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16MB cache in 500GB drive vs 32MB cache in 1TB drive

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July 5, 2010 7:15:58 AM

I'm going to go with Samsung SpinPoint F3 drives. After everything I've read, they seem the best overall choice for my needs.

I'm putting three drives into a RAID-5 array for my data. Those will be the 1TB size, which has the 32MB cache. That's a simple decision for me since I can use the 1TB size there.

I'm going to have a separate drive for the OS/apps, and a separate drive for the swap. The 500GB size is plenty for each of those, but it's got the 16MB cache.

The cost difference is really negligble ($27 each). It's worth it to me to get the 1TB drives for the OS/apps drive and for the swap drive "if" it's going to make a difference in performance (even a small difference over time is worth $54 to me).

Is the 32MB cache in their 1TB drives going to be even a littler faster compared to the 16MB cache in their 500GB drives? Or is it equal/relative (16MB per 500GB)? Again, I'm not planning to ever use up nearly 500GB of space for the OS/apps or for the swap.

Thanks!



a c 98 G Storage
July 5, 2010 5:51:26 PM

Well, the 1TB drive will be slightly fast than the 500GB drive, but not due to the cache size. It's due to the platter size vs. data compression. More data is packed onto the same area of the platter of a 1TB than a 500GB.

Cache size really doesn't matter anymore, as the bandwidth of the drive ports (i.e. SATA II) are much faster, and don't require the drive to "hold" any information, waiting for the drive controller.

Your thinking about keep the OS seperate from your data is sound, Even keeping the swap (pagefile) seperate is a good itea.

But, unless you already have these drives, why not think about one single Solid State Drive? An Intel X25-M 80GB SSD is $219.00 here. This may not be cheaper than 2 drives, but performace at least twice as fast.

But let me ask you a couple of questions:

1.) How much RAM do you have now? If you have over 4GB, the pagefile maybe unneeded, and you can turn it off. (But I didn't, and I have 6GB)

2.) What motherboard do you have? Intel based (i.e. X58 or P55 chipsets) mobo support SSDs better, due to ACHI and TRIM support. But they will run on a NVidia board, just not a well (about 10% difference?)

Just some thoughts. Happy 4th!

July 5, 2010 6:13:37 PM

Hey foscooter,

I appreciate it very much.

And happy 4th to you, too!

This is going to be a workstation primarily used for video production. My main concern is that processing video takes a very long time, so anything I can do within a reasonable expense is worth it. The macro factors are, in reality, probably most relevant. A 3% difference in processing what would take twenty minutes isn't much. A 20% difference is, especially over weeks and months. (Not that 3% for a few small bucks isn't worthwhile, too, because it is if the cost is modest enough.)

I just got this refurb machine from HP.

z400, Xeon Quad W3250 2.67 GHz (8-thread), 8GB DDR3 RAM

I assume that's built on an Intel mother board.

I'll be running Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 (and related Adobe apps) under Windows 7 64-bit.

I've been conferring with experts on the Adobe forum. They advised me on the video card to use (Nvidia GTX-470). That's where the SpinPoint F3 was also recommended.

Their hardware guru advised me against increasing the RAM. I already have all four memory banks full for my current 8GB and he pointed out that I'd have to toss that to buy all new RAM to make it 16GB, and that the performance increase would not be near double. Having said that, he indicated it could be around 20-30% in certain situations, which ain’t too shabby. I think we agreed that it might be better to save my money for when I can get an 8-core system.

Please help me understand your suggestion about SSD.

That did come up with the Adobe forum hardware guru, and he advised against that as well. Perhaps it was the same consideration about saving up for a more powerful machine in a few months, at which time I can afford whatever I want.

I don't know exactly his reasoning, though. He just suggested I'd be fine with SpinPoint F3 7200 drives.

What I'm confused about is the fact that you pointed out an 80GB SSD. I'm not clear on where you were thinking I might put that? Did you mean for the swap/pagefile only? (Note that Adobe CS5 allows user selection of where swap files go as well, in addition to whatever the OS provides.) I would think so, given that it's only 80GB.

But you mentioned letting that take the place of two drives. Perhaps you meant for it to be for the OS/apps and swap?

I don't know that that would be enough room for serving both purposes, though.

I'm wondering if this is perhaps not the best place to put my money at present, the reason being I think my main bottleneck is going to be the processor when doing those video processing tasks.

The cost difference to get the 1TB drives over the 500GB is only $54 total, so it's not enough to lose sleep over if it helps.

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a c 98 G Storage
July 5, 2010 6:29:43 PM

Ok. Your points are right.

a.) No more RAM, 8GB is great! And with the software you are running, you may want to "keep" the pagefile.

b.) The SSD would be for the OS and Programs ONLY! Swap could stay (but this is a whole other topic). You must have alot of software to think 80GB is small. And IMHO, a 160GB is too pricey. So whether or not its an Intel based board is irrelevant. Sounds like a SSD is out, right now.

As I just read, a price difference of $54 TOTAL is nothing. But, was that for 5 drives: 1xOS/Programs, 1xPagefile, 3xRAID 5 for Data/Media?

K.I.S.S. and get what you want, and save up for a new build, like suggested.
July 6, 2010 12:26:40 AM

Thanks so much!!!

foscooter said:
As I just read, a price difference of $54 TOTAL is nothing. But, was that for 5 drives: 1xOS/Programs, 1xPagefile, 3xRAID 5 for Data/Media?
That was for making two of the drives 1TB/32MB cache -- OS/apps drive and swap drive -- when I only need 500GB/16MB cache for them (the SpinPoint F3 I want to get doesn't come smaller than 500GB).

Seems the $54 additional for making those two drives the 1TB/32MB cache will provide "some" increase in speed, so I'll probably be doing that.

The three drives in the RAID-5 array were already going to be 1TB/32MB cache anyway, since that's for the data and I can use the space there.

It's worth it to make the OS/apps drive the 1TB size, too, not only for the speed but since I can put plenty of "additional data" on there that isn't the type that would slow down the machine during read/write. The data that the RAID-5 drives are intended for will, which is the video processing.

It does seem a bit much having a 1TB drive for the swap, though. It's my understanding that it doesn't even need 100GB max. Oh, well. The $27 difference for the added speed is probably worth it there. Unless the smallest SSD is worth it there? What is the smallest that's reliable, and will it actually help?

Thanks again!
July 6, 2010 1:48:32 AM

Just moving the page file to another drive alone will make a difference regardless of what you are doing so just keep that in mind.
July 8, 2010 10:04:34 AM

nforce4max said:
Just moving the page file to another drive alone will make a difference regardless of what you are doing so just keep that in mind.


Do you have some idea of large that performance gain would be? And how much memory over allocation would you have do to for the pagefile being actually being used much?
July 8, 2010 2:41:17 PM

Just do system managed file, I tried this last night on a 10 year old fujitsu drive that only had 10gb storage and 512kb cache needless to say it wasn't fast enough but it worked. The drive had a sustained rate of 20mbs so I would suggest a much more modern drive that being sata with 8mb cache. The gains should be noticeable in games and content apps like GTA iv to CS4/5. Its easy to do under XP sp3 on up as well vista and win7.

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a b G Storage
July 9, 2010 2:54:03 AM
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The cache misconception prevails.. Well actually, 500GB driver employ a single platter with 16MB cache.. A 1TB drive employs two 500GB platters with 16MB cache each resulting in a total 32MB cache size.. Technically, a 500GB drive will be faster as it has to access data from a single platter only.. Talking about RAM, it has to be matched with the kind of file sizes you work upon.. And higher RAM wont double up your rendering speeds.. It'll just make your workflow smoother especially when working with large data sets.. Similarly, a SSD will improve file load/edit times which is more essential when working on heavy file sizes.. It'll also aid up to decrease the render times by allowing faster data access..
July 9, 2010 5:10:32 PM

Cache isn't on the platter you idiot, it is located on the controller board on the physical drive.
a b G Storage
July 9, 2010 5:33:33 PM

nforce4max said:
Cache isn't on the platter you idiot, it is located on the controller board on the physical drive.


As much as i'd appreciate you correcting any wrong info given, you may also learn to quote your statements in a gentler and more informative manner.. Just a suggestion..
July 9, 2010 7:31:31 PM

Emperus said:
As much as i'd appreciate you correcting any wrong info given, you may also learn to quote your statements in a gentler and more informative manner.. Just a suggestion..


My apologies, some times I do get frustrated after dealing with trolls on youtube and on other forums.
July 10, 2010 1:38:41 AM

I certainly don't want to be the cause of a debate between others here, but can I perhaps please get a "confirmation" somehow? I've got three opinions so far (two from this thread and one from another forum):

A. 1TB with 32MB cache will be faster than 500GB with 16MB cache due to the 1TB reading/writing to a relatively smaller (more condensed) platter ("compression").

B. 1TB with 32MB cache will be faster than 500GB with 16MB cache due to the 32MB cache.

C. 500GB with 16MB cache will be faster than 1TB with 32MB cache due to the fact that it only has to read/write to one platter (and the fact that it's "16MB cache per 500GB and therefore is a wash).

I'm a total novice, but just plain simple logic to me, and the tone of the poster, lead me to believe "C" is the right answer. (I’m guessing A and B overlooked the fact that the 1TB is two 500GB platters.)

One of these drives will be for swap only and I'm of the understanding (could be wrong) that 500GB is "more than plenty big enough" for swap or pagefile for my purposes (Windows 7 and Adobe CS5). And it will be going in the bay in my HP z400 case that's marked CD-ROM, which is perhaps a bit more snug than other bays (though there still seems to be ample cooling space, especially "above" the drive).

Cooling is a concern because the one downside I’ve been reading about with these Samsung SpinPoint F3 drives is that they get warm. So, I’m thinking, why put a thicker housing into this already slightly snug bay if the additional storage capacity is not going to be used and it’s no faster?

What do you think?

Thanks so much!
a b G Storage
July 10, 2010 1:51:53 AM

nforce4max said:
My apologies, some times I do get frustrated after dealing with trolls on youtube and on other forums.


It'd have been a no big deal had it come from a novice user new to such forums.. But the very words coming from a veteran user made me feel offended.. Please do accept my apologies for passing any sort of wrong info in the first place.. Hopefully We'll stay on the cooler side of things from now.. Cheers..
a b G Storage
July 10, 2010 1:58:22 AM

HardwareJay said:
I certainly don't want to be the cause of a debate between others here, but can I perhaps please get a "confirmation" somehow? I've got three opinions so far (two from this thread and one from another forum):

A. 1TB with 32MB cache will be faster than 500GB with 16MB cache due to the 1TB reading/writing to a relatively smaller (more condensed) platter ("compression").

B. 1TB with 32MB cache will be faster than 500GB with 16MB cache due to the 32MB cache.

C. 500GB with 16MB cache will be faster than 1TB with 32MB cache due to the fact that it only has to read/write to one platter (and the fact that it's "16MB cache per 500GB and therefore is a wash).

I'm a total novice, but just plain simple logic to me, and the tone of the poster, lead me to believe "C" is the right answer. (I’m guessing A and B overlooked the fact that the 1TB is two 500GB platters.)

One of these drives will be for swap only and I'm of the understanding (could be wrong) that 500GB is "more than plenty big enough" for swap or pagefile for my purposes (Windows 7 and Adobe CS5). And it will be going in the bay in my HP z400 case that's marked CD-ROM, which is perhaps a bit more snug than other bays (though there still seems to be ample cooling space, especially "above" the drive).

Cooling is a concern because the one downside I’ve been reading about with these Samsung SpinPoint F3 drives is that they get warm. So, I’m thinking, why put a thicker housing into this already slightly snug bay if the additional storage capacity is not going to be used and it’s no faster?

What do you think?

Thanks so much!


Have never done a straight on comparison between a 500GB and a 1TB hard drive (have experienced them individually though).. Technically it still sounds the way that a single platter design would be faster with data access and seek timings (as You've already explained yourself).. So my recommendation would still stay with a 500GB being the base drive and a 1TB (or larger as per your needs and wish) as the static data drive..
July 10, 2010 1:59:12 AM

Not that I have any place in that diplomacy dialog, which seems resolved anyway, but I'm still betting my quarter that Emperus with his answer "C" was the right one out of the various A, B, C opinions I've gotten (cache location notwithstanding).

As to keeping things "cooler"... I'm still curious if that should even be a concern for me with the size drive I choose put in.

If one of you IDIOT NINCOMPOOPS could please--- Oh, sorry. I got carried away. :-) (I was watching "Everybody Loves Raymond earlier. :-) )

July 10, 2010 2:06:10 AM

Emperus said:
Have never done a straight on comparison between a 500GB and a 1TB hard drive (have experienced them individually though).. Technically it still sounds the way that a single platter design would be faster with data access and seek timings (as You've already explained yourself).. So my recommendation would still stay with a 500GB being the base drive and a 1TB (or larger as per your needs and wish) as the static data drive..

Thanks very much.

Seems in the scheme of things it's probably a relatively miniscule difference, and for all we know it could be a wash. Humph.

Do you happen to have an opinion on whether it's correct for me to assume that 500GB is more than I'd ever be utilizing anyway for swap/pagefile for Windows 7 and for Adobe Premiere Pro and the related CS5 apps?

The other side of my decision is whether cooling should even be a criterion or not. I mean, if speed is equal or darn close to it, and so is cost, I can always use the extra space for storage (of rarely used data) without hindering the swap/pagefile benefits in any way, right?

I appreciate it very much.
a b G Storage
July 10, 2010 2:22:06 AM

If it helps, i've adobe suit (upgraded to CS5 recently) running on my 250 GB hard drive along with OS (Win 7 64 bit), 3DS Max, few games, M S Office, Visual Studio 2008 and few other basic apps.. 3DS Max is my primary software but i often have photoshop open in parallel.. For maximizing space, i've disabled system restore (i take backups on my external drive periodically) and disabled recycle bin space coverage.. Page file is managed by windows and i am experiencing no sluggishness.. So i guess a 500GB hard drive is plenty..
July 10, 2010 3:10:15 AM

There will be likely a small boost in performance with the 1TB 32mb cache drive but don't expect to see your socks knocked off unless you decided to go raid 0. Single patter drives are faster than dual on up due to the fewer number of heads feeding the controller. However there are limits for mechanical drives till they finally give into making 5.25 drives that have dual head assemblies on two instead of one arms. Its a old concept but none were ever tested beyond design phase by conner and seagate in the 90s. However a modern concept was deigned but again never produced and tested that was sata based in a 3.5 format but was a long drive to say the least it would have been licked due to physical size.
July 10, 2010 3:45:40 AM

Seems going with all 1TB drives is the way to go for me. Since the drive for the OS/apps will be 1TB, and the three drives in the RAID-5 array for data will be 1TB, I may as well make the one for swap/pagefile 1TB.

I hugely appreciate it.

July 10, 2010 3:49:49 AM

Emperus said:
If it helps, i've adobe suit (upgraded to CS5 recently) running on my 250 GB hard drive along with OS (Win 7 64 bit), 3DS Max, few games, M S Office, Visual Studio 2008 and few other basic apps.. 3DS Max is my primary software but i often have photoshop open in parallel.. For maximizing space, i've disabled system restore (i take backups on my external drive periodically) and disabled recycle bin space coverage.. Page file is managed by windows and i am experiencing no sluggishness.. So i guess a 500GB hard drive is plenty..
General working tasks isn't my concern – I agree about that. My main concern is that when I have it "processing" video it takes so long. I'll do whatever is feasible to save the time. My previous machine, also using five drives (three in RAID-5 for data) took 20 minutes to export a simple 1-hr video timeline from Premiere Pro to AVI.

My new workstation moves me up from a 4-thread Xeon processor to an 8-thread processor, and from 8GB DDR2 RAM to 8GB of DDR3 RAM. I'm also moving up from XP-64 to Windows 7 64, from CS3 to CS5, and to the new Cuda-enabled nVidia graphics card. I'm hoping that all of this combined reduced the processing time significantly.

By the way, two things I’ve learned about CS5:

1. There’s a bug in Premiere that causes it to take 2-3 times longer to export to AVI than CS4 or CS3. Adobe is aware and is working on it.

2. Using an nVidia Cuda-enabled card that’s officially supported by Premiere Pro CS5 (the rest of your system already supports it, by the way) will “dramatically” speed up rendering and perhaps some other processes for you. I’ve thoroughly researched this lately and can tell you hands down that as of today’s date the card to get is the GTX-470. It’s built on the new Fermi technology, is the lowest cost and fastest out yet, and is “about to be” added to the Premiere Pro officially supported Cuda list (and there’s a “hack” that seems to work fine until then). FWIW.

July 17, 2010 12:05:28 AM

Best answer selected by HardwareJay.
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