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LTO-7 options for a Mac Pro 5,1?


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#1 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 24 January 2017 - 09:47 PM

Hi guys,

 

I'm struggling to find much clear info on this.

 

I'm interested in sorting out an LTO-7 setup for a Mac Pro 5,1 I've just bought. I'll probably have to sell off my older iMac, so the Magstor Thunderbolt options won't be viable for me with the older machine.

 

I'm adding a USB3.0 card to the Mac Pro, but I'm wondering what my options would be for getting an affordable LTO-7 setup up and running?

 

Are there external USB3.0 options that would work well? Or can I install an internal LTO-7 drive into one of the optical bays on the Mac Pro? And if so, how would I connect it? Is going via the internal SATAII connectors possible? Or do I have to add another kind of PCIe card to the computer to provide the necessary connections?

 

Any advice would be much appreciated.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 02:12 AM

All LTO drives natively use the SAS (serial attached SCSI) protocol, and I believe the only way to add such a thing to a system is a PCIe card. I have seen USB3 or thunderbolt LTO drives, but they're essentially using a USB3 or thunderbolt to SAS converter device to talk to the drive. This makes them even more expensive than LTO alone, but it's quick and convenient. LTO is fast and you should double check that whatever solution you end up with doesn't act as a bottleneck, including the drives you feed it from. RAID or fast SSD is key.

Sadly there is no way to make LTO cheap, or quiet, but it can be very effective.
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#3 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 08:40 AM

Thanks Phil, you're dead right. It looks like my only real option is to get a SAS card and then attach an external tape drive to that.

 

Thanks for the pointers.


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#4 aapo lettinen

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 09:37 AM

yes, LTO drives are normally SAS only and you will need a PCIe card like ATTO for that. keep in mind that LTO systems have TONS of possible hardware compatibility pitfalls, you really need to check that your software is compatible with the SAS card, the card has right type of SAS connectors and is compatible with the tape drive and motherboard and right PCIe version etc etc.  

there is some Thunderbolt LTO7 drives coming soon I think, at least one model. will have to wait for a while for them to become a viable option and if you want to use multiple drives it would be more practical and affordable to use a SAS card instead I think.

If you need to use these drives with a computer which does not have PCIe you can purchase a external Thunderbolt to PCIe box. same thorough compatibility checks are needed with them also. especially the SAS cards are very picky, you need to know the exact model which you will use. I don't know if there is any existing boxes for USB3. and even then there might be compatibility issues which would prevent to use them for LTO work depending on your hardware and software.

 

the problem with LTO is that the system needs to be absolutely reliable and dependable which requires that it is built ground up and thoroughly tested regularly. And doing anything else with the computer at the same time may disturb the LTO transfers so it's a great idea to reserve completely separate computer for LTO use which is not used for anything else and any software updates etc. are restricted so that one knows that the system configuration has not been changed accidentally which would lead to testing the whole system again for reliability and compatibility which takes a lot of time and effort. 

I would not, for example, use my edit for LTO transfers... it would be highly unpractical and would increase the risk of data loss because the system changes all the time and has lots of additional software and plugins etc. which may be updated every now and then... it would also mess up with the hdd transfer speeds when editing and using the system for editing and LTO at the same time would reduce read/write speeds and increase tape usage when writing by creating more writing+sync errors to the tape.

 

----> I suggest just building a completely separate system for your LTO needs, it should have fast RAID storage and ethernet/fiber connections with as little extra software and stuff as possible and the most reliable components and software you can find. Also remember to use UPS backup with it  ^_^


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