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Old September 10th, 2013, 09:15 PM   #1
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Odyssey SSD discussion

I think the move by Convergent Design to make their Odyssey 7Q SSD media proprietary is a huge error of judgement.

First a cautionary tale: this has been tried before by companies like Avid who used to sell proprietary drives for their systems (it was a firmware hack on the drives - nothing more) - it had two direct effects. It alienated end users, who could see the exact same drives selling for significantly less on consumer channels - and remember this was before the days of internet shopping. Avid would argue that they only used server grade drives (sound familiar?). Secondly it meant that if you did have a problem with your drive you had to go back to Avid and wait for them to replace it or carry around a hot spare. That's an expensive option. Avid - didn't mind - they were pretty much the only game in town.

Until the more hardware independent Final Cut Pro came around Avid could not respond quickly and basically got their pants pulled down by the competition. That's a simplistic view I know - there were other factors (mostly to do with overpriced proprietary hardware) but the mindset throughout Avid was the same.

Now Convergent Design can argue all they like about "server grade" SSDs but the truth is they have a fantastic product that they've crippled by going down this path.

1. SSD technology is evolving at an incredible rate - the drives today are 4x as fast as the first generation, so any "server grade" drive is likely to be caught and passed by off the shelf SSDs in the next 12 months. They are already much more reliable than spinning disks, so server grade means little. And some drives specs (2 striped together) already exceed the theoretical SATA3 saturation point (6Gb/s = 750MB/s and two striped drives will easily saturate that buss).

2. Imagine you are in the middle of a shoot and an SSD goes down. Convergent Design is not Avid - they have an even more limited distribution chain. Getting a replacement is not merely a matter of popping into a local computer shop. I'm in Australia - none of my local guys sell Convergent Design. So you'll probably have to carry a hot spare.

3. Convergent Design has brought the price down but I note I can buy a Sandisk SSD of twice the capacity and similar specs off the shelf for less. In 6 months it might be cheaper and faster and twice the capacity again.

This is just my opinion but Convergent Design are a market leader here and they risk guys like Ninja. AJA, BMD and others catching up and going past with such a short sighted policy. Sure they'll make a few extra bucks up front but is it worth it? How many less Odyssey's will they sell?
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Old September 11th, 2013, 12:23 AM   #2
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

One thing to keep in mind if you read the BMD forums is just how many issues users are having with trying to use unsupported drives even though there is an exhaustive list of what is KNOWN to work.

Users always blame the manufacturer when hardware doesn't work even if they themselves have ignored the best advice.

I don't own any CD gear yet so I'm not a "fan boy" - just someone who tries to play Devil's Advocate and see things from a holistic perspective.

SSDs for on-demand constant data rates like high bitrate video as opposed to easily packetized data which doesn't NEED to constantly meet a data rate target each and every second are sort of a hit-and-miss commodity still.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 01:25 AM   #3
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
One thing to keep in mind if you read the BMD forums is just how many issues users are having with trying to use unsupported drives even though there is an exhaustive list of what is KNOWN to work.

Users always blame the manufacturer when hardware doesn't work even if they themselves have ignored the best advice.
I agree Shaun - and no doubt that is one of the reasons CD decided to go down this path. I merely point out the pitfalls of doing it. I think it is far better to put out a list of approved drives and then it is buyer beware if they buy an unapproved drive and it doesn't work.

BTW - I don't see any issue with CD selling drives as part of a package to the end user or in charging a premium for that service. My only issue is tying them to the use of the device.

One question that arises from the whole Server grade angle is are these SSD's utilising SLC NAND? If they are then I have no complaint because those things are expensive, fast and longer lasting than MLC based NAND.. but AFAIK they don't come in capacities higher than 240-256GB.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 02:43 AM   #4
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

I have the Sony AXS-R5 raw recorder so I have the mother of all proprietary "SSD"s with the 512gb AXS card. This $2,000 card won't fit in any other device on the market. Would I have liked to use standard Sandisk SSD's in the R5? You bet. But I know that the AXS card will be rock solid, tested and reliable. I'm sure CD feel the same way about their SSD media.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 07:11 AM   #5
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

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Originally Posted by Peter Corbett View Post
I have the Sony AXS-R5 raw recorder so I have the mother of all proprietary "SSD"s with the 512gb AXS card. This $2,000 card won't fit in any other device on the market. Would I have liked to use standard Sandisk SSD's in the R5? You bet. But I know that the AXS card will be rock solid, tested and reliable. I'm sure CD feel the same way about their SSD media.
Peter I'm not sure what one has to do with the other? Sony is a giant multinational company who has been down this path many times before and nearly always failed so they actually help to make my case. Remember how people found away around SxS cards so they could use cheaper SD card media? A lot of people I know with EX1's and 3's only had the 8G cards that came with the camera and shot everything else on SD cards via an adapter. Remember Sony Memory stick and Memorystick pro? Remember Betamax?

And your AXS card had better not be tested too much because you actually wear it out a bit after every cycle. That is the nature of NAND memory.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 10:34 AM   #6
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mitchell View Post
I think it is far better to put out a list of approved drives and then it is buyer beware if they buy an unapproved drive and it doesn't work.
Again, I don't disagree with you but go read the BMD forum on this issue. The average end user is a whiny jerk who won't take responsibility for his/her actions in contravention of solid advice.

From a PR perspective, Convergent have cast their vote and I understand why they have done what they have done.

Of course, we (and specifically you in this case) can vote with your dollars as you see fit. Don't like it? Don't buy it.

Not being a troll here, just pointing out that companies can do as they see fit to serve their own business model and sense of risk in the marketplace.

Take a look at the auto market:
North American manufacturers typically allow custom ordering of individual options on their cars for custom build (which almost NO ONE takes advantage of) which allows the consumer to feel like they are in control while Asian auto makers typically provide 3 trim levels with set option packages.

Which is "right"?

Both have proven themselves in the marketplace.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 02:36 PM   #7
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

I agree with the original poster. Certifying the SSD as server grade is not the same as guaranteeing it will always work, but for sure if it's not certified, it's guaranteed NOT to work. Don't see a benefit.
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Old September 11th, 2013, 04:59 PM   #8
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Dear John,

First, I would like to thank you for posting your thoughts and opinions. This is a great forum that allows us to discuss this topic openly and frankly.

Our Primary Goal is Reliability.

All of our hard work, designing and building the Odyssey7Q and Odyssey7 is worthless, if users in the field have reliability problems with our device, or the SSD’s that they use in the device.

We consider our Odyssey7Q and Odyssey7 professional devices, suitable for high-end professional use, even though we have priced them very reasonably.

Thus, we design and build them to be professional devices and we need reliable, professional media as well.

-----------------

With our nanoFlash, we supported a wide range of CompactFlash cards. We devoted a great deal of effort to testing and qualifying CompactFlash cards, then we posted the qualified cards.

While this is a vastly different case, our experience was that many used CompactFlash cards that were not on our qualified card list, with varying degrees of success.

We devoted a lot of time attempting to recover footage from non-qualified cards for our customers.

Then we had the issue of certain manufacturers frequently changing their CompactFlash cards.

The controller chip, the controller chip firmware, and or the basic technology in a specific brand/type of card would change over time. This meant that while we fully qualified one brand/type of card, if the manufacturer changed the firmware and electronics in the card, the new card would not always work reliably.

Certain CompactFlash card manufacturers would work with us so we did not have this problem.

CompactFlash cards are in a different league from Solid State Drives (SSD’s). SSD’s are far higher in performance, and there are vast differences among SSD brands and types.

-----------------

While many consider SSD’s to be a commodity item, with the assumption that they are fully interchangeable; at the level of performance that we need, they are not.

We tested over a dozen SSD’s, for months.

We needed very fast continuous write speeds, without using compression of the data, and we needed power protection, to ensure that data is not lost when power is lost, and we needed very low power consumption.

Low Power Consumption is much more important than it would first seem.

Low Power Consumption, while writing data, continuously at 400 to over 500 Megabytes per second, is not something one typically finds in the SSD spec sheets.

Our SSD’s have the lowest Power Consumption, by far, of any SSD that we tested.

A higher Power Consumption means higher heat in the device, and higher heat can interfere with using our units in extreme conditions.

Higher Power Consumption means that we would have to build a bigger heatsink, making our devices larger and heavier.

-----------------

You mentioned SanDisk SSD’s, which seem to have similar specs.

Our testing showed that their power consumption was approximately two times the SSD’s that we use.

I could find no mention of power protection in the SanDisk SSD specifications.


SSD Power Protection is vital for our application.

One can reasonably expect, that a battery or power source will die during recording or playing back.

With many SSD’s, this can cause loss of data, and it can occasionally cause harm to the SSD itself, causing all data of the SSD to be lost.

Our SSD’s have Power Protection built in.

If power is lost during a record, you may loose the last 2-3 seconds of video due to internal buffering in the Odyssey7 or Odyssey7Q, but all the data previously transferred to the SSD will be safe.

Our SSD’s have the best Power Protection of all of the many SSD’s we tested.

-----------------


We have spent months testing our SSD’s, and frankly, we seriously abuse them during our testing.

For example, while recording, we will turn off the power, and at other times, we will pull an SSD while we are recording.

Our SSD’s pass these tests.

Internally, a SSD consists of the Controller Chip, Controller Firmware, and non-volatile memory chips.

Our SSD’s include Controller Firmware that has been optimized for our application, which is long duration, continuous high-speed writes to the SSD.

This Controller Firmware, the Controller Chip itself, and the memory chips are “locked down”, they will not change (without the manufacturer letting us know well in advance so we can test.)

-----------------

An important note, is that we are using a well-known, leading SSD manufacturer. A company that builds the Controller Chip, the Firmware, and the Memory Chips.

This SSD, with this specific firmware, is not sold through regular retail channels.


If you read the SSD specifications carefully, you will see many specifications, such as “Maximum Write Speed” listed as “up to”.

We have found that many SSD’s, from certain manufacturers, will live up to these specifications,
but then there are specific individual SSD’s that just do not perform as well as most others of the same brand and type.

Thus, if one purchases an SSD from normal retail channels, one is not assured that it will work as well as the next SSD.
This is unacceptable for professional recording.

-----------------

Every SSD that we sell is individually tested, in our devices, such as the Odyssey7 and Odyssey7Q, at both normal room temperature and at very elevated temperatures.

The ones that do not pass our extensive testing are not delivered to our dealers.

-----------------

John, I hope you feel that I am not lecturing you, I am just attempting to answer the questions that you have raised.

The issue of whether we use Proprietary SSD’s or not is certainly debatable and one can reasonably take both sides.

Our SSD’s are very special, very high end, high performance SSD’s, with a Locked Down Bill of Materials, with very low power and great Power Protection and they are available only through our dealers. Thus a reasonable person could call them Proprietary.

On the other hand, our SSD’s, are the same form factor, have the same electrical interface (SATA III, 6.0 Gigabits per Second), use the same voltage as regular SSD’s and may be used interchangeable with most any other SSD. Thus, a reasonable person would not call them Proprietary. Our SSD’s may be freely used in computers.

Many other manufacturers use custom designed interfaces, form factors, etc, and thus I would consider their devices to be Proprietary.

I readily admit that some will call our SSD’s Proprietary, but I do not.

-----------------

We took the criticism of our SSD’s being too expensive, so we negotiated with our SSD supplier to obtain lower prices and we passed these lower prices on to our customers.

Our 256 GB SSD, is priced at $395 (US Price) while our 512 GB SSD is priced at $795 (US Price).

I do feel that these are fair prices for what we are offering and for the testing that we perform to ensure that you have a successful shoot with our Odyssey7 or Odyssey7Q.

A price comparison to SSD’s that do not have all of the same features will show that the lesser SSD will usually cost less.


-----------------

Since the Odyssey7Q and Odyssey7 are very popular products, we expect to add many more dealers around the world, including Australia.

-----------------

John, you mentioned “the theoretical SATA3 saturation point (6Gb/s = 750MB/s”.

I would like to politely point out that the theoretical SATA3 saturation point is 600 MB/s (Megabytes per Second).

There is overhead due to the Error Correction Codes used.

From a practical standpoint, the maximum is around 550 MB/s/

-----------------

I have one last point, our SSD’s should be considered a critical part of our Odyssey7Q and Odyssey7.

They were selected for use with our Odyssey7Q and Odyssey7.

They have been extensively tested with our Odyssey7Q and Odyssey7.

Our firmware has been designed to take advantage of the specific Controller Firmware in our SSD’s.

Our firmware has been optimized to achieve the highest performance with these specific SSD’s.



Our Primary Goal is Reliability.


Respectfully,
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Old September 11th, 2013, 08:35 PM   #9
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Dan I can't and won't argue with any of that - thankyou for the very comprehensive explanation. It also will help clear the air of any misconceptions that end users like myself may have had and it is far more comprehensive than anything on your website.

The primary thought behind my original post was that a lot of shooting would still only be DNxHD/ProRes @ 1080P... and this media seems totally over-specified for that data rate. I would have liked the option to use cheaper media in that situation..but the heat and power issues would seem to put paid to that.

At the end of the day your entry point is the cheapest one out there so I know you'll do well with this product. I only hope that as SSD technology moves ahead we see corresponding value in your drives.. ie 750GB will be a common size soon. Because when consumer SSDs get down to 50c or 40c a Gigabyte (soon) I would like to see CD address the value proposition.

BTW - are you saying that the specs (400-500MB/s write speeds) for your SSDs are for uncompressed data?!!
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Old September 12th, 2013, 06:48 AM   #10
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Dear John,

Thank you for your reply to my post.

Mike Schell and I debated quite a lot about the possibility of offering a less capable SSD, at a lower cost, for when one is only recording compressed footage. And this SSD may also have lower capacity, say 128 GB instead of 256 GB.

But, the lower capacity SSD's, within the same line of SSD's, from the same manufacturer, have less performance.

This created quite a dilemma and caused us to be very concerned.

If we added these 128 GB SSD's to our offerings, then they can not be used for certain modes of recording, say recording from the FS700 in 2K, at 120 fps or 240 fps, or in 4K at 60 fps. And these restrictions would also apply to high-bandwidth modes for other cameras as well.

Based on past experience, we can fully expect for someone to purchase the wrong SSD's for the type of shooting that they plan to accomplish.

Or they may plan, for a specific shoot, to only shoot uncompressed, but at the last minute they want High Speed footage and would need different SSD's.

We came to the conclusion, that no matter how much we document that certain SSD's can only be used for certain modes, someone, sometime, will have the wrong SSD's on set, and it will be a serious problem for that shoot. And we feel that our Odyssey7Q or Odyssey7 may be blamed, as unfair as that is.

I hope this helps.

Respectfully,
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Old September 12th, 2013, 07:11 AM   #11
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

When the GH2 got hacked, I saw a lot of rumbling about how manufacturers "stifle" their cameras capabilities, and why doesn't Panasonic/Canon/Sony/ect. let people shoot high end codecs on SD card media, yadda yadda yadda. The fact that certain of the GH2 were unusable with most SD cards on the market seems to completely fly over their heads.

Now, in 2013, Blackmagic Design releases their Pocket Camera that shoots ProRes HQ to SD card media. Just what everyone wanted, right? Oh, except it only really works with very specific cards, and now people are complaining about that. As Shaun pointed out, end users will use some cheap brand that won't work well, and it won't be their cheapening out on a necessity in this business, no, it will be Convergent Design's fault. This is their way of insuring that the unit will perform as expected as reliably as SSD technology can possibly allow.

Frankly, FS700, C500, and Alexa shooters should be sending Dan and his team birthday and holiday cards for the foreseeable future for providing such an elegant solution. Have you see the alternatives? And on top of that, the Odyssey isn't even available yet, but CD has already dropped the price of the media. That tells me they're not trying to squeeze out significant income from that.
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Old September 12th, 2013, 07:36 AM   #12
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mitchell View Post
BTW - are you saying that the specs (400-500MB/s write speeds) for your SSDs are for uncompressed data?!!
Dear John,

Recording at 400 to 500 MB/s is for recording 2K Raw, from the FS700, Raw from other cameras, and for full uncompressed.

The Odyssey7Q comes standard with the ability to record full uncompressed. Note: The Odyssey7 does not record full uncompressed.

Specifically, for the FS700, when we are record 2K Raw, in 12-Bit Linear, one needs one of our SSD's to record at 120 fps, and two for recording at 240 fps.

As a side note, our recording of 2K Raw, from the FS700, is a major advance over the high-speed modes in the original, non-upgraded FS700.

Since our recorder, and the Sony R5 recorder also, can accept the video data in real-time (without the camera needing to buffer or cache the data), the operation of these modes is great, just press record, then stop. This is very easy.

In the original FS700 high-speed modes, one loaded the buffer, then dumped out the contents of the buffer (which took time). This was problematic for many as they could miss important shots, while waiting for the buffer to write out its contents.


Respectfully,
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Old September 12th, 2013, 11:17 AM   #13
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Dear Gary,

I personally, and our entire Convergent Design team, appreciates you post.

You have stated, very well, why we want people to use our fully supported, and fully tested SSD's instead of opening it up to allow any SSD to be used, with predictable undesirable results.

Respectfully,
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Old September 12th, 2013, 11:27 AM   #14
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

Dear Friends,

Here is a link to our website, where we have a comparison of our SSD Media, to other professional media.

Odyssey SSD Media

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Old September 12th, 2013, 03:12 PM   #15
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re: Odyssey SSD discussion

well thanks for the test, but looking only at the number you provide, your drive is exactly the same as the samsung 840 pro but more expensive.
and just for logic, the Sound Device sata drive for almost same size and same price is rated a lot more expensive at price/Gb (2.15) while 395/240=1.64
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