View Full Version : Mac Pro "Westmere" 3.33GHz Photoshop Workstation

04-14-2011, 11:23 AM

My shiny new toy fresh out of the box with the access plate removed…

This computer replaces an aging G5 Quad- which I have re-purposed as a DAW (see this thread (http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21368&page=7)).

The inside setup seems much improved from the G5; RAM installation is really easy and the new single-bracket PCI retaining plate is a great improvement over the earlier one-retaining screw-per card method.

04-14-2011, 11:25 AM

After installing 3 x 8GB Macgurus RAM…
Took all of 5 minutes.

Before placing the MP in to service, I did the RAM swap, and installed 2 x 600GB VelociRaptors.
The factory-supplied hard drive is a 1TB WesternDigital WD1001 Caviar Black.


04-14-2011, 11:26 AM
Right off the bat, I booted to the installer CD, and wrote-zeros to one of the VelociRaptors.
I then did a custom-install with the "only printers used by this Mac" option, Rosetta, X11, and no extra languages.

The installer CD came with Mac OSX 10.6.4.
After the first boot to the newly-installed system on the VR,
I software-updated everything to the latest-greatest,
including drivers for a SeriTek e6G 2-port external eSATA card,
and an ATTO H680 2-channel external SAS card.


04-14-2011, 11:27 AM

That's an ATI Radeon 5870 GPU with 1GB VRAM.
Next to it (barely discernible) is the H680 SAS, and in the 4x slot- the e6G SATA.

04-14-2011, 11:27 AM
The floating CPU windows shows 12 virtual cores. Here's a shot with Safari opening 22 tabs…


04-14-2011, 11:28 AM

A shiny new Burly 4-bay SAS box..
4 Cheetah 15.7K 300GB drives are installed in the trayless-bays.

After firing-up the SAS box for the first time,
I duplicated Disk Utility 7 times and then zeroed the 4 Cheetahs,
the other VelociRaptor, and the original Caviar Black- all at the same time!
Thank you Rick!!

04-14-2011, 11:29 AM

This is one fast scratch disk SoftRAID-striped RAID0 128k blocks..

04-14-2011, 11:30 AM

These VelociRaptors are no slowpokes either..

04-14-2011, 11:30 AM

It was pretty much plug 'n play to place the Mac Pro into service within the existing workstation.


This is the rear after hooking up everything…
Much less clutter than the original G5 PS workstation. :)

04-14-2011, 11:34 AM

Here's the original Burly 2-bay hotswap SATA box in action.

I've kept the same basic organization of files with this new system:
The top drive in the 2-bay is always online, and is a complete bootable* daily backup of all contents on the internal drives.

The bottom bay gets a rotating set of 2 drives which are complete backups of the top bay drive. These drives are otherwise kept offline and one of them is kept offsite. The rotation occurs weekly.

All 3 backup drives are 2TB WesternDigital WD2003 RE4 64MB cache.

* I discovered to my chagrin the SeriTek e6G is not bootable...
I'll use a firewire "maintenance" system to service the startup drive.

04-14-2011, 11:35 AM

The entire workstation is protected with a new APC SmartUPS 1500 VA rated at 985w with LCD readout..

04-14-2011, 11:35 AM

Calibrating the new NEC MultiSync PA301W 30" display.
This thing is firkin' AWESOME!! It does 99% of AdobeRGB.

04-14-2011, 12:40 PM
You will, must, have to describe the advantages of that new monitor over the Apple Cinema's. Moving from one to the other will give you a unique perspective. Maybe its own thread?


04-15-2011, 03:10 AM
Congrats Boots, killer setup! :kickass:

Must have been computer buying day yesterday. I bought a 13" MBP i7 2.7 yesterday to replace my aging Core 2 Duo 2.33 Ghz 15", which lost the LCD backlight.

Too tired to do much yesterday evening save a little web-browsing on the new Mac -- and screwing around with the gestures on the trackpad. :D

Doing that zero-ing and custom install now -- well....zeroing the 500 GB HD is taking awhile. :rolleyes: Do not have time to reinstall everything, I think I'll cheese and use Migration assistant to get the apps over to the new Mac. I tried recently when upgrading from Leopard to Snow Leopard -- it wasn't half bad.

04-15-2011, 12:01 PM
Really nice setup Boots. Looks :kickass:

04-15-2011, 02:05 PM
Hi Boots,

Looks great, my heart actually sped up a bit when viewing you pics and reading your specs!!!

Hi to everyone else,
I'm new here, a first time and HAPPY Burly owner.

SOOO glad to be part of the MacGurus tribe!


04-15-2011, 02:31 PM
Thanks you guys!

Eric, congrats to you on your new MBP. :dance:

Yah, that zeroing out the drives is one of those "set it and walk a way for the day" kind of operations (actually I did it overnight).

Rick, the PA301W has an IPS screen which is supposed to be the very highest quality, longest lasting. Other benefits include:

• a really even backlight.

• it's a so-called "wide-gamut" monitor which displays virtually all of the AdobeRGB colorspace which is a huge working space; as a consequence, more of the colors a pro inkjet printer reproduces are directly visible on-screen.

• the available Displayport connection to the GPU is the latest, fastest, widest video connectivity standard which allows the potential of 10bit color which results in "billions of colors" which translates into smoother gradients and greater color subtlety- especially in 16bit images.

Unfortunately, currently the monitor, the connection (Displayport), and Photoshop all support 10bit color but the Mac-controlled video drivers not (Lion?).

Which is ironic, because Windows and many Windows-only GPUs support the entire 10bit path with a 10bit capable-monitor... :rolleyes:

So, part of this purchase is positioning for the near future of a Mac 10bit workflow.

04-15-2011, 02:53 PM
Hi Boots,

I'm new here, a first time and HAPPY Burly owner.

SOOO glad to be part of the MacGurus tribe!


Welcome aboard MsNikon!
Glad you found us. There are some real knowledgable folks lurking 'round these parts. I got my start with Macs here and I'd be no-where without the 'Gurus. MacGurus rules.

The Burly is a great brand- no-nonsense built tough to last. 2 of my 3 Burlys are pushing 6 years old and still humming nicely along..

04-15-2011, 02:55 PM
wow... I want one or two or twelve

04-15-2011, 03:20 PM
Hi Boots,

Thanks for the great welcome! I'm here for good, that's for sure. I emailed Rick a while ago about what I shall call a "Drobo-Problem" and he worked with me through the ins and outs of setting up a stellar Burly solution: Safe, secure with peace of mind. Everything a photographer could ask for with respect to their data!!!


04-15-2011, 03:24 PM
wow... I want one or two or twelve

I know, it was definitely Christmas in April around here!! :D

04-15-2011, 03:37 PM
Apparently, new in CS5 (or maybe Intel?)- the actual Photoshop temp file aka scratch file...

..is no longer visible to the user.


I tried all the usual tricks- making all invisible files persistently visible, operating in root, booting in 32bit kernel, running Photoshop in 32bit mode- to no avail.

Right now, the only way I can confirm it's location is by it's listing in the "open files and ports" tab for the Photoshop process in Activity Monitor, or by audible disk activity or the disk activity lights on whatever drive..


04-15-2011, 04:58 PM

Welcome. I believe that your post got lost in the celebration of new hair on fire MacPro. Wanted to make sure you knew we were glad to have you here. Keep an eye out as Boots figures out how to pour some more octane into his Westmere engine and try and blow up the neighborhood. He already dims all the lights around the block.

This is a fun place.


04-15-2011, 05:04 PM
Hi Boots,

Thanks for the great welcome! I'm here for good, that's for sure. I emailed Rick a while ago about what I shall call a "Drobo-Problem" and he worked with me through the ins and outs of setting up a stellar Burly solution: Safe, secure with peace of mind. Everything a photographer could ask for with respect to their data!!!


From what I've read that Drobo is a unique but somewhat problematic massive storage solution..

Rick's tech support- indeed all the staff at MG and Burly- is second to none. Helped me thru many a jam... :dance:

04-15-2011, 05:35 PM

Welcome. I believe that your post got lost in the celebration of new hair on fire MacPro. Wanted to make sure you knew we were glad to have you here. Keep an eye out as Boots figures out how to pour some more octane into his Westmere engine and try and blow up the neighborhood. He already dims all the lights around the block.

This is a fun place.


Thanks Rick!! I've been meaning to post a hello, and after reading about Boots' "hair on fire MacPro", I had to jump in. Amazing machine and photos as well!

I'll hand back your thread here Boots, thankfully, the Burly now rules my desktop!


04-15-2011, 09:23 PM
...a first time and HAPPY Burly owner....


There is nothing quite like the first time.... that you have to ask for help to lift a Burly. ;)

I have a 4 bay a 2 bay and a somewhat rare single bay Burly. All in beige... I'm a traditionalist. :dance:

04-19-2011, 04:21 PM
All in beige... I'm a traditionalist. :dance:

Hi Damien,

Hmmm, didn't know it came in beige...
I would still have gotten the black, as black goes best with pearls ;)

12-31-2012, 06:00 AM
Meanwhile, I've been doing a steady stream of Mac tech support work for friends and local customers, and in be-tween-

I've been learning Logic Pro these last 18 months. What a can of worms!! But a great app. :)
It runs really well in SL but Mountain Lion apparently has a deep foundational bug that practically cripples it in terms of real-time mixing.. it shows up most glaringly when working with open plugin windows..

Happy New Year everybody!

12-31-2012, 06:22 AM
So I've got PS CS5 and PS CS6 installed on my main startup drive running Mac OS 10.8.2.

With CS5 and 6, Photoshop has become this giant lumbering beast.

Personally, I'm finding CS6 doesn't work so well with 10.8. Lot's of freezes, delays, and other weird glitches..

CS5 works pretty well with ML, but I am considering (never thought I'd think this) of back-grading to Snow Leopard. Shit just plain worked in Snow Leopard and the last 2 OS's feel like giant iOS's to me..

I mean, making the ~/Library folder invisible?! What!?

12-31-2012, 07:47 AM
So Adobe...
This "Cloud" thing is kinda funky; they've decided to make certain features in PS (and maybe other Adobe apps too, I'm not sure) only available if you rent their software with a cloud-based subscription.. Lovely.

Plus, in the last month, they've pulled some doozies:

<Without> telling anybody ahead of time or in the release notes. :weeskull:

They did several point updates for PS CS6:

In the first, they installed Photoshop Extended (if you weren't already running it) without any warning. When opening PS after this update, you were informed you were now running a "trial version" of the software and were then prompted to purchase it. It was unclear and abtuse, but some users figured out to re-enter their original SN and that would make the "trial" go away. Others (many) got caught in an endless loop and couldn't figure out how to get back to the normal, causing many to have to re-install Photoshop..

Then, for the next point update, billed as new support for Retina displays, one suddenly found they had removed the "View Print Size" option from the View menu.
It turns out many, many users rely on this function (myself included)..
Apparently, after the outcry and outrage, they've declared this change to be "temporary" and they've made a hack script available as an Action to restore this functionality, but it's a 3-step process now instead of a keyboard shortcut..

But the really egregious thing to me is> they didn't even mention these changes in the release notes. The user was rudely treated..
It shakes my confidence in Adobe.

12-31-2012, 09:45 AM
Hey boots!

Good to see you out of the studio for a second. Actually, great to see you around. Happy New Year.


12-31-2012, 10:10 AM
Adobe makes some fine and needed products but I have never once accused them of actually listening to their customers or bothering to get any feedback prior to removing things people use/installing things people don't want etc.

01-01-2013, 08:24 AM
Hi you guys!!
It's great to be back..
Rick, you're lookin' in fine fettle.
And Damien- you just get younger every year! ;)

Happy Joyous New Year's day to you all :)

You put it so well Damien- tho they do have some very responsive and helpful "employees" who frequent the Adobe forums. Often, these folks are the conduit for getting the engineers to fix stuff brought to light by the users..

And also on the bright side, the new "mixer brush" in CS5 is <frikkin' awesome>. :dance:
With it, PS can pretty much do anything brush-wise that Painter can do..

So now I don't have to try and deal with Painter anymore, which despite my eternal optimism for improvement with successive versions- is still pretty quirky, overly complicated, and just does not handle larger files gracefully. I can now work mostly in PS and use Painter for small specialized sub-files which I then bring back into PS.

01-01-2013, 08:45 AM
I pretty much stopped with the speed testing of PS after CS4.

It was taking huge amounts of time away from just doing the artwork..

Things that have contributed to this decision-

1) they apparently decided to make the scratch file invisible to the Finder, making it hard to monitor what was actually going on with scratch I/O to disk..

2) with the implementation of 64bit unlimited RAM use by the program, I felt my work was done in so far as the 'basics' of performance enhancement were outlined: use a fast machine with lots of RAM and fast drives- especially for larger files..

3) the program seems to reliably get faster and faster with successive versions, and I know from my contact with certain employees, they are very concerned with speed performance.

01-01-2013, 09:21 PM
I can only agree on having learned what you set out to learn, enough! Do some of that fancy art stuff. (I was gonna say 'fancy art shit', but didn't want to offend :D )

Glad to have you back. BTW, there are pretty simple ways (fairerplatform.com/2011/07/how-to-library-visible-mac-os-x-lion) to get around Apple making the Users Library invisible.

Great to see you around and about.


01-01-2013, 09:40 PM
BTW, If you have your users directory on another drive the Terminal command string to make your user lib visible would look more like this:

chflags nohidden /Volumes/Local/Users/yer name/Library/

That is where Local is the name of the user drive and your short name next.


01-02-2013, 07:23 AM
Thanks Rick. And you can call it "art shit" anytime you want:p (I do- as I age I have even worse trash mouth)

Yes, thanks on the Terminal command. I just use Cocktail's checkbox for it- along with the invisible items checkbox.

01-21-2013, 02:59 PM
I've retro-graded to SL..

Photoshop working much better now, thank you, and Cloud me not too :)

But seriously, I feel like I have my Mac back (oh wow, I can "save" a document again!), it's fast as hell and frankly, I don't see anything super-compelling to make me wanna be in Mountain Lion land just yet.. I figured it was gonna be awesome but.. me thinks it's still a work-in-progress.. and from what I saw, ML didn't "feel" as fast as SL- but that's subjective I know..


01-21-2013, 04:55 PM
I have always been a Snow Leopard fan. Its feeling of powerfulness far exceeds that of Lion and ML, which seem to add a lot of stuff for iPads and iPhones that a pro may not need, while complicating the ability to do simple stuff.

I am running ML. Someone has to do so to find out where the problems are - like that silly security setting Apple puts into your preferences that by default says only downloads from Apple are safe and secure, to disallow all others. That is the level of annoyance for the little piddly stuff. The larger things all effect productivity and are less negotiable with a simple trip to the preferences control panel.


01-22-2013, 10:41 AM
yeah I've got ML on one of those KC 21 external FW enclosures.......still work in SL and like it much better!

01-23-2013, 05:45 AM
I am running ML. Someone has to do so to find out where the problems are -

Yes, I can appreciate that.

Usually, I wait until the OS version gets to a .5 or .6 before moving on up, but I had figured that Lion was sort of the 'beta' version of ML. In retrospect, it seemed like a hybrid- a bridge, with ML a completely different new universe..

I feel really fortunate I can fall back. I have a lot of sympathy for those with newer machines who have no choice.. Watching one of the Logic Pro forums (which works great in SL but has a serious show-stopping flaw in Lion and ML), there are long-time users abandoning the app because Apple apparently cannot fix the problem without a major re-write of the app. It's sad to see. And those users cannot fall back to Snow Leopard..

Oh well, eventually I'll have to move up myself but hopefully all the big kinks will be cured by then!

01-08-2014, 09:06 AM
Hi everybody, it's been awhile..

So I've had some interesting tech issues with my 6-core Mac Pro 3.33GHz lately..
Here's a brief rundown:

First, the SeriTek e6G 2-port SATA pci card failed, and in the process, appeared to take down my external 4-drive SAS RAID0 sub-system, possibly damaging the unit in the process.. More on that in a minute.

When the SeriTek card failed, it failed suddenly and it simply went off the radar screen- disappearing from System Profiler and of course the drives would not mount. I got it back once, then it disappeared again- this time for good. I tried flushing the boot cache, re-installing the drivers, and eventually re-installing a complete system from scratch on zero-ed drives (which I did because of the problems with the ATTO card and SAS drives at the same time).


Finally, I replaced the SeriTek card with a Newer Technology MAXPower eSATA 6G pci card, which has been working flawlessly and is apparently bootable- unlike the SeriTek card. Plus it was $39 instead of the $110 FirmTek wanted for an out-of-warranty replacement..

I have the card connected to my backup sub-system which is a Burly 2-drive hotswap unit. In addition to replacing the pci card, I managed to finally fix a long-standing fan noise problem in the Burly (the large rear fan). Initially I used silicone spray, but that seemed to work only for a week or so, so I finally used 3-In-1 oil, and so far so good... Here's to small victories :)


When the SeriTek card failed, it caused major malfunctioning of the other pci card installed- an ATTO ExpressSAS H680 8-port external SAS adapter, which is connected to a 4-drive hotswap Burly in which I have 4 x 15K.7 Seagate Cheetahs. I use this as my RAID0 Photoshop scratch disk..

When I finally removed the failed SeriTek card from the machine, the ATTO card and attached Burly and hard drives appeared to return to normal functioning... sort of.

I started getting write errors on one of the Cheetahs. These were reported by SoftRAID which I use as driver software for the SAS drives. SoftRAID tells you which particular drives are causing errors.

At first I thought it was such and such particular drive, and that it had been hosed when the SeriTek card went down and took the ATTO card/drives with it. I RMA'd the "defective" drive still under warranty back to Seagate and received a replacement.. Popped it back into the unit and all was well for a little bit.. then write errors again- WTF! And on the replacement drive no less..


Then a little birdie whispered in my ear. I pulled that drive from the #2 bay and put in a drive from a different bay which had been functioning normally. Well now that drive was getting write errors. In fact, any drive I put in the #2 bay gets write errors. In the 3 other bays, they all function normally..

While I research this, I'm using the SAS Burly with 3 drives just fine- with nothing in the #2 bay. At this point, I am thinking the #2 bay backplane/cables is the culprit, but I suppose it could also be the cable connector... Not sure how to zero in on that just yet. Maybe, it'll be easier to send entire unit back for replace?

01-08-2014, 01:59 PM
Since that is a JBOD RAID you can go inside and swap the data cable on the back of bay 2 with bay 1. See if the problem stays with the bay or moves to the top bay with the cabling.

I like the Newer card. We're going to carry them. We also now have a SATAIII port multiplier board to go with it, so we can get over 400 MB/sec on a single port multiplier eSATA cable.


01-09-2014, 06:47 AM
Thank you Rick! Excellent idea- I'll try the cable swap... :)

02-03-2014, 08:29 AM
Did some more troubleshooting on this issue..

I <was> pretty much settling on this being a hardware failure with the external 4-drive SAS unit..

To make my testing a little more manageable, I removed the 3 drives formatted with SoftRAID as a RAID0 in bays 1, 3, and 4- which I thought were all performing just fine.. I previously tested this RAID with some heavy Photoshop work and no problems..

Then I used SoftRAID to format the 4th drive as a standard drive and put it in drive bay #2. I didn't get any read/write errors testing it as Photoshop's scratch disk. I tried swapping the data cables to that drive in the #2 bay, with no difference...

Now I'm confused because drive bay #2 seemed to be the culprit in my earlier testing..
I moved this same drive to drive bay #1 to test, and I also decided to add a file copy routine to my testing...
As soon as I dragged a large image file from my Desktop to this drive, the machine KP'd..

I'm like "huh?!" wtf?

I then tried this with this same drive in different slots, and same results: KP every time..

Then I tried this with the SoftRAID-formatted 3-drive stripe: no problems..

Then I broke the stripe into 3 individual volumes/derives formatted with SoftRAID: machine KP'ed every time, regardless of which drive was destination for file copy.. hmmm.

Now I'm thinking it's not the enclosure, not the drives- it's the SoftRAID driver.

I converted 3 of the drives to Apple DU format in SoftRAID, then did same to them in Disk Utility. Tried the same file copy test on each. No problems.
I then made a RAID0 stripe from those 3 drives in Disk Utility and tested: no problems..

Meanwhile, this fourth hard drive is still formatted with SoftRAID and when I attempt to convert it to Apple DU, machine immediately KP's. So I may have to send this drive back to Seagate for a replacement..

02-03-2014, 12:57 PM
Got an older OS version to test with? Hard to work on a drive that crashes your system. Bet the drive is just florfed, corrupted and not mechanical failure.


02-03-2014, 02:23 PM
Yes, I agree- probably not mechanical failure..

I've sent it back RMA to Seagate since I don't have any means to attempt a re-format with a Windows machine..

It's situations like this that make me consider installing Windows so I could install Seagate's SeaTools and thereby probably be able to recover the drive- then bring it back to the Mac OS side..

On the plus side- I am glad there are no apparent issues with the ATTO card and the SAS cables and enclosure..

I think this was the second of the 2 drives that were hosed when the fried SATA card took down the SAS sub-system..

04-04-2014, 09:31 AM
My SAS RAID is back up and finally running normally..

I finally had to replace the second "iffy" Cheetah drive, even tho it <seemed> to be mostly ok... but I was getting kernel panics when trying to use SoftRAID, so I knew something was not quite right..

What did I learn from this?

1. Not immediately removing the malfunctioning/failed FirmTek SATA card and trying to run the SAS RAID while troubleshooting was <NOT> a good thing to do :crossbne:
Continuing to use the RAID sub-system with that failed card in place likely contributed to the malfunctioning of the PCI bus and the overall OS- which in turn set the conditions where 2 of the 4 SAS drives got whacked in a catastrophic fashion.

2. If I had Windows installed and Seagate SeaTools drive formatting software, I probably could have recovered the two florfed Cheetahs.. As it were, I had to RMA to Seagate.

3. SoftRAID was very quick and accurate to identify the failed Cheetahs even tho I was still able to partially recover them from time to time to the Desktop.

So all in all, a challenging tech problem and excellent learning experience. And not too expensive! :)
I'm glad I took my time getting it worked out- and thankful for the luxury that I could still run the RAID with 2 drives or not use it at all and instead rely on my fast Raptors for Photoshop work..