Findings on MCE Blu-Ray for Mac Pro (early 2008)

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Location: Australia

Findings on MCE Blu-Ray for Mac Pro (early 2008)

Unread postby jwhat » Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:31 am

Nekochan Mac'ers,

now that I have stopped working on getting Nvidia Quadro FX 5600 hacked to work on my Mac Pro (tasked completed), the lastest upgrade to my machine was to put in an MCE 8X Blu-Ray Recorder.

This has turned out to highlight a number of good and bad things about Mac Pro that had previously passed me by.
Firstly my Mac Pro has Apple RAID card installed, which means that I cannot use boot camp... or say Apple says (I will get onto that ...).

For those of you thinking of getting MCE Blu-Ray here is what you get:
1 x MATSHITABD-MLT SW-5584 Internal SATA Blu-Ray Recorder Drive with preinstalled Addonics ATA (or PATA) to SATA bridge.

The reason for the ATA/SATA bridge is because Mac Pro (until lastest 2009 version) have ATA interfaces for its "SuperDrive".
The impact of having the ATA/SATA appears to be that you cannot do audio extract from CD into iTunes (it produces invalid extracts) and it does not appear to boot successfully from Mac OS Install CD. So while it does write Blu-Ray disks via Toast it is a bit of a lame duck device otherwise...

As most Mac'ers know, OS X does not currently support Blu-Ray Video playback, so you need to setup boot camp and use Windows to play Blu-Ray disks, however if you have the Apple RAID controller installed then you loose the ability to use Boot Camp...

So here is where it gets interesting. On Mac Pro (Early 2008) installing the RAID controller means that the 4 SATA lines that are connected to the motherboard via a "SFF-8087" (mini SAS 4i/mini SAS 36 pin) have to be connected to the PCI card (by removing connection from the motherboard). This means that here are essentially 4 unused SATA lines on the motherboard. In fact there are actually really 6 total lines as there are also two unused single SATA connectors as well.
So even if you do not have RAID card, there are at least two unused SATA connections available on Mac Pro (early 2008).

As I was not able to get Boot Camp working I decided to take the ATA/SATA bridge off the MCE Blu-Ray Recorder and connected it directly to spare SATA port using short (.5) SATA cable. This requires some significant disassembly as the connectors to the SFF-8087 socket and the two single SATA ones are under the fan housing and so are not readily accessible. The instruction for disassembly can be found by looking the Mac Pro RAID card installation manual.

If you are going to go the trouble of accessing the unused (so called ODD) SATA ports then I recommend that you connect up as many wires as possible at once as this will save the the trouble of having to redo this again. In my case this means connecting both SFF-8087 via a 4 SATA/SAS break out cable and two single cables for the ODD ports.

My Blu-Ray Recorder is now connected via SATA to one of the ODD ports and works fine with OS 10.5.7 .

The ODD ports are called this because they do not appear to be visible to Windows, if you boot this via Boot Camp (not a problem for me in the first instance). However there is a way around this and that is by doing some playing around with Windows Intel AHCI drivers and the GNU GRUB Bootloader... (I have not tested this yet so will leave till later)

Given that I have 4 spare (and not ODD) SATA ports free I should be able add a second bootable internal HD and load Windows via that. I am going to give this a go using small internal SATA 2.5" SSD disk and see what happens. Based on my understanding I would still need to use the GNU GRUB Bootloader to enable to ODD ports prior to booting into Windows. This will mean I get to have Mac Pro RAID and Windows Boot Camp. So it is possible after all.

So back to MCE Blu-ray, if like me you purchased this primary to create/burn Videos and make backups then do not bother, just buy the MATSHITABD-MLT SW-5584 Blu-Ray Recorder and connect it directly to SATA port and avoid the problems that the Addonics ATA/SATA bridge creates. Remember you will need a Molex to SATA power adaptor as well. Connected the SATA port means that you can use it as second iTunes ripping drive and it will be OS X Bootable.

This will work fine with OS X, sofware Open/Close, Toast, iTunes and even appears correctly in VMWare Fusion for CD & DVD's but it will not play Blu-Rays :-( via Fusion.

I will provide an update, once i have tried an internal 2.5" drive on getting Boot Camp to load while still using the RAID card.

Cheers from Australia,
jwhat - ask questions, provide answers

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