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Dimitris1980

SSD for Powermac G3 beige minitower

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I would like to ask if an sdd can be installed in a powermac g3 beige minitower, what card is needed for the connection and if is it possible to install and run classic mac os. 

 

Thank you 

Dimitris ftom Greece 

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Yes. You could either use an SCSI2SD (probably a bit slower than a G3 could take advantage of), an IDE to mSATA/m.2 or SATA converter, or get a SATA card and use any normal SATA SSD.

 

Mac OS 9 should install and run on any of those things just fine.

 

I don't know if this is universal, but on some SSDs I've seen people have more success if they format below the actual stated capacity of the drive, I don't know if that was a machine quirk with someone's PowerTower Pro or if it was an issue with how HFS+ partitioning works in 7/8/9 or what, but it's something to try if you get it set up and it looks like it doesn't work.

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Hi Dimitris,

 

 I have an IDE-SD converter and I boot my PM G3 MT from it. I have a SATA card (flashed SIL 3112, I think) in my B&W G3 and that boots from a SATA SSD, so I don't really see why you couldn't boot your PM G3 MT from a SATA SSD.

 

 Send Bolle a PM and see if he has any of the flashed SATA left. He had some a while back.

 

All the best,

aa

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I'd recommend a PCI SATA card. They're very cheap (around €10 with free shipping from China), should work with the older Mac OSes, and work in these old Macs. I also think they allow you to bypass the partition size limit. A SIL3114 card, once flashed in a PC, will work in place of a SIL3112 card, as the 3112 cards have disappeared in favour of the 3114 cards, but only two of the four SATA connectors seem to work. Not a worry if you only install a single SSD, of course.

 

Just look on eBay for "SIL3114 PCI", and find the cheapest. But again, you will need a PC with a PCI slot to flash it following this guide: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/guide-to-flashing-pc-sil3112-sata-cards-for-mac.1690231

Edited by Daniël Oosterhuis

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You won’t be able to boot from a drive connected to one of those flashed cards though.

If you want a bootable card you have to solder on a new flash chip and flash the Firmtek/Sonnet firmware instead.

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24 minutes ago, Bolle said:

You won’t be able to boot from a drive connected to one of those flashed cards though.

If you want a bootable card you have to solder on a new flash chip and flash the Firmtek/Sonnet firmware instead.

Really? I boot my MDD off of a SIL3112 card just fine...

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2 hours ago, Dimitris1980 said:

So, which adapter is the most economic?

 

Economically with the best performance, I'd say a second-hand mSATA SSD 30GB+ with an IDE to mSATA adapter, depending on the adapter you'll probably also need a 2.5" to 3.5" IDE adapter to connect to your beige G3.  Go for an mSATA brand such as Intel or Samsung.  I'm converting as many of my later PPC Macs to mSATA SSDs as I possibly can, one by one - bang for buck it's the best option.

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The IDE bus on the Beige G3 is 16.6MBs, any old junky SSD will saturate that. Save the faster SSD for machines that can make use of them. Personally I would just use a newer IDE drive from the scrap pile.

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Yes, but when you can do SSD for cheap, saturating the bus on any lowly Mac to make it as fast as possible, with good reliability is the way to go over a dicey older mechanical drive.  Last conversion I did was putting an Intel 80GB mSATA SSD in my TAM; the mSATA drive cost AUD $30 used on eBay, and the enclosure < $5 from eBay HK.  I've a pile of 2.5" IDE 40/80/120GB drives as spare, but when the price is this good I'll keep going.

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I had gone the IDE-CF route for a lot of my IDE-based machines. Any opinions on why this might ultimately have been a mistake? I’m contemplating moving the IDE-mSATA route at some stage...

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3 hours ago, LazarusNine said:

I had gone the IDE-CF route for a lot of my IDE-based machines. Any opinions on why this might ultimately have been a mistake? I’m contemplating moving the IDE-mSATA route at some stage...

High capacity CF cards are crazy expensive. I just checked a popular Dutch techsite that aggregates prices from webstores for tech products, a 256GB CF card is €212... Just for reference, a Samsung EVO 850 1TB mSATA at the cheapest is €199... €13 cheaper and four times the storage.

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7 hours ago, LazarusNine said:

I had gone the IDE-CF route for a lot of my IDE-based machines. Any opinions on why this might ultimately have been a mistake? I’m contemplating moving the IDE-mSATA route at some stage...

 

No issues, but CF to IDE is best used in earlier Macs in my opinion, with virtual memory off as CF are potentially more prone to wear than a normal SSD.  CF are also not available in shops anymore near me, so if I had the choice (and knew it worked), I'd now go much cheaper SD for slower 68K/PPC Macs, and step it up to mSATA in later models.  I'm running down to only a few 3.5" IDE drives spare now, most are mid-00 era and I couldn't say they'd be too reliable.  Do have some cherry picked 7200.8 Seagate drives I'm putting in my 9600 at the moment, think they'd be great.

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8 hours ago, Daniël Oosterhuis said:

High capacity CF cards are crazy expensive. I just checked a popular Dutch techsite that aggregates prices from webstores for tech products, a 256GB CF card is €212... Just for reference, a Samsung EVO 850 1TB mSATA at the cheapest is €199... €13 cheaper and four times the storage.

Interesting. I’ve always just opted for lower capacity CF cards for system files and most applications. 32GB is plenty of room for a lot of OS 9 apps and files. If necessary, I can then expand to external drives where necessary on ‘newer’ Macs like the MDD.

2 hours ago, Byrd said:

 

No issues, but CF to IDE is best used in earlier Macs in my opinion, with virtual memory off as CF are potentially more prone to wear than a normal SSD.  CF are also not available in shops anymore near me, so if I had the choice (and knew it worked), I'd now go much cheaper SD for slower 68K/PPC Macs, and step it up to mSATA in later models.  I'm running down to only a few 3.5" IDE drives spare now, most are mid-00 era and I couldn't say they'd be too reliable.  Do have some cherry picked 7200.8 Seagate drives I'm putting in my 9600 at the moment, think they'd be great.

Your first point about the possible wearing of CF cards due to excessive read/write cycles is definitely something I’ve wondered about. I use CF cards in my G3 laptops, G4 MDD and, if I’m remembering correctly, one of my desktops. Maybe the Performa 630 or was it the G3 desktop (can’t remember if the latter is IDE). Anyway, turning off VM is a good shout. I’ve always left it on, but it’s potentially doing more harm than good. I think one of my laptops - possibly the G3 iBook is running off an SD card, actually. It was a bit more fiddly to set up and get recognised by Drive Setup or whatever it’s called. That’s probably because it was a cheap converter bought off eBay, though.

 

On a side note, and unrelated to the OP’s question, I do wish there was a cheaper alternative to SCSI2SD for SCSI Macs. I relied heavily on Max1zzz’s terminated SCA converters and older server drives, but one or two of those are not playing nice at the moment. A relatively inexpensive SCSI2SATA would be most welcome!

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To add: for performance reasons, I tend to recommend against turning off virtual memory in any PowerPC-based Mac. Helpfully, I've never actually sat down and tested it, so if the general concensus is either (and, I've forgotten the technical reason) that the SSD's speed and random r/w performance negates the problems with turning off virtual memory, then it's a fine option.

 

The other option is to just have enough memory not to hit virtual memory option, since if I remember correctly in 7/8/9 it won't hit virtual memory until you actually fill main memory. Another option, of course, is to just buy a new and good enough card to be able to avoid this problem.

 

Anything old enough for CF to be a very reasonable choice on, you won't need a 256gb card. The sweet spot is probably 32GB cards which you can use fully in at least 7.6.1 or newer on supported machines. If you've got anything older than that then you'll either have to deal with many partitions or you'll want an older card.

 

Given the cheap nature of SD cards, that's less of an issue (and, sizes like 8GB are still readily available, at least in the US, often for under $10 for good brands at retail, meaning you can walk over to your nearest gas station or grocery store and buy another SD card for your scsi2sd) - and there's of course no moral problem with just not usng some capacity. I'm currently using just 256 megs of a 30-gig card in my Apple IIgs.

 

I have been meaning to, but have yet to actually, test SCSI2SD v5, v6 and a SATA card against the stock hard disk in my Power Macintosh G3@300. Unfortunately, due to upcoming travel and the fact that I've had this intention for the better part of a year, it'll be "A While" before this actually happens.

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The beige G3 has a 66mhz BUS and I think the RAM only runs at PC-66 (PC-100 works fine also but at 66 speeds). Bandwidth for PC66 is 533 MBs compared to the ATA interface of 16Mbs max. So using a SSD as vitual memory isn't going to help speeds compared to just maxing out the RAM to 768MB which for OS 9 is more then enough to not need VM.

 

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There was a different issue with virtual memory on PowerPC Macs -- "don't disable virtual memory, in general" applies even on sytems with much slower disks. (Or, perhaps, chiefly there, I'd have to look.)

 

There's a handfull of tasks where it's recommended, but that's true of everything on Classic Mac OS, all the way back to the system 6 and 7 days, advice to do x and such thing (usually disable something) then reboot and do a particular task, then reenable that thing and reboot. All manner of things fall under that particular advice.

 

So, obviously nothing outright bad will happen if you turn off VM, but it won't help save any writes if you have enough RAM anyway and (I'll have to look it up, it's late etc etc) could cause some other disadvantage.

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OK, found it (re-asked the person who knows for sure):

 

If you disable virtual memory, the system's MMU is disabled. When that happens:

  1. Every program you launch needs to be 100% loaded from disk when you launch that program, which could cause program launches to take longer, particularly applications which are themselves large. The impact of this will vary based on the speed of the disk or network volume the application file resides on
  2. The other thing that will happen is all applications will instantly take up their maximum possible RAM allocation, which even in 768, if you're running 9-era stuff, especially anything creative, could have a big impact.

 

In newer versions of 8 and 9, you can look at Get Info for any given application to view what an app will take when launched. I believe (but can't confirm at the moment) that it'll show you what the allocation will be.

 

These penalties are there and as such I personally recommend against ever disabling VM in Classic Mac OS on PPC. (these limitations do not apply to 68k) In a system with, as you say, enough RAM, you'll never actually hit the disk when paging anyway.

 

Now, again, if you're largely single-tasking or running older 7-era software, have a lot of RAM, and you choose a faster disk option (like a SATA SSD connected to a SATA card) then the impact might not be that bad. As far as the speed of launching applications go, that'll depend on what type of connection you use and how good the media you get is and how fast the bus you connect it to is. I.e. if you plan on disabling VM, using the IDE bus (or the built-in SCSI bus) is the worst case scenario.

 

So, that's what that is.

 

The other-other thing to consider is that in situations involving "real" SSD media (mSATA/m.2 SSDs, SATA SSDs, certain very high end SD cards) wear leveling and other technology is good enough that the risk of damaging the drive from even fairly heavy swapping activity (for example: OS X with low RAM) is very very minimal.

 

But the good news, because nothing is entirely infallible, is that just because you got an SSD doesn't mean you stopped running backups, amirite?

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I seem to remember that RamDoubler could give the advantages of having virtual memory turned on without the downside of hitting the HD all the time.  Anyone else?

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RAM Doubler on systems with limited physical RAM for Mac OS < 8.1 is a good work around, but I believe the improvements to virtual memory in Mac OS 8.6+ and above negate the need to use it.

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