We’ve been waiting and waiting for Apple to release the next version of OS X Mountain Lion in hopes that the next full version would have all the necessary components to setup a Fusion drive on any Mac capable of installing a hard drive and SSD together. A little over a week ago, Apple released OS X version 10.8.3 and, with one small caveat, our hopes were fulfilled.
The Profusion Of Fusion Confusion
But before we get to showing you exactly how to setup your own DIY Fusion drive, I’d like to dispel some mis-information that has been floating around the web. Up until now, most of the reports you’ve read about creating your own DIY Fusion drive on a machine have been incomplete. There have been many tutorials on how to create a Core Storage volume that have been labeled as “how to create a Fusion drive”. They are two similar, yet different drive configurations. I’ve addressed a lot of this information in comments on the OWC Blog, but figure it would be a good idea to review and further explain what a Fusion drive actually is as opposed to a Core Storage volume. Article Continues…
One of the newest technologies available with the latest Macs is the ability to have what Apple calls a Fusion Drive. This is essentially a Solid State drive and a platter-based drive combined into a single volume. Apple’s underlying Core Storage technology then uses the SSD for the OS and frequently-accessed files, which will benefit from the speed, while placing lesser-used files on the larger, but slower platter-based drive.
The practical upshot of all this is that Fusion gives you roughly the performance of an SSD, while also taking advantage of the plentiful storage of platter-based drives. However, you don’t need to have a Fusion Drive from Apple to do this; with the proper command-line version of Disk Utility, you can create your own array with any platter-based drive and any SSD.
Of course, there are a few caveats to this setup (or the stock Fusion Drive, for that matter) that you should consider before committing to a Fusion setup. We’ll discuss those in a bit. First, though, let’s look at the process of actually setting it up.
The “Fusion Drive” option for the 2012 Mac minis can cause some severe data loss if you’re not careful. It’s a bit of a “perfect storm,” but it’s worth noting if you’re adding an SSD as a second drive in your Mac mini.
This particular instance affects you only if:
- You are upgrading a 2012 Mac mini.
- That 2012 Mac mini shipped with Mac OS X 10.8.2
- You are adding an SSD to this Mac mini as a second drive, alongside the existing Hard Drive using an OWC Data Doubler Kit.
If your installation involves all three factors, then you need to pay attention, as your installation will be affected. If one or more of these factors are not involved, then you don’t have to worry, you can proceed as normal. Article Continues…