iMac Pro Configuring a New iMac Pro

Discussion in 'iMac' started by agtoau, Jun 9, 2018.

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  1. agtoau macrumors regular

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    #1
    My current machine is the trashcan Mac Pro (6-core, 64GB RAM, 1TB SSD, D700 GPU). I have decided to sell it and buy an iMac Pro.

    I am a photographer with stills photography as my focus. Mac Pro handles Photoshop CC well. However, I also do 4K video and find that rendering times in FCPX on the Mac Pro are long. My second gripe with the Mac Pro is that it doesn't support TB3 and its USB3 is hobbled (from what I remember reading in one of the earliest Anandtech reviews).

    I had in mind the following iMac Pro configuration:

    8-core, 64GB (or 128GB) RAM, 2TB SSD, Vega 64.

    My intention is to have this machine as my main workstation for the next 4-5 years. Another motivation to get the iMac Pro is portability - we envisage going abroad for a while and taking an iMac Pro will be easier than a Mac Pro + my current large 32" display.

    Would 128GB of RAM be overkill for the iMac Pro? Or would it serve me well considering I am looking at a 5 years horizon?
     
  2. filmak macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Are your current 64 GB limiting your work?

    If you have no financial problem, I'd say go for the 128 GB now, and avoid the opening of your iMac Pro later and getting anxious about Apple's technicians performance.
     
  3. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    Thus far I can easily run Photoshop CC + Bridge with 64GB memory. I usually don't keep multiple apps open. But you're right - having the extra RAM wouldn't hurt (except for the wallet, given the almost $1600 additional).
     
  4. tubeexperience macrumors 68040

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  5. bigtomato macrumors regular

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    #5
    Get yourself an AMD thread ripper for half the price
     
  6. Bryan Bowler macrumors 68040

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    #6
    I am a content producer: photography and video. I would suggest that 64 GB should handle your workflow (as it stands today) for the next 4-5 years. As (if) you move up into even higher resolutions though, 128 GB of RAM could be nice to have, but not a necessity.

    The 8-core machine is nice and not underpowered by any means, but you would get a lot of bang for your buck by making the upgrade to 10-cores. 10-cores, 64 GB of RAM, Vega 64, and 2TB SSD is the sweet spot for a photographer/videographer in terms of performance versus price. If I were in your shoes, I would move to 10-cores before I made the decision on 64Gb or 128GB of RAM.

    Food for thought -- happy to discuss this more!
     
  7. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Bryan,

    Excellent suggestion! I hadn't thought of the 10-cores option, fixated that I was on the RAM.

    Given that we are going to see more and more 8K video in the coming years, if I'm reading you right, the increase from 8 to 10 cores will have a greater impact than the increase from 64GB to 128GB, am I right?

    The Adobe Photoshop CC and its associated products (Lightroom) really don't use all the cores, so probably minimal advantage there.

    Added: I was thinking of pairing the machine with a Promise Technology Pegasus TB3 24TB array in a RAID 6. (Currently I have the Promise TB2 8TB in a RAID 5.)

     
  8. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Resurrecting this thread.

    What is a good external drive system to pair with the iMac Pro? I'm a photographer with a little bit of video, and I have over 5TB of data right now.

    Currently with my Mac Pro I use the Pegasus2 (Promise Technology) 8TB with 4 bays in a RAID 5 to give an effective capacity of 6TB.

    For the iMac Pro I was thinking of abandoning RAID and going with either LaCie Thunderbolt 3 10TB or a similar G-Technology rig. Redundancy to be gotten by buying two of these. My backup strategy involves making multiple copies on regular hard drives.

    Anyone with comments on LaCie TB3 or G-Technology? Or any other suggestions?
     
  9. BlueTide macrumors regular

    BlueTide

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    #9
    As it stands, I am in the same spot (looking for high performance storage) and done some research on the topic, for the same use. In addition to just video, I am looking into doing EXR comps in After Effects / Resolve Fusion as well. Now, I have not actually tested this just yet, so if someone knows better I am happy to learn more.

    My issue with Thunderbolt (3) is the length of the cables. To me this matters since HDDs and fans create noise. Thus, I've looked more into tiered storage over 10GBe NAS which happens to work with iMac Pro well, or via a 200$ adapter with an iMac.

    My current candidates are Synology FS1018 + a 10GbE NIC & QNAP TS-963X. Both could take SSD RAID0 for speed and capacity and slower RAID5 storage for archival. Both also seem to be able to use Amazon Glazier as off-site back-up and automate the process. Both can also be tucked far away. I've been trying to find out what speeds QNAP could reach since the manufacturer does not seem to state the performance for this particular model which makes me a bit cautious. FS1018 seems to saturate the 10GbE for reads at least (1.2GB/s or thereabouts).
     
  10. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Thanks, BlueTide.

    I decided to go with DAS, not NAS. Partly due to the ease of setup and partly due to portability. Also no latency issues.

    As for RAID 5, I've been reading that it is not a good idea and that RAID 6 is preferred. There can be problems with restoring data with RAID 5 that is greatly mitigated in RAID 6.
     
  11. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #11
    I have the same Pegasus2 plus several other arrays; the LaCie isn't nearly as fast -- it's a single drive. However it's nice looking and supposedly quiet.

    I have several OWC Thunderbay 4 arrays I use in RAID-0 and I have an off-line redundant spare for each one. Instead of hardware RAID I use SoftRAID, although that's not strictly necessary for RAID-0 since macOS has that built in, but I trust SoftRAID more and the performance is better. Software RAID avoids locking you into a single vendor. e.g, the drives on the Pegasus use a proprietary format and can only be used in another Pegasus box unless you reformat them, which obviously wipes out your data. If any of my SoftRAID boxes fail or if I just want to switch brands, I can put the drives in any other RAID chassis and the data stays intact.

    The problem with RAID-5 is it costs storage efficiency (e.g, 6TB usable for 8TB capacity), costs write performance, and during the lengthy rebuild phase all performance can be very slow. In some cases this means you don't practically have non-interrupted service because I/O performance degrades so much it's not usable. With a redundant array you can be up and running at full speed in minutes, albeit at the cost of a little lost data since the last time the arrays were synced.

    Another issue with RAID-5 (or any redundant RAID format) is the "sibling failure" phenomena. If one drive in a RAID box fails, there's a greater likelihood of another drive failing since they are often from the same manufacturing batch, operate in common environmental conditions, and have the same operating life. This is a personal preference but if I have one drive in a RAID box fail and they are over three years old, I usually replace them all.

    There is a theoretical problem with a single-drive failure on RAID-5 and having a 2nd drive fail during the rebuild phase, but several of the articles discussing this used flawed statistics based on a misunderstanding of bit error rates. IMO that's not a major reason to avoid RAID-5, but there are other reasons.

    You could use two 16TB G-Tech GRAID boxes -- one primary and one backup, both in RAID-0, and they only cost about $850 each. They are about 2x the performance of the Lacie since they are RAID-0, and your usable storage would be 16TB: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/prod...ogy_0g04097_g_raid_thunderbolt_2_usb_3_0.html

    RAID-0 obviously isn't ideal from a reliability standpoint but even RAID-5 must be backed up. If it's backed up to a similar array, IMO you may as well use RAID-0. You also must consider the business cost of recovery time. If you have good backups to a slow device and it takes 24 hr to restore them, that might be too costly.

    That said, an alternate approach is using a faster, more expensive primary RAID box and a less expensive one either for off-line backup via Carbon Copy or on-line backup via Time Machine backup. E.g, 16 TB Thunderbay 4 in RAID-0 and a 16TB G-Tech GRAID for backup: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/prod...ting_owctb3ivt16_0s_16_0_tb_thunderbay_4.html

    However there's not that much price difference between them, but the OWC is much faster if configured as 4 x 4TB in RAID-0. Having twin arrays means they are both fast and can be interchanged. The Thunderbay 4 arrays I have are not as quiet as the Pegasus2.

    I personally always have three different backups for active data: continuous backup via Time Machine, nightly off-line backups via Carbon Copy, and off-site backup for the original media on separate drives.

    Re your previous issue with slow 4k H264 FCPX encoding on the nMP, the iMac Pro is much faster. However a top-spec 2017 iMac 27 is also much faster, but it's not as quiet as the iMP.
     
  12. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    Joema2 - thanks a lot for that excellent account.
     
  13. ColdCase, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #13
    Not that its best, but the LaCie 2big Dock contains two faster 7200 rpm drives with total capacity from 8 to 20TB I think. I picked one up because it has convenient front panel USB and SD card slot (very useful for importing camera footage via the iMac TB3 interface) and I needed responsive backup to the 2TB internal flash that I depend on for speed. It can be set for JBOD, RAID0 or Mirror. I use it in mirror because it stays in sync, which I was surprised to find to be plenty fast for photography and 4k Video. The drives are each in a typical drive sled.

    Anyway, just an option. The 12 TB (two 6TB seagate drives) runs about $750.
     
  14. agtoau, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018

    agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
  15. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #15
    There are two generations of similar-looking GRAID drives. The older ones require disassembly to replace the drives. However it's not difficult and I've done it many times.

    The newer ones look identical externally but are front loading: http://a.co/iJ4wXGk

    I can't tell which type is the one you referenced. However that one is only a single-drive unit, so there's nothing magic about it -- it's just a single drive inside a case with a Thunderbolt chip set and connector.

    I don't think the drive you referenced is much different from the LaCie. They are both 7200 rpm drives inside a case with a Thunderbolt interface. The speed will be limited by the drive not the interface. There might be a difference in the noise level, but that's impossible to determine from the spec. Noise level will be affected by exact brand of bare drive inside the case and its characteristics, type of bushings or isolation mounts used between the bare drive and the case, type of fan, etc.

    Noise problems on external drives or arrays can often be reduced by resting the unit on an isolation pad: http://a.co/7q1lsgw

    The LaCie uses vertical mounting so seems to take up less desk space. However multiple GRAID drives can be stacked on top of each other. In that case once you go beyond one unit, the GRAID has less desk footprint.

    There is no magic here. I have taken many of these apart and inside is a standard Seagate, Western Digital or Toshiba (usually) 7200 rpm drive. The most recent two-drive GRAID I got came with Toshiba drives. A single drive is only so fast, regardless of the interface type.

    If an external HDD containing a single drive meets your performance needs, then it's simple to have two drives -- primary and backup. However if you're accustomed to the performance of the four-drive Pegasus2, a single-drive unit will be a lot slower.
     
  16. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Yes, this is what concerns me. The portability of a single drive system is highly desirable for me but there’ll be a performance hit.
     
  17. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Joema2 and others - which RAID config do you use? RAID 5, 6, 10?
     
  18. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #18
    I formerly used RAID-5 but I gradually switched over to RAID-0. Reasons: I needed rapid recoverability while maintaining full performance and RAID-5 perf. degrades drastically during the rebuild phase. Also RAID-5 must still be backed up. I figured if I'm using a backup array I may as well get the performance and space advantages of RAID-0. In my application the FCPX library is always backed up several places so the array is just for media and proxies. It is not rapidly changing so up-to-the-second backup isn't needed. But if the primary array fails (which with RAID-0 can be a single drive), I need to keep working at 100% performance. A backup RAID-0 array gives me that.

    This configuration is essentially an off-line version of RAID 0+1, a mirror of stripes. The reason for keeping the backup array off line is to avoid a common failure from the file system, malware or user error. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nested_RAID_levels#RAID_01_(RAID_0+1)
     
  19. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    Thanks much!


    --- Post Merged, Jun 15, 2018 ---
    Joema2,

    I have my data backed up on several drives, some of them physically removed from my home. So, if I configure a 4-bay 4TB Pegasus3 in RAID 0 I have no redundancy, but that's okay since I have backups. Now, if one disk on the Pegasus3 fails, the whole array fails. But does Pegasus3 allow me to identify the failed disk in a RAID 0 and replace that disk only? I know it does so in RAID 5. (Answer is probably yes, but I just want to confirm.)
     
  20. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #20
    I don't know for sure but I suspect yes. Also the Promise utility will identify which drive has failed. My Pegasus2 is now five years old and still running on the original drives. None have ever failed. I should probably replace them all.

    I have three 32TB OWC Thunderbay 4 arrays and none of them have ever failed. However I had drive failures in an OWC Elite Pro Due and an G-Tech GRAID a few months ago. Those were both RAID-0 and I replaced both drives in each array out of caution.
     
  21. filmak macrumors 65816

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    #21
    I'm using a RAID5 array with a RAID0 backup. The RAID0 backup is powered on only while backing up.
    Time machine and a CCC cloned drive for the system's SSD.
    Also a RAID0 array with a single disk backup, at a different seat.
    Time machine and a CCC cloned drive for the system's SSD, too.
    I have also copies in other computers and a NAS.
     
  22. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #22
  23. joema2 macrumors 65816

    joema2

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    #23
  24. agtoau thread starter macrumors regular

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    #24
    I read those BH reviews. But the reviews for the OWC dock on Amazon are brutal. Whereas the Promise Technology dock has good reviews on both Amazon and BH.

    https://www.amazon.com/OWC-Port-Thu...1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1529170561#customerReviews

     
  25. monokakata macrumors 68000

    monokakata

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    #25
    I used a HiRise for maybe a year. It worked fine. But eventually I put it in the closet. I like a lower monitor, I guess.

    It was well-made; no complaints about anything except that, in the end, I didn't like a high monitor.
     

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