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10.6.8: The Little Update That Didn’t

Apple released the OS X 10.6.8 update last week. According to the Knowledge Base article on this update:

The 10.6.8 update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Snow Leopard and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility, and security of your Mac, including fixes that:

  • Enhance the Mac App Store to get your Mac ready to upgrade to Mac OS X Lion
  • Resolve an issue that may cause Preview to unexpectedly quit
  • Improve support for IPv6
  • Improve VPN reliability
  • Identify and remove known variants of Mac Defender

According to a post on MacRumors, there are a couple of other additions, as well. First is the enabling of TRIM support for Apple-branded SSDs. The other unannounced addition seems to be a boost in graphics performance nearly across the board.

While it’s great to see that Apple is moving towards the future with many aspects of its OS, there are several items they have not addressed yet, specifically on the 2011 MacBook Pros.

10.6.8 Doesn’t Resolve 6Gb/s SSD Problems.

This has been discussed quite extensively both here on the OWC Blog and elsewhere. If there were a software resolution to this problem, this would have been an ideal time for Apple to release it.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Testing has shown that, even after the 10.6.8 update, the performance anomalies that weren’t resolved by our shielding kit still existed. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that some sort of firmware-based solution is made available.

No Change for 2011 Optical Bays stuck at 3Gb/s.

Oddly, some of the optical bays in the 2011 17″ MacBook Pros run at SATA 2.0 (3Gb/s) speeds, while others run at SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) speeds. There’s no rhyme or reason to which Intel 6 chipset you get and you won’t know until you run System Profiler and see if the Link Speed shows 3Gb/s or 6Gb/s. This makes installing a Mercury Electra 6G or Mercury EXTREME Pro 6G SSD in your 2011 MacBook Pro’s optical bay somewhat of a Charlie Bucket finding the Golden Ticket proposition. The SSD will work either way, but your speed will be limited if you’re one of the unfortunate ones who only got an optical bay with 3Gb/s capabilities.

TRIM enabled for Apple SSDs, but not for anybody else.

Admittedly, this one isn’t so bad. TRIM is nice if you’ve got a “lesser” solid state drive, but SandForce-based drives, like all OWC SSDs are, don’t need it.

The wear-leveling, block management, and real-time data redundancies of the SandForce controller gives you the same (indeed, better) level of performance from your SSD that TRIM support provides to other drives.

There are hacks out there that enable TRIM support for 10.6.x, but with the aforementioned advantages that the SandForce processor gives, we really don’t recommend using it with our SSDs; we don’t need it.

Room for one more?

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is just around the corner. Traditionally, updates for an OS stop after the new version is released, or shortly thereafter. That raises the question: If (and, admittedly, that’s a mighty big “if”) Apple releases an update to enable/fix these SATA 3.0 issues, will it be in a 10.6.9 release, in a 10.7.x update, or in a combination of the two?

While the latter is the most likely and most beneficial to all, only time can tell.


OWC Chris S.
the authorOWC Chris S.
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  • Hi! This might not be the correct place to post this, but I’ve been wondering about TRIM lately. I just bought a new 13″ i5 MacBook Pro and replaced the optical drive with a data doubler/60GB SSD from OWC as well as 8GB of RAM! It rocks, but I have a question. I have placed my iTunes, iPhoto, & iMovie libraries on the other drive inside the laptop so it doesn’t eat up my SSD. The weird thing is I can watch the available space on the SSD decrease throughout the day. Even if the only things I have running are Safari, iTunes, and Mail. I’m not downloading anything, but my space is disappearing. I should note that I have Mail set so it doesn’t locally store images and files from my emails. Is this common with SSD’s? I know the drive is supposed to handle garbage deletion, but I’m kind of worried.

    • Actually capacity shouldn’t change at all unless you or an application is adding additional data to the drive.

    • I don’t think you computer’s behavior has anything to do with TRIM or any of the SandForce wear-leveling software. It’s not consistent with anything I’ve read on the subject. My first instinct was that it had to do with virtual memory and page-outs, but with 8GB of memory, I’d have a hard time seeing that unless you’re doing some HARDCORE video editing rather than just web surfing and listening to music.

      How fast is the disk filling? Several kB a second? Several MB? The only thing that keeps popping to mind at this point would be a console log gone crazy. It would write its error message to the boot drive and could theoretically lead to your log file getting rather unwieldy in a fair amount of time. In my case, it was an overheating memory module in my MacPro producing an error (I can’t, for the life of me, recall the error now) that wasn’t “fatal” but was notable, so it wrote to the log file.

      You may want to try looking at your drive using a tool such as Grand Perspective, which can tell you what’s taking up all the space on your SSD. Once you have an idea what’s being added, it narrows down the possibilities of what’s adding it.

      • Hi Chris and Michael!

        Well, I’m not sure what was going on yesterday, but it has stopped! I think it has to do with how I was using HandBrake to encode some .avi files. I was loading the .avi files to my SSD and then outputting the .mp4 onto the SSD. When I moved the mp4’s to my HDD and deleted the old files from my SSD I would notice a change in the available space. I’m kind of a newbie to having 2 drives in a MacBook so I apologize for the freak out! Hope you guys had a great 4th and thanks again for the help!

  • Just did the 10.6.8 update on my Mac Mini and now my Hawking WIFI adapter isn’t recognized.
    I am going through all the steps to uninstall reinstall etc etc etc
    Having had Macs for 20 yrs, I am beginning to suspect updates as they always change something I liked or was able to do as if Apple found out I was independently having fun doing what I wanted and took that freedom away.

    • Same thing is happening for me on my Macbook Pro and the NewerTech wifi USB adaptor I’ve been using since the Macbook’s own airport can’t get signal unless 10 ft. away from router. The Newer Tech software says “No Device” even though the hardware growler shows the device is being seen by the computer. I went back to the previous system via time machine and presto – my usb wifi adaptor worked as it always had. SO. . .I guess I am going to stay stuck in time with 10.6.7 until this macbook pro dies. . .

  • So I have noticed something with my 2011 17inch and the Electra @ 6G. I have noticed random read/write drops in speed with the average in the 450’s. But the drops in speed seem to follow a pattern.

    What I mean by that is if there is a drop in read speed it will drop in intervals. If it is a drop in write it is the same thing, and sometimes both. But whatever the symptom is it comes occurs (either read, write or both) that specific symptom will continue until a reboot and no others are introduced.

    And a reboot will consistently change the behavior but once rebooted it will stay continuous. This leads me to believe it looks more like something that feels like some sort problem that happens as part of negotiation.

  • How are you guys approaching Apple with the issue? Are you taking it to the store/genius bar or starting with email etc?

    I took the gamble and tried an Electra on my 2011 17inch and am using the shielding kit. I am seeing the the 6G/3G issue but my drive seemed semi stable. My AJA runs are in the 450+ range but have random dips down to 150 here and there.

    But just as I was powering up before I read this post I hit beachballs on load and sign in. I managed to get an AJA run off and I was maxing out around 250-300MB and dropping to 0 at some points.

    A couple of reboots and I am back to the consistant 450+ with minor drops but it concerns me but I hate stepping back to 3G when my machine should be able to take advantage of 6.

  • Hey, if I update this 10.6.8 which comes with TRIM support, will my OWC SDD use TRIM or the SANDFORCE wear leveling?

    • The TRIM support in 10.6.8 only supports the Apple-branded SSDs. Your OWC drive is not affected by this update. Probably should have elaborated on that aspect a little more rather than just summing it up in the section header.

      • I think this is considered good news, because SF’s method already works great!

      • A follow up question is that if Apple comes out with TRIM support for most drives, how does SF choose? Or does it matter anymore?

  • Any update on thunderbolt peripherals from OWC(since I only buy from OWC)? Looking to get the new Macbook Air when it comes out and some-kind of thunderbolt external drive. Can you say if they’ll be out this summer? Or later? Also any indication if the drives will also have firewire 800 too? Thanks.

    • Hi Edward…my reply to Whoda has much of the pertinent info…but we very likely we offer multiple interfaces as we are know for our “quads”…next term might be “Quint”….but I think of the boat captain in “Jaws” with that term… ;-)

  • i made Apple replace my logic board since i was past 30 days and they wouldn’t give my $ back on 17 inch MBP 2011. Good new is i now have 6Gbs on both ports. 10.6.8 problems still exist with 6Gbs SSD on port 0. I haven’t tried data doubler with new 6Gbs por t1. I did clean install with Lion Developer Preview 4 Saturday. The past 4 days only beach balls I’ve encounter was due to lack of RAM when dealing with Graphics & media. Wish you guys would drop price so i could add 16 GB’s instead of 8 i’m running now. If your novice or pro user and having issue’s i suggest taking it in and have them replace your logic board for free!!! FYI – my paper work show what it would have cost, $1200.00 …

    • i just ordered a 2011 15″ Macbook Pro yesterday. i might just have to do the same thing as you if i don’t get two 6GBs links. did Apple give you a hard time over the issue?

      • I took several attempts to finally get my problem resolve. You need to be able to show your having issues, 1st and for-most. Along with issue you’ve read online, mine was over-heating to point CORE would shut down. At 1st Apple claim my problem was due to SATA 3 , which they do not support. I should take it out and go back to SATA 2. I had friend who order the new ASD for MBP 2011, i ran it and got S.M.A.R.T. errors with SATA 3 and SATA 2 drives. I took it to apple store and they ran new cooling test with SATA 2 drive. It pass, so i told them to send it to repair center and have them check it. Repair center said “Thermal Module Defective” & replace Thermal Assy item # 604-1859 & Main Logic Board item 605-2819. At 1st they weren’t going to do any thing cause i had SATA 3 drive. Guy at Apple store didn’t want to send it cause his cooling system test didn’t show any errors.

    • So if you have a 3Gbs port on a 2011 MBP to get 6Gbs port you need a hardware fix?