockups, I'd guess that it could be related to the system using a mode that is right on the threshold of what the controller can support, but something's not happy. For example, I think your 4400 supports IDE speeds at up to 16 MB/sec. Even though that should work fine with 40 pin cables, you may want to try an 80 pin cable, anyway - drives back then really never saturated the 16 MB/sec potential of the controller, so they probably worked fine, but pushing the controller at 100% speed for extended amounts of time may bring it too close to the threshold of where errors might occur.

You may also want to try, just for testing, newer Mac OS since fast IDE drivers were still pretty new to System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6.

 

jessenator

Well-known member
You may want to try an 80 pin cable, anyway
Forgive my ignorance— I see 80-wire ATA cables for sale, is that the same thing? And I also see cables with multiple connectors… I know that ATA at this point with Apple didn't support master/slave devices like PCs of the era did, hence the one connector for optical, and another for the HDD on the 4400's motherboard. https://www.newegg.com/gray-startech-18-others/p/N82E16812200039

Fast IDE drivers were still pretty new to System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6
I was hoping to keep System 7.6 if I could, but I'll test it out more thoroughly with 9.1

I think the real oddball then is the lockup on the PowerTower, where I have a dedicated SATA interface and SATA cabling. Could it overloading the PCI bus? Or is it just the controller being, as was mentioned, "not that great"?

 

NJRoadfan

Well-known member
The 128 gig limit is due to the ROM only supporting 28-bit LBA. Later controllers moved to 48-bit LBA. All SATA controllers support 48-bit LBA, so it should be a non-issue with those. I don't know how MacOS handles IDE devices that large, but it should be fine if it relies solely on a 48-bit compatible OF ROM for disk I/O.

 

johnklos

Well-known member
Forgive my ignorance— I see 80-wire ATA cables for sale, is that the same thing? And I also see cables with multiple connectors… I know that ATA at this point with Apple didn't support master/slave devices like PCs of the era did, hence the one connector for optical, and another for the HDD on the 4400's motherboard. https://www.newegg.com/gray-startech-18-others/p/N82E16812200039


Oops. Yes, 80 wire, not 80 pin. My bad.

That cable that you've linked should be fine, but you'll probably need to drill out the blocked key pin.

I know that when I run NetBSD on older IDE controllers, they often downgrade to a slower mode, then become happy, but I doubt Mac OS does this:

[ 14.5730618] wd0: transfer error, downgrading to Ultra-DMA mode 1




Newer Mac OS might be better, but so might loading newer drivers on to the drive using newer Drive Setup.

 

jessenator

Well-known member
That cable that you've linked should be fine, but you'll probably need to drill out the blocked key pin.


Thanks—I wondered if that pin was used or not and why it's populated on the logic board connector at all, so I ended up finding a different 80-wire/conductor cabled that had all the pin holes in the connectors as well as being keyed, because I can be a tad absent-minded/hasty ;) Also I have no drill bits that small. I have a SCSI ribbon that isn't keyed and I had to write directions to myself on the terminus to make sure it was all going in correctly—Much rather would have the key, maybe have to dig a bit deeper to find one with it, than muck it up.

so might loading newer drivers on to the drive using newer Drive Setup.
I'm curious: Can you, for example, put OS 9 drivers on the disk and it still boot 7.6?

 
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