Apple's New Fusion Drive Works on Older Macs

fusion drive iconOne of the interesting additions to Apple's iMac and Mac mini lines announced last week is Fusion Drive, a hybrid storage system that combines a 128 GB solid-state drive (SSD) with a 1 TB or 3 TB traditional hard drive into a single volume to offer the best of both worlds in terms of performance and storage space. Apple's software automatically manages the combined volume, placing the core system and other frequently used applications and files on the solid-state drive for faster access while keeping lower-priority applications and data on the traditional hard drive.

Mac developer Patrick Stein has been toying with his own Mac Pro setup and has managed to build his own Fusion Drive using command line tools. Stein configured an internal solid-state drive and a USB-attached traditional hard drive on his system and was able to combine them into a single logical volume as used for Fusion Drive.

Attached are a 120GB SSD (disk1) and a 750GB HDD (disk7) to my Mac. I attached the SSD via SATA to be sure that the system could figure out that it’s a SSD via SMART. The HDD is attached via USB. USB I chose to clearly see a difference in speed.

Stein then proceeded to test the setup, writing data first to the SSD and then to the traditional hard drive once the SSD had filled up. By preferentially accessing data that had initially been written to the traditional hard drive, Stein was able to watch as the data was automatically transferred to the SSD for faster access. Upon stopping the process, the system automatically pushed the data back to the traditional hard drive, and in one final step Stein began accessing the data once more and after about an hour was able to see it pulled back onto the SSD.

In several follow-up Tumblr posts, Stein details further explorations into how Fusion Drive works, noting that he was able to use not only the default HFS+ file system for OS X with it, but also ZFS. All of Stein's work was performed with a standard installation of OS X 10.8.2.

Top Rated Comments

hayduke Avatar
117 months ago
So he has an internal SSD and an external HDD with a single drive letter, what makes that a "fusion" drive? Nothing! There's no proof this is what Apple calls Fusion Drive technology. The article is a fail.

P.S. There's Windows software out there that will combine various drives into a single "hybrid" volume. Does that mean that's "fusion" drive software? I think not.

Respectfully disagree. The article explains that the file swapping is working in "fusion" mode, which is really what makes it a fusion drive in the first place.

Regardless, my guess is Apple blocks this option in an update.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Trik Avatar
117 months ago
Lots of confusion

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what a Fusion drive is... The Fusion drive is software based, it is not hardware. A hybrid drive IS hardware, and is NOT what Apple's marketing department has called a Fusion Drive. The Fusion drive is a SSD & a HDD in an iMac, and at the OS level, it is picking and choosing where to store programs / data. So the title of this article is correct, if you also own a Mac, and own a SSD & HDD attached to that Mac, you can also have a "Fusion" drive (assuming Apple doesn't shut down these command line hacks). This isn't misleading at all. Will it perform the same as the Mac version? That depends on what SSD / HDD Apple is using versus what SSD / HDD YOU are using.

I have a Mid 2011 Mac Mini, with a SSD / HDD installed, and I cannot wait to try this out, I currently have my home directory on the HDD to save room, but with this setup, the OS can choose where to put everything, which is truly ideal.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ALR26 Avatar
117 months ago
So he has an internal SSD and an external HDD with a single drive letter, what makes that a "fusion" drive? Nothing! There's no proof this is what Apple calls Fusion Drive technology. The article is a fail.

P.S. There's Windows software out there that will combine various drives into a single "hybrid" volume. Does that mean that's "fusion" drive software? I think not.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
charlituna Avatar
117 months ago

Mac developer Patrick Stein ( has been toying with his own Mac Pro setup ( and has managed to build his own Fusion Drive using command line tools.

So the headline is false. It's not Apple's Fusion Drive at all.

It should read more like "Computer Geek manages to emulate Apple's Fusion Drive in his own setup"
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WestonHarvey1 Avatar
117 months ago
Is this really exactly the same as Apple's implementation of Fusion Drive? That wasn't made clear to me by the article.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oYx Avatar
117 months ago
Isn't this called a seagate XT and has been out for over a year??

this thread is one infinite loop.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at Navigate to Scroll...
M1X MBP Feature

Leaker: Upcoming MacBook Pro to See Price Hike Over Current Model, Equal Performance Across 14 and 16-Inch Sizes

Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:28 am PDT by
The upcoming 14-inch MacBook Pro is set to be more expensive than the current 13-inch MacBook Pro and both the 14 and 16-inch models will offer the same performance, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." The leaker shared the information on Twitter, explaining that both of the upcoming MacBook Pro models, expected to come in 14 and 16-inch sizes, will feature the same performance due...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...

Apple Releases iOS 13.1.3 With Bug Fixes for Phone, Mail, Health, and More

Tuesday October 15, 2019 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 13.1.3 and iPadOS 13.1.3, minor updates to the iOS 13.1.2 software that was released two weeks ago. This is the fourth update to the iOS 13 operating system that came out in September. The iOS and iPadOS 13.1.3 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update....
Top Stories 75 Thumbnail

Top Stories: Last-Minute iPhone 13 Rumors, Apple Announces App Store Changes, and More

Saturday September 4, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The finish line is in sight! Apple's annual iPhone event is likely just a week or so away and all eyes will be on the company as it unveils the next version of its most popular product line. With any luck, we'll also see the next-generation Apple Watch and perhaps even some new AirPods. Other news this week saw Apple making some more changes to its App Store policies in response to a...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...

Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, Privacy, Shortcuts on Mac, and More

Saturday June 12, 2021 6:12 am PDT by
As is tradition, Apple executives Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak joined Daring Fireball's John Gruber in an episode of The Talk Show to discuss several announcements that Apple made over this weeks WWDC, including iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and a large focus around privacy. Federighi kicks off the conversation discussing the common architecture, now thanks to Apple silicon, across all of...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Seeds Third Betas of iOS and iPadOS 14.6 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday May 10, 2021 10:13 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of new iOS and iPadOS 14.6 updates to developers for testing purposes, one week after seeding the second iOS and iPadOS 14.6 updates. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. iOS and iPadOS 14.6 appear to be more minor changes focusing on...