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Technology (Apple) Businesses Apple Hardware Technology

2.8TB in a Power Mac G5? 104

Pfhreak writes "Bare Feats has a couple of reviews: one of WiebeTech's G5Jam, and one of the Swift Data 200. Both add extra drive space to a G5. The G5Jam puts two extra drives in the space that would be taken up by long PCI cards, so you'll be limited to the shorter cards in two of the three PCI slots. The Swift Data puts three drives in the space in front of the CPU fans. The writer of the Swift review has an interesting thought in the conclusion: 'Hey! Maybe I could install both the G5Jam and the Swift -- that would give me 7 drives -- and if I get seven 400GB Hitachi 7K400s, that's 2.8 Terabyte total -- Moo hah hah!'"
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2.8TB in a Power Mac G5?

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  • Power (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:05PM (#9444603)
    The article mentions cooling, but is there enough power (5V) to handle that many drives? Drooping voltages can lead to all sorts of strange behavior.
    • My guess is there would not even be enough juice to spin up all the drives when it is powered on.
    • Re:Power (Score:5, Informative)

      by Polymorph2000 ( 166850 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:42PM (#9445063) Homepage
      At 5V it uses 780mA per drive ( e/6/0,1311,sz=1&i=67140,00.jpg).

      780mA * 7 = 5.46A

      Apple uses a 450W - 650W power supply in their G5's (, and they should be able to support this (650W give something like 40A on the 5V line).

      Although I don't know what the power requirements of the other components are, or how well the power supply handles the load.
  • 2.8 TB? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:06PM (#9444616)
    2.8 Terabytes?! I thought a 1.4 MB floppy was enough for just about anybody.
    • Re:2.8 TB? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Altus ( 1034 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:50PM (#9445156) Homepage

      oddly enough... although there is enough space for the 7 harddrives nceessary to get to 2.8 TB there is not enough space left for a 1.4MB floppy drive! :)

    • Re:2.8 TB? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Greedo ( 304385 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:58PM (#9445258) Homepage Journal
      A floppy drive ... on a Mac? Now that's news that matters!
      • Oh yeah! (Score:1, Funny)

        by Dr. q00p ( 714993 )
        A 2,8 TB floppy that would be something. Actually, a 1,44TB one would be ok too...
    • reading this reminded me of a post to the freebsd newsgroup. it talks about a 2tb limit on freebsd. if osx is based on freebsd then this issue should also be the same? many more replies but i don't want to dig through them all...

      > I'm not sure what the limit of a BSD label is, but it my be 1TB unless
      > you can up the block size (512K blocks plus signed ints yeilds 1TB
      > limits). You may want to use fdisk to make a slice for any large
      > partitions rather then trying to use disklabel. On the 2TB s
    • i believe they should now attempt a 2.8 TB floppy dirve RAID
  • Ventilation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scottblascocomposer ( 697248 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:09PM (#9444645) Homepage
    I don't know... The cooling system in the new G5s is pretty well thought out, I don't think I'd want to go cramming things where they don't belong for fear of messing with airflow.

    Of course, now that we're going liquid cooled, some of that will be less of an issue, but overall the case still needs good airflow if it's going to stay cool (i.e., not melt), right?

  • by cheide ( 731641 ) <> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:10PM (#9444651)
    Personally I think the G5s should have come with three drive bays standard and let you set up a RAID-5 array. Power users like reliability too...
    • Oh, my god! Some random doofus on Slashdot thought of something that hundreds of experienced hardware and product design experts at one of the world's most consistently profitable and innovative companies never thought of!

      And that other guy was right, too! If only Apple had included OGG in the iPod, it would have been a successful product instead of the miserable failure it turned out to be!

      • *applause*

        And, by the way, the reason they don't do RAID in the powermacs is because they already offer RAID in their real power user machine... the xserve. Of course, g5 xserves don't appear to be happening (ship date gets pushed back, back, back) anytime soon.
        • by spicyjeff ( 6305 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:45PM (#9445714) Homepage
          Of course, g5 xserves don't appear to be happening (ship date gets pushed back, back, back) anytime soon.

          Um, so the XServe G5 that has been in our server room since March isn't out yet? Wow, should I return it then? :-p

          • OK, maybe he should have said shipping in any reasonable numbers :)
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @11:00PM (#9448990)
              What, you mean like systems based on whatever Intel processor they're currently trying to wrest the CPU crown away from AMD?

              I say that generically because it's a moving target, those systems are virtually impossible to get ahold of until ~3 months after Intel's announcement. Shortly after supply catches up and ship dates get realistic, another king-of-the-mountain comes out and Intel magically can't meet demand for the new, faster-than-fast, processor all over again.

              Intel's gotten away with this for over a decade, now somehow Apple's supposed to change the laws of physics (not to mention economics) to make demand not outstrip supply?

              Granted, Intel's track record shows this routinely amounts to preannouncing products, done in a vain effort to "steal thunder" from a competitor who's actually shipping product the day of their announcement. The marketing wonks are in charge at Intel, and man, their current lineup shows this. Thank god the 90nm process effectively derailed their maniacal plan of ever-smaller-processes with ever-smaller-realworld-performance-gains, now they have to concentrate on making well designed processors again without blockbuster clockrate increases.

              XServe G5s are shipping. You may not get one for a while. If you've ordered a particularly odd hardware combination that depends on one part that Apple is having trouble sourcing for some undisclosed reason, your ship date may keep getting pushed back... and back... and back...

              Just like how if you want the latest "Intel EXTREME! " processor, you will have to play the waiting game. By the time your proc comes in, Dell might have sold out of some other esoteric bit you asked for, maybe - maybe not, all depends on how wacky you want to configure your system.

              Wacky/Odd being relative terms of course, nobody outside of Apple or Dell really knows what qualifies, and even internals may not entirely understand since supply constraints - you know, like an earthquake knocking out the sole factory - aren't always predictable.
              • Why the smeg are you going off on me? I am not complaining about the lack of product, if I wanted a G5 Xserve I could go pick one up. The units just are not shipping at the levels one would expect. I was commenting on the fact that the grandparent to my post said none were shipping and the parent replied they had one. I was merely then suggesting that the GP should have said they were not shipping at reasonable levels. Is wrong to complain about shipping levels for production equipment? You seem to think s
        • Of course, g5 xserves don't appear to be happening (ship date gets pushed back, back, back) anytime soon.

          We (Australian EDU) have ten dual G5 cluster nodes - they arrived at least two months ago.

        • Ok, I guess I should clarify. G5 xserves don't seem to be happening where I work, because IBM can't meet demand for the chips in question. Thusly, our xserves and the xserves of a lot of other people have been delayed for... well, awhile. Yes, I know, they are shipping some. But a lot of people can't get theirs yet :|
        • i must be hallucinating the one on my desk right now. or the one going into our colo today. huh. could be, i guess - they're loud enough to induce mental effects...
    • External FireWire bunch-o'-disks + software RAID or FC connection to XServe RAID unit or PCI-X SCSI card + bunch-o'-disks = G5 RAID storage. And no need to heat up the insides of your G5.
      • External firewire... Hmm. The author of the Swift article explains why this isn't a good idea:

        "FireWire 800 RAID is NOT a viable option for the G5. You probably read my rantings on other test reports. Suffice to say that the write speed is slow -- slower than G4 Power Macs and G4 PowerBooks -- slow enough to make it useless for high throughput video and audio".

        The point of doing the Swift upgrade is not primarily capacity, but speed. For more info, check out the Firewire 800 speed comparison charts [] at

        • Granted, in this situation it's not the best solution but there are areas in which FWRAID is a valid option. I wouldn't want to stream my pr0n films^W^WiMovie projects from such a system, but for doing a nightly sync backup of the internal disk it's fine. I expect that for the /Users on developer, desktop publishing or some other systems it's a good-enough-and-cheap-enough option to be considered. Further, don't forget that FW800 can be bumped up to 3.2G/s just through firmware updates on the controller
    • You can always just create a floppy drive RAID [] like this guy did :)
  • Limits (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:10PM (#9444659)
    2.8 Terabytes and still only one free's just not fair.
  • <Insert joke about how much porn I could fit on that configuation.> ha ha ha ha.
  • External arrays (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hungus ( 585181 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:30PM (#9444892) Journal
    I have 7 drive spaces (plus the DVD burner) in my Quicksilver 2002 but I have routinely run my systems with external drives. A dremel tool and 10 minutes of work make a nice slot on an expansion slot cover (what do you call those little metal strips anyway?) and I feed the ribbon through and into another case. No problems with having enough power (seperate power and ventilation) oe heat build up. Why force the drive to be internal? I would rather have a lower system temp than internal drives.

    Note this does not assauge the geek factor of mounting 2 different hacks in a box where one should be and I admire the thought, I just think external via SCSI, Fibre, or Firewire is a better solution and it needn't cost any more.
    • Dremel tools and ribbon cables?!? Let me introduce you to this neat little port on the back of your Quicksilver called Firewire.
      • LOL! I use my firewire too don't worry but the max bus speed on my version of 1394 is 400mbits-1 plus firewire converters cost money I have pc cases and power supplies just laying around from upgrades I do.
  • Heating Issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Polymorph2000 ( 166850 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:32PM (#9444922) Homepage
    It's insane putting that many hard drives in that small of a space. Many HD's that close together is just asking for a heat related failure, plus the additional hard drives will obstruct the hot air outflow at the back of the G5, and they'll generate a fair amount of additional heat. Add in the additional cables and this will case a drastic increase the case temperature leading to more noise and potentially component failure.

    You can't just cram hard drives into a case as long as there's an open drive bay. I've put 3 hard drives in adjacent drive bays with one 80mm fans for cooling(I now use 2 30mm fans per drive)., and all of the drives overheated causing drive failure and data corruption.

    Combining these two ideas will likely cause several of the drives to die within 6 months or less due to the extreme heat.
    • Many HD's that close together is just asking for a heat related failure

      Twice the drives in the same amount of space. []
      • "Redundant hot-swappable power supplies and cooling modules enable the system to keep running"

        Each drive is inside an enclosure with some form of dedicated cooling but this article is talking about putting a bunch of hard drives into small spaces with no dedicated cooling other than the normal case fans.
    • I have 12 drives crammed into a case designed for about 6 running 24/7 for over a year, it seems to be holding up fine. I do mean crammed.... some are wedged in spots where there should be no drives.

      It has a couple extra fans, but nothing weird.. just all the fan ports are populated.. 3 fans + power supply I think.

      • Well that's that sorted then... let's save the electrons and stop the discussion about heat-related failure right here after your considerably extensive data-gathering study that obviously offers a complete overview of the situation based on er... one person's experience.
        • My point was that stating it's definite suicide to cram extra drives in a case isn't necessarily correct at all.

          MOst cases are not operating at thermal capacity.
  • MOO! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:32PM (#9444924)
    "Moo hah hah!"

    Not to be overly picky, but the correct usage is Mwahaha!. Moo hah hah makes you sound like a retarded cow.
  • by amichalo ( 132545 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:51PM (#9445173)
    You say Tomatoe, I don't know how to spell it, but the point is that I don't see a whole lot of users needing all this storage capacity at their desktop. I think of my local workstation as a place for my OS, applications, and a temporary workspace. The file server is for storing source and production files, and sharing them too.

    Yeah, if you are working on some 200 GB photoshop image, having it local would be the way to go...but who works on a 200 GB photoshop image?

    I would RATHER have a large network storage device that was backed up, RAID 5, etc...not unlike the Xserve RAID [].
    • It's not the 200GB Photoshop file, it's the 200GB of iMovie (or FCP) files. We recorded a multi-day training here at work that I'm (slowly) editing on an eMac. The 40GB hard drive is barely enough to hold a single 2 hour session.

      Of course, I'd probably go with an external drive or the Xserve RAID and a Fibre Channel Card (yeah, like i've got the money).
  • by valmont ( 3573 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:34PM (#9445617) Homepage Journal
    1. buy a G5 with the smallest hard drive possible
    2. add external drives over firewire
    3. ...
    4. profit!

    if you're dealing with a desktop system in the first place, provided you have a clue or two about arranging your space, and choose some nicely stackable drives such as the ones offered by LaCie, you would avoid cluttering the guts of your G5. Hopefully you'd structure most of the disk usage around your external drives so THEY'll do most of the spinning while your internal drive remains cool, and your G5 fans don't run all the frickin' time. Long gone are the days of painful SCSI chains. Firewire is crazy easy via hubs or daisy-chain.

    or something?

    • internal expansion will continue to become a thing of the past.

      pci audio interfaces are being replaced by firewire and usb2 devices which conveniently lie outside the noisy pc case.

      storage is more easily added and cooled in an external enclosure

      the only things not adequately served by external expansion busses are video adapters and RAM
    • There was a benchmark on that said Firewire 800 on a G5 was WORSE than the ones on a G4 Powerbook.

      Check out this page for the benchmarks:

  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:55PM (#9445798) Homepage Journal
    i know this might sound dumb, considering i have no clue if such a thing even exists, but why not just get a firewire case thats capable of housing 5 or 8 or so disks, and using that instead?

    seems to me someone has to have made that kinda mammoth firewire enclosure by now ...
    • if not firewire there has to be some fibre channel option.... besides the X-serve RAID. then again if you are really trying to pack in that kind of storage you might just want to make the investment in the RAID (or someone else's). the rackmount will give you the security some people need.

      putting that much in one case seems kind of silly..... but then again that's what mods are sometimes about. doing it just because you can.
    • by FredFnord ( 635797 ) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:54PM (#9446476)
      Just bought one from Granite Digital. It's a hardware-RAID-5 4-drive chassis that works with Firewire 400, and it costs $900 or so. The Firewire 800 version costs $1100 or so.

      There are alternatives, ones without the hardware RAID that only cost $250 or so, but if you're going for reliable and fast, the Firewire 800 hardware-RAID-5 case is the way to go. (For us, it was reliable and large and Linux-compatible we were going for).

      • The one I actually ordered was from Firewire Depot ( It's a three-drive RAID-5 hardware, with hot-swappable IDE drives that rebuild on the fly. Does onlyRAID 5 though. But it's firewire 800 and costs $800. Works fine with 250 gig drives, so that's 500 gigs of redundant hot-swappable storage.

        The Granite Digital one is one I evaluated but which turned out to be software RAID, not hardware. However, if the speed tests I've seen are to be believed, it is quite a lot faster than even other Oxf
    • i know this might sound dumb, considering i have no clue if such a thing even exists, but why not just get a firewire case thats capable of housing 5 or 8 or so disks, and using that instead?

      Because performance would suck.

      • How do you figure? Firewire's pretty darn fast...
        • How do you figure? Firewire's pretty darn fast...

          ~80MB/s shared between 5 - 8 drives vs a 150MB/s SATA channel for each drive. You do the maths.

          It might not matter for 1, 2 or maybe even 3 drives, but any more than that being piped through a single FW bus (particularly if the drives are RAIDed) is going to be *much* slower.

          Not to mention the FW800 on the G5s is probably hooked into the regular PCI bus, whereas the builtin SATA controllers and any addons would probably hook into the PCI-X bus(es ?).

          • So use FiberChannel.

            And I think you're talking out of your ass on your FW800 contention. Unless you've got some data, I am going to proceed from the pretty-good assumption that Apple's engineers wouldn't pull such a boner.
            • So use FiberChannel.

              Well, you could, but then it wouldn't really be relevant to a discussion about firewire, would it ?

              Not to mention the massive cost increase.

              And I think you're talking out of your ass on your FW800 contention. Unless you've got some data, I am going to proceed from the pretty-good assumption that Apple's engineers wouldn't pull such a boner.

              Well, it was just a guess. Having gone and looked at the architecture diagram of the G5, it appears the firewire plugs straight into the chipse

              • OK, so what do YOU use for external storage devices?

                Firewire is fast enough for most digital video apps. Need more speed than that? Get fiber channel.

                "sucky performance" indeed...
                • by martinX ( 672498 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @01:25AM (#9449535)

                  Firewire on the G5 has sucky performance. []

                  " The PowerBook G4 does sustained WRITES to the dual drive RAID set faster than the G5 Power Mac! I've included a graph below to highlight the issue. Something is radically wrong with the built-in FireWire 800 controller on the G5 when the Dual 2GHz model gets beat by PowerBook with a single G4/1.33."

                  FW on the G5 is not fast enough for HD video.

                • Firewire is fast enough for most digital video apps.

                  Not in my experience. My Samsung DV camcorder will not function on my Mac if there is another firewire device active - on either port. I have to turn off my CD burner and disconnect my external 120GB to get clean live video. Otherwise, it just gives a blue screen.

                  G4 cube, 450 mhz, using iMovie.

                  • Could be your camera. All the Mac DV guys I know love FireWire.
                  • Might be something going on with your system.

                    I'm running off an external firewire HD (boot drive; long story), with 2 burners hooked up via firewire (but not doing anything, there's another burner hooked up via USB 2.0, for some testing), plus my other external HD (file storage) and I regularly capture from my JVC MiniDV camcorder (usually to an internal drive, but not always). Even did it yesterday.

                    (MDD Dual G4 1.25 Ghz, using iMovie 3).

                    I want to say I've done that with the Cube around the office (boote
                • Firewire is fast enough for most digital video apps. Need more speed than that? Get fiber channel.

                  Why are you leaving out SCSI? Ultra320 is 3.2 times as fast as Firewire 800.

          • You could install a PCI-X Firewire RAID controller [].
    • Why would you need a single enclosure? You can daisy chain FireWire drives (and even loop them for reliability) so there's nothing stopping you from getting a load of FW800 drives in separate cases and joining them together. There would be bandwidth contention, but you'd need 4-5 7,200rpm drives before you started to notice this. OS X fully supports software RAID on external drives (a mad person even made a RAID array of 5 USB floppy drives).
  • Two 3ware 12-port adapters, 24 400GB drives, a double-width ATX case and you're almost there.

    We had a bunch of these (well, 3*8-port and 80GB PATA it was back then) as el-cheapo RAID-0 disk servers in 2000. Losing a drive was no biggie, the boxes were part of a HSM solution so the master copy of the data was always on tape, these were just temporary caches.

  • You see any other companies making a PC with that kind of ability? Nooooooo. Yay, Apple! I gotta get me one of these 2.8TB thingy-doos. Of course, the noise eminating from the tower would be mind-blowingly loud if left to its own devices.
    • Yay, Apple! I gotta get me one of these 2.8TB thingy-doos. Of course, the noise eminating from the tower would be mind-blowingly loud if left to its own devices.

      Today I got to play with a new G5 with two big internal disks and four 160GB firewire 800 external disks. It all lives inside a nice iso-rack so that we can hear ourselves edit video.

      And, by the way, according to Avid, the speed of f/w 800 should be just fine--seems true so far.

  • by ksheff ( 2406 )

    That's without drives or controller. Just the metal brackets. I'm not a machinist, but that seems pretty damn expensive for just a few small metal plates with threaded holes and screws. I wonder how long it will be before similar items will be on sale on ebay for $50.

  • Given that this is a Mac, shouldn't that be Moof hah hah?


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