View Full Version : Advice requested (upgrades on my G5)

Jun 8, 2008, 10:58 AM
Hey forum--ok, so my beloved G5 is getting a bit more of a facelift. One of the drives from my RAID (a pair of 80gb) is officially dead, and SATA drives under 500gb are super cheap, so I've decided to do a bulk upgrade right now. Here is what I'm planning:

Replace both 80gb with 250gb for a 500gb RAID
Replace my 160gb system drive with a 1TB
Use the 500gb storage drive as either a mirror for the RAID or for Time Machine (or use an external and use this for scratch or system--see below)
Upgrade RAM to 6gb (from 4.5)
Upgrade to Leopard
Upgrade to CS3

So here's my question--currently my configuration has a 160gb system drive, a 500gb storage drive, and a 160gb RAID that is used for a CS2/Final Cut scratch disc. So my main question is this: will CS3 actually run faster if the system and apps are on the RAID and the scratch is a standard SATA disc, or is it better to keep the configuration as is (i.e., use the RAID for scratch)? I know boot times will be faster of course, but even with Time Machine I worry about running the system on a RAID (I always store everything on separate drives, so all my system drive/desktop has is current files I'm working with). Basically, if the performance increase is worth the possible hassle of having to occasionally rebuild/restore, or if the RAID will actually outperform as a cache disc than a system disc...

Jun 8, 2008, 09:02 PM
I'd recommend against some of this.

The RAID and 1 TB drive sound like good ideas, and will (obviously) give you more storage and much higher speeds for pretty cheap, as well as (ideally) extending the life of your storage plan.

The only time Photshop ever accesses the hard drive is when a.) it starts up or, as far as I can tell, you open the Font/Text tool which seems to take a while to load.

The only other time is when it hits a scratch disk, which only happens when you odn't have enough memory. Having enough memory for your operation at hand 100% eliminates the need for a scratch disk. But when you do need one, yes, you want your fastest drive as your scratch (yes, meaning the RAID, assuming it's the speed-doubling kind... which I think is RAID 0. The speed of your other drives don't matter except for load times (and that's really only the first time... then it's stored in memory until it's flushed if needed by another program)

Do you ever run out of memory and hit your scratch disk? If not, you don't need more RAM.

If so, you must be playing with pretty big/complex files..and then sure, upgrade to 6GB. Or if it's cheaper, upgrade to 8GB, which I'm guessing would put you in a place where you'd never need a scratch in what you're doing, negating the need for a new scratch disk.

Leopard speeds up Intel Macs, but slows down PPC Macs. Barefeats did a test on it.

I think the same is true for CS3 (well, we know it speeds up Intel Macs).

Lord Zedd
Jun 8, 2008, 10:00 PM
Leopard speeds up Intel Macs, but slows down PPC Macs. Barefeats did a test on it.

Only the G4 PPC macs. The speed difference in the G5 isn't really noticeable.

Jun 9, 2008, 01:48 AM
FIREFLY--Hmmm, well I've definitely noticed a slowdown in Photoshop and Illustrator (and, oddly enough, InDesign, which is weird since indd doesn't allow you to delegate scratch discs) since the RAID died. That's part of the want for the RAM upgrade; 8 would be doable, but the thing is I bought it with 2.5 and the configuration was 4X512 and 2X256, so if I go to 6 I only need to buy 2 sticks, if I go to 8 I need to buy 6 sticks. Which is a difference of about $150; laughable when you compare that to a year ago, for sure, but the whole point is to give it a little boost for Leopard/CS3. Though I did just discuss with my business partner skipping CS3, since Adobe is already making announcements and beta runs on CS4 ware...

And yes, I work in very large files. I usually end up with pageouts, but not an insane amount (the jump from 2.5-->4.5 made a huge difference). More RAM will always help, but as of CS2 (especially on g4-bit configurations), it's still going to write a lot to cache unless you set the saved stages setting to zero (this article covers the resource hog that is Photoshop CS2: http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=320005 ).

The drives are definitely going to happen (since they can just be swapped into my next tower), it's just a matter of how they end up being configured. I might try doing a system RAID with regular time machine back-ups, see how that goes. If the drives are all the same size, then swapping between them if I change my mind shouldn't take more than opening CCC. ;)

I think CS3 runs fine in Leopard but sluggish in Tiger; that's what I heard. I also heard that it's an improvement over CS2 in PPCs, but a much larger (dropping Rosetta needs) in Intels.

LORD ZEDD--is that confirmed? I've been holding off on Leopard mostly because of that, and that I'm not afraid of legacy OSes (we run everything from OS9-Tiger around this office, with everything but 10.0/10.1 in use). I was afraid it would actually slow performance on the G5 as I'd heard it did with the G4s my friends have tested it on...

Lord Zedd
Jun 9, 2008, 06:49 AM
LORD ZEDD--is that confirmed? I've been holding off on Leopard mostly because of that, and that I'm not afraid of legacy OSes ... I was afraid it would actually slow performance on the G5 as I'd heard it did with the G4s my friends have tested it on...

Yes. The speed difference is very small, not really noticeable in daily use.

Tiger is slightly quicker but Leopard is a much better all-around system.

Jun 9, 2008, 05:44 PM
Yes. The speed difference is very small, not really noticeable in daily use.

Tiger is slightly quicker but Leopard is a much better all-around system.

Hrm, I may skip the Leopard bit, then, or do this in stages, as I'm already having moments of lag in extreme load, I don't need the OS contributing to it. I know Leopard is better on the consumer user-end, but my machine already does everything I need it to and is wicked stable, so until I need Leopard to run apps that I use, I'll probably stay away from it. Thanks for that!

So last call then on the last remaining question--better to run the OS on the RAID and use a standard drive for scratch or to run the OS on the standard drive and use the RAID for scratch?

Lord Zedd
Jun 9, 2008, 06:28 PM
Why not both on the RAID?

Jun 9, 2008, 07:33 PM
That's an option too, but the question is whether or not that will actually benefit the speed of Photoshop over either of the other two options. When writing scratch cache to a drive, the heads of the drive have to work double time to run other operations AND write the cache info. That's why you should usually have your cache be a separate drive for apps, and not the same drive or a separate partition on the same drive as the OS (some riskier folks than I have even altered their systems to have the system cache write to another drive, but I'm not ballsy enough for that). I think that either of the above will result in better overall performance, but I'm not sure...

Jun 10, 2008, 07:39 PM
It also depends on how much redundancy you want in your storage. 2 x 250GB Raid 1 for system drive, 2 x 500GB Raid1 for backup/storage, and the 160GB drive for scratch disk would be a good configuration. Raid 0 is faster than Raid 1, but if redundancy is a concern, then Raid 1 is the way to go.

Jun 10, 2008, 11:38 PM
Um, no, all RAID0, I'm out for performance, not redundancy. RAID1 arrays will slow things down, not speed them up. Besides, I have a back-up system that is more efficient than time machine already. ;)

Jun 11, 2008, 12:38 AM
I am in similar situation....here is what I did with my Quad 2.5.
I stayed with Tiger, it runs great, and it less buggy than Leopard, and is slightly faster. CS3 runs a tad faster than CS2 - but only if you have the guts behind it.... CS3 has big gains on Intel chips.
Budget sounds like it a concern, so a $ max amount would help.
Run a RAID 0 for the entire system, since speed is your concern. If it was me, I would run at least 2 500gb for the RAID, and a 1TB for extra storage and secondary scratch disc. As your discs fill up, you loose speed, so for optimum speed, your System drive(Raid 0) should never be more than 50% full, as performance drops dramatically after that.
Also, if $ are there, fill all memory slots. CS3 will eat up a lot of RAM, and if it is the only program running, it will easily draw 8gb of Ram. Even if you put 512 chips in, performance gains are substantial if all slots are full.
Hope this helps, please write in if any more questions...

Jun 11, 2008, 12:40 PM
As far as I know, it's best to have a dedicated scratch disk.. and yes, for optimal performance in the applications using the scratch disk, you'd want your RAID configuration for your scratch, the other for your system disk.

Getting 8 GB doesn't sound like a bad investment if it's only $150. How much RAM are you using in the activity monitor during one of your typical projects? You might just be able to calculate how much RAM you're going to need that way.

I assume you mean you run OS 9 on other machines, but if you do upgrade to Leopard you won't be able to run Classic anymore, because, well, it's no longer there or supported.

Waiting for CS4 sounds like a good idea.

And don't forget another important thing.. if you have these machines on all the time, restart them every once in a while... probably at least once a week. It frees up memory, clears caches and can make it run more smoothly. OS X isn't perfect... there are memory leaks ;)

Jun 11, 2008, 07:13 PM
Yeah, the thought occurred to me to max the RAM and stay smaller with the RAID and just use a RAMdisc for the primary scratch, which would work in CS2 since AFAIK it can't address more than 4gb at a time (though it wouldn't really prepare me for upgrading to CS3 or CS4, which can apparently use as much as it wants). I'll figure it all out next week, so anyone who has anymore tips please do contribute, and many thanks to all of you for your input, it is greatly appreciated. :)