Anybody Using The Dx4? (4x SSD In PCIe)

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by JulianBoolean, Oct 14, 2010.

  1. JulianBoolean macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    The dx4 is a sled that allows for 4 ssds on one pcie slot. See link for details.

    Because the conversation might eventually drift to an inquiry about the intended use, I will provide that upfront fwiw. thinking about 4 ssds, 3 for scratch, 1 for boot and apps. That would leave the four internal Sata bays plus the empty optical for my data on 5x HDD, raid 5. I'm planning on purchasing an Areca 1800 series raid card.

    Thanks! :)
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    That will work. :) The card will even include the internal cable you need to connect to the 4x SSD's, so it's just the card, mount, and drives to buy. It will also leave you 4x ports (1x remaining internal connector).

    If you want to use the HDD bays with the remaining ports, you'll need the MaxUpgrades kit ($129). You'd be able to have a second array for your primary data (say RAID 5 if you wish), but use enterprise disks from the HDD Compatibility List on Areca's site, as it will save tons of headache if you end up buying incompatible drives.
  3. JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    This is really good news! :) But... by "card" you mean the Areca raid card I'm intending to purchase? I'm asking because, when you order the DX4 there is a bundle option to purchase a Rocket Raid 2310 card. Do I need this in addition to the Areca card I"d like to get?
    I've the same uncertainty about which card.
    My 4 internal bays already have drives in there, and are working fine. I'm not understanding how adding the SSDs to the PCI slot, interferes with the 4 internal bays or what this connector thingy does. I'm lacking a basic understanding of what connects into what. I have it pictured like this. The Areca raid card plugs into one of the two PCI slots. The DX4 sled holding the SSDs, plugs into one of the ports on the Areca card. The four internal HDs also plug into the Areca card, still leaving one PCI slot open. Is this correct? Is the thing you've linked just a way to connect the Internal drive to the Areca Card?
    Excellent suggestion, I think you've saved me some headaches :) because it appears that the WD velociraptors I've been eyeballing are not on the supported list. Perhaps not suited for raid arrays other than zero? Seems like quite a few folks are using that flavor of raid with the raptors and none seem to be complaining. I'm leaning towards four or five 750GB WD RE4's in a raid 5 at this point. I'm opting for the lower volume drives, because my retouchers get sloppy with their file management when there is lots of space on the local drives, ha!

    Thanks for all your help!

  4. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Avoid a Highpoint Card like the plague (support sucks, promises not kept,...).

    It comes down to the fact they don't actually design or manufacture any of their gear, but get it from various ODM's (why their products are inconsistent from one another).

    Think about the following questions, and get back to me (we can work through this):
    • How much capacity do you need now?
    • What level of performance do you need?
    • What is your future expansion requirment (i.e. base this on how much you consume a year)?
    • Will you need to boot from the array?

    If you're not sure on any of these, we can try and work through it (i.e. list out the software you're using, if you're a professional or hobbyist,...). Please understand, I'd prefer to have all the details again, as I've been in so many RAID threads, it's too easy to get your specifics mixed up with someone elses.

    • What exactly are you trying to do with what sized drives?
    • Are you just trying to connect the 4x SSD's to the RAID card? Or will there be mechanical as well?
    The MaxUpgrades kit is only meant to allow you to attach the HDD bays to the card so you can use those physical locations (will fit 3.5" or 2.5" drives via adapters). Nothing to do with any sort of interference from a PCIe slot device.

    Assuming you're only after 4x SSD's on the RAID card, there's a better way to go about it than the DX4 (here). It's cheaper, and fits in the empty optical bay. Use this from the cable in the optical bay to get power to the cage.

    Actually, the Velociraptors will work as well (they're enterprise grade, and have been used by other members). What you have to keep in mind, is that they can't test every single drive made, and the newer models take time to complete the testing (why you don't find recently released enterprise disks listed, which was once the case with the 2TB RE4 for example). Enough time's passed however, that it's now passed, and on the list.

    SSD's are a tad different, and so far, I don't recall any specific comments that a brand or model number don't work. But the only SSD drives Areca's tested, were Intel's IIRC.
  5. JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010

    You continue to be amazingly generous with your time and knowledge, it's much appreciated :) I understand you are helping out lots of folks here, and it's alot to remember.

    What I'm working on now : I run a 4 seat retouching studio, that lives inside inside an Ad Agency of 155 Employees. We have been making due with four 2006 MPs. It's time to replace these and set up four speed daemons. It's my responsibility to present a plan for 4 new retouching stations. It needs to be something that we'll be happy with for 3-4 years, as that is the typical cycle between upgrades at the agency. In terms of a budget, the retouching studio bills about 100k per month, so I've got quite a bit of leverage here. I'm thinking that something around 16-20K for each workstation will get the green light for funding.

    Working Files Capacity Needs : 1TB Minimum, 2.5T Max. Back Up Capacity Needs : 4TB
    On the individual retouching stations, I need to keep the capacity low. I know disk space is cheap these days, but If I give my guys too much space on the macs, the file management gets really sloppy. They will put off sending stuff to the shared agency server, and that means I start to get phone calls to go hunt for particular files that we worked on 6 months ago, and by that time nobody can remember the job. Keeping the space to a minimum means they must send stuff to the agency archive sooner, which puts me out of the file management business and keeps me in the making pretty pictures business.

    What you helped me with before : I take work home with me, and have purchased a new 6 core for that purpose. You were really generous with your time, and worked with me quite a bit on my home configuration the previous thread linked below. Since I've had a chance to work with my 6 core a bit since that time, one of my major concerns (writing times) present in that thread have largely disappeared. I'm able to save an 8GB photoshop file on my 6core in 3 minutes without doing anything fancy, just saving it to one 7200 RPM HD. That is a real game changer. I wont needing an External PM with an 8 disk RAID 6 array save my final files to. That revelation makes itself present in my current mission as well. The studio at work is a bit warm all year round, and I can't image how hot it would be if I had another 32 drives in the room.

    Here is what I have so far,

    • Mac Pro 12 Core, 2.93 Ghz

    • OWC Processor Upgrade to 3.33 Ghz

    • 64GB SDRAM

    • ATI Radeon 5870 Graphics Card

    • Areca 1880ix Series Raid Card
    • (will determine exact number of ports/model needed)
    $700.00 (estimate)


    Lower Optical Bay : Boot, Apps & Scratch

    • Option 1, Boot and apps on one SSD, then stripe the remaining three for scratch.
    • Option 2, Stripe all 4 SSDs, then create a small partition for Boot OS & Apps

    • 4x 400GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro RE SSD

    • Hot Swap Backplane RAID Cage (holds the 4 SSDs)

    • Nippon Labs SATA to Molex Power Adapter


    Internal Drives : Bays 1-4 Working Jobs
    • 4x Disk (RAID5) Array, 600GB WD Velociraptor

    • MaxConnect SAS/SATA BackPlane Attachment, to connect the 4 internal HDs to the Areca Card.
    • Need Help which model, looks like 8 versions


    2 Bay External PM Enclosure : Back Up

    • Need help on the enclosure

    • 2x WD Caviar Green HDs, JBOD.
    • A Small Partition for an Emergency Bootable Clone of the OS and Apps


  6. philipma1957, Oct 16, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2010

    philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
  7. JulianBoolean, Oct 16, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2010

    JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
  8. C. Alan macrumors 6502

    Jan 23, 2009
    Wow! That is a lot of computer horsepower, and it cost more than my car! :cool:
  9. JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    Ha! more than my car too. :)
  10. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    So I presume your intent then, is to keep moving files to the archive, and get them off the workstations. Thus not having a need for expansion for each system.

    If this is incorrect, let me know.

    Can't you automate transfers to the archive via software (then delete the originals when necessary)?

    If you're going to stick with 8x drives (3 or 4x SSD's in a stripe set, + 4x SATA disks in a level 5), and have no need for additional ports, I'd go with the ARC-1880I.

    But I need to know if this isn't correct, as the wrong model is a PITA, and you'd be multiplying that by 4.

    I prefer a separate OS/applications drive, as it's easier to recover from than if the OS is on the array, and it goes south. If the OS fails, then you stuff in a new drive, and restore from a clone.

    You won't even need 3x in a stripe set IMO (no need to get scratch space faster than the data location). 3x should at or over the 700MB/s mark. Now assuming your SATA drives can do 100MB/s each, a level 5 is likely to sustain ~340MB/s or so (based on the 1680 series' performance, and the 1880 series is quicker from the available information).

    So double the speed of the scratch isn't going to help, as writing the final data is the bottleneck. You've also configured a significant amount of RAM, and scratch probably won't even be needed (I'd be amazed if 64GB of RAM isn't capable of getting the efficiency of Photoshop to 100%).

    See above, and go from there.

    If possible, get one system, and do some experimentation on what you actually need, as to not waste funds (makes you look really good to the boss). :D

    These will contain SSD's perfectly, and allow for easy data connection to the card via an included cable (with the card).

    The power adapter is cheap, so there's nothing to worry about (you will loose the data signal from the optical drive cable). But I presume this isn't a problem. If so, there is a solution around that too, so let me know (you have to splice 2x different cables together to make what you need, but there's no modification of the actual system = warranty remains in tact).

    You won't need these, though they are of smaller capacity. I'd go with standard enterprise SATA drives instead, as you're users are generating large files which need sequential throughputs, not random access (they're are fine for this). Say 1TB WD RE3's (granted, the usable capacity is 3TB, but it's not much over what you've listed).

    You can can even partition them off if you wish to restrict capacity (not really a short stroke partition, as the used paritition is too large). But it will still have a positive impact on performance (just don't let them get the capacity past 50%, or they're on the inner tracks, and it continuously gets worse the fuller the array becomes).

    I'd go with a larger PM enclosure (i.e 4 bay unit; example you'd like in terms of both function and appearance), and the newertech RAID eSATA card (here). The reason is, most of the 2 bay units are fixed. There is a 2 bay unit that's not a PM unit (here; 2x separate eSATA ports on the back). Combine it with a non-PM eSATA card (here), and you'll get off cheaper, but I prefer the larger enclosure (more options).

    You can stuff both the backup disks (JBOD is perfect for backups), as well as a separate disk for an OS clone (small unit that fits the bill, say 500GB at most).
  11. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    been reading :)

    but the only thing
    agree with Nanofrog the boot on its own

    with my testing everytime I tried to share the SSD scratch with boot it got slower than dedicated

    sounds like they are going to be nice setups :)

    also agree if you can build one and test since the testing we did back and forth really gave some real world feedback spending the coin on a test one might be the best way then replicate what you find you really need
  12. gugucom macrumors 68020


    May 21, 2009
    Munich, Germany
    I have used Intel Gen2 SSDs with Areca's ARC 1210 without problems. You have to be more careful with permissions than using hard disks.

    The other point is you cannot make the Mac Pro sleep when the RAID card is fitted.
  13. freshface macrumors newbie


    Oct 17, 2010
    Hey guys!

    This is my first macrumors post since I am doing my switch from Windows PC to Mac. I have a similar shopping list like Julian so I thought I would share it. I have been discussing it with technical support staff over at OWC and they have been a real help with everything I didn't knew.

    1x Mac Pro 6 core 3,3GHz
    3x OWC SSD - Boot partition in RAID0, non-RE version here since there won't be much writes. I have been told that this Mac Pro has a bottleneck around 800 MB/s so having 4 or more SSDs would be a waste.
    2x OWC SSD RE - Scratch partition in RAID0, mainly for Photoshop. I have been told that PS have a bottleneck around 500 MB/s for scratch partition, so again, 3 or more SSDs would be a waste. RE version here because there will be lots of writes obviously.
    2x OWC SSD RE - Project partition in RAID0 - All of the project data I will be working on atm will be stored here, then moved to an offsite backup after finishing. RE version here because there will be lots of writes obviously.
    1x 300GB WD VelociRaptor 10K RPM 16MB SATA-II 3 GB/s - For Windows partition - mainly for gaming, I work from home so it will be my main computer. Stuffed in the last Mac Pro bay (4th out of 4) or in the second optical bay.
    1x 2TB HDD - Junk Data - Stuffed in the last Mac Pro bay (4th out of 4) or in the second optical bay.
    3x ICY DOCK (from OWC here ) - Will hold the 3xBOOT SSDs in the 3 (out of 4) Mac Pro bays. I believe there can be tons of issues if your boot drives will be hooked to a third party RAID card, so I think it's better to just hook it up in the "official" Mac Pro bays and save the headaches and research.
    1x DX4 (from TransINTL) - Will hold the 2xSCRATCH and 2xPROJECT DATA SSDs
    1x Sonnet Tempo SATA E4i ( Technology/TSATAIIE4I/
    ) - This will be hooked the the DX4's 4 SSDs. This was recommended by OWC staff as a really good/affordable solution for DX4, supports RAID0 too. (avoid the mentioned HighPoint cards, it's a crap).

    Other than that I will also buy another PCIe card with external 4x eSATA ports, 8TB Qx2 and some more drives in case of crash and as an offsite backup - this part probably doesn't interest you since it's a personal preference.

    Here is a nice review of DX4, you can see how it's plugged in, check it out:

    If somebody experienced here have some tips, I would welcome it too, thanks and cheers! :)
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The I/O Controller Hub has a throughput limit of ~660MB/s, not 800MB/s (no idea where you got that number from).

    But running 3x SSD's in a stripe set purely for OS/applications won't be the benefit you expect, as the random access performance won't be much better than that of a single disk. Same goes for mechanical.

    It's sustained throughputs that will benefit (large file transfers). So I'd go with a single SSD for this purpose (if the capacity is sufficient that way; as it can be cheaper to stripe for cost/GB reasons, depending on the actual drives considered).

    Not sure what you're after here (attempting to boost random access speed or get a getter cost/GB by striping smaller disks), so clarification would help.

    This will be fine, as the throughput performance should be the same (similar at worst). Just keep in mind, that you will wear out SSD's for write conditions faster than a mechanical disk (not sure if you're an independent pro or highly active hobbyist).

    But whether it's SSD or mechanical, disks will wear out (mechanical and/or electrical), so you have to be prepared to replace disks. If you can't afford the down time waiting for a shipment, you'd be best served by establishing a Mean Time Between Replacement (MTBR) at some fixed point. Figure 3 years for mechanical. SSD's sadly, are uncertian, as your exact usage pattern will matter significantly.

    I don't think you actually need that many SSD's, so you have an option.

    Use a 4x 2.5" Backplane Cage in the empty optical bay, and stuff in the 4x SSD's for the Scratch and Working DATA arrays. Use 1x Icy Dock for the OS X disk in one of the HDD bays, one for the Velociraptor, and another for the Junk DATA disk. That still leaves you with one open HDD bay (future expansion, additional backup disk, or perhaps an OS clone disk).

    Keep in mind, you're wanting to have 2x SATA cards (one being an eSATA model).

    What you need to be aware of, is that Slots 3 & 4 share the same 4x lanes via a PCIe Switch located on the backplane board (one with the PCIe slots). So you're sharing the bandwidth, and have a loss due to switching as well. Performance may not be what you'd expect at all.

    You can get around this by using Slot 2 for one of the cards, but the card linked is only SATA 3.0Gb/s (not the best for SSD's, as current models can already max out the ports), and it will require system resources to do it (not bad with stripe sets, but just so you're aware of it).

    As you seem to be performance oriented, I'd recommend going with the ARC-1880I for the 2x SSD stripe sets (put the card in Slot 2). It will take some of the load off of the system, and it will be faster than the ICH or the Sonnet card.

    Why so many eSATA ports?

    You only need one for that enclosure, and it doesn't actually have to support Port Multiplier chips, though can open up other options for an additional $30 now (has a hardware RAID controller in it if you use one of it's supported levels).
  15. JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    That is correct, no need for expansion, for the reason you've mentioned. :)

    That's a great idea in theory, but probably not practical for a number reasons. Some jobs need to stay on local drives longer than others, need to double check correct file naming convention, need to trash the old incremental saves & workups no longer needed etc.

    Yes, 8 drives is correct. 4 SSDs on the Areca card, Bays 1-4 also on the Areca card. The only other drives will be the external 2 or 4 bay units currently under discussion.

    Sounds good. Will do. Done deal. :)

    I see what you are pointing to, all the stuff mentioned really underscores the need to do some initial testing on one workstation first. If we assume that 64GB of ram will be sufficient, and I never hit the scratch disks, then the large volume SSDs are wasteful spending.

    However, that's not something I'm willing to assume without some testing. Just the other day, I had a 12GB image and a 5GB image open at the same time. If I do run out of RAM, the SSDs will be nice to have. The thinking behind getting the large volume SSDs, rather than the smaller, cheaper ones, is that we might hammering those things 10 hours a day for 3-4 years. More cells to spread out the wear and tear over time. I know the OWC RE versions come with a five year warranty, but not sure how that would work. SSDs will slowly degrade over time. It's not like they suddenly a HD that just dies and is gone for good. I'd hate to go back and ask for more funding in a year and a half because the SSDs I talked everybody into aren't working out.

    Regarding the scratch speed of the 3 SSDs being way higher than the HDs I will be reading from and writing to, I see your point, and it's a good one. But consider that I might open an image once in the morning, hit the scratch disk about 100 times (if my history pallete is set to save 100 iterations) and I'm running filters, rotating, merging, brushing etc. I might hit the scratch drive constantly during retouching. But will only open once, and save every 20 minutes or so.

    Yes! Effing awesome suggestion! :eek: :D I will do this. Some might think it's like being a kid in a candy store, being able to get what ever you want. But it's quite a stressful process for me. I've learned so much in a short amount of time by hanging out here, but I still have a lot to learn. Three months ago, I was like "what's a raid card?". (Giggle) I'm creative by nature, and not technical minded at all. Mistakes can be expensive, and there's a lot of pressure on me to do this right. Especially since the IT guy and I are not not seeing eye to eye on anything. He knows servers, but not much about Macs. I have to sell him on configuration concepts, and a big freaking budget, without making him feel look like an idiot, or myself look like and idiot by setting up something that does not work, or is a misplaced allocation of funds. I'm going slow, not rushing, even with my own system at home, making every upgrade a part of an thought out, overall long term plan.

    Okay. Agreed. Done Deal. :) I only need to read or write DVDs one in blue moon. I take everything home, and bring it back on a portable FW drive. I do need the top tray some of the time, but the lower optical bay would be empty, if not for the 4 SSDs that are going in there.

    Sounds good. My first choice would have been the RE3s or RE4s as well. But they would be a nice middle ground compromise for my best guy who really wanted 1500k drives. How can I sell him on the RE3s instead of the Raptors?

    Both options look good, :) will consider.

    Agreed. :) Can actually fit the OS and APPS on 25GB, now currently planning to put that on one 50GB OWC RE SSD, Intstead of the 400GB version, will save some green backs on that.

    Honumaui, Nanofrog - I'd like you both to PM me a way for me to send you a personal check. You've both been extremely helpful to me, and I think you both should be in / get back into the consulting business. Honomaui would need an assistant to cut the number of smiley face emoticons down by at least 50% in the formal business plans, but other that that, he's good to go. :)

    Thanks, is not enough thanks!

    - Julian
  16. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    few thoughts :)

    as mentioned just use a single :) especially on boot

    not sure where these numbers are coming from ?
    but 2 should do you just fine and more memory also you want to really check efficiency of your files and know why you are getting what you are ? so even 1 SSD might do the job ?

    the time you save then moving stuff around will be lost I bet ? better off just to build up a simple raid 10 get some speed and safety for main data or get a decent raid card and go external :)

    they way you say partition ? are you getting 2 discs for working and 2 for scratch meaning 4 total ?
    or you saying 2 total and you are going to cut that raid 0 setup into two partitions ? one for scratch one for data ? if so dont do this :)

    sounds fine

    sound fine

  17. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I know it's not always possible, so it was just a thought to save some time and aggravation (figured you could set the automation late, based on worst case completion times so you didn't have to do it by hand).

    I'd put 7x on the Areca, and 1x (OS/applications drive) on the ICH.

    But the ARC-1880 can boot an array or single disk (you'd have to flash it with EFI firmware file). But there'll be a little more work to do this (involves the flashing, cloning, and perhaps a tad more physical location work), but most importantly, on the remote chance the card dies, you can't boot the system (tends to make a major difference in time and effort spent getting the system back up and running again).

    I'm thinking that 64GB is overkill, not insufficient (suspect with the information provided so far, that 32GB would be quite enough <8x DIMM slots filled>, perhaps 24GB <triple channel per memory controller>; which would allow you to stay with UDIMM's, which are definitely cheaper). :)

    Which is precisely why I mentioned it. :D RAM, especially 8GB RDIMM's, as well as SSD's are a tad on the expensive side yet.

    Granted, overkill will get you some nice systems, but your employers won't be too happy about it if they discover that there were thousands of dollars spent needlessly. Given the current job market, .... well, you get the idea. :eek: ;) :p

    The RE versions have more memory available for over-provisioning (Pro units = 7%, RE = 28%), so given you're looking for 3 - 4 years, I'd go with the RE versions. What you need to keep in mind, is they're still MLC based, which is aimed at consumer usage. SLC is aimed at enterprise usage, but it's also more expensive per GB, and they're not as common.

    What I can't get to the point of, is which you'd really need, as I've no idea what your scratch usage will actually be (how much capacity per day is needed, not hours). Since the scratch space has the entire array do use, it will rotate between every cell before any are written to again, and so on. So if say you use 2x RE 50GB units (100GB total capacity), and only write a fraction of that per day, you'd be fine for 3 years I think. It's when you go over that per day (say 1TB per day), that you're cutting the lifespan. Unfortunately, there's no hard real world data out, so it's a bit hard to predict ("back of envelope" calculations are all that's possible right now).

    This is why the RAM capacity is critical, as if you've enough, you won't need to use the scratch space that often, if at all (ideally, you want the efficiency rating under Photoshop at 100% = scratch never used). I still realize it's a good idea to have it (conditions where the average RAM usage that works say 99.9% of the time will be exceeded). RAM is also faster, so if you get a sufficient RAM capacity, I think you'll be fine with the RE versions.

    BTW, I'd plan a 3 year MTBR for your drives (SSD or enterprise mechanical in this case), and it's a good idea to keep a spare on hand. Nothing sucks more (and makes you look like an idiot), than a system that's not running because you're waiting on replacements for parts you spec'd out.

    See above.

    You need to test out the average usage (software, including filters,... on a typical large file) to get your memory usage requirement for a typical job. If the efficiency is under 100%, you can use that to calculate what you'd need, and then round up to the configuration that best fits the new systems (you still add a scratch space, but you don't need to go crazy, and there's other benefits in performance and probably cost savings as well, as SSD's wear out; RAM lasts much longer).

    I think your existing equipment can give a good idea, and can let you nail down your memory configuration based (i.e. do you need 4 GB UDIMM or 8GB RDIMM sticks to get the job done without overspending?). Doing this now, will save you headaches, time, and embarrassment down the road.

    Try and see if you can approach him on how to evaluate memory requirements, RAID levels (if you haven't already),... Basically, make the guy an ally, not an enemy. Better for a working relationship down the road too (perhaps the concept of both of you learning would be an approach, as I'll presume for the moment he knows more than just networking, just has a "black hole" in his knowledge when it comes to a Mac; not all do though).

    Explain that the VR's are good for random access, but standard 7200RPM SATA are fine for sustained throughputs and they have a better cost/performance ratio for this area as a result; it is a business afterall... (VR's may be a tad faster than the RE3 for sustained as well, but they're cheaper/GB).

    Let him dig up the proof to support his argument if there's logic to it (i.e. he can prove that the independent benchmarks for the VR's are sufficient to warrant using those instead of the REx models).
  18. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    some thoughts on scratch discs and PS for others that might also be reading ;)

    the second you open PS it allocates a piece of scratch so SSD at least one is nice to have since it will speed that up

    for smaller things memory as we know is best and when it hits scratch then we want it as fast as we can

    going past as we found in other tests you get to a point like writing large files where scratch is playing less a roll and PS is the bottleneck on the large saves

    I find the have a size of scratch that fits most of the work that matters and assign a second scratch that carries over the rest if and when it needs it ?

    this way you can get away with a bit less on scratch and save the money and really if you are hitting that much chances are so many other things are bottlenecking in the end things are not quicker by that much anyway
  19. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    So you're saying that PS goes to scratch even if there's sufficient RAM that there's no need to do so (actually performing page outs)?

    Or is it just looking for it?

    :confused: :confused: :confused:

    Of course. I'm hoping to help him get a system running that will keep the scratch usage to a minumum though, without overspending on RAM or SSD's.

    8GB RDIMM's aren't cheap. So if 4GB UDIMM's will be sufficient to get the capacity where it needs to be (or worst case, 8GB RDIMM's are required, perhaps 1x DIMM can remain open per CPU).
  20. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    yes it creates a small write to disc creating the scratch forgot how many megs but does write to disc :) on open this is the key thing not on the first document but the second you open PS so not using it as much as setting it up to be used if needed :)

    think of it as finding and testing the drive so its in the ready state if it needs to go to scratch :)

    not sure if this was linked to ?
    but interesting to see the charts and memory
  21. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    I see you picked the OWC SSDs for your RAID. Please update when you have tested the Areca ARC1880 for that purpose and I'm looking for a controller that actually works with my SSDs well.

    My only concern here is how you'll fit everything. I myself had a very hard time fitting everything in my computer and even finding space for many external enclosures.
  22. JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010

    Yes, no problem. Will be sure to post how the SSDs work with the 1800. :) Fitting everything you need in the box is for sure a dilemma, but the 4 SSDs in the lower optical bay, seems like an elegant, tidy solution to me. I'll be sure to post any problems, successes etc.

  23. freshface macrumors newbie


    Oct 17, 2010
    Thank you very much for your replies guys, I really appreciate it!

    To give you more background about me:

    I am an independent creative, I run tons of apps at the same time, I spent most of my time in Photoshop. Each project takes me around 1-4 months so moving the files from PROJECT DATA PARTITION would occur only a few times per year. I need a snappy system in general and a high performance in Photoshop. In Photoshop, I work with lowres files around 2000x4000px, but with hundreds of really small layers in a single file. My PS history is set to 100 states. My last project file had around 300 layers, but only because my PC was laggish. Not to mention I would like to have more than 1 such files opened at the same time. So if I would have an ideal environment (the one I am trying to create right now), I would go with much more layers. That's the workflow that suits me best personally, I can understand someone can't imagine that, especially the huge number of layers.

    The thing is I don't have the Mac Pro yet so I can't do any tests. I've already ordered it 2 weeks ago, should arrive in about 2-4 weeks from now (I am from Europe). I also do 3D in C4D, but that's just a hobby since I am still a total beginner at it.

    I work from home and I also play latest games, that's why I need a WINDOWS PARTITION and fast boots to switch between. I also need tons of storage for movies, music, photos, etc -> that's why the external 8TB Qx2 from OWC in RAID5 seamed like a good solution, especially because it's external. That's probably all I could say to help understand what I am trying to achieve with this machine.

    Now a bit more technical info:

    The OSX boot partition should be around 150-300GB (can't be really sure, it will be my first Mac and the huge WINDOWS games will be on another HDD) - that's why my first thought would be to get more smaller SSDs in RAID0. In terms of price, it seams like it doesn't matter much if it's one big or more with smaller size. Please correct me anytime I say something stupid, I don't have much knowledge/experience in hardware, you guys seam like you know what you are talking about.

    Scratch space doesn't have to be big, I "think" 50GB SSD should be more than enough in terms of space.

    Same goes for one project folder, 50GB (smallest RE SSD) is more than enough.

    I've ordered the Hex MP, 5870, with 3GB of RAM - the question is how much RAM I need right?

    Can you recommend some software or methods I should try once the MP arrives? MP arrives with only 3GB of RAM - not sure if that's not a problem for testing. I would love to run some tests to be able to precisely decide what I really need and what not. The shopping list I gave you in my first post was just based on what I've collected from reading some stuff online, definitely not final list. That's why I think I will need to run a few tests that will fit to my workflow.

    Since I am not from USA, ordering from OWC or TRANSINTL, a few parts a time can be a little pricey and takes longer, but it shouldn't be a problem either, so if you can suggest what parts to buy first and then do some tests on it, I would love to hear your thoughts. I don't want to overshoot it with power I won't use or be just wasted by some bottlenecks in any part of MP.

    I've meant 4x SSD by that. 2x SSD for SCRATCH in RAID0 and 2x SSD for DATA in RAID0.

    The 500MB/s max throughput of PS's scratch was told to me by OWC tech staff, they said the guy from tested it. It's not exact number of course, just a rough estimate of what I remember from our online chat few weeks ago.

    Again, I was told by OWC that each lane in a PCIe 2.0 slot handles up to 500MB/s. So if it's 4x, then there shouldn't be a problem of running 4 internal SSDs out of it right? Or am I mistaken? Please correct me.

    Why do you think the Sonnet E4i wouldn't be good/fast enough for 4x SSD? This card could be plugged in SLOT2 (16x). I was also told that this card doesn't support booting - not an issue since I can have boot SSDs in MP bays.

    The external SATA card has only 2 ports (first for Qx2, second for naked HDD dock station for doing backups). I am really sorry I've noted it wrong (I've said it has 4 ports in my previous post). Here it is: Technology/MXPCIE6GS2/

    Thanks again for taking the time to post your suggestions and help me out, this is one of the best and knowledgeable communities I've ever seen online.

    P.S: Not sure if it would be better to start my own thread since I don't want to hijack Julian's one here -> that wouldn't be nice :) So please just tell me and I will move it to a separate thread, thanks.
  24. JulianBoolean thread starter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2010
    Exactly. That is the chart that is often overlooked. Everybody seems in mutual agreement that the Hex core is the thing to have, and 32GB is sufficient. The hex does indeed outshine the competition on the test for medium sized images. But in stands in the middle of the pack (even with 2x SSD for scratch and 32GB of ram) on the test for huge images. For Huge images, and I'll guess 3GB or above, clock speed plays a minor role, and RAM is KING. I routinely work on 3-12 GB images.

    Having said all of that, I'm currently typing this on my 6 core with 32GB of ram. I can do some testing and report back about how often, and at what point I run out of ram and hit the scratch.

    I know the proposed setup seems like overkill, but spend a week in my shoes and you'd understand. :) I routinely am handed jobs that I've estimated will take 80 Hours. By the time the estimate is approved, and I start working, the job needs to release in 3 days. 80 Hours stuffed into three days is not comfortable. In the meantime, I'm managing three retouchers, and trying to close the deal on another three projects near completion. On top of that, the agency has recently taken on a huge account that will increase the workload by 1/3. It's effing crazy time! I know Honomaui probably gets it, but I don't its easily understood how painful things can get working on big images, unless you've been there yourself.

  25. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    3GB is a laughable amount given your workload. So the short answer is as much ram as you can afford.

    But I would really try and open one of your projects and look under Activity Monitor to see how many Page Outs you are getting, due to insufficient memory causing swapping to the harddrive (although it does sound it will be speedy if your scratch drive is a Solid State Disk array).

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