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Old November 5th, 2011, 03:37 PM   #1
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Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

My previous computer for editing was a Dell 350 work station with a single core 3Ghz processor. It did a nice job editing. but it was a slow rendering computer. I was using Sony Vegas Pro #9.

To be able to move up to HD shooting and editing I just purchased a used Dell 690 Workstation computer. It is configured as follows.

2 Quad Core 2.66 Ghz processors 8 cores total.
8 gigs of 677Mhz memory
Nvidia 9600GT video card with 512 MB
1 80Gig 10,000 RPM WD Raptor hard drive.

I have both Sony Vegas Pro #9 and Sony Vegas Pro #10 installed in the Dell 690.

I have tried rendering HD video and it works but it is not as fast as I expected it to be.

All of the video files I have are on External HD's. Most are LaCie Quadra 1TB drives.

The Dell 690 has one Firewire and several USB connections on the back. Currently I have it set up with a Firewire cable from the External drive into the back of the computer.

I have rendered standard video and the compuer rips through these renders to the point that the images are almost a blurr. I just did a Standard Definition render to Real Media. The program was 12 minutes in length. The render green bar goes to 100% but, does not go to FINISHED for several more minutes. In this case the render took 5:50 but the final end of the process was not until 9 minutes later or a total of almost 15 minutes. The blue light on the LaCie External drive continued to blink for 9 minutes after the render finished. Then the render screen switched to finished.

I know that the Sony editing program does all the rendering in the processor(s) and I have monitored the CPU usage (all 8 cores are in use) and the Hard Ddrive use as well. In the 9 minute post render period the hard drive graph is Max'ed out most of the time. My guess is that the render is being down loaded into the hard drive.

I am sure there is a way to get more speed out of the rendering and it probably is related to the management of the video and not the processor speed. At this point the rendering time is about the same as my single core 3Ghz processored Dell 350.

I can add a card that will provide the input of faster Firewire 400 and 800 speeds.

Is is because I am going in and out of the single external drive? With the input card I could go out from one Hard Drive and in to a second one.

Would adding one of two more drives Internal in the computer (it will hold 4 total) and using them help the situation. Source from one and deliver to the second one. If I did that should they be 10,000 RPM drives as well?

Any help would be appreciated.
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Old November 5th, 2011, 05:24 PM   #2
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

If I understand correctly, try rendering a project where the files are not located on the LaCie drive at all, and then see what happens. For a short 12 minute project go ahead a put it on you C drive just for the test and see what happens, it should finish rendering properly, it shouldn't hang up as you describe.

For safety's sake turn off or disconnect the LaCie just to make sure it is not involved in anyway during your test.
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Old November 5th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #3
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

you're certainly going to see a hit rendering to / from the same external drive.

do as jeff suggests, better still, installl 2nd hd in pc.
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Old November 11th, 2011, 09:41 AM   #4
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

In my first post I was a little unclear about the path of the video as it is rendered.

The source video is on a hard drive that is external to the computer. For this example I will call it the E -Drive. I have the E- drive connected to the computer with a 1394 firewire cable.

The video to be rendered is stored on and imported from the external E-Drive; runs throught the processors for rendering; and the rendered version is returned to the E-Drive for storage. There is just one cable handling the movement of the video in and out of the computer. It is a single path with traffic in both directions. I am assuming that this becomes a bottle neck and it slows the process.

I have multiple external drives available and I could set them up where external drive E is the source and external drive F is the destination of the render. To my thinking that would make each cable a one way connection. Right?

The current configuration of this computer has a single Firewire connection in the back and one on the front of the computer. I have heard that the USB & Firewire connections on the front of the computer are slower than the ones on the rear. Is that true.

There are multiple USB connections on the back of the computer. Are they good enough for moving HD video?

I plan on adding a card with Firewire 400 and 800 connectors to the computer soon.

And the final question.

I have room in the computer for a total of 4 hard drives. The C-Drive is just an 80 Gig drive so it is useless for storing video originals or rendered.
If I added two more I could do rendering inside the computer. One being the source and the other being the target. Will I need 10,000 RPM drives for handling HD or are the 7200 RPM drives acceptable? Will rendering be faster with the dirves being internal?

Thanks for the help
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Old November 11th, 2011, 11:03 AM   #5
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

Michael,

You may be able to sidestep these issues.

Does your desktop PC have an available PCI Expresscard slot on the board which would take a USB 3.0 card? These tend to come with two ports so you could have one USB 3 external hard drive with your project on it ready for editing and rendering.

I have recently added these cards to my main desktop and laptop and acquired two USB 3 2Gb external drives. Haven't tried it yet (as I'm still using eSATA external drives) but this ought to be much faster. USB 3 is far faster than USB2. I'm getting a 5x increase in speed for downloading RAW stills files and transferring any files between drives. Not the 10x advertised but still excellent and easily competing with SATA.

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Old November 11th, 2011, 11:35 AM   #6
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

A faster hard drive does not mean faster rendering, but it means better editing experience.

Yes, long story short, get the fastest internal drives you can afford, in the sizes you need. Remember SATA drives become sluggish after they are filled over 50%, so get double the size you might need.

Then use your externals for storage and other junk.

You are right to focus on your drives. Next to your CPU they are the most important thing.

I avoid externals except for estata type. I use USB to give customers raw video, but that's it.

Others use USB, etc, but I stopped using them years ago.

If it were me I would have a fast drive for editing (what some call a scratch drive). This drive is ONLY for working on the video. You can render back to it if you must, but it beats up your hard drive pretty good, but otherwise not a huge deal.

Then I would add two more hard drives for storage. Second drive is a backup and a duplicate of the first one.

What do I do? I like fast drives and have well over $3k spent on my drives. I use a 15.7 Seagate 300gb SAS drive for my OS, then two 600GB of the same drives running in raid. Cost for these drives and controller card is about $1800. The RAID is overkill for sure, as the drives are the fastest drives available, but I needed larger than 600GB, and raid 0 gives me double the size. Then I have about 12 drives that are mostly 2GB in size, but a few 1TB thrown in. I have a mix of enterprise class drives and regular.

Peter, I would love to have a USB 3.0 drive for fun, but the ready made ones come in such junk cases, unless you spend $$ on Lacie or other nicer drives. For the money I find buying my own quality external hd cases and choosing my own drive to put inside gives me peace of mind, but I'm a nerd that way.
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Old November 11th, 2011, 03:54 PM   #7
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

My next test will be to run to the two external independent drives. If that makes rendering quicker then I will probably live with that for a while. I have 7 external drives that I presently use. I have always kept the video and the renders from the edits together. No big deal to separate them. If that concept works I will stay with it for a while. Two more drives in the box would be nice but not immediately necessary.

I am working on a demo project that has to be shot in HiDef and I am creating some short clips on the concept as part of the presentation of the idea. I purchased the Dell 690 used for a very cheap price. The only reason I purchased it was the Dual Quad Core processor set up. I figured that 8 cores at 2.66 Ghz would be almost as fast as one Quad Core at 3 Ghz.

If I keep adding hardware to the box I will end up spending almost as much as getting a new Dell!

If the project becomes reality I will go to the outside for all my editing needs. I am primarily a producer and director anyway.

I do have ample space for additional cards. At present there are 7 slots available The Dell 690 is a huge box and all the frame and internals are metal. Including the video card there are 5 cooling fans in the box. The Dell spec sheet says minimum weight is 55 Lbs. Yikes!

I will run the test and post again.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #8
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

Drives, no matter how fast do not speed up or slow down rendering. If you have a hard drive that is so slow that it impedes rendering then it will cause a crash. I don't think anyone has a hard drive that slow.

Rendering speed is only affected by CPU and by GPU in some cases.

We know this because the CPUs available cannot render faster than a drive is able to keep up. It's common sense, if we think about it.

I can also attest to this because my scratch drives are the fastest drives available anywhere (save for SSD drives, but they are not optimal for this application anyway) and they do not affect my rendering times at all. They do however improve preview performance significantly over the slowest drives I have, and projects open up much faster, but for rendering, no difference at all.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 05:53 PM   #9
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Re: Rendering- Problem Second pass

Thanks Jeff for that info on Hard Drives.

This morning I set up the computer with one External Drive feeding the AVI video into the computer and a second External Drive recieving the rendered video.

Here are my test results. The video is just short of 12 minutes in length. It was shot in 1080p on a Sony HDR-FX1 camera. I rendered to several video formats and there were different render times and in some cases post render times. I pulled up the system resoruces panel and checked the CPU, Disk and Memory readings as the video rendered.

WMV I rendered to a Default template Total render time 13:15. CPU usage averaged about 51%. At the end of the render (100%) on the green bar and the switch to the "Finished" graphic there was no additional run on or down load to the recieving Hard Drive.

AVI with no compression. I had added a few page turns or other transitions to about 7 or 8 edit points in the edit. The computer flew through this render because all it had to do was copy most of the video and render the transitions. Total render time 6:!5. No additional run on of the recieving drive after the render.

Real Media 3Mbps rate Render time 5:12 to the 100% mark on the green bar. CPU useage averaged 41%. The recieveing hard drive ran for another 10 minutes down loading the rendered video. Total time to complete the rendering 15:10

MPEG-2 M2t file. Render to the 100% reading took 31:44 and the CPU was running at a rate of 14% At that point the rendering by the CPU was over. There was no reportable activity going on. However the recieving drive continued to be downloading the rendered video It ran non-stop for another 37 minutes. The resource reporting showed heavy activity of the Hard Drive recieving the video. There was some on the source drive but not much. The memory activity just show a flatline of activity. No spikes etc.

The is the one I can't figure out. Is the CPU rendering the video at a rate faster than the Hard Drive can download it? Is the rendered video being stored in the memory (I have 8Gigs of 667Mhz memory) and then being transferred to the Hard Drive.
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Old November 12th, 2011, 07:34 PM   #10
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

No the hard drive is not catching up with the CPU, things don't work that way.

Michael, as I recommended previously, the external you are using does not seem good for editing as is clear from your posts. It is not about the speed of the drives, it is about the types of drives inside the cases, as well as the cases they reside. USB drives are all different.

Some come in cases that have built in sleep modes and all kinds of crap that will do what you describe.

On top of that you don't know what is inside the external drive case unless you built it yourself. Green drives are not suitable for editing either, and they are commonly put in external case so they don't run hot. Green drives rest after periods of inactivity, and are really poor choices for video, except for storage.

There are USB drive that can work out fine and many can and do use them effectively, I will not dispute that. But as I said to you near the top of this post they are not ideal, and some can cause all kinds of stupid issues. You can circumvent all problems by going internal, and getting a non-green drive, or buying an external case of your own choosing and selecting the drive to go in it. Or by simply not using any drive that cause the issues you are experiencing.

****It is also possible your drives are not the problem in this case and it is your windows power settings. USB suspension must be turned off, as must be the hard drive power settings. You might have a situation where you are using less than ideal drives AND have the power settings set incorrectly on your PC, and in that case you will get all kinds of weirdness. You will get weirdness in either scenario, but with both happening at the same time it would be doubly weird.

The behavior you describe is typical of what green drives do, but I cannot know that is the situation here. But it is a good guess. I've been through it all with hard drives including what you describe.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 01:29 AM   #11
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

Michael, I don't know if you have done this before but It's really easy to add internal sata drives - when you open the case you will find spare sata-plugs on the motherboard and spare power-plugs on cables coming from the power supply unit. Just plug one sata-cable between drive and motherboard, attach power and you're ready to go.

To initiate the drive you may have to go into Physical Drive manager on Windows7 and format the drive, which is a very simple two click "yes-to-all" operation.

if you are not comfortable with installing drives look at external FireWire RAID units like this one..
G-RAID - External RAID Storage Up to 6TB | G-Technology

For a high-end solution with a separate PCIe card you can try
G-SPEED eS - External RAID and JBOD Up to 12TB | G-Technology

/m
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Old November 13th, 2011, 04:21 AM   #12
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

Magnus is correct, the G Raid units are very nice.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 10:26 AM   #13
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Re: Rendering Problem - Is it hardware related?

In my second test I used two LaCie d2 Quadra 1 TB drives. They have a variety of connections available on the back of them. There is a Firewire 400, (2) Firewire 800's. A USB 2.0 and a eSATA. They are 7,200 RPM drives with 16MB Cache. I am using the Firewire 400 connections on each of the drives and the computer does not have any built in eSATA ports.

The Dell 690 has one Firewire 400 connection on the back of the computer. It has one Firewire 400 connection on the front of the computer. For the test I did I used the Firewire on the back of the computer as the source of the video from Drive (F) and I routed the rendered video out of the connection on the front of the computer to the destination Drive (G).

Is there a difference in the speed available between the I/O ports on the back of the computer and the ones on the front plate?

My primary question is ..... When I rendered the video in MPEG-s M2t the render time was 31:44. I monitored the system as the render happened and all 8 processor cores were working doing the rendering. The hard drives were both working as well. At the 31:44 mark the cores were no longer registering any activity, but the destinaton hard drive (G) ran for another 37 minutes. Was the rendered video first sent to the memory and then from the memory to the hard drive. The system monitoring showed a low flat line of memory activity and heavy hard drive activity for the 37 mnutes.
At this point I am trying to get this computer up to speed. I bought it at a bargan price and I don't want to pour a lot of money into it with upgrades. If I did it would cost as much as a new computer from Dell Outlet and I don't want to do that. I am going to upgrade the video card from a 512MB card to a 1GB card. I spent two days in email chat with Dell to determine the correct card at the price limit I had. It will be a Nvidia GeForce 570 video card.

I know that adding additional internal hard drives will help the situation, but I don't want to invest in them just yet.

For some cheap solutions to the I/O speed.......

For about $60.00 I can add a card with multiple Firewire 800 connections

LaCie Firewire 400 & 800 | USB 2.0 PCI Card Design by Sismo - USB / FireWir - 130822 - Fibre Channel Interfaces - CDW.com

Or for about $30.00 I could add a eSATA two port card.

LaCie SATA II PCI Express Card - storage controller - eSATA-300 - PCI Expre - 130990 - IDE/ATA Adapters/Controller - CDW.com

With that card I could use the eSATA connections to the LaCie drives. Accorging to the LaCie box that is the fastest speed in and out of the drive.

Here is the description of the card.

With the LaCie PCI Express Card, it's easy to get fast SATA II compatibility. Perfect for connecting a LaCie d2 Quadra (which I have) or 2big Quadra to your computer, it's also compatible with non-LaCie eSATA devices. Once installed, the card supports eSATA hot plug/unplug, Native Command Queuing (NCQ), port multiplication and PC bootability. With two eSATA ports, you can connect two devices at once. Whether you use Windows or Mac, it quickly brings the impressive speed and high performance of this superior interface to your system.



I appreciate the help on this.

Last edited by Michael Dunn; November 13th, 2011 at 07:20 PM.
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