Until Apple finally ships the xMac, I needed an interim solution to ingest hours of ProRes HQ video into Final Cut Pro X from a SATA SSD.
The Mac Pro has, depending on its model year, one or two spare SATA ports on the logic board, and there are a bunch of adapter cables you can get, but these don’t support hotplugging, which was a requirement for me.
I tried this USB3 dongle (on a new Mini + AFP over Gigabit Ethernet), which suffers from the 4GHz Wifi jamming issue, and generally FCPX really isn’t into network mounts that aren’t on a SAN. Even once analysis, thumbnailing and waveforms are done, editing still occasionally stops with a beachball.
I daisy-chained this FW800 case behind my system drive, which also generally works, but also overloads the bus that also holds FCPX and tends to beachball too much for quickly getting the job done.
Third option was getting an expansion card for the Mac Pro. True eight cores, and screamingly fast everything, well, except external buses. Rumor has it that there may be PC USB3 cards that work out of the box, but I couldn’t get one, they’re perma-sold-out to Hackintosh guys, it seems. Sonnet’s USB3 card appears to have issues unter 10.8, and also jams Bluetooth.
But Sonnet still has a bunch of PCIe cards that do eSATA for older machines, down to PowerMac G5s:
The dual port SATA 3 Gbps model is pretty affordable at around 40 Euros, and appears to work well under Mountain Lion. The driver still is maintained, supports hotplugging and I got the full 125MB/s out of the SSD, which I simply put in an upright 2.5″/3.5″ dock with an eSATA port.
Sonnet also has a 4-port 6 Gbps card, which runs at around 150 Euro, but that was a little too much for an interim solution.
Also check out Sonnet’s Tempo SSD cards which add additional internal, bootable ports to your good old Mac Pro.