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New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

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New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby Guitarmoog » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:31 pm

Only my second post on the forums, but I thought I'd share a difficult experience in case its of use to anyone else.

The headlines in short are don't buy a new Mac with a fusion drive if you're going to use it for audio. If you already have, and are experiencing the widely reported problems, there's a fix that has worked for me.

I bought a new late-2013 iMac with 3TB fusion drive to be the centre of a home recording setup. It is running Mavericks 10.9. However, with two different interfaces (Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and Motu 896 mk3 Hybrid) a) all recordings in Logic would descend into a crackling mess after 5-10 seconds and eventually no sound would be recorded, and b) any audio played back in logic, iTunes, or through youtube would eventually do the same. Having updated the drivers on everything, tried every different USB and Thunderbolt port, including a USB hub, removed all hard drives, updated all the software and reinstalled Logic, the problem still persisted.

All the interfaces worked fine on a MB Air, and on my old (2009) iMac.

My local Apple service centre said that they couldn't see any reason why it would be the fusion drive, and thought it could be the USB bus or the interface. As I'd tried two different interfaces by different manufacturers, on FW/thunderbolt and USB, and my other peripherals were working fine, this seemed unlikely.

People on other forums had potentially tracked the problem down to the fusion drive, and many people seem to have returned their iMacs to have the drive replaced with a conventional drive. Another potential solution seemed to be to split the Fusion Drive into its constituent 128 GB flash drive and 3TB conventional drive. After a couple of weeks of frustration , I was willing to try almost anything.

Having done a full backup with time machine to a clean external drive, I tried splitting the fusion drive using the method explained here http://www.macworld.com/article/2015664/how-to-split-up-a-fusion-drive.html and, despite it being pretty nerve-wracking, 2 days in it seems to have worked fine. I also have the additional bonus of a spare internal flash drive as I restored to the conventional drive.

I don't know if this is reversible, so proceed with extreme caution, and make sure you have proper backups. I made sure i had a backup on a networked Time Machine drive and a second on a USB3 drive. I also unplugged everything from the iMac before starting. The process took 20 minutes, plus about 3 hours to restore the backup.

If you have this problem, this fix may work for you, but note that I have no idea whether or not it affects the AppleCare warranty. If you don't, and are thinking of buying a new mac, I'd advise avoiding getting a Fusion drive.
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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:41 am

There is along thread on GS about the problem and it does seem the new iMacs with Fusion drive aren't up to the job.
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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby G-Doubleyou » Mon Nov 18, 2013 5:23 pm

Exactly what Richie said, also some machines have USB issues.

The Fusion uses firmware to determine frequently used files, the firmware will always be on, it will always be looking at files on your system drive, and moving the frequently used files to flash memory.

Evidently it's not compatible for realtime recording or playback of audio/ video.

Some people, have had the Fusion drives replaced with SSDs, and Standard hard drives.

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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby randallpacker » Wed Dec 18, 2013 2:36 pm

I am currently in touch with Apple to find a solution to the Fusion Drive problem. It doesn't seem to work with most audio interfaces. Given that this is the "high performance" hard drive for the iMac, I am hoping Apple will figure out how to resolve the problem.
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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby The Audio Detective » Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:29 pm

Would it make any difference if you used something like the Saffire Pro14 Thunderbolt audio interface?

Just a thought, I'm having issues with my m-audio Fastrack C400 after upgrading to maverick on a late 2012 27" imac
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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby Guitarmoog » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:35 am

I very much doubt it. The Saffires are not actually Thunderbolt interfaces, but can be connected to TB using the Apple FW-TB adaptor. The problem seems to be with the way the software uses the Fusion drive.

To update, I've had zero problems running both a Scarlett 18i20 and a Motu 896mk3 since I split the drive.
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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby G-Doubleyou » Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:31 pm

randallpacker wrote:I am currently in touch with Apple to find a solution to the Fusion Drive problem. It doesn't seem to work with most audio interfaces. Given that this is the "high performance" hard drive for the iMac, I am hoping Apple will figure out how to resolve the problem.


It's not just the Fusion Drive, there's a huge thread on the new imacs at Gearslutz, an Apogee employee joined the thread.

The real issue appears to be the new Intel chipset, some have had success with Thunderbolt and USB2 hubs.

Apogee Symphony works with the Thunderbolt option.

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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby Jeraldo » Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:52 pm

G-Doubleyou wrote:

The real issue appears to be the new Intel chipset, some have had success with Thunderbolt and USB2 hubs.


What other *new* devices have the chipset in doubt?

MBP Retina, MBP non Retina, MB Air, Mini's?
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Re: New iMac Fusion Drive problems - with fusion drive splitting solution

Postby Dishpan » Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:50 pm

/Rant on

It's nearly 2014 not the 1990s and it's pathetic that users have to put up with untested, unreliable crap. Inbuilt drives that don't work for audio (nobody at Apple actually tested them??), USB ports that don't work properly (nobody at Apple tested them??), OS updates that keep breaking plugins meaning they need to be rewritten etc. etc. etc.

Really is an utter shambles

/Rant off
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