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External solid state drive for scratch disk?

Jul 17, 2012 10:27 AM

Tags: #cs6-3d

After doing everything i can find to optimize my hardware/software for doing 3D animation in Ps Ext CS6. I still cannot render an animation to video using the Ray Traced Final setting. (Ray Traced Draft, no problem.) The last time I tried (after repairing disk permissions), at least Ps did not crash and give me the same old crash report (Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGSEGV) Exception Codes: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at 0x00000007a0020000). This time I just got an error msg that my request could not be completed. (Progress?) Checking Activity Monitor, I could see that my available RAM, which was 13 GB when I started the render was now less than 1 GB (761 MB).

 

So, I have come to the conclusion that my 16 GB of RAM and 300 GB available for virtual memory on my HD is not enough for rendering the type of 3D animation I am trying to do. Would you agree? Also, I have read it is not good to use the same HD your program is installed on for a scratch disk, so I am considering getting an external solid state drive to use as a scratch disk.

 

Whaddaya think? Does this sound like a good solution for me?

 

Thanks!

--Carol Gunn

Gunn Graphics

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 4:51 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    In theory, it should help. Just make sure you have a good fast connection between the drive and the computer. USB3 should be good.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 5:23 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    Welcome to the forum.

     

    You might get a lot of great info from this ARTICLE. While it was written with Adobe Premiere Pro in mind, much of what you wish to do, is parallel to the Video work that both PrPro and After Effects do.

     

    Also, I would post to the Adobe Premiere Hardware Forum with specific questions, as there are a dozen real hardware gurus there, who spec. and build systems for some high-end video and animation houses. They can give you some very useful answers.

     

    Good luck,

     

    Hunt

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 5:39 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    Did a little research and this seem to spell out the connection speed quite well.

     

    "Bottom line seems to be that a good SATA II (3.0 Gb/s) HDD will often achieve a 70 to 100 MB/s long-term average transfer rate.  I don't know for sure what older IDE drives can do, but I know it is less. For an external HDD connected by USB2 (a slower interface than SATA), the rate is more like 30 to 35 MB/s (USB3 is faster, close to SATA II rates). Firewire 400 is a little slower than SATA II, and Firewire 800 (uncommon on PC's but on many Mac's) may be faster than SATA II. IF your external HDD is a SATA II and connected by a good eSATA port to your machine, it probably will exhibit a speed close to an internal SATA II drive."

     

    What I get from this is the speed is increasing as you go from USB -USB2 - SATA - Firewire 400 - USB3 - SATA II - Firewire 800. 

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,471 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Jul 17, 2012 5:42 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    I need to ask...  Why external?  Is it a laptop?

     

    What's your budget?

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 10:10 PM   in reply to Curt Y

    Curt Y wrote:

     

    What I get from this is the speed is increasing as you go from USB -USB2 - SATA - Firewire 400 - USB3 - SATA II - Firewire 800.

    USB3 is faster than Firewire 800, but Thunderbolt, well established now in the Mac world, with the exception of the Mac Pro tower, and being adopted, agonizingly slowly, in the Windows world, is fastest of all, as well as allowing the daisy-chaining of devices, as Firewire does.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 11:40 PM   in reply to pf22

    Don't be so sure about Thunderbolt. The disk  and/or adapter has to be ready for it or you won't get anything better than SATA II and maybe not that. My eSATAs aren't much faster than FW800 yhrough my Tbolt adapter.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 11:47 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    Don't be so sure about Thunderbolt. The disk  and/or adapter has to be ready for it or you won't get anything better than SATA II and maybe not that. My eSATAs aren't much faster than FW800 yhrough my Tbolt adapter.

     

    You're right Lundberg, I should have made the point that to gain the full performance of the Thunderbolt port, you need to be using Thunderbolt enabled accessories; drives, monitors etc.

    About the only manufacturer out there at the moment offering a broad range of Thunderbolt desktop drives is LaCie.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 11:51 PM   in reply to pf22

    You can't get much out of LaCie tech support about actual speeds. They either don't know, don't test, or won't confirm.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 17, 2012 11:57 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    This is published on their site, and for what it's worth I saw a demonstration where the rep transferred a 16GB movie file from a Thunderbolt drive to a MacBook Pro in under 1 minute!

    Regardless of what numbers/specs are published, that's pretty impressive real-world performance in my book!

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,879 posts
    May 24, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 3:20 AM   in reply to pf22

    I have four USB3 external drives, and love them. They are almost as fast as a 7k2 rpm SATA drive, and have their own PSU. The only problem I've had was that when I started using them, my main board did not support USB3, so I had to use a PCI card. This was fine until I got the second drive, which the card did not recognise.  I forgot how I got past the problem now though.

     

    My current MB still only has two USB3 slots on the rear panel, plus a third on the front of the case, which is pretty short sighted IMO (it was only obtained at the beginning of this year).  So I still have to use the PCI card.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,471 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Jul 18, 2012 4:11 AM   in reply to carolgunn

    I'm not a Mac user, but my experience may be helpful / interesting...

     

    I wanted to mention that I have recently been through an exercise on my PC workstation where I built a RAID 0 array out of four 480 GB SSD drives, controlled by a PCIe (x8) RAID controller.  This nearly 2 TB volume is now my system drive and virtually everything is pointed there (including Photoshop scratch).

     

    This volume has 1.7 gigabytes/second sustained throughput capacity with sequential reads/writes, though based on Resource Monitor, I haven't seen Photoshop actually read/write much more than 300 or 400 megabytes/second, but it's possible it does so and Resource Monitor's sample window of 1 second just doesn't show it accurately.  Whatever's going on, no waiting.  Photomerges that used to take 3 minutes now take 11 seconds.  I literally cannot tell when Photoshop "goes virtual" and accesses its scratch files and/or does auto-saves. It just stays responsive.

     

    I do have 5 TB of other storage on (spinning) HDDs in the system, but I don't regularly access it in minute to minute operations and those drives usually stay spun down by Windows' power-saving features.

     

    I learned all I could, made parts choices, then jumped in with both feet.  Actually doing the job and subsequently using and managing the setup (quite successfully) afterward taught me more.  As with anything new, there's a learning curve, and I can see that I was smart in some ways and lucky in others.

     

    Things I've learned:

     

    • A modern SSD with SATA3 connection can saturate the link with sustained throughput of 550 megabytes/second or more (and zero seek time).  This stresses the SATA3 controllers and cables, so good hardware's a must.
    • RAID 0 essentially adds up space and speed.  In my case my 4 drive array maxes out performance because my PCIe buss / processors / RAM simply can't handle the data any faster.
    • The only downside I see to using RAID 0 is some additional risk of failure (i.e,. if you have 4 drives, the risk is 4 times as high).  I do nightly backups to an external USB drive, but so far in 3 months I have had no hiccups whatsoever.  It's been rock solid.
    • Modern SSDs with SandForce internal controllers can take heavy write loads over time without worry about "wearing out" the drives, because they do "wear leveling".  This was a real consideration up to a year or two ago and early adopters had to take special measures to relocate volatile data elsewhere.  No more - the idea of using them for scratch and data as well as OS files is now quite valid.
    • SSDs work best if you overprovision (i.e., when the dust settles and everything's installed/running, you should have a lot of free space, which is not a bad idea in general anyway).  I have 1 TB of free space.  Of course, this is still more expensive than spinning HDDs, but you get what you pay for in performance.
    • SSDs work best if you leave the system power on when you're not using them.  This gives them time to do internal maintenance, such as erasing flash blocks no longer in use, preparing them for next use.
    • Since SSDs are very sophisticated in their internal storage management, and stress the communications links to the max, there can be incompatibilities you might not expect, and weird things can happen.  I learned that the particular brand I bought (OCZ Vertex 3) get along nicely with the particular brand of RAID controller I bought (HighPoint 2720SGL).  Fortunately no weird things have happened to me, but the forums do reveal people reporting lockups and crashes.
    • Having everything (system files, temp, scratch, data areas, photo library, etc.) all on the SSD array means that everything you do is as fast as possible.  System responsiveness becomes unbelievably fluid and smooth.  No lines, no waiting!  It's like getting a computer 2 generations newer.
    • Though I'd never really thought of it as a problem, the elimination of the small seeking sounds of electromechanical hard drives is very nice.
    • The SSD drives are small (laptop sized) and use almost no power (1.something watts), so they don't get hot and can be stuffed in a small space inside your computer.  In my case I have 4 drives in the space of an optical drive bay.

     

     

    I have a feeling an arrangement like this can apply to a Mac system as well, though I'm not privy to the specifics.  I'm sure someone else out there has done it and documented it online somewhere.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 4:15 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    External SSD through FW800?  No no no. No benefit. Way too slow for your 3D.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 4:45 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    I am not doing much creation of 3D (usually hire that done by a 3D animation artist), but for SD Video, I edit to/from FW-800 externals, and the speed has been more than satisfactory. I could not work from USB 2.0, or FW-400, but the FW-800's (even without the ideal scheme for performance) had worked well. Using eSATA is even better, and all of my newer externals offer that. For HD Video, I use a RAID array, and those are eSATA, and work well.

     

    I have not used USB 3.0's, but about 6 mos. ago, the real-world benchmarks that I saw, were not that impressive.

     

    Good luck,

     

    Hunt

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 4:58 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    If you want to spend huge amounts of money, do what Noel did.

    SSDs are fast if your task has a lot of read/writes, but data throughput depends on the drive bus in your computer and the drive bus in your ext drive. If they are both SATA II you will get a bit less than half the speed through an eSATA connection. I don't know if there are any SATA III SSDs or whether they have eSATA connections or Tbolt or USB 3, but don't expect magic.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 5:43 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    For what I do, I have not felt the need for SSD's. I have three RAID arrays with WD Caviar Blacks, as well as 5 other non-RAID disks in my workstation. The current generation of SSD's have come down in price, and have gone up in capacity, but the write functions and life-span are still in question. If I were to use one, it would only be for the boot disk. Next generation? I will have to see how those benchmark.

     

    Hunt

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 9:00 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    We'd need to see the full crash report to know what might be happening.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 9:20 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    I can see the person, to whom you are Replying, and if I were to switch my View of the forums from Flattened, to Threaded, could probably see things better. [Wish that there was an "on-the-fly" toggle for the View, but maybe only in my dreams?]

     

    What do I do? Well, for the last 38 years, I was an advertising photographer, and began incorporating PS into my studio, about 20 years ago, when it was first offered for the PC. Now, my last degree was in cinematography, with work toward an MFA in film, but just fell into still work. Over the last decade, I started getting back to "film," but now it was Video. I've been using Premiere Pro, from version 1.0, and several other NLE programs, before that.

     

    Now, 3D is not exactly like Video, but there are some strong similarities, especially at the hardware end of things. About every five years, I build a workstation with what is, at that moment in time, "state-of-the-art" equipment. I am between systems right now. I am looking closely at the current crop of SSD's, and trying to determine if, and where, they might fit into my next system (probably my last, as I am now retired).

     

    The reason that I mentioned Harm Millaard, and linked to his most recent article on hardware, is that he spends much of his time developing real-world benchmarks and testing equipment. HIs testing is around Premiere Pro, and he has a Web site for benchmarking that program w/ hundreds of computer configurations. The benchmark can be found HERE. Part of the beauty of that site is that there is a spreadsheet with performance benchmarks, and one can look at the hardware that makes a real contribution, or poses a bottleneck. No reviewer puffery, on "theoretical" performance, but real-world, which is, after all, where we live, and work.

     

    Again, that benchmark is using Premiere Pro, but everything is common, regarding the testing, and reporting. For your purposes, I think that you might be able to draw some conclusions on the Exporting scores, as Rendering in 3D is somewhat similar.

     

    As Harm, Bill Gherke, and the lads from super computer builder ADK hang out in the Adobe Premiere Hardware Forum, I mentioned that to you. While your particular needs might be a bit off to the side of what most of those folk do, they can likely give you some of that "real-world" equipment experience.

     

    Good luck,

     

    Hunt

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 18, 2012 11:02 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    The crash has nothing to do with RAM or the scratch disk - that one is a bug in the 3D code that the 3D team is working on.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 8:23 AM   in reply to carolgunn

    Chris probably has no more idea than anyone else, as it not his baby.  But, from what I have seen it takes a long time to fix bugs.  As an example we are still on virtually the same CS6 beta version that was developed in March.  All the bugs from beta testing will hopefully be fixed, but they do it on dot realeases.  We have not seen one yet.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 8:26 AM   in reply to carolgunn

    Sorry, there isn't much I can say.  We can't discuss unannounced versions of software.

     

    This is a Photoshop specific bug.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,471 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 8:40 AM   in reply to carolgunn

    We are all anxiously awaiting 13.0.1, and by the fact that it's not being rushed out I have a lot of hope that it's going to be very good.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 12:45 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    It had better be 13.1.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 12:57 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    It had better be 13.1.

     

    Why?  Do you want to be charged extra for it? 

     

    Look, we've had 7.0.1, 9.0.2, 10.0.1, 11.0.2, and 12.0.4.  What makes you think they'll change that pattern?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 2:29 PM   in reply to station_two

    From the comments here, it needs more than a bug fix.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,471 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 19, 2012 3:08 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    So you're assuming there's a limit on how much they should try to fix?

     

    If basic advertised funcitonality in 13.0 crashes, even if it were to take a rewrite of an entire subsytem in the application and all of Adobe's resources for half a year, the fix should still come out in 13.0.something

     

    It's would be irresponsible and bordering on fraud that a company should let serious customer-reported bugs go unfixed for a whole version release, even if it's an in-between version.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 21, 2012 4:24 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    Sounds like 13.1 to me.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 23, 2012 3:08 PM   in reply to carolgunn

    I cannot give you an estimated time because I cannot comment on unnannounced versions.

    At this point, nobody can give you an estimated time.

     
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