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Old February 3rd, 2010, 09:14 AM   #1
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MacPro Question

Hi All
Im currently running FCS 2 on a Macbook pro 2.5 Ghz Core duo with 4mb of Ram , with a g-raid on a firewire , usually used to Edit DV finished on DVD and some conversion to Flash files
A HDV 2 hour TC window burn through compressor is taking over 12 hours and Ive had a lot of freeze ups lately (although i suspect a lot of thats caused by another drive on e sata which I dont fully trust)

A new MacPro with 2 x 2.66 chips and 8mb Ram would be a very hefty investment

What sort of speed increases in Compressor and Rendering would I see for my money and is it worth it

(not looking for exact science just a general indication)

Many Thanks in advance
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 11:21 AM   #2
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If you get an 8-core it will increase your Compressor DVD rendering power by a lot especially if you engage QMaster to use all 8 cores. Also with a few codecs that have been optimized for QMaster. Regular FCP rendering within the timeline only use 4-cores at this point in time. A quad core MacPro will be better then what you have now but the 27in iMac has about the same power for quite a bit less. Unless you have an immediate need, wait a few months as it seems that 6-core and 12-core MacPros are on the horizon.

Also try rendering the HDV to DV before applying the timecode. Might be quicker.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 06:18 PM   #3
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John,

Right now isn't the time to rush into purchasing any Apple-branded hardware; according to reports from the town-hall meeting Jobs hosted immediately following the iPad release they are about to launch major updates to their hardware lineup. Of course there are no exact details about when or what but it's a safe bet that if you purchased something *right now* that in just a month or two it will be replaced by it's newer successor. Hold off - if you can.

Instead consider investing in a different HDD interface and better encoding engines that are much faster than Compressor.

I'm assuming your MBP is the pre-unibody version so you have the ExpressCard slot; get the Sonnet Pro eSATA card which will allow you to use up to an 8-bay eSATA array and get much faster connect speeds than FW will allow (Firewire has a max data rate of approximately 80-90Mb/s which is about the average single-drive speed, so there's no benefit it using a FW-based array for speed purposes).

Next, look into getting either the newly released Sorenson Squeeze 6 or Episode Desktop Pro encoder software. I'm about to post a comparison between those 2 and Compressor but here's a spoiler: for MPEG2 encoding at the same quality/bitrate settings Squeeze and Episode are both up to 2x times faster than Compressor even if C3 is using virtual clusters.

Look into those options before coughing up major cash for a tower.

For what it's worth: My main testing system is exactly what you have: a 2.5Ghz MBP pre-unibody and I've got the setup recommended above. It's quite the powerhouse when you use the ExpressCard slot for HDD access.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 09:40 PM   #4
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That spoiler is more of a tease! When do you think the final review will be posted? I'm interested if the speed boost is worth the $500 or $800 extra.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 11:31 PM   #5
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"Soon" is all I can say. There are some technical niggles that need to be sussed out and I'm working with feedback from the publisher before continuing the review so I have a full understanding of performance expectations.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 02:36 AM   #6
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I love how we hijacked this thread but:

I've been using squeeze for years (version 5 now) yet hate the interface... I also think Episode is a joke (use WireDrive and am hugely happy). On the flip side, Compressor pales in comparison to the raw encoding power Squeeze has... so it wouldn't surprise me that it beats out Apple... And FLV/SWF in Compressor... yeah right.

But do you really want to export a reference file every time to gain in MPEG2 encoding speed? It's a chore. Where is our send to> command?

-C
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Old February 4th, 2010, 08:27 AM   #7
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Just to be sure we're on the same page here: Wiredrive? That's a content hosting/push service, not a desktop encoding engine. So when you say, "...Episode is a joke..." are you referring to another service offering from a different company? (Episode = Telestream, same people who make Flip 4 Mac plug in). Telestream doesn't offer content hosting.
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Old February 5th, 2010, 10:29 AM   #8
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I'd love to get more flexibility than Compressor currently offers. But I don't do encoding anywhere near enough to justify the cost of Telestream Episode Pro. Its a shame because I'd like to be able to take care of all my encoding in one place. The Telestream WMV Pro plugin doesn't play too nicely with Compressor (crashes Qmaster if you try to use multiple cores). And I don't get as efficient compression using On2 Flix Pro as I would do using Compressor.

Are there any good alternatives to Compressor out there that don't cost the earth?
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Old February 5th, 2010, 11:40 AM   #9
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Rather than continue this thread in "hijack mode" I'll answer this and other questions this weekend after posting the encoder review on the site and starting a QA thread here on the forum.
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Old February 5th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #10
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You're not hijacking, the entire conversation is fascinating and very educational for me anyway
Thanks for the advice on waiting to buy, (according to a sit called macrumours) new one due, 6core and 12 core, in March
Finding out that not everything actually uses all 8 cores (yet) was very interesting (Thanks)

Following the advice I Looked at buying an older Xeon model, some great value to be had except as the proud owner of a 24 Cinema Display Id have the DVI to Apples unique video connection (con job) to deal with
Not sure Im up to an 8 bay array Robert but will look , have you any manufacturers preferences as Im currently running a 1 TB La Cie on e-sata with a Sonnet Pro card and it gives me nothing but grief or freezes (and i was never sure whether it was the drive r the card) my Gtech is solid as a rock
Finally I have Sorenson 5 and like another poster Dont like the interface and use it mainly for FLV outputs, never even occured to me to use it for Mpeg 2 burns as well (D'oh)

Probably wait and see what price the new 6 cores are but many many thanks to all for taking the time to reply
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Old February 5th, 2010, 03:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Just to be sure we're on the same page here: Wiredrive? That's a content hosting/push service, not a desktop encoding engine. So when you say, "...Episode is a joke..." are you referring to another service offering from a different company? (Episode = Telestream, same people who make Flip 4 Mac plug in). Telestream doesn't offer content hosting.
I meant to say their "360" product. Doh! Dunno why I thought it was called Episode...
-C
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Old February 5th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #12
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John,

I never use pre-made arrays by any manufacturer and instead get bare enclosures and put in my own drives. That way I'm not paying a premium on their cost to purchase, test and install the drives and as drive tech improves I can simply swap out drives and keep the same enclosure/interface.

OWC has the widest selection of bare enclosures that I've seen; they key with eSATA is to stay away from port-mulitplier and stick with either JBOD or mini-SAS (infini-band) connectors. (despite claims for various manufacturers, port-multiplier is nothing more than multiple drives sharing the same single-lane I/O to the host, so no matter how many drives you have in the array you never get better than single-drive I/O speeds, just like Firewire)

LaCie has always been buggy with it's controller chipset choices and chances are the backplane controller in the LaCie chassis is causing data collisions with the Sonnet card. I've seen that play out too many times. The Sonnet card is rock-solid on it's own; make sure you have the latest drivers too.

With all the problems the Nehalem chipsets have been having in 09 towers (mac only) I'd either buy an older 08 Quad-core or wait and see if the newer releases solve the many issues the newer ones are suffering from. (see the thousands of complaints on various sites about MP3 and other audio-related files causing fan spin-ups and heatsink overheats)
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Old February 5th, 2010, 06:32 PM   #13
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I have a 09 MacPro and have never experienced the fan spin-ups with mp3 files or overheating caused by audio files. Some of the complaints seem to be focused around USB or FireWire audio interfaces which I don't use. It remains to be seen if this is an across the board problem or isolated to a specific run of computers. Once a serial number set has been isolated (or hasn't) we'll know better. Unlike the problems with some 27" iMacs, Apple has yet to acknowledge any problems with the 2009 MacPros so we'll see where that goes. Quite frankly with video files the 2009 MacPros are a little bit more robust than the 2008 models even though the processor speeds are around the same. Regardless, it's best to wait if you are considering a tower.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 01:00 PM   #14
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I've got a Quad 2.66 Nehalam (the model which is supposedly affected by this whole
MP3 thing) and have NEVER once noticed any problems when playing audio. The
thing is a rock solid FCP workstation in my experience.....even if you have music playing
in the background. Of course, I don't know that I've ever heard any fan spin ups on
it, so maybe they are just really quiet. And of course I wouldn't necessarily know
if there was a heating issue, but it hasn't affected the computers performance.....it's
a nice, fast machine.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #15
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Ditto with my 2.66GHz 8 Core 2009 Mac Pro. No problems for me at all. Wonderful machine :-)
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