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External Micron SSD

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Joined: 22 Aug 2013
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Location: Clearwater

PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 6:33 am    Post subject: External Micron SSD Reply with quote

If you have an older Mac Pro (2013) like I do, at some point you may want to add external storage space, since no space is available inside. Over time I've used refurbished Lacie 2Big Thunderbolt Enclosures which have Thunderbolt 1 and the later 2Big model Thunderbolt 2 interfaces (have two of each). They use standard 3.5" drives (Segate 7200rpm) and have worked well.

Over the years I've needed more space and installed larger drives, up to 6TB Segate drives even though the older 2Big were not supposed to support anything over 3 or 4TB per drive I recall, they worked fine! I still have some 3TB Segate drives in a couple enclosures that I'll probably upgrade to 6 or 8TB, but that isn't needed now since I have 2 enclosures with 12TB (2X6TB) and two with 6TB(2X3TB).

A colleague got a couple Micron 1100 2TB SATA SSD 2TB 2.5" drives for $380 each earlier this year, and they are now ~$300. I've wanted to create a fast R/W & random acquisition "scratch pad" drive to do all my photo editing work in and decided to get a couple Micron 1100 2TB SSDs and use one of the Lacie 2Big as the enclosure.

If you consider doing this with the Lacie 2Big like I did, they are "Hot Swappable" enclosures which means the drives are mounted to a slide in rail and the enclosure connectors are fixed, not cabled like in a normal enclosure. The standard 3.5" to 2.5" adapters won't allow the SSD connectors to align with the enclosure, thus they won't work!! You need an adapter that has a fixed mounted connector for the 2.5" SSD and has another connector that is aligned in the proper position for the enclosure (where the connector is on a standard 3.5" Hard Drive).

After some research, reviewing of CAD drawings and making crude measurements on the computer screen to compare with a Segate hard drive as to where the mounting holes and connector alignment resided I found an adapter that seemed like it would work. Some reviews indicated that these adapters worked with some servers which had hot swappable capability, thus fixed connectors, so they seemed like a good choice although no review I could find mentioned the Lacie 2Big.

The 2.5" to 3.5" adapters I got from Amazon are the Fenlink FL1510B. They fit both the new and old Lacie 2Big (totally different enclosures & electronics) and the Micron 1100 nicely, and the connectors aligned perfectly..whew Smile

The 2 Microns (4.1TB total) can be configured as a RAID 0 (stripped) if you want and with the old Lacie 2Big enclosure this must be done with software 325/376 MB/s R/W, the new Lacie 2Big is hardware RAID 0 configurable 407/412 MB/s R/W. The stand alone (no RAID) Micron 1100 are 328/380 MB/s, so RAID 0 doesn't provide a lot of speed improvement with these old TB 1 & 2 Lacie enclosures. This is in line with the OWC Thunderbolt dual drive 1 & 2 enclosures, which seems to indicate a SATA interface limitation that the dual drive can't get past. Evidently the new Thunderbolt 3/USB-C enclosures can support a higher RAID 0 efficiency, so maybe one might get 600~700 MB/s R/W with dual Micron SSDs.

I'm a little disappointed in the RAID 0 performance (was hoping for >500 MB/s), but the stand alone Micron SSD performance is pretty good for a single SATA drive IMO. The raw SSD random access is much faster in either mode which should help also.

Anyway, hope this helps someone considering an external large capacity SSD. For ~$620 upgrade, a somewhat fast 4.1TB SSD from a reputable source (Micron) seems like a reasonable value IMO. Now I've got a couple spare 3TB HD I need to find a place for, so watching for a cheap and/or refurbished Lacie 2Big Rolling Eyes

Research is like a treasure hunt, you don't know where to look or what you'll find!
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