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Old December 4th, 2005, 10:12 AM   #1
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Dual-core and raid -- necessary?

I remember in the early days of dv everybody on forums and all the magazines were saying -- get the latest processor, then get dual processors, get raid. Then a year (or two) later the magazines wrote "The dirty little lie of dv was that the previous processors weren't quick enough to properly work with this media without bogging down and crashing." With processor speeds at a dead stand still, is this the same old song and dance with HD?

I remember dual processors and hyperthreading and raid talked about as the second-coming, but the reality, after people bought the most expensive pc's around, was endless talk on the Canopus / Premiere boards (other boards too) of all these gimmicks constantly crashing their systems. The advice was always the same -- disable hyperthreading, disable your second processor, disable raid. Then -- surprise -- stability.

I read a few months back a test with Premiere (Elements I believe, not the full version) using a dual core processor and the magazine declared it made NO difference, that the only use would be if you wanted to run two applications at once.

I'm looking into HD and I want to know what's different this time around, or is this the same old, same old? I have read dual-core really speeds up Cineform's encoding / decoding. I also heard on Leo LaPorte's G4 show "Call For Help" that as soon as Windows Longhorn is out (with it's 64 bit os) then we will really be able to move huge chunks of data like HD around. But where are the benchmark tests for the dual-core pc's? What, if any, of the NLE's is written to work with the dual-core processors? Where are the tests to prove this stuff is worth the trouble and expense? Are modern systems really more stable then yesteryears? People used to post their findings on forums like this, so if you people have proof that modern pc's are up to the HD task, please let me and others know. I'd like to know what I'm in for. Thank you.
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Old December 4th, 2005, 10:36 AM   #2
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John: I recently upgraded from a single-core 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 to a dual-core 3.0 GHz Pentium D, and that made a definite difference in performance for HDV editing with no noticeable decrease in stability. I think all the fuss over 64-bit computing is over-rated for video work for now, but dual-core and dual-processor setups are almost a must for HD work.
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Old December 4th, 2005, 10:45 AM   #3
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John, I just built an AMD dual core PC with a RAID 0 (the specs are on my web site) so I can share my experiences. I canít speak for other applications like Premiere but Vegas WILL take advantage of dual core and/or dual processors. The answer to your questions will always be, ďif the application is multi-threaded, then duals will helpĒ. It depends totally on the application. Vegas even allows you to turn dual processor support on and off and specify the maximum number of threads to use. Your NLE may not, in which case you will see not boost in performance. With Vegas you will.

The big misconception about HDV is native editing. All of the major NLEís boast the ability to edit natively in one breath, and then tell you not to do it in the next. So why did they add that support? Probably because the customer wanted it. Not because the customer needed it, but just because everyone wants the ability to edit natively. But editing MPEG2 transport streams natively is not an optimal solution.

You donít want to edit native HDV unless you are just doing a quick cuts-only edit. This is because HDV is stored as a 15 frame GOP. So there are only 2 full frames (I-frames) in each second of video. The reset (B & P-frames) are delta and predictive frames. You really donít want to be editing and color correcting frames that donít exist (and 14 out of every 15 frames donít exist as full frames). This is why most NLE vendors recommend that you convert your footage to a full-frame intermediate format for editing. Intermediate formats are very large but they perform very well which brings us to your next question.

Do you need RAID? I have a 500GB RAID 0 made out of two SATA II (3gb/s) 250GB drives. When only using one or two tracks of HDV itís not really necessary but if you have several tracks of HDV, thatís a lot of data to be moving off the hard drive for playback. So, just like in DV or audio recording, the number of simultaneous track playback is directly related to your hard drives ability to stream the data.

Bottom line: If you use an NLE like Sony Vegas, dual core or dual processor is the way to go. Are these systems stable? Mine is steady as a rock, but I built it myself so I know what went into it. Do you need RAID? Not for one or two tracks but probably for heavy multi-track use.

Oh, and if you are thinking about going dual core, forget about Intel! AMD Athlon64 X2 is the way to go. I have never owned AMD before. I only owned Intel PCís my whole life and this time around, the benchmark numbers were pretty clear. Intel dual core canít hold a candle to AMD so I got me an Athlon64 X2 4600+ and Iím rending MPEG2 from DV source faster than real-time!

~jr
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Old December 4th, 2005, 11:44 AM   #4
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I personally don't know why people would say to disable Hyperthreading and everything for stability. Unless they have some weird configuration that conflicts with finicky ol' AVID or something. RAID isn't a problem, a lot of people make it sound harder to set up than it really is. Hyperthreading is beneficial to top of the line applications and NLE's, though it realistically probably shaves off only 5-10 seconds of render time. Hyperthreading seems to be a lot like setting your computer as a Network Server back in the day on Windows 98/SE. It just used RAM more efficiently giving a barely noticeable speed boost. Same goes for Hyperthreading, though it will probably be put to better use in Windows Vista than Windows XP. If you have a dual processor machine, it's only going to benefit those select few NLE's that support more than one processor, obviously. So it wouldn't benefit most applications, but when used along with a capture board from someone like Matrox or Canopus, performance is enhanced even further, only for a few effects though.

It sounds to me like you've gotten some bad information or you've only heard the negatives. As we all know, forums tend to be more along the lines of people asking for help with things and discussing information, not necessarily giving praise to a product all the time. If anything, Hyperthreading, RAID, and a second processor only add minimal performance increases depending on the application. A dual processor configuration is still much better than a single one for many reasons but most stick to single, in my experience, because of cost mostly.

Today is quite different. We're in a transition stage to the next generation of computers, 64-bit, multiple processors whether by physically being more used or dual core, new and faster RAM, new advances for hard drives with Serial ATA and Serial ATA2 and so on, and a new O/S, Windows Vista, to, hopefully, put it all together and use everything to its full potential. Then there's Apple, they're moving to Intel-based processors, whether that means major performance increases or cheaper computers, the same goes for them, they're going to release a new O/S to take advantage of the Intel switch. Are things more stable? No, not at all. Because it depends on the person using the computer and their experience. See, I've worked with computers and stay in the loop regularly, I can be my own tech support and both diagnose and work my way out of any fixable computer situation on either Windows or Apple platforms. Instability usually is on the user-side of the equation, but sometimes computers just break down, there's no stopping that. But things are A LOT better than they used to be.

For HD, I would recommend different setups depending on the HD format being used. For professional-grade HD (ie. HVX200 and HD cameras in the $20,000+ range), I'd recommend multiple dual core processors, two or even four for future proofing, or buying a high end NLE box system, like Toast or, if you can afford it, a high-end AVID station (ie. Nitris, Adrenaline, ect.). For building a PC, I'd recommend a really big RAID array (external or internal) because high end HD requires it (for HVX200, I'd use just a two drive RAID because the data flow should be a lot less). The same applies for a Macintosh setup with Final Cut Pro Studio, but I would wait for the Intel switch. For the RAM, max it out, get as much as you can, maybe not to 8gb+ of RAM or anything for some of those multiple processor setups but just 4gb at most should be fine for just NLE work, 2gb should be minimum.

For consumer HD, HDV basically, I'd recommend just a basic setup, top of the line single dual core, or go with a dual processor dual core setup for even more performance. 2gb of RAM is sufficient, 4gb is better but hard to come by since you need specific types of RAM sometimes and that could actually degrade performance sometimes (ie. 4x 1gb single sided sticks of PC2700 memory when your board supports PC3200 DDR memory, DDR2 is different, I haven't used a system with that RAM yet). RAID is optional but recommended for the slight performance increase.

For videocards, I'd recommend the nVidia Quadro line of cards for PC's and the top of the line card for Apple computers, also a Quadro I believe. This enhances OpenGL performance for effects, some titles, and such other graphical things. Mostly they have great video performance and allow for the highest quality monitoring of your edited footage. Add-in effects cards are good, but I'd stick with something like the Kona line of cards because the Matrox and Canopus ones are mostly format specific (Matrox= DV, Canopus= HDV).

This is all good and everything, but computers of this caliber are quite expensive. Most would want to spend $3000 max for a computer, but something along the lines of what I've listed would be more in the $8,000+ range and that's on hardware alone! Things are going to get better, prices fall all the time, but that means better technology is out, but for us there's a good value in waiting because most of us aren't going to be working on higher-end stuff on our own, you'd either have be very rich or work in a studio where the equipment is already there for you (ie. AVID stations). So when those $300 SATA2 500gb 16mb cache hard drives have gone down to half price after a while, a really mean RAID can be made for not too much money. That's even so today with 120gb SATA HDD's which can be had for about $100 or so, just RAID'em and there ya go! So yes, modern PC's are up to the task of HD and dual cores do help a lot for many reasons.

Now for 3D modeling, things are CRAZY good right now! That's a subject where anything helps, even Hyperthreading. Dual cores are also the Holy Grail at this point in time. But then things are a lot more expensive with higher-end 3D modeling, after all the plugins, software add-ons, and the software itself, you're already in the $10,000+ range and that's including a mediocre computer setup by 3D modeling standards. =/
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Old December 13th, 2005, 09:32 PM   #5
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should I try single core anyway?

Great info here. I'm actually thinking of upgrading a semi-new system for video production, and I want to know what to upgrade on.

I'm working with sony HD-HC1 and Vegas, 3 gigs RAM (2 1gig PC3200 and 2 512mb PC3200), 2 160gig Western SATA, Zalman CPU cooper, asus a8v deluxe.

HD-HC1 lets me dabble in HDV, but I don't know how often I'll be doing that, but I suspect that will change over time.

Things I need to decide:

1)I already have Athlon 64 3500+ socket 939 (for which I spent 290$ earlier this year) and could upgrade to X2 AMD dual processors. Pricewatch said the bottom rung of X2 Dual core is $350 for 3800, followed by $390 for X2 dual core 4200. Is it worth spending the money now for it (and taking a $290 loss) or taking a wait and see approach?

2)Can my scratch disk be an external USB2?

3) My case has a power supply of 450v. I could replace, but it would be a pain. Is this enough to support high end processor AND a third harddrive?


rj
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Old December 14th, 2005, 12:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Nagle
Great info here. I'm actually thinking of upgrading a semi-new system for video production, and I want to know what to upgrade on.

I'm working with sony HD-HC1 and Vegas, 3 gigs RAM (2 1gig PC3200 and 2 512mb PC3200), 2 160gig Western SATA, Zalman CPU cooper, asus a8v deluxe.

HD-HC1 lets me dabble in HDV, but I don't know how often I'll be doing that, but I suspect that will change over time.

Things I need to decide:

1)I already have Athlon 64 3500+ socket 939 (for which I spent 290$ earlier this year) and could upgrade to X2 AMD dual processors. Pricewatch said the bottom rung of X2 Dual core is $350 for 3800, followed by $390 for X2 dual core 4200. Is it worth spending the money now for it (and taking a $290 loss) or taking a wait and see approach?

2)Can my scratch disk be an external USB2?

3) My case has a power supply of 450v. I could replace, but it would be a pain. Is this enough to support high end processor AND a third harddrive?


rj

Are you having problems with your current system and HDV from your HC-1?

Are you afraid your system won't work in it's current configuration?

Does your board support SATA RAID? If you really want to do more to what you've already got, and it does, then get another drive... setup the two you have already as a 320Gig SATA RAID. Use the new drive as your system drive, and assign a permanent Windows swap file that's around the 5-6Gig mark to it. Turn off system restore and any dastardly auto run features of virus scanners or any other utility software you may install.

Can your scratch disk be a external USB2? What scratch? Your Windows system scratch or assignable one's for programs like Premiere? Not so sure I follow what you're really driving at there... but I sure wouldn't use an external drive for anything other than storage - no scratch or memory swap or system files of any sort on it!!

You running everything at the moment off of the 450V supply? If you are, then an extra drive ain't gonna blow it up, and I doubt the Dual-core would either!!

It seems like you really have your heart set on the Dual-core... don't know why you don't just use what you have already with HDV. It should work fine.

Get ConnectHD (for Vegas) or AspectHD (for Premiere Pro) and use uncommpressed CFHD, or use Gearshift proxy (Vegas) to speed up editing.
Yeah... dual-core would be tasty, but as long as my nearly 2year old 3.2Ghz P-IV with SATA RAID continues to process my HDV material as well as it has to date, why would I rush out to upgrade?

Heck; my machine is probably less powerful than yours!! Damn... I'd better stop doing HDV editing etc. on it then.
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Old December 14th, 2005, 08:29 AM   #7
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64 bit windows and Vegas NLE

Steve: Well, I'm still in the buying/upgrading stage (I haven't bought my camera yet) and want to get the biggest bang for my buck. Once I buy, I'll stop pining for the moon :)


Heck, I just discovered that there's a 64 bit version of Windows out there.
Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition

http://www.digitalproducer.com/artic...fterinter=true
http://www.digitalproducer.com/artic...jsp?id=32196-1

http://www.3dvelocity.com/articles/w...64softlist.htm


It seems that Vegas NLE hasn't been written for 64 bit yet (has anyone run Vegas under 64 bit windows?)

So the question becomes: would 64 bit windows be better for a video production box even though most (if not all) of the software will be running in 32 bit emulation mode?

My guess is no.

rj
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Old December 14th, 2005, 09:04 AM   #8
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raid 0

John--If your moboard supports it, set up a raid 0 array (with a back up drive for safety, of course-raid 0+1 is perfect, or just a separate drive works fine too).
Increased my hdd tranfer speeds to over 85mbps (from just over 50 with an sata 7200 solo drive). A huge difference with HDV, I would imagine (still with SD, myself). Can't go wrong with dual core procs, if you have the cash, since all the major NLE's support it now. The AMD dual cores blow the P4 versions away. It's known that Intel rushed it's first dual cores to compete with the better designs from AMD. All this competition keeps the prices down a bit for us.
If you do go with raid 0 and don't go with the +1, be sure to back up your work FREQUENTLY! Don't ask me how I know this...
Vin
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Old December 14th, 2005, 09:52 AM   #9
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If you just bought the AMD 3500 I would wait and see how it performs before buying a dual core. You already have a socket 939 motherboard so you can upgrade to dual core at any time. Configuring a RAID 0 as others have suggested will improve disk throughput so that should help with HDV. Windows 64 is out of the question. Vegas doesnít support it, so there is no real benefit from it and a potential big headache getting device drivers for all your gear. I wouldnít do it.

I have a 450w power supply running a dual core and 4 hard drives + 2 burners + NVIDIA 6800GT graphics card with no problems. I would not use an external drive for anything except data storage / capture, and then only firewire. USB2 is CPU hungry; you donít want to use it for critical applications like video. It may work, but it wonít work as efficiently as firewire.

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Old December 14th, 2005, 12:10 PM   #10
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DO NOT USE WINDOWS XP 64x!!!!!!

That is a basically a beta version of the upcoming Windows Vista. Only videogamers can benefit from it at the moment. There's a lot of reasons why you shouldn't use it but the main thing is that a lot of software and hardware isn't fully supported by it yet.

Robert, the upgrade to dual core is something I would try only if I were buying the 4800+ version, otherwise you might be better off in the long run saving up for what's next. Heck, next month there could be a dual core 5000+ for all we know! But you should wait until the middle of 2006 before upgrading anything seriously like that. Windows Vista should be out by then if I'm not mistaken, AMD should have smaller processed processors (65nm I believe) which mean more speed, cooler running, and maybe more cores (single chip quad core anyone?), AMD should also have a new socket type as well (T-socket I think is what they called it, not sure at all), and new software versions should be out by then for NLE's all around. If you want to get dual core now, go the extra mile for the 4800+, it's definitely worth it.

I'm playing it safe and waiting for a while myself.
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Old December 14th, 2005, 08:55 PM   #11
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I just recently upgrade my PC for what I reckon is the best bang for buck in regards to performance. I bought myself an Dual Core Pentium 820 and overclocked the bugger and currently running it at 3.9Ghz. My system is based around this article :

http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=461

This week I am getting a new heat-sink for the CPU and then hope to take it to 4.2 - 4.5Ghz.

I am also running a 7800GT video card which has dual DVI. The 7800GT video is great especially if you use Premiere Pro and Magic Bullet 2.0. MB 2.0 utilises the GPU on the card and provides real time rendering @ 30fps, without the card you are looking at < 1fps.

Robert
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