Video Editing RAID Setup

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Whitewater, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Whitewater macrumors newbie

    Feb 5, 2011
    Hey Everyone,

    I'm trying to build an understanding of how to put together a Mac Pro for editing video.

    I would like to be able to boot to both windows and OS X Snow Leopard

    I want to put two 120Gb SSDs in the second optical bay, one for windows and one for OS X

    I either need to get a SATA Controller with internal ports or a RAID Controller to use the 6th drive while still using my optical drive.

    Ideally I need to get a read speed above 300Mb/s so that the footage wont skip in play back and it scrubs well

    I understand that if I create a software RAID with the disk utility then I can't boot from a windows drive.

    Here my machine specs

    Model Name: Mac Pro
    Model Identifier: MacPro4,1
    Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
    Processor Speed: 2.93 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 4

    So here are my questions.

    1. Would it be better to go with an external RAID to get the read speed with the least windows - OS X crossover issues?

    2. If I create an internal software RAID, can I get windows and OS X to see it? I'm thinking it has to be a hardware RAID, am I wrong on this? I know windows wont boot from a RAID, but can it see it?

    3. What are the best RAID cards for windows and OS X?

    4. If I put a SATA Controller in instead of a RAID card, what would be the best controller card?

    Any help would be much appreciated
  2. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Correct. Once you make a software RAID under OS X, you won't be able to boot a Windows disk on the ICH (eSATA has been problematic on 2009 machines as well, so don't count on that either).

    So you will want to boot Windows off of the ICH (system's SATA ports BTW).

    Now there's a few other questions to be answered...
    1. What are your capacity needs now, and what is your growth going to be (i.e. how many TB will you need per year)?
    2. Do you have a backup system, and what is it (need to see if it's sufficient for the resulting RAID solution)?
    3. What kind of budget do you have?
    4. Do you need redundancy (recommended), and how much (capacity and throughputs will play a part in narrowing this down, but they're not the only factors involved)?
    Internal/external isn't the issue (you can get either up and running); ports and drive bays needed are.

    Well, if you use software RAID under OS X, you won't even be able to get Windows installed if using the ICH (eSATA/SATA cards are problematic for booting, as is FW; USB could work however).

    That said, even with drivers, the file system will be a problem (HSF/+ vs. NTFS for OS X and Windows respectively). From what I've seen and heard, applications such as Mac Drive are problematic as well (designed to allow Windows and OS X to access each other's file systems). So actually being able to have Windows and OS X read each other's files using their native file systems isn't likely.

    Now if the capacity of the files to be shared isn't too big, you could use FAT32 as the file system, and it won't require any software such as Mac Drive or Paragon (both Windows and OS X can read and write to FAT16 or 32).

    Areca or ATTO (both can boot OS X and have drivers for both OS X and Windows).

    This will depend on what you end up doing (solution that's created to fit your needs and budget).

    eSATA is a cheap way to get cheap capacity for use as a backup/archival location.
  3. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    I really don't know where this myth comes from. In a 2009/2010 machine, an OS X created software RAID doesn't interfere at all with a dedicated Windows drive on the ICH.
  4. cutterman macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2010
    @OP- You didnt mention what your capacity needs are, but for this application people typically use external enclosures with a hardware RAID card. A 4 drive RAID 5 array is the minimum you would want to get those transfer rates, and 6 or more would be better.

    Check out for more info on what products are available if you want a turn-key system.
  5. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Previous attempts (attempted to run a separate Windows disk with a software RAID created under OS X's Disk Utility = Windows disk would not boot).

    I do recall that there was an odd-ball way around it (install the Windows disk first, create the RAID, then make a new installation for Windows), but it's more work than it's worth IMO (if anything happens with the RAID, the Windows installation can be lost again, and it wastes capacity as well).
  6. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    I don't want to be rude, but I really can't reconstruct this. I've got this very setup (dedicated Windows disc created with BC assistant) and a software RAID 0 for OS X data running since day 1 I got my Pro. Never had a single problem with this, even though I swapped drives more than just once, meaning creating a new Windows disc and creating/deleting OS X arrays.

    How do you figure this wastes capacity? Naturally you'd loose a port on the ICH, but personally I think it's more hassle free than messing around with third party controllers. You might recall my issue with a dedicated Windows disc on a SIL3132 controller which did not work.
  7. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Could you refresh my memory as to what you're running (MP model + added hardware) and what you did in terms of OS installation (steps and order they were done)?

    SATA/eSATA has had issues with specific systems over firmware (boot or work at all; not driver related), and what I recall seeing with OS X's software RAID, most had issues installing a Windows installation post the RAID's creation. Doing it prior, could make it work for some, but they had 2x installations IIRC (why it would waste capacity - not different versions of Windows, such as 32 + 64 bit versions or say XP + Win 7 sort of configurations). Windows was essentially re-installed to get the pointer correct for the Boot Loader. Really strange from what I remember...
  8. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    No problem;

    2009 octad
    Intel in second ODD bay
    500GB Windows disc in bay 1
    500GB disc in bay 2
    2 x 2TB drives in bays 3 & 4
    The stripe consists of the drives in bay 3 and 4.
    4870 in slot 1
    GT120 in slot 2
    U3S6 in slot 3
    SIL3132 in slot 4

    Installation procedure when I got the machine:
    1. Finish installation of OS X on the stock mechanical drive
    2. Clone OS X to SSD
    3. Set up stripe consisting of 2 1TB Black drives
    4. Use BC assistant to install Win7 on dedicated drive (320GB 2.5" back in the days).

    That was my initial setup, which changed to the following:
    1. Take out 320GB Windows drive and replace it with 500GB drive
    2. Use BC assistant to install Win7 on the new 500GB drive
    3. Delete stripe of 1TB drives, replace drives with 2TB drives
    4. Create stripe of 2TB drives

    As you can see, software RAID sets and the creation of Windows drives didn't interfere at all. Everything worked perfectly smooth on the first attempt.
    However, the attempt to use a Windows dedicated drive on one of the internal SIL3132 ports failed. All playing around with partition tables etc. didn't solve the problem. The cards just didn't want to boot.
  9. Romulis macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    External RAID is definitely the better option.

    If you can afford it , get the dual/quad FC card, and get a proper external RAID enclosure. (We use the Promise VTrak Ex10) Though the Ex30 series might be more to your liking.
    NOTE, If you don't use xsan, you don't need the OSX specific model (it has firmware changes).
    (You wont need a FC switch unless you have more than one enclosure or you share the volume with other users via Xsan )
    If you you dont want to go FC. Get at least an 8 channel SAS controler ( LSI ) with external SAS JBOD.

    Pros :
    1. gives you redundancy + speed
    2. raid implementation is transparent to the OS (it simply sees a volume)
    3. allows you to hotspwap drives.
    4. unparalleled capacity
    5. unparalleled redundancy (mirrored raidsets via VTrak S3000 )
    6. With 16 drive enclosure you can go 3 spindles on your raid 60

    1. more $$
    2. If you have more than 1 enclosure , you'll need an FC switch ie. more $$

    As a note.
    We don't use any thing that does not give us at least RAID 6 or RAID 60
    The larger the drives in your raid the more redundancy you should add to the raid.
  10. reel2reel macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2009
    What kind of video are you doing?!!? I've been putting out HD shows weekly for almost three years now and use nothing but internal SATA drives. I'm not doing uncompressed, though, b/c that would be total overkill for our source footage. Just curious.

    I'm booting from an SSD these days and it's great for reduced boot time, but it makes no difference when launching Final Cut Pro. I'm thinking of going back to a mechanical boot and using the SSD for renders. I'm not too paranoid about high-write counts to the SSD.
  11. goMac macrumors 603

    Apr 15, 2004
    I would definitely do an external eSATA RAID. It gives you far more options and doesn't shoehorn you into messing around with your Mac Pro's internals.
  12. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    The difference of it working/not working may be down to the fact you're running the OS X installation on a single SSD in your system rather than the array though (I think the fact it's a 2009 helps too, as the SATA ports are set to AHCI in the firmware, unlike previous Intel based MP's).

    I wish I had a clearer picture of what's actually going on overall, as there were small details missing (i.e. whether the array was set as the boot location or not).

    2009 systems don't seem to like eSATA that well (won't work or as expected) due to the firmware. B07 is the best to use IIRC (functions, but won't boot - I don't think AHCI is Enabled by default on the SIL3132 based cards, and the user can't set it without the ability to get into the card's firmware).

    Got a PC you can use in order to try changing the SIL3132's firmware (test if you can boot if it's set to AHCI)?

    FC is overkill, and too expensive IMO for video editing (even without a switch). I've seen such solutions sold to people that didn't need it before, and once they figured this out, they were not happy campers having overspent by that much money. :rolleyes: ;) :p

    SAS based cards with just 7200 rpm SATA drives can provide sufficient redundancy, capacity, and throughputs for video editing or animation in a DAS configuration (up to 50/60/51/61 are possible with the right card). I'd go with an Areca though over an LSI. I like ATTO too, but their products are more expensive than Areca's.

    eSATA is one option, but the OP's not yet given the necessary details to see what would be the best direction to go.
  13. tomllama macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2007
    FWIW, when I had my 2006 MP I ran a software RAID (either through Disk Utility or SoftRAID) to either an external PM box via an eSATA card or to two internal drives (not off the card) and for a while RAIDs to both. I also had a dedicated boot camp disk with XP installed. It ran fine for years. I also used MacDrive and Tuxera NTFS without issue.

    Windows would not see the RAIDs obviously but changing the RAID formats from Disk Utility to SoftRAID and vice versa certainly didn't have any effect on Windows.

    When I bought the MP4,1 I changed things around and have not done any RAID installs (yet).
  14. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    It wouldn't in this case, as the RAID disks were connected to a separate controller.

    The issue occurs (and not consistently) when it's attached to the system's SATA controller (ICH). There's definitely some confusion here, as the MP model number, whether or not the software RAID is the boot location, whether or not Boot Camp was used, ... seem to matter, but such details aren't always provided to nail it down properly. :(
  15. Romulis macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2010
    Not a huge diff in cost for FC connected enclosure (the enclosure still uses SAS drives btw) vs SAS connected enclosure. And you will need an enclosure with 8+ drives.. And without a switch the FC Raid Enclosure is in all essence a DAS.
    But yes the real point is to get an External Raid subsytem (if your budget allows for this)
    The reason we prefer to get full on External Raid Subsystem it to protect against card failures.. Had a few raid card failures over the last 5 years where you simply loose the entire raid on the drives too. You might assume if the card breaks you can simply plug in the drives in an Identical raid card will work, but alas this simply isn't always the case. With active-active RaidSubsytem (be it FC or SAS) this is less likely to happen.

    But yes. Don't go for anything that does not offer at least raid 60.
  16. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Could you list the equipment you're talking about?

    I ask, as you can get a "dumb" FC enclosure for ~$600USD (example that doesn't have hot swap capability or even trays). But SAS or FC drives are expensive compared to SATA (cost/GB can hit ~$1 per GB). A decent FC adapter card can go for ~$900 or 1200 (2 port 4Gb/s and 8Gb/s respectively). And there's no way to perform the RAID via hardware yet... That would take something like ATTO's FastStream series, and the cheapest (4Gb/s SC 5550), is a little over $4900 (nested levels such as 60 require additional software that has to be purchased).

    ATTO makes a few embedded versions (5550E, 8250E, 8550E), that you can drop into an enclosure and build a system. But you still need an adapter for the MP, and the software for the nested levels (though it should be possible to use OS X to stripe a pair of 6's). This isn't exactly cheap either though (couldn't find pricing to nail down real numbers, but it's not going to be much from the enclosed stand-alone units - same boards per respective products).

    An easier, and less expensive way to go (still hardware RAID), would be something like the Sans Digital MobileRAID MR8F4 (includes the case, which is hot swappable as it should be, and the RAID controller). Though it's $4175 (diskless & still need an FC card + cables), it's still cheaper than the ATTO only solutions.

    But for this kind of money or less (before drives, FC card, or cables), you can get an entire system (SAS based card + SATA disks).

    If a software version is acceptable, it's possible to use a computer, FC card, and run the RAID on Z-RAID1/2. But at this level, most would prefer to stick with hardware RAID IMO.
  17. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    The LSI7204EP card Apple uses goes for approximately $300 brand new on ebay.
    Not the worst deal for a 4Gb/s card.
  18. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    I'm not seeing drivers for OS X though. Have users actually gotten it work under OS X?
  19. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    It is the actual Apple card. Hit me!
  20. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    Nice. :)

    As the LSI version has EFI firmware, it opens up another way to get one (unlike the OEM Apple RAID Pro that's a pile of junk).

    I wish their RAID cards would work in a MP (may be able to get drivers to work <i.e. Free BSD may be usable>, but the firmware won't boot from what I can tell <not usually EFI>, as I keep hoping the 9260 will be usable for the MP). Nice little card, and a bit cheaper than the Areca ARC-1880i (using pc-pitstop for pricing; ARC-1880i is actually getting a bit hard to find from sites that offer lower prices). Not really viable as of yet.
  21. creeman macrumors 6502

    Oct 15, 2007
    Alright, I have a couple questions related to this topic. I am pretty much a noob when it comes to servers and their role in the office. In this video, they set up a couple of Xserves and plug it into RAID. The servers are then plugged into the network. My question is, what are the servers doing? Why cant the RAID just be plugged into one of the G5s and accessed through there, whats the point of the servers. Thanks for any input.
  22. nanofrog macrumors G4

    May 6, 2008
    They built a SAN, which is serving the data to all the G5's in that office.

    A couple of other terms you might want to look up, are DAS (what you'd get by plugging a RAID directly into the G5) and NAS. Should get you started anyway (hopefully it won't be too confusing, particularly the differences between NAS and SAN). :)

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