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Hard drive setup for HD video editing

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October 20, 2009 12:11:06 AM

Hello,
I am doing a custom build for HD video editing using Avid Composer. I have a few questions I am hoping someone can answer.

1. How many hard drives do I need for the best performance?

2. I have read that I should have one drive for Windows 7, and two more drives in a Raid 0 for the application programs, and a fourth drive for video storage.
I have also read that instead I should have one drive for Windows 7 and all the applications, two more drives in a Raid 0 (but I am not sure what these drives are used for!?), and a fourth drive for storage.
What is the correct setup?

3. I was going to use Seagate Cheetah 15.6 drives. So it would be three drives (a Cheetah system drive and two Cheetah's in a Raid 0). Is this good?

4. Are SAS drives better than SATA for HD video editing?

5. Should I use two Cheetah 15.6 drives in a RAID 0?

I really need the best performing system possible, as I don't plan to upgrade for a few years and I have a lot of editing to do and very little time to do it. Can someone please explain to me the ideal setup, in terms of what drives are performing which functions and what drives I should use?

Thank you.
October 21, 2009 4:17:54 AM

Quote:
Hello,
I am doing a custom build for HD video editing using Avid Composer. I have a few questions I am hoping someone can answer.

I've got Avid XPress Pro 5.8.4 on DELL 690 - the last version before Media Composer.

Quote:
1. How many hard drives do I need for the best performance?

Well, this all depends on whether you are working with SD or some flavour of HD material. At the moment I still working with SD (PAL), although, I've set-up the Dell to work with some form of HD in the future.

Quote:
2. I have read that I should have one drive for Windows 7, and two more drives in a Raid 0 for the application programs, and a fourth drive for video storage.
I have also read that instead I should have one drive for Windows 7 and all the applications, two more drives in a Raid 0 (but I am not sure what these drives are used for!?), and a fourth drive for storage.
What is the correct setup?

This is my set-up:

(1) OS is on a 15K SAS drive. In fact, I've partitioned this drive into 3: the first parition is for Avid and associated software. I've WinXP SP2 on this without the patches. I've installed some WinXP patches but no security patches. This is networked for backup reasons only. I can get onto the internet from here but I only use it for the Avid forum. There's no email or any general software that's not related to video. On the the next parition I have WinXP SP3 fully updated. I have all the other software on here - mail, internet etc. And the third partition is where I keep all the data e.g. documents, Avid projects.

(2) I've got 2 x SAS 15K hard drives in RAID0. This uses the onboard RAID controller. I get about ~180MB/sec. This is where I put the video I'm working on. If you convert your footage to one of the DNxHD codecs, this set-up will work. The RAID is really temporary. You've got to move your footage from there.

(3) I've just added a 500GB SATAII internally to maybe temporarily backup video etc.

(4) I have 1TB external drive for my main video backups. Of course, when you are working with SD, this ok storage but not sure what to do with HD material.

WinXP without the patches and the junk software is seriously quick on my set-up. I've got no virues scanner on the Avid parition as it's all done from the other partition. My RAID0 is only about ~290GB which isn't a great deal. Probably ok for a single project.

Quote:
3. I was going to use Seagate Cheetah 15.6 drives. So it would be three drives (a Cheetah system drive and two Cheetah's in a Raid 0). Is this good?

Pretty much what I'm doing.

Quote:
4. Are SAS drives better than SATA for HD video editing?

In my previous system, I had SCSI 10K drives. Never had a problem. These drives are designed to be hammered which is what video will do to them! But they can be expensive, although with Ebay it's a good I don't know if performance wise they are the best but they are quick!


Quote:
5. Should I use two Cheetah 15.6 drives in a RAID 0?

You know the risks - if one drive goes, you've lost your stuff, hence the reason for backups. But you get the performance.

Quote:
I really need the best performing system possible, as I don't plan to upgrade for a few years and I have a lot of editing to do and very little time to do it. Can someone please explain to me the ideal setup, in terms of what drives are performing which functions and what drives I should use?

What I would do now is to get an external box where I can put my drives for video. I've got an account with G-Tech (I'm a reseller for them) and I would get their GSpeed eS RAID box in which you can add SATA drives. It comes with a proper RAID controller card (RAID 0, 1, 5) that you slot in your PC. A single box can handle up to 6TB. You can have at least 4 of the boxes connected to you RAID card - that's 24TB! If I got a big project to work, I'll probably invest in one these.

Regards

MT
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October 21, 2009 1:13:26 PM

Thanks for all the great information, that is exactly what I was looking for. This is very helpful!

If I understand you correctly, the RAID0 is made of two 300GB drives? What size is your OS + applications HD?
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October 21, 2009 2:00:40 PM

I have 2 x 146GB drives. These came with the machine. I then bought a third 146GB drive which was paritioned into 3: Avid with WinXP SP2 and apps; "Normal" with XP SP3 with apps; and third partition is for Data.

Note that I have two partitions with WinXP and each paritition has it's own apps. On boot-up, I select if it's Avid or what I call "Normal" partition (for everyday use). I don't think you need a seperate drive just for apps - this should sit with your OS. In the past, I used to have seperate hard drive for the pagefile but not sure how much that helps.

I have a 64-bit machine which is capable of taking 2 x quad-cores. I have 1 dual core in there. It's also capable of, I think, it's 32GB or 64GB or RAM - 32GB for each procesor (in each socket). I'm running 32-bit WinXP with 4GB RAM, although WinXP only see's about 3.3GB. The graphics card is a Quadro FX3500 which came with the machine and is approved for Avid. I've also got a Aivd Mojo (non-SDI) plus a Digi002 rack. This requires you to know how your bus segments are split e.g. Mojo needs it's own bus segment - nothing can share with it. So, the inbuilt firewire controller on the motherboard is used. But this firewire controller shares it's bus with the 32-bit PCI card slot which means I can't put anything in this slot. This bus segment is exclusive for Mojo. I think you get the idea!

I wish I had much larger drives for RAID0 but they are expensive. My RAID0 does around ~170MB/s-190MB/s. Ideally, 4 x 300GB 15K SAS drives would be nice! I Have a built-in SAS controller that can take 4 drives. I've used 3: 1 boot and 2 as RAID0. I also have a 3 port SATA controller. So, I could have a SATA for the boot and 4 x 300GB SAS 15K for RAID0 which would be seriously quick.

Alternatively, go for a box that sits outside where you can access the drives quickly.

What format are you working with?
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October 22, 2009 12:32:15 AM

Thanks. I am working with 24P and HDV, shot with a Canon HV20.
But next year I am switching to AVCHD as I can no longer use tapes, for a variety of reasons, and I don't want to have to upgrade the workstation.

I think I will take your suggestion and do three drives - one OS/application drive and two drives in a RAID 0 for editing, all 300GB. And a 4th drive for storage.
I have roughly 80 mini-DV tapes of HDV footage, plus other DV footage, all for the same project, so I need a 1.5-2tb hard drive for the storage . Seagate now makes a fast one for around $300. I was thinking of going internal, since I assume it is faster, though it would be nice to have an external that I can lock in a safe when I'm out of the house.
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October 22, 2009 4:11:45 AM

HDV is difficult to edit because it's long GOP MPEG2. You need some serious horsepower to edit it. People tend to convert to DNxHD which is indistinguishable from the original but so easy to edit. HDV is really an aquisition format as I think 24p is too if I'm not mistaken. Not used any of these formats as I'm playing with Super 16mm digitised to 2K (DPX file - 10-bit 4:4:4). I can definitely say this doesn't play back at more than about 1fps! I convert this, using Avid Metafuze, to some DNxHD format.

I would, if you can put a spare one inside and get an external one too. Don't forget that for storage you don't necessarily need a fast drive - you're not going to play of this drive. Internally, make sure it's at least 7200RPM because you may need to use for some footage if you run out of space. So, put the projects you're working on, on the internal drive, and copy the project you're currently working on to the RAID. It's a real pain but...

Since you're going AVCHD - tapeless - you don't have tapes as the ultimate backup. So, you need a couple of levels of back. I've got 3 since I'm still with SD: tape -> external 1TB drive -> internal SATAII -> RAID.

I've got a 64-bit machine of which I'm probably using very little, knowing too well that fully equipped it should be enough. I find it's all about storage and getting that data in/out quickly enough.

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