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Old January 16th, 2009, 03:50 PM   #1
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MacBook Pro disk testing

I've been wondering the speed difference between the internal drive and an external OSX Raid 0 setup.

My 2.4ghz MBP has a 7200rpm internal drive that runs about 50 MB/sec.

External 3 drive raid 0:
Average write speed across the volume: 115MB/sec
Average read speed across the volume: 132MB/sec

External 4 drive Raid 0:
Average write speed across the volume: 148MB/sec
Average read speed across the volume: 142MB/sec

The external drives run through a typical Sil based two port eSata ExpressCard/34 to a two port multiplier external enclosure. The expresscard is probably the limiting factor.

So, for notebooks it seems:
1) There may be little reason to use an external raid box vs. regular external disk storage.
2) Raid 0 scales to at least four drives in my setup.
3) It's pretty easy to get 3x the performance of a fast internal drive.

Next I'll upgrade to this:
AMUG Sonnet Tempo SATA Pro ExpressCard/34 Review
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Old January 17th, 2009, 01:43 PM   #2
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Here are a few more test comparisons.

1 external drive, no raid (3.5" Samsung 1TB)

Average write speed across the volume: 73.1MB/sec
Average read speed across the volume: 104MB/sec

Meaningfully better than the "fast" 7200 rpm internal drive (that has OSX and apps)
-------------------

2 external drives on one port multiplier running Raid 0

Average write speed across the volume: 82.1MB/sec
Average read speed across the volume: 114MB/sec

Ah Ha! This explains why some people say raid 0 on their MacBook isn't faster than a single drive.
-----------------------

2 external drives, each with their own esata cable (no PM), Raid 0

Average write speed across the volume: 137MB/sec
Average read speed across the volume: 141MB/sec

So finally - we see the price/performance sweet spot.: Two drives, but not in a PM box. (These should be matching drives)

Next up is the FW 800 side.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:34 AM   #3
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this is nice hard data :) For the raid, are you just using disk utility to raid them?
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Old January 18th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #4
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I'm confused. Are you talking about booting from a RAID 0 on a MBP vs Internal Disk write/read speeds? I'm not sure how this is important in regards to FCP media implementation. If you're video data lives on a RAID 0 array, than why do you also want to boot from it? To gain 3 seconds on how fast FCP boots up? Or is there something different I'm missing (render times shouldn't be affected, if the render drive is the RAID0 array).

Also, your determination is the PM slows down the process? Which hardware are you using for your eSATA card and which eSATA drives/enclosures?

Please clarify,
Thanks,
-C
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:01 PM   #5
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Cole,
Yes, just disk utility. It crashes on complicated setups like raid 10, but once the raid is set up it runs fine. If DU concerned me I would buy Softraid.

For testing I use this:
diglloyd: DiskTester 2.0
This software is also nice for doing over night testing of a new drive before ot's used for real work.

Christopher,
Booting? Did I say booting? I just use raid for media. I wanted to see how the internal drive compared, however. I keep OSX and applications on the internal drive. I don't want to use raid 0 for anything but temporary space.

The brand expresscard I use is SIIG, but the important spec is that it uses Silicon Imaging chip and firmware (as most of thes eSata adapters do). SIIG was on of the few available a year ago. They make few, if any, mac product currently. I would go with a card from a vendor that does more mac hardware if I was buying today. From what I've seen the max 150MB/sec speed is common to all the SI based cards. The newest Sonnet Pro seems to do 200MB, but is messed up on the most current MBP.

The large enclosures I have are the PM and ML version of this (in silver):
PROVANTAGE: E8PM-Black EnhanceBOX E8 PM - Black By Enhance Technology (Overview)



PM definitely slows down the process. That is if more than one drive is connected to the PM. This is because, for the card to run fast, it needs both eSata channels working. As the number show. A two drive external drive box with PM running raid 0 is little faster than a single, good external drive.

Note that the nice and fast Sonnet Fusion 2 uses two eSata connectors instead of a PM:
Sonnet - Fusion F2: Portable RAID SATA Storage System
They are using smaller laptop drives that are not as fast as the larger desktop drives I was testing.

What this all boils down to is pretty simple.
Each of the two eSata connections can run about 75MB/sec. One faster drive on each cable will use the whole 75MB/sec. Add these two drives together with Raid 0 if needed. But a total of 150MB/sec is all the bandwidth available. An 8 drive raid 0 on a PM connected to eSata expresscard isn't going to be any faster than two drives.

Firewire 800 is 60-70MB/sec. Raid 0 on FW800 will not be any faster than a single high performance drive. This wasn't true a few years ago. But drives have become faster and a single good drive can now use all the FW800 capacity.

The newest Sonnet Pro card probably needs three drives to use the full 200MB/sec capacity. But again both eSata cables must be used to reach 200MB/sec. In the Sonnet Pro link in my first post the author tested this card with a 5 drive PM box. Look at the slow numbers.

To be clear, I'm only using OSX based raid. There's no raid hardware. One test I've seen of an inexpensive 5 drive raid box shows 50MB/sec performance. So it's a raid 5 box that performs like a single laptop drive. Most/all of these inexpensive hardware raid solutions don't make sense. A good multilane raid card in a Mac Pro is the way to do raid 5 or 6.
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