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A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac

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Tim Jones
A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Sep 28, 2015 at 10:16:10 pm

Hi Folks,

I've mentioned this before, but we've gotten a number recent tape operation problem calls ranging from devices disappearing to full system crashes during tape I/O and it has turned out to be the customer's use of an incompatible SAS host bus adapter in each case.

It is very important that you guys remember that most SAS HBAs were developed to support disk operation with little (if any) thought given to supporting other types of devices.

If you are looking at adding LTO tape to your OS X-centered environment, you should ONLY be considering ATTO Technologies R-series and H-series adapters or the HighPoint RocketRAID 27XX and 45XX HBAs or their RocketStor 6328 Thunderbolt to SAS solutions.

Any other SAS HBA from Areca, Adaptec, LSI, or any of the HighPoint HBAs not listed above will only result in tape I/O failures and can actually cause problems ranging from the tape device not being recognized or operating inconsistently to complete system crashes that are incredibly tough to troubleshoot.

As always, TOLIS Group solutions ONLY use these proven SAS solutions. If you're purchasing your tape hardware from somewhere else, be sure to determine what SAS HBA is being provided and require one of the supported HBAs.

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Logan Roeth
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 13, 2015 at 1:08:05 am

Hi Tim. How about a SAS Tandberg LTO6 drive with an ATTO ThunderLink SH 1068 on a Mac Mini?

I just set this configuration up a few days ago and it has worked all right for the most part but I have a couple IO errors.

Thanks!


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Tim Jones
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 13, 2015 at 4:07:45 pm

That should work, but make sure that you have the latest SAS drivers and Firmware for the ATTO HBA.

Also, what are the I/O errors you're seeing?

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Logan Roeth
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 13, 2015 at 4:59:28 pm

I will get an "EINVAL in write" error during a backup followed by a bunch of "device not ready" errors. And then sometimes the tape drive will suddenly disappear and I will get "cannot open device" errors when I try to do anything because my system all of a sudden isn't seeing the device at all.

I have just updated the drivers and firmware so I know they are up to date.


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Tim Jones
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 13, 2015 at 7:44:48 pm

Hi Logan,

That's what I was afraid of. We are getting a lot of complaints and this exact set of failures with the ATTO Thunderbolt solutions - especially on newer systems. They seem to work with disk, but tape is not working properly.

For now, you can contact ATTO support and see if they have a solution.

For our customers, we have moved to the HighPoint RS6328 solution. It works great with tape (standalone and automation) and disk on Mac and provides hardware RAID for $699.
http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/series_RS6328_overview.htm

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Logan Roeth
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 15, 2015 at 4:11:50 pm

Thanks Tim. I really hope I can get this configuration to work as it is the second set of equipment I have tried with LTO6.

I changed the Max I/O Transfer Size to 512kb within the ATTO Configuration Tool and it seems to be working a lot better. Haven't had any errors!

Fingers crossed.


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Tim Jones
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 15, 2015 at 4:23:45 pm

Okay - that's frustrating. ATTO were supposed to have changed the default to 4MB. It appears that they didn't. This is an important clue for us in assisting others, so thanks for uncovering it.

If you really want to see high performance with BRU PE, set the value to 4MB and then set BRU PE's device blocksize (in Preferences -> Devices) to 2048K.

Tim
--
Tim Jones
CTO - TOLIS Group, Inc.
http://www.tolisgroup.com
BRU ... because it's the RESTORE that matters!


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Neil Sadwelkar
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Oct 25, 2015 at 5:36:44 pm

BRU-PE with Tandberg LTO-5 and LTO-6 SAS tape drives
connected with Atto H680 SAS HBAs
inside Sonnet Thunderbolt-PCIe adapters
connected via Thunderbolt to
15" MacBook Pros, Mac Minis, cylinder MacPros, even MacBook Airs

have worked flawlessly for me for a about 2 years, and a couple of Petabytes of data backed up.

One LTO-6 head replacement under warranty. Rest all fine.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Joe Bender
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Apr 29, 2016 at 2:39:24 am

Hi Tim,

Do you have any experience using the RocketStor 6328 with LTO-7? I just purchased a 6328 and a Quantum LTO-7 drive (connected to the 6328 over SAS), but my Mac Pro isn't recognizing the LTO, as far as I can tell. No response from the system when I insert a tape etc, no devices showing under SAS in system profile...

Any thoughts on what I can do to get it working? I'm counting on this to backup rushes from a shoot starting Monday and I'm at my wits' end.

Many thanks in advance,

Joe


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Joe Bender
Re: A Note about SAS Connectivity and Tape on the Mac
on Apr 29, 2016 at 2:56:23 am

Apologies for the premature post — after writing this I updated the firmware on the RocketStor 6328 and the drive is now working. Very much relieved!
Please disregard my previous message.


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