Around 11PM last night, as I was finally getting somewhere on writing the Mac Pro piece that went up today, I realized that Apple had updated Boot Camp Beta - presumably with real support for the Mac Pro.

The previous beta of Boot Camp had two problems: 1) the drivers wouldn't install on a Mac Pro, and 2) HDD burst transfer rates were limited to 3.9MB/s at best. The first problem was workable, especially since I could get network, chipset, audio and graphics drivers from elsewhere. The transfer rate issue however is not something I can deal with. Most USB drives have no problems giving you higher transfer rates than that; for your primary boot drive, 3.9MB/s just isn't ok.

When Apple released the new beta of Boot Camp, I assumed it fixed both sets of problems. After installing it on the Mac Pro, I can say that it did fix the driver problem, but it did not fix the transfer rate problem. The best I can get out of a SATA drive is 3.9MB/s, in other words, it's slow.

The problem appears to be that Windows is running the SATA drives in PIO mode 0 or 1, limiting transfer rate to somewhere in the 3 - 5MB/s range. I've tried everything to force the drives into something faster but none of the published tricks appear to work.

My guess is that there's either a problem with the Intel chipset drivers or, more likely, a firmware level compatibility issue with Windows XP. Although I'm impressed at the speed with which Apple released this update to Boot Camp, I'm not sure how long it will take for the drive mode issue to get resolved.

There was one more problem with the latest version of Boot Camp that I ran into, and I encountered it early on in the Windows XP installation process. One of the features of the new Boot Camp beta is the ability to install to a partition on any attached drive, not just the one you booted from (there was a way around this in the previous beta, but now it's visible in the interface). I told it to make my 2nd hard drive the Windows XP drive and to start the installation process, which Boot Camp did without a hitch. However the Windows setup (text based portion) would not let me install to that drive as it wanted to write files to my main (OS X) hard drive, and it couldn't as it didn't understand the HFS+ partition. The solution was to remove the OS X drive and continue with the XP installation, then later reinstall the OS X drive, but the problem annoyed me for a few minutes to begin with. Just a heads up in case anyone else is trying the new beta on a Mac Pro.


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  • rklaver - Tuesday, September 5, 2006 - link

    Just to add a few cents from my experience. My MacPro came in Sept 1st. Downloaded and installed boot camp and loaded XP on a second hard drive, and did not have any issues with it trying to overwrite my OSX drive. I did notice the lag on the hard drive, but I didn't know there was an issue until someone pointed me to this blog. Reply
  • JAS - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    I imagine some enterprising OS engineers are toiling away in Cupertino right now on Bootcamp beta 1.2.

    What's the thinking on how Bootcamp will be integrated with OS 10.5 (Leopard)? Will Bootcamp essentially be rolled into the Macintosh operating system, providing a choice at startup for either Microsoft Windows or OS X?
  • Gordon Sapsed - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    As a 25 year PC user now going back to Apple with a Mac Pro (my last Apple, before a recent flirtation with a Mac Mini as a 'taster', was a Apple IIE). I will have to cope without native Mac-based Photoshop until next year. What I have perhaps missed in all the benchmarks and discussion is performance comparisons of Photoshop CS on a Mac Pro under Boot Camp/ XP compared to Photoshop CS on a Pentium 4.
    Where can I look for comparisons?
  • davecason - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    I am a pretty experienced user and for the first time this year, I had a similar problem on a PC: My new dma-capable IDE drive would only run in PIO mode on a brand new PC.

    Quick History: needed a PC to use an older remote access board called a MegaRac G2 from AMI (think KVM over IP on crack or ILO if you are an HP server fan). I was running a Mac Mini as a kind of experimental dumb terminal of sorts and ended up converting it to a AOpen Mini PC. I learned quickly that what many laptop owners already know: the USB bus may not have enough juice for all of my peripherals. I used 4 items (UPS, Keyboard, Mouse, PDA) in a two slot USB computer made of mostly laptop parts with an external USB hub splitting 3 of the components. The result was that my IDE drives were underpowered, which caused errors, which caused XP to give up on my DMA mode by setting a value in the registry.

    After discovering that the USB power draw was the source of my issue, I was unable to get DMA mode back running with my drive, even if I uninstalled all of the peripherals relating to my drives from the control panel. I did a little searching and ran across this gem that solved my problem:">

    It turned out that XP had made PIO more or less the permanent setting for that drive. The above link let me get back to a truly clean slate and the MiniPC has been flying ever since. You might run through the steps once to see if it helps. If this lists one of the

    published tricks
    you tried, then you have my apologies for providing you with the dead horse to beat. My only other suggestions would be to set up the system with external drives as the primary drive on the system (just long enough to see if it helps) or add a drive controller card that is compatible with both OS X and Windows XP.
  • splines - Friday, August 25, 2006 - link

    PIO Mode is a pain. I understand the need for legacy support, but it's still annoying.

    Starforce copy protection had a period where it would slowly disable the drive by paring it down to PIO, becoming yet another copy protection that attacked the legitimate purchasers rather than the pirates.

  • tuteja1986 - Sunday, August 20, 2006 - link

    That sucks buddy ;( Anyways if i were in that situation, then I would run windows xp from USB hard drive or maybe better a solid state drive. Apple should solve the issue by this year or so but till then I think user are stuck with the slow speed. Reply
  • Quiksel - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    I ran across a similar situation in a new iMac, using the original release of Boot Camp (I can only assume, as the site mentions nothing of the sort of "updates" to the beta)... it foobar'd my WinXP install after restarting to initialize all the devices from the driver cd... I had originally used this disc to setup a MacBook Pro 17", and it worked just great... but oh well. Go to Boot Camp's site, d/l the "new" version (named a little different than my original .dmg), reburn a cd, reinstall WinXP (the biggest PITA of the night), and that time it worked as advertised.

    I still recognize that it's a Beta, but man, I wish they had listed that as an "update".

    3.9MB/s is no good though. Here's to an updated "update" of the Boot Camp Beta. ;)

  • Spoonbender - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    Is that with all Mac's, or just the Mac Pro?
  • Quiksel - Thursday, August 17, 2006 - link

    The iMac and the MBP were plenty fast... Oblivion was nice on these boxes... Dunno about the Mac Pro, as we haven't seen any of those yet. Reply
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