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Noel Carboni 23,482 posts
Dec 23, 2006
Currently Being Moderated

Massive Disk Speed Improvement Plan

Apr 13, 2012 6:15 AM

I am moving forward with a disk storage speed improvement plan using my Dell Precision T5400 workstation as the test bed.

 

Specifically, my goal is to create a super fast 2 TB drive C: from four OCZ Vertex 3 480GB SATA3 SSD drives in RAID 0 configuration.  This will replace an already fast RAID 0 array made from two Western Digital 1TB RE4 drives.

 

So far I have ordered two of these fast SSD drives, along with what is touted to be a very good value in high performance SATA3 RAID controllers, a Highpoint 2420SGL.  I'll get started with this combination and get to know it first as a data drive before trying to make it bootable.

 

Getting any kind of hard information online about putting SSDs into RAID is a bit like pulling teeth, so I'm not 100% confident that these parts will work perfectly together, but I think the choice of SSD drives is the right one.  I had briefly considered a PCIe RevoDrive SSD card made by OCZ, but was just too esoteric...  I'm actually getting double the storage this way for the same price, I can swap to a different RAID controller if need be, and these drives can easily be ported to any new workstation I may get in the future.

 

Notably, some early concerns with using SSD in RAID configurations (and things like TRIM commands) have already been alleviated, as the drives are now quite intelligent in their internal "garbage collection" processes.  I've verified this with the engineers at OCZ.  They have said that with these modern SSD drives you really don't have to worry about them being special - just use them as you would a normal drive.

 

Once I get the first two SSDs set up in RAID 0 I'll specifically do some comparisons with saving large files and also using the array as the Photoshop scratch drive, vs. the spinning 1 TB drive I have in that role now.

 

Assuming all goes well, I'll then add the additional two SSDs to complete the four drive array.  After a quick test of that, I'll see if I can restore a Windows System Image backup made from my 2 TB C: (spinning drive) array, which (if it works) will let me hit the ground running using the same exact Windows setup, just faster.

 

My current C: drive, made from two Western Digital 1 TB RE4 drives, delivers about 210 MB/sec throughput with very large files, with 400 MB/sec bursts with small files (these drives have big caches).  Where they fall down dismally (by comparison to SSD) is operations involving seeking...  The PassMark advanced "Workstation" benchmark generates random small accesses such as what you might see during real work (and I can hear the drives seeking like crazy) results in a meager 4 MB/sec result.

 

My current D: drive, a single Hitachi 1 TB spinning drive, clocks in at about 100 MB/sec for large reads/writes.

 

The SSD array should push the throughput up at least 5x as compared to my current drive C: array, to over 1 GB/sec, but the biggest gain should be with random small accesses (no seek time in an SSD), where I'm hoping to see at leasdt a 25x improvement to over 100 MB/second.  That last part is what's going to speed things up from an every day usage perspective.

 

I imagine that when the dust settles on this build-up, I'll end up pointing virtually everything at drive C:, including the Photoshop scratch file, since it will have such a massively fast access capability.  It will be interesting to experiment.  I suppose I'll have to come up with some gargantuan panoramas to stitch in order to force Photoshop to go heavily to the scratch drive for testing.

 

I'll let you all know how it works out, and I'll be sure and do before/after comparisons of real use scenarios (big files in Photoshop, and various other things).  Perhaps fully my "real world" results can help others looking to get more Photoshop performance out of their systems understand what SSD can and can't do for them.

 

I welcome your thoughts and experiences.

 

-Noel

 
Replies 1 2 Previous Next
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2012 11:38 AM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Sounds like rainy day fun! But I wonder whether its worth the effort for a boot drive. My Dell has a single ssd boot and don't get me wrong it works just great. Given all the boot does is load apps and manage things why would more ssd space make any (much) difference? What I'd do with your $$ would be to ssd-out the rest of my system, replacing my VelociRaptors with two ssds as raid 0 for scratch and two more the same way for near term storage.

     

    It'll be interesting to see what happens...

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2012 4:28 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    What are you going to do with the meltwater from the block of ice they'll be sitting on?

     
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    Apr 13, 2012 4:47 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    I wish to record my jealousy that that you have 2k to screw around with drive speeds.

    I waited til Amazon had the Topaz set for 90 bucks before buying. I am going to spend whatever it takes to get a LaCie Thunderbolt adapter for my eSATA drives, though, so I kind of understand the need for speed.

    Why do you use RAID 0? I would think you would use RAID 1.

    Given the results you stated in your OP, it seems obvious that the C: would be better scratch.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2012 5:07 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Exactly. SSDs are not that reliable yet. I think they still have the  multiple write thing and run hot.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2012 5:25 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    >> I have learned that Photoshop CS6 is about 10% slower than CS5 doing the same things on a very large file, which is kind of a surprise.

     

    Background save is overall slower, because it's trying to play nice in a background thread.  With that turned off, there is still some slowdown due to the @#%&! ton of thread safety added to make that all work.  We tried to balance that out with other improvements, but it will be interesting to see what you find.  Let us know, and we may need to do some additional tuning.

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,893 posts
    May 24, 2010
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    Apr 13, 2012 5:40 PM   in reply to Chris Cox

    Noel, you could do worse than visit the Premiere Pro Hardware forum, where there is a wealth of knowledge re raid arrays, and some folk with what appear to be totally OTT set ups.   My fastest array is a pair of 300Gb Velociraptors in a raid0, (they refer to raid0 as aid0 over there as there is no redundancy).  But I keep that reserved for video projects, and use another raid0 with a pair of 1Tb WD blacks for primary data storage.  With an SSD for OS and program files, I have almost no wait times even with large image files.    Appart from the two raid0 and the SSD, I have another four drives totalling 7Tb with backup managed by Shadow Protect.

     

    http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere/hardware_forum

    http://forums.adobe.com/community/premiere/faq_list?view=discussions

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2012 8:34 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Noel Carboni wrote:

     

    And yes, in hindsight it does seem obvious that the RAID C: drive would be better.  But the lore has always been to keep one's Photoshop scratch file on a separate drive from the system, and I've followed that advice without really thinking about it or questioning it.  It's high time to question everything. 

     

    You can question anything you want except may Chris Cox :~)

     

    Look, whether or not the Photoshop scratch will perform better/worse on a separate physical volume isn't debatable...however, whether or not it matters to a specific config may be. If you are running 32Gigs of ram or more and NEVER (I repeat NEVER) fall below 100 Efficiency in Photoshop, putting you scratch on the same physical drive as your boot page prolly doesn't matter. When you have enough ram, Photoshop only writes to the scratch as a background process and you won't see slowdowns due to drive access. If you have enough system ram that you alms never hit paging, same deal.

     

    What would be interesting to learn (if you want to test it) is whether or not 4 SSD drives stripped is substantially faster than just 2 drives stripped. There is a point of diminishing returns when you stripe. 2 drives is not quite 2X the speed of a single drive. More like 1.6 or 1.7 as fast. Same deal for a 4x strip, it's not 4x the speed, more like 3+ something.

     

    With 4 drives stripped, you may still be better off having two separate logical volumes, one for boot system + apps and one for data/PS scratch. That second strip TB could be partitioned into unequal partition.

     

    So, the question will be is a 2 drive, 3 drive (another option) or 4 drive SSD are the best performance…I'll look forward o your tests.

     

    My system, which I built just before SSDs were "trustworthy" is based on running 4 SAS 15K drives in two arrays, one setup for system and apps and one for PS scratch. On the rare occasions I hit scratch (like when I'm working on a layered that saved it over 50 gigs), the striped array of the 1 pair of SAS drives is fast. Not fast relative to keeping everything in ram but still faster than any normal single drive with or without the system paging being shared.

     

    Note, the access tine between a single SSD and an arrayed pair isn't going to be much different. It's sustained through put that the arrayed pair might be better and a single SSD. The big question is how efficient will you RAID card be…let us know!

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,893 posts
    May 24, 2010
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    Apr 13, 2012 9:53 PM   in reply to Jeff Schewe

    Tom's hardware have done a number of OTT SSD Raid experiments, and there is a relevant set of figures here:

     

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/ssd-raid-0-charts-2011/benchmarks,1 20.html

     

    It looks like five drives in a raid 0 is about three times faster than a single drive.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2012 10:16 PM   in reply to Trevor Dennis

    That's about the same ratio as multiple CPUs. There's some rule of thumb in systems theory that systems run best at 70% of capacity.

     
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  • Pierre Courtejoie
    7,038 posts
    Jan 11, 2006
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    Apr 19, 2012 1:25 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Noel, the CS5/CS6 comparisons were done on a VM for both versions? Did you also compare CS5 in VM or not in VM (Or CS6)...

    DigLloyd tested some PCIexpress SSDs, but he did not test them in RAID for PS scratch (he did some other tests, but strangely enough did not publish yet RAID PCI express cards Scratch disks tests: http://macperformanceguide.com/

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 20, 2012 5:06 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Bottom line: Is it going to be worth the money? As in time saved in dollar amount used to compute payback period? I think you spent big bucks. What other factors in your work flow cost a lot that you could improve without capital outlay?

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
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    May 24, 2010
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    Apr 20, 2012 7:26 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Noel Carboni wrote:

     

     

    In all seriousness, I use this workstation 16 hours a day, for everything I do.

     

    -Noel

     

    16 hours a day, and you still manage to be the most prolific poster on this forum.  You seriously need to get out more!

     
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    Apr 20, 2012 10:34 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    So what is the payback time?

    The post office advertises that they will pick up your flat rate boxes. You make a product. If you mail it, that PO service has a  payback time of one day. See what I mean?

     
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    Apr 24, 2012 4:29 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Impressive.

     

    I'd be curious to see how it affects launch time on CS6.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 24, 2012 4:43 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    NICE!!! I've been using SSD's now for a couple of years, nothing on your scale of course, just one for my OS/Apps, and a second for Photoshop's Scratch, with all my data still sitting on spinners, but there's no way I'd go back to an all mechanical set-up now!

     

    Interestingly, I've configured my OS/Apps drive to absolutely minimise the amounts of writes to it, for instance I moved my Win7 Profile off onto one of the spinners, and installed my AV on the same spinner also, all to extend the life of the drive.

     

    Of course my Scratch is taking the hits, but as it's my previous Indilinx driven SSD, and I was replacing it for a new Sandforce one anyway, I don't really care. But I'd certainly be interested to see how long it takes you to burn through all that lovely expensive NAND!

     

    For a while I was keeping up with what were claimed to be apps that would report on the expected remaining life an SSD, but last time I looked, probably about 6 months ago now, they were all pretty flakey, and weren't even considered to be good guesstimates.

     

    Any further info you have to post on your new system I for one would be happy to read!

     
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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,893 posts
    May 24, 2010
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    Apr 24, 2012 6:03 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    From what I have read, SSDs have changed a fair bit in the last year or so, and as per Noel's quick calculations, the number of write operations is so large now that it is no longer a worry.  I think even harm on the Premiere Pro Hardware forum is warming to SSDs now.  Bill would know.

     

    As for minimising the number of write operations, that tends to be additional affect of moving dynamic folders from the C: drive to save limited disk space.  That's not going to be an issue for Noel with so many drives though.  For me it is still problematic because my Outlook data is currently on a USB3 external drive, and none of my my external drives wake after a four hour deep sleep.  (I have to restart).  I'll get round to moving it to my biggest raid0 array one day soon. 

     

    At the moment I am back on my laptop _again_ after the supposedly replaced power supply failed agin last night!  I'd asked them to upgrade from the Adata HM-750W, but they didn't do so, and I am sure they somehow fudged a repair of the old one.  My system box weighs in at close to 100 lbs, and I am highly unimpressed at having to cart it into town for a second time in two weeks!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 24, 2012 6:44 PM   in reply to Trevor Dennis

    When SSD is 25 cents a gigabyte, call me. I'll be happy with eSATA until then.

     
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    Apr 24, 2012 10:29 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Oh, we could appreciate your trudge across the universe at warp speed if only the web was faster than 25 mbps actual.

     
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    Apr 25, 2012 12:55 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    I'm paying for 50 but have never seen it.

     
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    Apr 25, 2012 1:20 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    Lundberg02 wrote:

     

    I'm paying for 50 but have never seen it.

     

    How much is it costing you?  I'm paying $60 a month for 3. 

     
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    Apr 25, 2012 1:59 PM   in reply to station_one

    As part of my bundled tv, phone and internet, the 50 mbps service is 33 a month with CableOne. When you use their speed test, it shows that within their local net it is 25 to 48, hopping onto the local internet server thru speedtest.net is 25 to 48, but if you go to speedtest.net and choose Seattle for instance, it will be 15 to 22 on a good day, San Francisco and Los Angeles a little slower, every place else 9 to 12. So it's a joke, not really much faster than my 10 mbps service was, but you actually can't go back because it's not part of the bundle.

    DSL here is a farce, the advertised speed for my house is 1 mbps. The wireless internet is slow and unreliable. There is no other cable internet here. I believe the local server actually gets on the Sprint backbone 300 miles away in Boise. Waa waa waa.

     
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    Apr 25, 2012 2:06 PM   in reply to Lundberg02

    $33 a month? !!!    My phone company is a den of thieves then! 

     
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