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Old April 3rd, 2010, 11:35 AM   #1
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Optimizing Hardware setup for FCP??

Hi,

I'm hoping someone can offer some experience and valid advice on setting up my system to maximize it's performance for editing with Final Cut Studio 3.

My projects are generally small (less than 100GB each). With the following hardware I'm hoping to optimize for performance for the next 12 months.

Although SSD is an option I want to use my existing hardware and in the future when the price drops to an affordable price I will review my setup.

My questions are listed at the end of this post. Thanking you in advance for any help. :-)

Camera Workflows:

Sony PMW-EX1
Canon 7d

Computer Hardware:

- Mac Pro

1 x Mac Pro ( 2 x 2.8 Quad-Core Intel Xeon )
32 GB RAM (8 x 4GB RAM)

- External Enclosures

2 x FirmTek SeriTek/2ME4-E ( 4-Port eSATA Host Adapter )
2 x FirmTek SeriTek/2eEN4 ( Four Bay Hot-Swap External eSATA Serial ATA Enclosure )

- Hard Drives

14 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Numerous 2.5" 500GB 7200 External Hard drives with Quad Interface" of FireWire 800/400/USB 2.0/eSATA


Initial Hard Drive Setup:

- Boot

1 x 500GB 2.5" 7200
Drive is partitioned with 200 GB partition for boot drive ( Snow Leopard and Applications )
Partition is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
The rest of the drive is left blank

This drive is enclosed in a OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Mini Enclosure using external firewire 800 to connect to Mac Pro

This drive maybe the first to take advantage of swapping it for a SSD 200GB drive ( OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise SSD ). For another discussion.

- Files

6 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Each drive is partitioned with 200 GB and combined into a 1.2 TB Raid 0 Drive
The raid drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended (No Journaling) with 'Ignore ownership on this volume' checked on the Info dialog box for the drive
The rest of each drive is left blank

Used to save project files and related assets

Theses drives are housed internally in the Mac Pro ( the 4 internal drive bays plus the two extra internal SATA ports )

- Scratch

6 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Each drive is partitioned with 20 GB and 200GB partitions
The 20GB partitions are combined into a 120 GB Raid 0 Drive for Photoshop Scratch drive
The 200GB partitions are combined into a 1.2 TB Raid 0 Drive for Final Cut Studio scratch drive
The two raid drives are formatted as Mac OS Extended (No Journaling) with 'Ignore ownership on this volume' checked on the Info dialog box for each drive
The rest of each drive is left blank

Theses drives are housed externally in the FirmTek Enclosures ( Enclosure 1: 4 internal drive bays, Enclosure 2: 2 internal drive bays )

- Back Up

2 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Drives are combined together to form a 1 TB Raid 1 Drive
The raid drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended (No Journaling) with 'Ignore ownership on this volume' checked on the Info dialog box for the drive

These drives are housed externally in the FirmTek Enclosures ( Enclosure 2: 2 internal drive bays )

Have other drives to make external backups of backups and to hot swap sets etc.


Questions:

These questions are based on the fact that all my assets are acquired in a file format and that I will never be capturing from tape. I'm just making the distinction as I don't have to take into consideration capture scratch settings.

1). Is there a better configuration for the hard drives above?

2). Is there a method/formula for working out the optimal partition size for the outer tracks of a hard drive?

3). What cluster size should I use for the file and scratch volumes? 128k?

4). Is there any benefit to short stroking the drives as opposed to just partitioning the drives and leaving the unpartitioned segments blank?

5). With Read and Write contention on Hard Drives ( not SSD ) I am trying to understand how FCP utilizes IO on drives. At First I though about separating my fcp project video files from the rendered files on two separate disks (Files and Scratch). At the moment how I understand it is that FCP would read the raw files on the Files disk and write (render) to the Scratch disk. Yet FCP would be playing back the rendered files from scratch disk which is a read from the scratch disk when previewing the timeline when it is rendered. So would I be better increasing the disks used in the combined Scratch disk set and reducing disks used for the Files disk set?

6). Am I right in believing that rendering doesn't happen during playback? Meaning that there wouldn't be a read and write at the same time on the scratch disk set and that the disk would be just reading?

7). Am I right in believing that there would be a performance gain by separating the project video files on the Files disk set (6 drives) from the Scratch disk set (6 drives) as opposed to combining all on one scratch disk set (12 drives)?
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Old April 4th, 2010, 04:34 AM   #2
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I see that nobody has responded to your question yet & are perhaps like me a little awed by your hardware setup which is a lot beefier than many (most?) FCP editor have access to.

First off I have to ask what problem(s) you see at present? The key to any computer performance work is to identify the bottlenecks & fix those. In broad terms the bottlenecks are either CPU, memory or disk I/O. You could theoretically upgrade the CPUs to 3GHz or 3.2GHz but that would be very expensive would only boost CPU performance at most by just under 15%. You already have the maximum memory configuration which if the only use of the machine is FCP is more than could ever be required as FCP remains a 32-bit application so will never use more than 4GB.

So the only area for performance improvement is with the disk I/O system if that indeed is slowing down your work. I have no personal experience of the finely tuned RAID setup that you are using so will let someone with more knowledge comment on that but I do hope that your backup procedures are good as you are committing all your working files to a six member stripe set. It's OK for the scratch/render disk but I would be happier if they were my files on a three member stripe set mirrored to another three way stripe set. Do your 6 way RAID-0 setups give you real world practical performance advantages over ones with fewer members?

I did wonder why you are using FW800 to connect your system disk particularly if you are considering a SSD which can theoretically swamp S-ATA let along FW800. You certainly won't see the full potential of a SSD on FW800.

Is that a typo that you are really using 2.5" 500GB disks? Laptop drives are always slower than 3.5" drives. A good fast system drive is the Velociraptor 10Krpm which is actually a 2.5" drive that is not for laptops but is housed in a heat-sink that fits a 3.5" enclosure.

Finally what is 'Ignore ownership on this volume' supposed to be doing for you? I can see that it might be a convenience in multi-user setups but don't see otherwise. I assume that there is some performance voodoo.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 11:06 PM   #3
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Colin,

Welcome to the forums. While not an "end-all-be-all" listing you can use this primer from my workflow site as a jump-off point for your own setups:

How to Setup your Computer for Video Editing | Go-Go-Godzilla.com
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Old May 20th, 2010, 04:53 PM   #4
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questions on your disc allocations

you say in that essay:

"Setup your files accordingly:
- OS and applications/programs on a single drive
- MEDIA FILES on it's own dedicated drive
- AUTOSAVE AND CACHE on it's own dedicated drive
- RENDER FILES on it's own dedicated drive
- PROJECT FILE should stay with the OS drive/desktop"


I agree with most of that, but is there a reason you break out the autosave and cache files?
I personally believe the OS and Apps should be on a separate drive and data/project files kept on a "data" drive. While the autosave and cache files may be written and read, respectively, more often, i hardly think it would affect performance; furthermore, I don't believe it necessitates it's own drive, let alone dedicated drive.

What am i missing?

Kudos to you for assembling that info . . . you're part of what keeps the web a wealth.
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Old November 13th, 2010, 03:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
Colin,

Welcome to the forums. While not an "end-all-be-all" listing you can use this primer from my workflow site as a jump-off point for your own setups:

How to Setup your Computer for Video Editing | Go-Go-Godzilla.com
This link appears dead, have you placed it anywhere else that one could view it?
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Old November 24th, 2010, 08:05 PM   #6
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Sorry, yes, it's been moved to the new review site, Grumpy Quail. The link is in my signature.
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