Solid State Drive performance boost?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jakobox2, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. jakobox2 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    #1
    Hi guys,

    I'm looking at getting a solid state drive to improve speed on my Mac Tower. Mainly looking to speed up photo editing. My game plan would be to install the boot drive and applications on the SSD. But with my workflow it would be impractical to have the image files themselves on the SSD (I have many hard drives that I plug in to an eSata bay.)

    My question is: Will the SSD be a usefull increase in performance if the media is not actually on it? In other words.... Is the performance mostly about the application and OS being on the SSD, or is it about the data itself.

    I figure that this could be a useful question for many people, but if you're interested in my specifics:

    I'm on a 2006 MacPro. 2x2.66 HHz Dual-Core Intel and 16Gigs of Ram.

    My thought is that a $400 SSD might keep me on this tower for another year or so instead of upgrading the whole system right now.

    Thanks for your input!
     
  2. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
  3. hwojtek, Aug 29, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011

    hwojtek macrumors 6502a

    hwojtek

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    A small rural village in western Poland
    #3
    It won't. If you care about minimizing access delays to your media (the computer is powerful enough and I assume you have already allocated a ridiculous amount of memory to your software, be it Photoshop or sth else) you need to invest into a storage array, not an SSD which will only help you with booting and launching apps. The problem itself, however, is elsewhere.
    I am more or less in the same boat here, my wife's MP 1,1 has enough RAM and processing power to keep up with HD editing and her files are located on a RAID array, so the access is more or less speedy. The real bottleneck though is 667 MHz ECC memory. This kind of RAM is just slow. Even worse, it gets slower the more RAM you have. A modern iMac i3 with 16GB RAM blows this Mac Pro away regarding the sheer speed of memory access. This is however something Mac Pro 1,1 users need to live with.

    My advice - RAID your media sources, if you want any improvement.
     
  4. jakobox2, Aug 29, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011

    jakobox2 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    #4
    The main place I'm looking for a speed bump is in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

    ----------

    The eSata connection I mentioned is for a storage array where all the data is stored. It's JBOD right now. I can kind of intuitively understand why RAID would be faster (accessing the data off different disks?). Interesting because I'm chatting with a guy at MacSales right now and he is suggesting that it would be a big boost if just the boot drive is a SSD.
     
  5. kalex macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    #5
    leave files where they are but move your lightroom previews and catalog to ssd. that will give u a big boost. To add to this - move ACR cache to SSD as well
     
  6. hwojtek, Aug 29, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011

    hwojtek macrumors 6502a

    hwojtek

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    A small rural village in western Poland
    #6
    I'm not a Lightroom guy but the post above seems very smart. Setting the Photoshop scratch disk to SSD and SSD only may also help quite a bit.
    JBOD is only "1x" fast. In RAID0 configuration (unsecure, data loss risk) it's "number of disks x fast" (more or less). I'd suggest a RAID5, which is almost as fast as RAID0, but much better regarding data integrity.

    Oh, and ask the macsales.com guy how does SSD boot disk boost data transfers from an external array...
     
  7. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #7
    the only performance gains with an SSD is if you use one as PS scratch and for your LR cache.

    an SSD for a boot disk will net you precisely no added productivity...unless you spend a lot of time force quitting and relaunching or rebooting, in which case you'd have bigger issues :rolleyes:
     
  8. vitzr macrumors 68030

    vitzr

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2011
    Location:
    California
    #8
    I've done this with my 2010 Mac Pro, it's been a great solution to increase productivity and reduce temps and noise in the tower. It's not that it was Hot or Noisy per se, but rather the fact that I have a super quiet office.

    In addition, it gave me just the excuse I needed to try an SSD in my Mac Pro after equipping my various laptops with them. It works quite well.
     
  9. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    I have a pair of SSDs in a RAID0 stripe (not normally recommended but it's for scratch so not the end of the world if it fails) acting as a scratch and cache area for Photoshop and it makes a huge difference to some things, but little difference to others, functions that do lots of random access benefit significantly, simple sequential read and write benefit but less so.

    Having an SSD as a boot and applications volume speeds up boot and application load (unsurprisingly), but makes little difference otherwise. If your swap file is on your SSD too then you might see some other gains, but unless you've got too little RAM your system shouldn't be swapping much anyway.

    There was a mention of RAID volumes being faster earlier. Whether RAID volumes are faster rather depends on the way they are implemented and the hardware/software used. As a very general rule of thumb:
    RAID1 volumes are no faster or slower than a single disk
    RAID0 volumes are typically quite a bit faster but create greater risk
    RAID0+1 (or RAID10) offer both performance and reliability but at a cost
    RAID3, RAID4, RAID5, RAID6, RAIDZ, etc. are often be slower than a single disk, particularly if done in software.
    These can be faster when implemented in disk controller hardware but this adds quite a lot of cost; I'm not sure if there is a hardware implementation of RAIDZ

    In general, for a RAID system to offer a big performance gain you want to use RAID0+1 or RAID5 or 6 with hardware RAID controller, plenty of battery-backed cache and 10K or 15K RPM SAS disks, not SATA disks. This is a massively expensive solution compared to SSDs but is probably your best option if you want both capacity AND performance.
     
  10. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
  11. MacinJosh macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2006
    Location:
    Finland
    #11
    This is what I do with Aperture 3. I'm not a pro by any means so my library isn't that massive either. My masters take up about 25GB of space. When I moved the masters to another drive while keeping the previews on the SSD, it had no distinguishable impact on performance.
     
  12. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #12
    SSD is generally much quicker than spinning disk, but the area where the performance difference is smallest is sequential reads, so if you're reading relatively small (say a few hundred MB) files from a fast spinning disk that isn't over-full, then the differences, while noticeable in benchmarks, will be imperceptible in routine use.

    I use mine as a scratch area, where random writes are more the thing and for this it's much quicker than spinning disk.
     
  13. sparkie7 macrumors 68000

    sparkie7

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    #13
    Using a SSD as a scratch disk will wear it out
     
  14. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #14
    Yes, but the same is true of spinning disk, and while earlier SSDs did have some reliability issues, the newer ones are actually more reliable than magnetic disk (manufacturers offer better warranty on SSD).

    Failures usually occur because a cell has reached its limit on the number of writes it can tolerate, but when this happens, the disk just marks that cell as bad and relocates the data, much like it would with a magnetic disk

    The other good aspect about SSD is that when they fail, unless it's a controller failure, they fail read only, so you can still get your data off.
     
  15. sparkie7 macrumors 68000

    sparkie7

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    #15
    I thought SSDs were still not good scratch disk options vs HDD's esp in heavy read/write processes, as it will drastically reduce the lifespan

    I have a Vertex 250GB SSD, bought a couple of years back. Any way to check if it can handle scratch operations?
     
  16. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #16
    You're absolutely right that the the heavy write issue was a problem (or was at least believed to be a problem) with the earlier SSDs. My understanding is that what used to happen was that things such as pagefile/swap or scratch files placed on the disk caused high-levels of IO to specific cells which then caused them to fail prematurely, when this failed cell count gets too high, the drve will fail despite the fact that most of it is still perfectly OK. I also think that saome of the concern may have been overstated in the past. I'm sure that high levels of write do reduce the expected lifespan, but if they reduce it from 140 years (the latest generation of Intel drives have a MTBF of 1.2M hours) to 10 years then it's not an issue for most people.

    However, I'm told that newer drives do some clever stuff with reallocation so that specific cells don't get hit too hard (after all, if access speed isn't an issue it doesn't really matter where a file is located on the disk and you can move bits of it around with impunity). They've also improved the write tolerances (I think I read somewhere that newer flash NAND cells can handle 100,000 cycles) and they've adjusted the overall failure tolerances so that a small number of failed cells will not cause a complete drive failure.

    I can't speak for your drive, but I know the newer OCZ drives come with a 3 year warranty which is the same as most magnetic disk vendors offer. On that basis, I'd say it's fine to use one as a scratch disk because if it fails it's probably not the end of the world (it's a scratch disk so you won't lose anything) and it'll probably be in warranty anyway. I can't say whether the drive you have is suitable, but it wouldn't do much harm to try it for a few days to see if it offers you any performance gains. if it does then you just have to decide whether you want to risk shortening its life.

    I've got a customer that's using SSDs as boot, pagefile and scratch volumes on Windows Remote Desktop Services (Terminal Services) servers, so these are getting absolutely hammered with writes. There was concern they might not last, but after 20 months they've not had a failure yet.
     
  17. toxic macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    #17
    SSDs are not more reliable than HDDs. the technology is still too immature, and of course it doesn't help that the customer base has been pushing for speed and not reliability.

    moreover, SSD failures in the past few years are not from running out of writable memory, but from controller failures resulting in freezing/crashes or data loss.
     
  18. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #18
    There is very little risk that any desktop I/O, including scratch will wear out your NAND. You will replace your drive for something bigger, faster, and cheaper long before you ever get close to wearing it out. Relevant thread here... http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1217261
     
  19. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    More reliable was probably way too much of a generalisation; I don't claim to be an expert, but the people who run storagesearch.com do, and the overall take there is that SSDs are incredibly reliable and certainly more reliable than they need to be to outlast their expected lifecycle. This article discusses it - http://www.storagesearch.com/ssdmyths-endurance.html

    Admittedly they focus on enterprise class SSDs rather than consumer/OEM models, but there is also evidence (admittedly limited at present) that SSDs are proving more reliable in real-world applications than magnetic disk:
    http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/french_retailer_data_offers_ssd_failure_rates/

    It is true that this hasn't always been the case and that earlier generations suffered problems (Intel had a controller problem a couple of years back that did nothing to help the perception of SSD reliabiity), it may be that people using earlier SSDs may find they don't last as well as they might hope.

    Certainly the high-end SSD manufacturers like STEC, Fusion IO, SandForce and their OEM partners such as EMC and NetApp sell reliability as one of the factors for choosing SSD, and manufacturers' own warranties and stated MTBF data would suggest that SSDs are more reliable.

    However, for consumer use I'm inclined to ignore all this. If an SSD or magnetic disk lasts 5 or 6 years then it's more than I'd expect and generally it's more than I need it to last, given that this is the approximate useable life of the computer in most cases. Further, if I'm following good practice:
    • OS and data on separate volumes
    • RAID 1 or better arrays
    • UPS
    • Regular data backups
    Then failure of a system disk isn't a big issue, it's a nuisance, but not a disaster

    I actually don't use my SSD as a system volume as I find it offers little performance benefit other than fast boot, I use it for paging and scratch, where it provides significant performance gains under some circumstances, but also doesn't really matter if it fails (yes it may cause a crash, but other than unsaved data I won't lose anything). So perhaps I not taking the risk that I suggest others take, however, I really don't see it as a risk.
     
  20. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

    sapporobaby

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Location:
    3 earth minutes from your location....
    #20
    What about sequential read and writes. HHD are very good and very fast at this while SSD's can sometimes suffer. Varies from drive to drive....

    ----------

    I have a question regarding the dual SSD issue in a MBP. Not quite a MacPro, but still.... :)

    I currently have an SSD as a boot disk in my MBP. I will get an Optibay. I was considering putting in my current 7200 RPM HDD or getting an SSD. I have a friend that works for a company and can get an Intel 510 250 GB SSD for about 300 Euro. My plan is to move my iTunes lib (35 gigs) and my Aperture lib (140 gigs) on to the Optibay SSD/HDD. I realize that the Optibay does not have a SATA 3 controller so it will operate at a slower speed. Which would you choose cased on the scenario that I laid out? Much thanks in advance.
     
  21. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    Assuming that the interface is SATAII, then 3Gbps should be plenty to service two SSDs, SATAI at 1.5Gbps would do the job most of the time.

    I think there are 5 considerations for you in deciding what type of drive to put in your Optibay:
    1. Heat
    2. Power consumption
    3. Capacity
    4. Performance
    5. Cost

    1. I don't know, but might you suffer from excessive heat inside the body of the laptop with a 7200 RPM drive? It shouldn't be an issue, but it's worth looking in to.

    2. The HD will definitely use up more power than an SSD, if you regularly use your MBP on the road then this is an important consideration

    3. 250GB might be a bit limiting as your library of music and pictures grows, but if you know that it isn't going to grow that much, then that isn't a big deal

    4. Streaming music and video actually doesn't demand particularly high throughput, I keep 720p video on an old NAS that can only deliver about 15MB/s and it keeps up just fine. I'm afraid I'm not familiar with Aperture, but if it uses a scratch area like PhotoShop or if it creates thumbnails, caches, etc. like Bridge, then the SSD will certainly improve the performance of those things. Having said that, if you're moving the iTunes and Aperture content off your existing SSD, couldn't you use the freed up space on your existing SSD for things like cache and scratch?

    5. A 1TB magnetic disk will cost about 1/3 the amount of the 250GB SSD, even with the discounts you're getting, so the SSD is 12x as expensive per GB, infinitely more expensive if you take into consideration the fact that you already own the HD.

    Hope that helps
     
  22. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

    sapporobaby

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2007
    Location:
    3 earth minutes from your location....
    #22
    Helps quite a bit. Appreciate it. Got a question or two more if you don't mind.

    Looking at your five points:

    1. You have a point. My old 7200 RPM did generate some heat. Now that I am using only an SSD, heat is minimal. Nice and cool.
    2. I am on the road off and on but just being able to run longer is a plus.
    3. I run mean and lean on my MBP. I only have music (no videos) on my MBP. The iTunes lib is about 34 gb and if I tweak it a bit, I can get it down to maybe 30 gigs.
    4. I think Aperture does it differently than PS and puts every thing in one file where the lib resides. This too is no problem as I intend to use my native Aperture lib will be for displaying and editing photos, then I will push them to a master library on my network. Again, the 250 should be enough for both libs.
    5. Money is no object.

    I may have a question again from time to time. Hope you don't mind all the questions.

    Cheers.
     
  23. speacock macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    #23
    Given what you've said above, I'd go for the SSD, you can afford it; it's of adequate size for your needs, it'll be faster, quieter, generate less heat and use less power. You can always upgrade to a bigger one later as larger sizes become available.

    Always happy to try to answer questions, can't always promise a same day answer though and can't promise to know the answer.
     

Share This Page