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View Full Version : Optimizing Hardware setup for FCP on Mac Pro??




Colin Mulcahy
Apr 3, 2010, 11:46 AM
Hi,

I'm hoping someone can offer some experience and valid advice on setting up my system to maximize it's performance for editing with Final Cut Studio 3.

My projects are generally small (less than 100GB each). With the following hardware I'm hoping to optimize for performance for the next 12 months.

Although SSD is an option I want to use my existing hardware and in the future when the price drops to an affordable price I will review my setup.

My questions are listed at the end of this post. Thanking you in advance for any help. :-)

Camera Workflows:

Sony PMW-EX1
Canon 7d

Computer Hardware:

- Mac Pro

1 x Mac Pro ( 2 x 2.8 Quad-Core Intel Xeon )
32 GB RAM (8 x 4GB RAM)

- External Enclosures

2 x FirmTek SeriTek/2ME4-E ( 4-Port eSATA Host Adapter )
2 x FirmTek SeriTek/2eEN4 ( Four Bay Hot-Swap External eSATA Serial ATA Enclosure )

- Hard Drives

14 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Numerous 2.5" 500GB 7200 External Hard drives with Quad Interface" of FireWire 800/400/USB 2.0/eSATA


Initial Hard Drive Setup:

- Boot

1 x 500GB 2.5" 7200
Drive is partitioned with 200 GB partition for boot drive ( Snow Leopard and Applications )
Partition is formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
The rest of the drive is left blank

This drive is enclosed in a OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Mini Enclosure using external firewire 800 to connect to Mac Pro

This drive maybe the first to take advantage of swapping it for a SSD 200GB drive ( OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise SSD ). For another discussion.

- Files

6 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Each drive is partitioned with 200 GB and combined into a 1.2 TB Raid 0 Drive
The raid drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended (No Journaling) with 'Ignore ownership on this volume' checked on the Info dialog box for the drive
The rest of each drive is left blank

Used to save project files and related assets

Theses drives are housed internally in the Mac Pro ( the 4 internal drive bays plus the two extra internal SATA ports )

- Scratch

6 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Each drive is partitioned with 20 GB and 200GB partitions
The 20GB partitions are combined into a 120 GB Raid 0 Drive for Photoshop Scratch drive
The 200GB partitions are combined into a 1.2 TB Raid 0 Drive for Final Cut Studio scratch drive
The two raid drives are formatted as Mac OS Extended (No Journaling) with 'Ignore ownership on this volume' checked on the Info dialog box for each drive
The rest of each drive is left blank

Theses drives are housed externally in the FirmTek Enclosures ( Enclosure 1: 4 internal drive bays, Enclosure 2: 2 internal drive bays )

- Back Up

2 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 Hard drives
Drives are combined together to form a 1 TB Raid 1 Drive
The raid drive is formatted as Mac OS Extended (No Journaling) with 'Ignore ownership on this volume' checked on the Info dialog box for the drive

These drives are housed externally in the FirmTek Enclosures ( Enclosure 2: 2 internal drive bays )

Have other drives to make external backups of backups and to hot swap sets etc.


Questions:

These questions are based on the fact that all my assets are acquired in a file format and that I will never be capturing from tape. I'm just making the distinction as I don't have to take into consideration capture scratch settings.

1). Is there a better configuration for the hard drives above?

2). Is there a method/formula for working out the optimal partition size for the outer tracks of a hard drive?

3). What cluster size should I use for the file and scratch volumes? 128k?

4). Is there any benefit to short stroking the drives as opposed to just partitioning the drives and leaving the unpartitioned segments blank?

5). With Read and Write contention on Hard Drives ( not SSD ) I am trying to understand how FCP utilizes IO on drives. At First I though about separating my fcp project video files from the rendered files on two separate disks (Files and Scratch). At the moment how I understand it is that FCP would read the raw files on the Files disk and write (render) to the Scratch disk. Yet FCP would be playing back the rendered files from scratch disk which is a read from the scratch disk when previewing the timeline when it is rendered. So would I be better increasing the disks used in the combined Scratch disk set and reducing disks used for the Files disk set?

6). Am I right in believing that rendering doesn't happen during playback? Meaning that there wouldn't be a read and write at the same time on the scratch disk set and that the disk would be just reading?

7). Am I right in believing that there would be a performance gain by separating the project video files on the Files disk set (6 drives) from the Scratch disk set (6 drives) as opposed to combining all on one scratch disk set (12 drives)?



telequest
Apr 3, 2010, 04:04 PM
Whenever the 2010 MPs come out we'll have similar requirements, creating a FCP workstation editing HDCAM EX footage from a Sony PMW-EX1R (full raster hi def). Timelines will be set to edit the footage native but render in Apple ProRes 422 (recommendation of most forums I've consulted).

Will be mostly editing single-stream documentary footage, but occasional multi-layer compositing for title sequences and the like.

I'm especially curious about the disk setup the OP proposes, and what gains are to be had from a 6-disk RAID 0 array and leaving 80 percent of the disk space blank ... vs fewer disks (I was planning on just 2) fully utilized.

Is the proposed disk setup overkill? Would a 2-drive array choke? Perhaps the optimum is somewhere in between?

Thanks in advance for insights.