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Thread: Issues with driver for ATTO UL3D and Leopard

  1. #1
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    Default Issues with driver for ATTO UL3D and Leopard

    I hope someone here can help me with this.

    I have an MDD dual 1.25 gHz running Leopard (10.5.8). I am using an ATTO UL3D SCSI card to run a 2 drive internal SCSI RAID. Hoping to get better performance, I upgraded the ATTO driver to the most recent one provided by ATTO for PPC and Leopard (or below), which is their version 3.21. Everything still works, but the new driver did not enhance performance (I'm getting about 125 MB/sec. on uncached 4K block reads). Not only that, but the new driver will not allow the SCSI drives to spin down and sleep. I have been using Cocktail for a while to control things like HD sleep, with no problems. But with this new driver, the RAID drives will not sleep.

    The boot drive is an OWC 115 GB SSD.

    The old driver (version 2.04f1) works just fine with this setup, and does allow the drives to sleep, at least in Tiger (10.4.11). I verified this by booting from another drive which has Tiger installed with the old driver.

    So, the question, how can I get this set up so that the RAID will spin down when not in use? I've tried every trick I can think of, and nothing will make these RAID drives spin down - not un-mounting, ejecting, using the pmset utility, etc.

    Is there a way to get the new driver out of the system and re-install the "old" driver. I don't have an installer "package" for the old driver, as I do for the new one. I just have a copy of the old driver. I tried logging in as root user, deleting the "new" driver, and replacing it with the old. But that didn't work. When I restarted the machine, the old driver didn't load, according to the ATTO config utility (and confirmed by terrible performance).

    Or, is there some other solution to the problem? Or is there some issue with Leopard that will simply prevent the RAID from sleeping?

    The driver extension is in the folder SSD 115/System/Library/Extensions .

    Thanks for any help!

    Rob J.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Sorry not to have an early, and easy answer. Been a very long time since I fooled with parallel SCSI. I can only tell you that driver and firmware revisions being exactly right for the OS are the essential key ingredient. GO through it again, from beginning to end and read carefully on ATTO website.

    Also, ATTO support is likely to answer emails and give you good advice. THey always have, even on legacy stuff..

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  3. #3
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    Default some progress with HD sleep

    Rick:

    Thanks for the reply.

    I was able to find instructions to manually install the driver (kext), so I replaced (downgraded) the ATTO driver, to the 2.0.4f1 version, and with that driver, the RAID set will sleep. However, with the older version of the driver, I am taking a performance hit. For example, I went from getting sequential uncached writes of 126 MB/sec (4K blocks) with the 3.2.1 driver to only 84 MB/sec with the 2.0.4f1 driver. In other operations I had similar performance hits, with the exception of uncached writes of 256K blocks, in which performance increased from 87.5 MB/sec with the 3.2.1 driver to 118 MB/sec with the "old" driver. I'm guessing that's probably because the old driver is optimized for 256K block writes.

    So, I guess that new driver did generally boost performance after all - but at the price of having the drives running constantly.

    I hope that I don't have to choose between either max performance OR being able to spin down the drives.

    I'll contact ATTO support as you suggest, and see if they can tell me anything helpful.

    Thanks!

    Rob J.

  4. #4
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    Personally I never let a drive spin down if I can help it. I use my computer a lot, at least 4 or 5 days a week, so that may not work for everyone. But the only thing ever sleeps in this office is monitors. I never even really test sleep capabilities very often. Only when a problem pops up for a customer.

    I will bet that ATTO knows how to fix things. An UL3x should give you in excess of 300 on a channel, that is if you are using a set of drives in a RAID that are fast enough for that kind of speed. Certainly you shouldn't have to bear a slowdown because of driver. I'd send the request and get it fixed. NO other reason to own that primo gear.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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    Default spin down

    Rick:

    Right now I have the RAID drives on the same channel, so I know I can't get the same speeds as if I had them on separate channels. The drives are U320 Cheetahs, so they should be capable of those speeds if they were on separate channels.

    But yes, I should be getting better performance all the same.

    My plan is to set up another group of SCSI drives externally (probably a JBOD) on the second channel, hence the single channel set up for the RAID.

    I like to be able to spin down the drives because, frankly, they're a bit loud. When I'm actually doing work on the computer that's fine, but when I'm in the office doing non-computer work I like it a bit more quiet.

    I'll let you know what ATTO comes up with.

    Thanks!

    Rob J.

  6. #6
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    Depending on which generation Cheetahs those drives will still be under 125 MB/sec each. All else being equal they should give you full speed just two of them on a single U320 channel. In fact if they were duplexed on 2 channels I would expect the overhead to make them a teensy bit slower. 4 drives would benefit from dual channels, 2 usually doesn't.

    How big did you make the block size when you created the RAID? That can seriously effect tested throughput. Big block sizes only work with streaming media. Smaller block size works best with all types of data.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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    Default Word from ATTO; looking for software

    Rick:

    Firstly, thanks for the suggestion about the block size of the RAID. I just left it at the default. I'll take another look at it. If I can get at the NVRAM for the card (more on that in a bit), I might be able to improve things there as well.

    I heard back from ATTO tech support - I was pleased to get an answer the same day.

    Unfortunately, the answer didn't offer much by way of solutions. The rep told me that since the card was a legacy product, ATTO did not provide support or engineering resources for it anymore.

    He told me that the last OS for which the UL3D and its drivers were supported was Tiger - 10.4.11. Obviously, the card still works under Leopard, but the drivers, etc., were built for Tiger. He suggested that I go back down to Tiger and see what happened.

    I also explained that I couldn't access the card's NVRAM settings with the 3.19 ATTO config tool. When I try to access the NVRAM window in the Config tool, I get a message saying "An ATTO driver is required to access NVRAM". Which is odd, because I, of course, have an ATTO driver installed. He said the problem was probably because I was trying to use the newer Config tool with such an old driver. He suggested that I get a UL5D. Not a very realistic suggestion. I'm not going to spend $300 on a new SCSI card. The whole point of this exercise was that I already had the card and the drives.

    So, I did a little experimenting yesterday. I am now pretty confident that the sleep issue is related to drivers later than 2.0.4. I booted up in Tiger with the 2.0.4 driver, and the RAID set was able to sleep. When I upgraded the driver to 2.1.2, (still in Tiger), the drives would no longer sleep. Same for driver versions 3.0.2 and 3.2.1. When I re-installed the 2.0.4 driver, bingo, the drives could sleep again. So, even in Tiger, only the ATTO driver 2.0.4 will allow drives to spin-down/sleep.

    As far as performance goes, in Tiger with the 2.0.4 driver I got better performance than with the same driver in Leopard. In Leopard with the 2.0.4 driver I got sequential uncached writes (4K blocks) of 84.63 MB/sec. For 256K writes it was 118.24 MB/sec. In Tiger I received sequential uncached writes (4 K blocks) of 138.02 MB/sec and for 256K blocks it was 125.26 MB/sec. So it seems that the 2.0.4 driver and Tiger play together better than do that driver and Leopard. Which is what you'd expect, given that ATTO built the driver with older versions of the OS in mind.

    I can't get into the NVRAM settings with the 3.19 config tool, so I don't know if there is a solution in tweaking the NVRAM settings. I found an older version of the config tool (2.61) on the web, but that won't run under Leopard - I get an error message that the application unexpectedly quit. I'll try it under Tiger and see what happens.

    So, I have a better idea now of the source of the problem, but am not much closer to a solution.

    Would you have access to, or might you know of sources for, a couple of older ATTO software items? They're no longer on the ATTO web site, but I know that data is forever, so perhaps they might be somewhere that you know about, have access to, or at an FTP site, etc. Specifically, I'm looking for:

    1. ATTO ExpressStripe - the software RAID utility for older ATTO HBAs, PPC, and Leopard and earlier.
    2. Any versions of the Config Tool for Mac between 2.61 and 3.19 - one of them may work with Leopard.

    I have e-mailed ATTO tech support detailing much of this, and will see what they might offer. But, given the legacy nature of all of this, I am not terribly hopeful.

    Thanks again!

    Rob J.

  8. #8
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    I have a bunch of ATTO files from mu UL3 days. Express Pro Tools (not express stripe) in the 2.7 and 2.8 flavors… also some firmwares in there. Been too long I don't remember what they are all for however they are PPC apps and there are several readme files. You can poke through them and see if any help, here they are. (If you are concerned about a stranger's files well Rick can vouch for me in that I AM stranger than you can imagine and also evil in so many ways… but not in this way;-)
    Damien,

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    Default thanks!

    Damien:

    Thanks for the software. It looks like mostly stuff for use under Classic Mac OS. But that will come in handy, as I would like to be able to access the RAID on the occasions I have to boot into OS 9.

    Rob J.

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    Default Some success, and a few more questions

    I have had some success!

    Firstly, ATTO tech support has been quite helpful. Initially, I wasn't very hopeful, as the tech support person seemed to emphasize the legacy nature of my product and OS, etc. But he (Nick) has come through. He made a couple of useful suggestions, and gave me several versions of different software that is no longer available on the ATTO website, such as the old Express Stripe software.

    So, I was able to install the 2.6.1 Config tool on my Tiger partition, and it works! I was able to run it and I can access the NVRAM settings. I haven't changed anything yet, because I need to know more before I muck around with that. But I hope, between Rick's suggestion regarding block size, and tweaking NVRAM setting on the card, to get better performance out of it.

    ATTO tech support speculated that the reason I couldn't access NVRAM might have been that I had an Apple OEM version of the UL3D, which deliberately was designed to have non-changeable NVRAM. But I was pretty sure it is the ATTO retail version, and my subsequent ability to access the NVRAM bears this out.

    I assume that NVRAM settings will be persistent, even across boots in different versions of OS X. In other words, if I boot in Tiger and change the NVRAM settings with the 2.6.1 Config tool, those settings will stay in effect if I reboot in Leopard. Am I correct?

    So my questions, for Rick, Damien, or anyone else with knowledge/experience:

    What would you recommend as a good block size setting for the RAID, either in the Apple RAID utility or in ExpressStripe? I want to use this RAID for serving general media: photos, MP3s, and some streaming video.

    What would you recommend as settings in the NVRAM? Settings for such things as Sync Rate, PCI Burst Rate, and Fallback Sync rate, among others?

    Thanks again for all your help and guidance!

    Rob J.

  11. #11
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    I have no idea on the NVRAM setting, been waaaay too long. But block size is pretty easy - set it at 64k. That is a good medium that will handle the type of traffic you are giving the RAID.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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    Default road block; another question

    Hello all!

    Well, I seem to be stuck with using the UL3D with the Apple RAID utility.

    As I mentioned, the tech guy from ATTO gave me some software, which included some older versions of their Express Stripe utility.

    Unfortunately, in order to install and use it, you have to have a serial number and authorization code from ATTO. You need this even for legacy software like Express Stripe that ATTO no longer makes available commercially.

    I asked the tech guy from ATTO if there was anything he could do for me, and he said he couldn't. Without having purchased a license, he couldn't give me an authorization code. My explanations that I couldn't purchase the Express Stripe application since it was no longer available were to no avail.

    He suggested that I purchase the current version of their RAID software, Express Power Center. Sorry, but it doesn't seem to make much sense to me to spend $159 on RAID software for a legacy card on a legacy system, which may or may not give me a performance boost.

    So, can anyone recommend a (relatively) inexpensive, or even free, software RAID app for OS X that would give me better performance over the Apple RAID utility, and would be compatible with the UL3D?

    Thanks!

    Rob J.

  13. #13
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    The only other thing out there still under active development is SoftRaid, which I like very much, but not cheap. Hard to justify the cost. Don't think it is much faster than Apple......say, why do you think Apple RAID is slow?
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  14. #14
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    For a RAID0 there is no reason not to use Apple Disk Utility. Works just fine. Leave the block size at the default 32k.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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    Default Apple RAID vs. others

    Thanks for the replies.

    I didn't necessarily think that Apple's RAID utility is slow. It's just that ATTO says their RAID software (either Express Stripe or Power Center) is faster, something about not having to go through an additional layer of commands at the OS level to read and write data from the drives.

    I have no idea whether to trust that claim, and it looks like I won't be able to test it, as I can't use the software without paying $159. ATTO's RAID app would have to be something pretty spectacular in order to justify paying that kind of money, even if this wasn't for a legacy system and card.

    So, I will go with the Apple RAID. Not that I have much choice.

    Rob J.

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    Default One more question - PCI slot location

    Thanks for all your patience and info.

    I have one more question:

    I have read in a couple of places that the ATTO card (and perhaps all PCI SCSI cards) should be installed in the first slot closest to the video card.

    Mine is currently in slot 4 (next to last), and it seems to have worked OK there, so I haven't moved it.

    Can anyone tell me if slot position matters, and if so, what difference it makes?

    The ATTO tech guy told me that slot position wasn't important - the thing that was important was to make sure the UL3D card wasn't sharing bandwidth with another card.

    I know nothing about PCI architecture, so I have no idea if my SCSI card is sharing bandwidth with the others, or how I could even tell if it was. I have two other PCI cards installed at present: A USB 2.0 card (in slot 2), and a TV/FM tuner card (in slot 3), which is currently unused, as there are no drivers for it that will work in Tiger or Leopard.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks!

    Rob J.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobJ View Post
    Thanks for all your patience and info.

    I have one more question:

    I have read in a couple of places that the ATTO card (and perhaps all PCI SCSI cards) should be installed in the first slot closest to the video card.
    That is old data, it applies to beige Macs back in the OS 7/8 days. There is also something different that applies to the newer PCIe busses and some slots are faster than others.

    In your machine neither situation will apply, use whichever slot suits you best. I always chose the slot that was closest to the drives so I could keep the cables better organized.
    Damien,

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