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SATA vs. PCI-X for SSD, PowerMac G5 dual CPU, OS X 10.4 [message #393196] Thu, 30 April 2020 15:32 Go to next message
GLT is currently offline  GLT
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Registered: February 2016
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Is there such a thing as a PCI-X card with onboard SSD?
Would that be preferable or not vs. SATA in my G5 dual cpu?
Any reason to avoid SSD for my configuration?

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Re: SATA vs. PCI-X for SSD, PowerMac G5 dual CPU, OS X 10.4 [message #393197 is a reply to message #393196] Thu, 30 April 2020 16:30 Go to previous message
Mac User #330250 is currently offline  Mac User #330250
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On April 30 2020, 21:32, GLT wrote:
> Is there such a thing as a PCI-X card with onboard SSD? Would that be
> preferable or not vs. SATA in my G5 dual cpu? Any reason to avoid SSD
> for my configuration?
I doubt that there are drivers available for NVMe. And if the PCI-X card
is a SATA controller card, you'll need drivers too. I once used a
SIL-3132 based eSATA card for the PCIe bus of the Late-2005 Power Mac
G5, I believe it was a Sonnet Tempo SATA E2P, for which additional
drivers were required, but there may be SATA cards (PCI, PCI-X and PCIe)
for which Mac OS X has drivers on-board. I highly doubt there are and
ever will be any drivers for NVMe based expansion cards for Tiger, be it
through SATA or PCIe. (NVMe, which is specifically for SSDs, can either
be in SATA mode or in PCIe mode, determined by the NVMe
card/socket/connector/controller itself – not all NVMe connectors
support both, so they have to be compatible!). And then, PCI-X is not
PCIe, so I also doubt that there are any NVMe-PCI or -PCI-X cards out
there anyways, as they will most likely be exclusive to PCIe ("PCI
Express").

For a regular SATA connector, a PCI-X controller card could provide
SATA-II (3GBit/s equals 300 MB/s) or even SATA-III (6GBit/s equals 600
MB/s), whereas most Power Macs only had either ATA (UltraATA, up to 133
MB/s) or SATA-I (1.5 GBit/s equals 150 MB/s), provided you also find
drivers for Mac OS X.

If the card is not specifically for the Power Mac, it will not have an
Open Firmware compliant FORTH-based firmware on it, and thus it will not
be possible to boot from a connected drive, although a driver in Mac OS
X can later-on make connected drives usable. If you want to have it as a
boot option, you need the Mac sticker on it, and such a card is harder
to find and more expensive. On the other hand, there may not be a way
around the Mac tax, because drivers on Mac OS X may not work with a PCI
card for PCs (aka with BIOS or UEFI firmware on it). (It depends,
because USB 2.0 controller cards with a compatible NEC USB chip on it,
for the PC, do work in a Mac OS X out-of-the-box, but I am not sure if
the Open Firmware provides a boot option from it, so who knows really?)

Your best option is always to use the on-board connectors, maybe an
adapter (like a SATA-to-IDE connector to connect a SATA drive or SSD to
the UltraATA controller) or, the most expensive option, a
Mac-SATA-expansion card with firmware, drivers and all.I now only use
SSD in all of my Macs, be it SATA or ATA (I use an adapter). Other than
one weird issue they work fine. The weird issue is a rather new SSD in a
Power Mac G5. It wouldn't boot. I than added three extension cables in a
row (!), like this one [https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00L9R3AKA] (or search
for "SATA extension cable"), and it suddenly boots. This makes me think
it is a timing issue, latency of signals or similar technical stuff, and
the longer cable makes the answer signals from the (quite fast for this
generation of Mac) SSD return just a bit later, which is what the old
firmware in the computer needs in order to detect it. Otherwise it
wasn't detected at all, as if no drive was connected to it. Though, fun
fact, it was detected from a booted Mac OS X, which didn't have this
issue, but then I couldn't use the SSD as my boot drive, which was my
original intention. So the extension cables saved my plans to have the
Macs boot and operate solely from internal SSDs.

Cheers,
Mac User #330250

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