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Q&A From Digging Deeper into 2018 Mac minis

Custom built Mac mini Rack

If you missed our recent 2018 Mac mini webinar, you missed a jam-packed session led by Kevin Beebe, MacStadium’s VP of Product Management. We’ve got a ton of follow-up Q&A and even more resources for you, which will be especially helpful if you missed the live broadcast. Don’t worry, we recorded the webinar and included it at the end of this post. Let’s dive into some of the most frequently asked questions we get about 2018 Mac minis, from the webinar and from customers.

What's the difference between the T2 chip in the 2018 Mac minis and the new Mac Pro, whereby you can virtualize with ESXi on the Mac mini but not the Mac Pro?

The new 2019 Mac Pro does not support ESXi currently. The security chipset blocks access to the SMC controller and the internal SSD. Neither the 2018 Mac mini nor the 2019 Mac Pro is included on the VMware Compatability Guide yet.

With Orka, do you share machines with other customers, or do you have your dedicated machines?

With Orka, or any other MacStadium solution, you always have your own dedicated machines. Every Mac provided by us is fully dedicated to only one customer; we do not share Mac resources across multiple customers.

You must have a lot of Raspberry Pis to go with all the Mac minis.

This is an option that we’ve looked at, but we’re looking at many other options to give it an AWS-type feel, where you get the experience and you don’t need remote hands to help you out. All of these are possible solutions that are currently in development. If you want to keep up-to-date on everything MacStadium, including our current and future offerings, subscribe to our newsletter.

Apple still allows us to only run macOS VMs on single hardware, does the same apply to Orka containers?

Each Orka node is dedicated, genuine Apple hardware, and Orka VMs run full instances of macOS. Orka is unique in that macOS VMs are running on Apple hardware (satisfying Apple’s requirements), but you can orchestrate everything with containers. Orka nodes are configurable so you can control and manage the number of VMs running on each node.

With Orka, do you have the same challenges as you do with ESXi on older Mac Pro and Mac mini hardware, such as no-GPU acceleration?

Orka does not currently enable GPU passthrough or acceleration.

Does MacStadium build out data centers for third parties such as universities?

Our product development team is currently working on an on-prem solution. If you’re interested in learning more about a customized solution for your university, please reach out to sales@macstadium.com.

Will MacStadium be moving to the new Mac Pro rack mount?

We are currently evaluating the new Mac Pro rack-mount servers. We already have a few in our data centers and are working with customers on a proof-of-concept. However, primarily due to the Mac Pro price point compared to other Mac hardware, we are not currently looking at the Mac Pro as an option for Orka deployment.

Does Orka work on 2012, 2014, and 2018 Mac minis as well?

Orka clouds are currently available in three configurations comprised of 6-core and 12-core Mac Pros and 2018 Mac minis. Based on your performance and price requirements, a sales engineer can help you choose the best Orka cloud configuration for your use case.

Does Carbon Copy Cloner work reliably on 2018 minis?

Yes, Carbon Copy Cloner works great on 2018 minis.

Does Orka run on top of macOS or is it Linux-based OS?

Orka runs on a customized version of Linux as a base and then uses Kubernetes and Docker containerization to orchestrate and deliver unmodified macOS on the hardware. Our software layer is intended to enable orchestration and control of the hosted environment while being transparent. We take great efforts to ensure that with Orka macOS as shipped from Apple still runs on genuine Apple hardware.  Neither the hardware nor the OS is altered in any way that would violate Apple’s EULA terms.

How do you keep the whole thing cool? I noticed that the gap between each unit is really less. Also, what’s the average CPU temperature at which the CPU runs when clients access it?

The gap between each unit actually allows more airflow than if it were sitting flat on a desk, and with the pressure from our hot aisle cold aisle containment, we are drawing sub-60-degree air into the intake fans. The on-die CPU temp at idle is typically between 40 and 50 degrees celsius. You should run without thermal throttling anywhere below 80 degrees. Running between 80 and 100 degrees celsius, you will likely be experiencing performance degradation. There are also a few free/cheap apps available that allow you to keep an eye on your CPU temperature within macOS.

Hopefully, this gives you a little bit more insight into our Mac minis and some of the most popular questions when it comes to our minis and Orka. Still curious about Orka? Give it a spin with our 2-hour demo playground at tryorka.com! And if you’re ready to talk to someone about how MacStadium can help you manage your minis, reach out to sales@macstadium.com. One of our sales engineers will reach out and create a customized solution for your organization.

Watch the recorded webinar here:

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