Apple announced Fusion Drive along with its new Macs and iPad mini last week, and while it may have seemed like a straightforward hardware option only available from Apple itself, it’s actually more about how OS X handles storage, startup and other operations at the software level. Which means, as Mac developer Patrick Stein has proven on his Tumblr (via MacRumors), you can create your own Fusion drive at home with some Terminal action and existing hardware.
For his test, Stein used an internal 120GB SSD attached to an older Mac computer via SATA, and an external 750GB HDD plugged in via USB. You could also theoretically set up the same thing using two internal drives, however, if you’re using something like OWC’s data doubler to replace your optical drive on an older MacBook Pro with a second form of storage. You have to have a computer capable of running OS X Mountain Lion, specifically version 10.8.2, of course, but otherwise any type of SSD or HDD combo should technically work. And while it’s not likely practical or even wise to run a Fusion setup where your big, long-term data-storing component is an external drive attached via either Thunderbolt or USB (what happens when you have to unplug and go mobile?), this could be a great performance enhancer for older iMacs (though that could require some serious surgery), Mac minis or the poor, languishing Mac Pro.
For full details on how to accomplish this trick, check out Stein’s Tumblr post. Note that this does require you to dig into Terminal and get your hands dirty with command line input, which would be a very risky undertaking for most users, but for DIY types (with ample backups in place) it’s not all that challenging. In terms of what you’ll see once it’s set up, OS X should automatically transfer data that’s accessed regularly to the SSD, and then shuttle it back to the HDD for long-term storage after it hasn’t been called in a while. If you manage to get this up and running, be sure to share your results.