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TOPIC: 4k and fcpx performance with external drives

4k and fcpx performance with external drives 14 Sep 2017 03:25 #90522

  • Betancourt
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Hi folks,
I'll be editing a 4k documentary so I'm trying to figure out how to boost a little bit my hardware since I'm using a late 2013 Macbook Pro with 16 gb RAM. I'll use proxies, but I'd also like to buy a fast ssd drive to work with. I have the OWC ThunderBay Mini, where I'm thinking to put 2 ssds Sandisk II Ultra 960gb, so I'll get a 2tB RAID 0 with more or less 800 mb/s write/read speeds. The idea is to have my library there so fcpx can build the renders inside these fast drives. But what is not clear to me is what happens with the original media (and proxy media) if I have them on a regular spinning drive (7200 RPM). I will need more than 4TB to get all the footage together, so having them in the ssds is not an option. Will this slow down fcpx performance? Whick kind of disk/speed is neccessary for reading the original/proxy files without causing slowdowns? Having an external graphic card from Bionxz can help with fcpx performance while editing? Many thanks!
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4k and fcpx performance with external drives 14 Sep 2017 10:03 #90532

  • joema
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Betancourt wrote:
Hi folks,
I'll be editing a 4k documentary so I'm trying to figure out how to boost a little bit my hardware since I'm using a late 2013 Macbook Pro with 16 gb RAM. I'll use proxies, but I'd also like to buy a fast ssd drive to work with. I have the OWC ThunderBay Mini, where I'm thinking to put 2 ssds Sandisk II Ultra 960gb...idea is to have my library there so fcpx can build the renders inside these fast drives..... Whick kind of disk/speed is neccessary for reading the original/proxy files without causing slowdowns? Having an external graphic card from Bionxz can help with fcpx performance while editing? Many thanks!...

I'm editing a large 4k documentary -- about 150 hr of material, roughly 20TB between both media and proxies. I've examined this. I would not recommend getting an SSD array just for render files. It will probably not speed things up very much. I have the OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini with 4 x 2TB Samsung EVO 850 SSDs in RAID-0 (total of 8TB) and it does about 1150 MB/sec write, 1250 MB/sec read on Blackmagic at about 50% full. The internal 2TB SSD in my 2017 iMac 27 does about 1994 MB/sec write, 2395 MB/sec read.

When I put a library on the internal SSD and the media on the Thunderbolt 2 external SSD RAID that's the best possible case from an I/O standpoint. Yet it's not much faster than simply having both library and media on a spinning 4-drive RAID-0 array. That's because most tasks in video editing are not I/O constrained once you get beyond about 500-700 MB/sec. Adding yet more I/O bandwidth doesn't help if that's not the weak link.

This is even more so with proxies, which greatly reduces I/O demands. Using proxies for 4k H264 material (which are 1080p ProRes 422) I get good performance on a two-drive RAID-0 array like a G-RAID: a.co/c5Kr5m7

There are two main types of I/O constraints: sequential transfer and I/O per sec. When building thumbnails for the Event Browser and when accessing the underlying .plist files for metadata, FCPX does lots of small, random I/Os. It's true SSD is better at small random I/Os than a spinning array. However a good spinning array is also pretty fast. Many times I've switched between a Thunderbay 4 using 4 x 4TB or 4 x 8TB spinning drives in RAID-0 vs the 8TB SSD Thunderbay 4 Mini in RAID-0, and I don't see much difference -- whether media, proxies and library are on the spinning array, the SSD array or split between the spinning array and internal SSD.

If your main machine is a 2013 MBP you will be even more CPU and GPU constrained so this makes it even less likely you'll be I/O-limited. I'd suggest just using a good spinning RAID array, putting your media and library on that.

I formerly used RAID-5 but since it must be backed up anyway I've mostly switched to RAID-0 and I back it up on another RAID-0 array via Carbon Copy. With RAID-5 if a drive fails performance degrades drastically. You must replace the drive and wait for it to rebuild. It's true you are protected from data loss, whereas with RAID-0 you lose data in the window from the last backup. However in video editing the media usually does not change and doesn't need frequent backup. Rather the library needs frequent backup. So I frequently back up the library externally, above and beyond the automatic FCPX backups. If the RAID-0 array fails I can be running on the backup within about 2 minutes, vs being effectively down for hours during a RAID-5 rebuild.
Last Edit: 14 Sep 2017 10:06 by joema.
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4k and fcpx performance with external drives 14 Sep 2017 14:47 #90543

  • Betancourt
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joema wrote:
I'd suggest just using a good spinning RAID array, putting your media and library on that.

Your comments have saved me lot of money. I'll buy 7200rpm spinning drives for the Thunderbay Mini and use them as RAID 0, having a backup of the original media on other drive. I'll convert everything to proxy so I can use both the media and the library on the same place.

Many thanks for the great info


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