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Non-Linear Editing on the PC
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Old February 20th, 2006, 01:19 PM   #1
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Calling all technoliterati!

Hello.

--DISCLAIMER--

Given that this isn't probably the best place to be asking these questions, I chose to ask this question here because it's the only place I've ever gotten straight, concise and helpful... errr... help.... from the peoples. (Admin, if you feel i'm asking this in the wrong forum, please move me where I should be... couldn't tell where this question was best suited).

And so, on to my question.

--BACKGROUND--

Rather than bump in some upgrades into my current machine, I'm thinking of doing a major overhaul, buying a new mobo/cpu/gpu/ram combo.

I am thinking of going with two dual-core opteron 246s or 248s on as ASUS K8N mobo, 2 gigs of ram and an as yet to be determined video card.

I run dual monitors, and so that adds an extra challenge I guess. I would like this final system to give me excellent performance, both real time and rendering, in Maya and After Effects (everything else will work if these two do, is my guess), and be able to pull off the dual-monitors thing.

--PRIMARY QUESTION--

What video card to choose? As far as I can tell, its either a FireGL or a GeForceFX. The Aftereffects website seems to lean towards the NVidia Cards, the FireGl definitely seems to be the card of choice for Maya. Are there specific features on the cards that enable either one of these cards to be better in one medium (3D) than the other? Given my desire for dual-monitors, should I go with a dual head card or an AGP/PCI or PCI-ex/PCI combo? Does anyone know how that affects performance given the variation of bus width b/w pci and agp/pci express?

--SECONDARY REQUEST--

Well, suffice it to say, (and I'm no dummy), this stuff is complicated as all hell. It took me forever to figure out whether I could run dual dual-cores and get away with it, or whether dual-coring eliminates the possibility of dual-processoring, and little things like that. If you have any words of wisdom, critical analysis of my plan, I would love to hear it all.

--CLOSURE--

Thanks so much you guys. As always, I love you for the time you all share here.

-Raza
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Old February 22nd, 2006, 04:04 PM   #2
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I don't know a lot about the 3D performance differances between video cards, but for NLE editing, it's generally not a big deal, since it's mostly all 2D work, and almost any reasonably modern video card will do fine for 2D (it's the computer's CPU doing the 2D work).
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Old February 22nd, 2006, 10:43 PM   #3
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Both ATI and Nvidia has lines of their video cards designed for workstation use... the ATI Fire and Nvidia Quadro lines. These cards will have better openGL performance, and slightly worse directX performance.

The gaming cards are typically crippled at openGL performance, and good at directX (i.e. for gaming). I believe ATI cripples their cards much more than Nvidia does.

In any case, check the recommended specs for the programs in question.
http://www.alias.com/eng/support/may...ya_70_win.html

I don't use Maya so I can't really help you out there.

2- A dual-head video card is the simplest to setup. In your case, your video card will likely be dual-head anyways. You just need to look for the right combination of outputs... i.e. 2XDVI, DVI + VGA, or 2XVGA (most cards' DVI ports can drive a VGA connection with the generic adapter).

I believe for Maya, the video card only accelerates previews and not the rendering.

3- I don't think the Opteron 246 or 248 is dual core. The ones that end in 5 (2X5) are dual core.

4- You may need to upgrade the power supply too if going with 2 CPUs.

If the motherboard is extended ATX (server motherboards sometimes are), it may not fit in your case.

If you have a Sony/HP/Dell/etc. computer then it may have proprietary parts that makes upgrading difficult.

5- I don't think the Asus K8N supports 2 CPUs. If you only have money for a single CPU system, you can get a motherboard like that and a dual core AMD64 3800+ or higher. There are 2 different versions of the 3800+, one of them is dual core.
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Old March 1st, 2006, 09:52 PM   #4
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Thanks.

Thank you for your thoughts. I had continued to research this and made some changes, my configuration is now as follows. If you or anyone else has any additional thoughts I would certainly love to hear them:

Processors: 2 x Dual Core Opteron 265 Italy

MOBO: Tyan S2895

Case: CoolerMaster Stacker

PSU: SeaSonic 600W

GFX: PCI-x PNY Quadro 1400 (It was this or two Quadro 540s, choosing this so that I Could upgrade to two 1400s at a future point for quad monitor loveliness)

RAM: 4 x Corsair 1GB ECC Reg.

Cooling: 2 x Nexus AOP-6400

HDD: 4 x Maxtor DiamondMax 10 SATA 7200 RPM 3GB/s in Raid 0+1 config

DVDRW: Lightscribe DVD+-RW

I chose the Quadro 1400 because it seems to be a card of preference for Aftereffects high-fidelity support, in addition to fitting Maya 7's bill.

Thanks you for your thoughts.

Raza
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Old March 1st, 2006, 10:54 PM   #5
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That's some nice hardware. You've done your homework. The only thing I think I'd suggest, is maybe looking at the WD Raptors (10,000rpm SATAs).
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 12:26 AM   #6
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raptor

:(

I looked at the raptors, but I gotta cut costs somewhere, and in addition the research I did indicated WD's being at the lower end of drive reliability, under samsungs and maxtors...

Do you feel that the 2800 RPM increase would be better off on a system drive or a video editing drive (obviously both, but if I could only do 1...)

Thanks.

Raza
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 12:42 AM   #7
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I'd use the Raptor for the video, especially if you'll be pulling several streams into your editor from the same drive (faster seek should help a lot). Use a drive with the 16meg cache at 3G for the system (quick on the small burst reads/writes). Using a seperate drive for the swap file can help the system too. Your machine is going to fly with the screaming stuff you're putting under the hood.
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Old March 2nd, 2006, 01:47 AM   #8
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Thanks

Thanks so much for the good thoughts Robin.

I think what I'll do is grab two 36.7GB SATA3G 16MB raptor for system and swap, and two 76 GB raptors for Video in and out... should only work out to be $100 more than if i was to go all 7200s.. I'll supplement them with a few IDE drives for mass storage...

As for the screaming...

Oh lawdy I certainly hope so. :D

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Raza
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 09:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
I'd use the Raptor for the video, especially if you'll be pulling several streams into your editor from the same drive (faster seek should help a lot).
Robert, take a look at sites like storagereview.com. Most of the computer experts out there will tell you that sustained read/write speeds are the most important for video editing, not seek times.

--------

There is also some divergence between theory and practice sometimes... hence at storagereview.com, you see that benchmarks do not always follow theory. Ideally, you would look at relevant benchmarks or user experience to what you're doing.

Relevant benchmarks may be difficult to find, especially if you have RAID in the equation (where the RAID controller makes a huge difference in performance). The sustained read benchmark (the minimum sustained read) will let you predict the number of video streams you can get.

2- In practice, for 3d work: the hard drive speed isn't going to make a difference.

Putting the swap file onto its own hard drive or into RAM isn't going to make much of a difference.

For video editing work: It's highly unlikely you'll get multiple streams of video real-time often. Most NLEs can only do multiple streams for particular effects and filters.... you're likely going to use some of the other slower filters (especially 3rd party stuff, which can be slow).

In After Effects, it's unlikely you will benefit from faster hard drives. Most of the time you will be bottlenecked by the CPU.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 02:08 PM   #10
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Sustained throughput is what counts when reading one large file. If you are simultaneously reading from multiple files, seek time becomes far more important. Often, when editing, you can be working with multiple input files. At 10,000rpm, a Raptor will give better sustained throughput than a 7,200rpm drive as well though.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 02:26 PM   #11
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When you test rendering speeds that filter an entire video stream (like color correction for the whole stream), CPU performance becomes a bottleneck (the more floating point math calculations involved in filtering, the more CPU time is required to do it). If you render without any filtering (or very little, like just some transitions between cuts), that's not the case. What codec is used for encoding the output stream has a huge impact on CPU usage. You can't just run a couple simple tests within a very narrow scope of parameters, and conclude that the results are relevant to all scenarios.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 05:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raza Ahmad
I looked at the raptors, but I gotta cut costs somewhere, and in addition the research I did indicated WD's being at the lower end of drive reliability, under samsungs and maxtors...
did you look at seagate drives? some of 'em still have a five year warranty.

i would not build a system around maxtor drives... their short warranty is a good indicator of the build quality.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 07:33 PM   #13
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Seagate left a really bad taste in my mouth, years and years ago. In the 80s it seemed like all you had to do was look at them funny and they'd crash and burn. I've had real good experiences with Maxtors. The only time I had a few go bad, was when three of them in a row toasted, as I was building a batch of machines in like 1995. That turned out to be bad wiring in the building though, with some pretty off-the-wall voltages getting delivered from the wall outlet to the power supplies. I do buy Seagates now sometimes, and like that 5 year warranty. Most the majors make decent hard drives these days, so mostly I grab the killer rebate deals they offer regularly. It's pretty hard to get burned on a 7200rpm 200gig HDD from a major manufacturer, that you only wind up paying $30 for in the first place.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 07:48 PM   #14
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Well it's gonna be hard for you guys to maintain your brand loyalty. Seagate and Maxtor are merging, and by the second half of 2006 they will be one company....

http://www.seagatemaxtor.com/factSheet/index.html

Quote:
On December 21, 2005 the Boards of Seagate and Maxtor announced that they unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement under which Seagate will acquire Maxtor in an all stock transaction.
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Old March 3rd, 2006, 08:14 PM   #15
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Seagate bought up Imprimis in the 80s and their quality did seem to get better after that. Imprimis was Control Data's hard drive division at the time, which was basically the creme of the crop for HDDs at the time. CDC sold off some of their best assets around that time, to try to avoid collapse when they got into big financial trouble, but eventually they imploded anyway.
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