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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
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Old November 26th, 2004, 08:56 AM   #1
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HD speeds

whats the deal with hard drive speeds?

i have a mishmash of drives. a new IDE drive, a SATA, and a USB 2.0

can anyone recomend a good benchmark utility to find out which is fastest?

i have a firewire caddy but no drive in it. will the IDE perform better as firewire?

many thanks,
alex
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Old November 28th, 2004, 05:33 AM   #2
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No, the drive will not perform better as a firewire drive given that
your internal IDE connectors are of the fastest types.

There is a utility to easily benchmark a drive, there are many of
these, but a good one seems to be HDTach. Do a search on google
and you should have no problem finding and downloading it!
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Old November 28th, 2004, 08:57 PM   #3
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All modern hard drives should perform adequately for basic DV editing whether they're internally or externally mounted. If you want to compare performance of your various drives and installation options you can try running various benchmark utilities, but those may not tell you much about how the drives will perform for video editing tasks.

One place I look to get a sense of a drive's real-world speed is the Performance Database at http://www.storagereview.com/comparison.html.

Specifically, the "High-End DriveMark" sort will show you how various recent drives compare to each other for video and graphics intensive tasks--at least under the conditions these tests were run.
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Old November 28th, 2004, 10:27 PM   #4
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Real world speeds:
Some people get dropped frames with USB2 and firewire. Firewire seems to be more reliable, but still people get dropped frames with it.

Firewire works most of the time, but not for everyone. You can maximize your chances by not sharing the firewire bus/controller, using large capacity drives, using an enclosure with an oxford chipset, and keeping some free space on the FW drive.

Bnechmark speeds (higher is faster):
PATA, SATA, and FW800/IEEE1394b are the same speed.
FW400/IEEE1394a
USB2
USB2 (on some old Macs)
USB
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Old November 30th, 2004, 08:34 AM   #5
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Glenn: I've been using external USB2 hard drives for most of my DV editing projects for about a year now, and the only problem I have is that sometimes the capture step doesn't work well so I have to do that on a desktop system. Actual editing and output work fine.

Regarding your list of benchmark speed comparisons, that's not particularly accurate. Technically, SATA is faster than PATA/EIDE, and both are significantly faster (in terms of potential throughput) than Firewire800. USB2 has a higher maximum throughput than Firewire400, but for purposes of connecting an external hard drive the latter is generally considered preferable. Also, drive performance is a function of both the interface and the specific drive in use, so we can't entirely generalize based on just the interface. If we were to generalize, a better list might look something like this:

Hardware-based RAID
Software-based RAID
Fastest SCSI drives
Fastest SATA drives
Typical SCSI/SATA/PATA drives, internal
External SATA & Firewire800
External Firewire400 & USB2
USB1
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Old November 30th, 2004, 05:38 PM   #6
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By benchmark speeds I'm talking about benchmarks like sustained reads and writes (i.e. how long it takes to read/write a 600MB file) and seek times.

Some benchmarks measure burst speeds, which is the transfer speed of data from the drive's buffer. SATA and SCSI are faster than PATA for this. However, burst speeds are not very relevant to real-world performance. Your drive is usually bottlenecked by seek times and sustained read/writes (though good numbers for both doesn't necessary ensure good performance).

For more information you want, you can check out http://www.storagereview.com/.

My easy practical rules are:
A- SATA and PATA are virtually the same speed as far as interfaces go. If you check out the benchmarks at storage review you see this is true for bridged drives (PATA drives with SATA converter chip).
B- Newer model drives are faster than old one. So SATA drives are generally faster since they are newer.
C- For DV, hard drive speed doesn't make much difference as long as it's a 7200rpm drive of high capacity.
D- SATA has a few benefits with easier cabling, but you may also need special drivers for it.
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Old November 30th, 2004, 05:54 PM   #7
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Burst speeds are irrelevant if your talking capturing video. The sustained read/write times for very large files are the only relevant times in the Dv world.
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Old November 30th, 2004, 08:49 PM   #8
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Yeah, it's worth noting that most hard drives can't sustain anything close to the maximum throughput of typical connection options, so Glenn's comments make sense in that context. That said, we can't really answer Alex's original question for comparing his IDE drive to his SATA drive without knowing what models of drives we're talking about.
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Old December 1st, 2004, 07:36 PM   #9
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Canopus has a utility for checking sustained throughput from the drives. On my system the older 5400rpm drives would sustain 16 to 22 MBs, the newer 7200 are in the 34 to 39 MBs range and the large 160G SATA drives get up to 56MBs. Since a single stream of DV needs just 3.5MBs even the 5400rpm drives are good enough for a single stream of DV video. I used 60G 5400rpm Maxtors for several years before upgrading. As you can see these sustained rates are well below the specs for ANY of the physical interfaces.

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