22 Replies Latest reply on Nov 27, 2012 2:24 PM by Alex - DV411

    New system drive and memory setup - please help!

    ChasHertz

      Please excuse these newbie questions.  I DO understand that these issues have been discussed ad nauseam in this forum.  But I have spent probably ten or twelve hours exploring the various threads, and partly owing to my ignorance, partly to the specifics of my situation, partly to the disagreements between various posters, and partly to my concern that some of the clearer statements on e.g. SSD’s may have been outdated by the progression of technology, I would greatly appreciate it if I could get some recommendations for my specific situation.


      I am going to purchase an HP Z820 sometime in the near future.  I do NOT want to build my own machine; I have just enough technical knowledge to be dangerous, as they say, and want one-stop shopping for technical support if my machine develops problems.


      While I will use this machine for a variety of applications, my main concern is to optimize it for Premiere Pro. Based on Harm Millaard’s (who to my untutored eye seems to be one of the most prolific, knowledgeable, and helpful individuals in this forum) “Guidelines for Disc Usage” of two years ago, I plan to install a 300GB SSD for my boot drive, and to construct a RAID 5 array out of the remaining drives. (The Z820 does not support RAID 3.) The array drives will be either five (5) more 300GB SSD’s, or four (4) 600GB 15,000 RPM SAS HDD’s.


      Assume for the sake of argument that cost is not a factor, and that the 1.2TB storage offered by the 5 SSD drives in RAID 5 (vs. the 1.8TB offered by the 4 SAS drives) is perfectly adequate, which would you choose?  And why?


      I should add that I am a video hobbyist, not a professional, so the outfit will receive a lot less pounding than a professional’s machine.  Thus, I don’t THINK that the theoretically more limited life span of the SSD’s should be an issue, over, say, the next 3-4 years.  (Correct me if that SHOULD be a concern.)


      Re memory, I am planning on 32GB of unbuffered memory, the maximum the system will support.  I COULD get 64MB, but it would have to be registered RAM, which I understand slows things down.  The slight improvement in reliability with registered RAM is not really a concern from my hobbyist standpoint; and I think 32GB should be adequate.  I use 1080/60p footage, which of course is demanding, but don’t use a lot of special effects, or other Adobe applications for input to Premiere (aside from Photoshop, occasionally). Anyone disagree with this choice?


      Finally, is there a role for a RAMdisk in this outfit, for e.g. cache files?  Would this increase the speed, or decrease the using up of write cycles on the SSD’s to a degree that would be significant for practical purposes? If so, how much RAM would you dedicate to the RAMdisk?


      Again, sorry if you feel these questions have been adequately addressed in pervious threads, but try as I might I simply can’t manage to put it together on my own.  And thanks in advance for any help.

        • 1. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
          Alex - DV411 Level 2

          Pardon me for jumping in.  (I realize the question is to Harm.)

          I am going to purchase an HP Z820 sometime in the near future.

          Congrats, this is a great system.

          ... I plan to install a 300GB SSD for my boot drive, and to construct a RAID 5 array out of the remaining drives.

          The 300GB SSD - is that an HP model?  If so please reconsider: it's an older Intel SSD X25-M series that is slow, and runs at SATA 3G speeds (not 6G), which doesn't do the Z820 justice.  Intel 520 series has been tested (by yours truly among others) and can be used in the Z820.

          The array drives will be either five (5) more 300GB SSD’s, or four (4) 600GB 15,000 RPM SAS HDD’s.

          As Harm will probably tell you: unless you also run a database server on that system, there is no advantage to 10K, 15Krpm or even SSD drives for video purposes, with the exception of possible reliability (enterprise class 10-15K drives and SSDs are tested much more extensively than desktop and nearline drives) and throughput in case of SSDs if, for instance, your workflow demands extreme bandwidth (e.g. recording of uncompressed 4K 12-bit RGB signal).

           

          Assume for the sake of argument that cost is not a factor, and that the 1.2TB storage offered by the 5 SSD drives in RAID 5 (vs. the 1.8TB offered by the 4 SAS drives) is perfectly adequate, which would you choose?  And why?

           

          Hypothetically, I'd choose SSDs: higher reliability, responsiveness, performance, lower power consumption.  I'd do research though to ensure they'd keep up with a lot of write I/Os thrown at them.

           

          In reality, I'd choose neither, for reasons I mentioned above.  7200rpm nearline drives have sufficient performance for the purpose, and the capacity is much higher per dollar.

          I COULD get 64MB, but it would have to be registered RAM, which I understand slows things down.

          Not necessarily.  The 2% difference between ECC and non-ECC memory (negligible as it is) is not at play here because Z820 does not support non-ECC memory.  Registered or not, it has to be ECC, and registered memory is not necessarily slower than unbuffered.  Even if it was, the 2% difference is unlikely to make any perceptable dent in performance given that no editing system runs its memory at 100% bandwidth at all times.  Then again, if cost is not a factor, you could always swap unbuffered for registered later on.

          Finally, is there a role for a RAMdisk in this outfit, for e.g. cache files?  Would this increase the speed, or decrease the using up of write cycles on the SSD’s to a degree that would be significant for practical purposes? If so, how much RAM would you dedicate to the RAMdisk?

          For timelines with limited number of effects, I wouldn't bother, with the premise that Premiere Pro has decent memory management on its own, and that memory will serve better if just given to Premiere Pro.

           

          If on the other hand you do start using AE heavily, you might want to dedicate a (portion of your) SSD to "global performance cache" which is a fantastic time-saving feature of AE CS6.

           

          HTH.

          • 2. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
            Alex - DV411 Level 2

            registered memory is not necessarily slower than unbuffered

            Here is one benchmark I found, although it's for older Nehalem Xeons:

             

            http://www.accs.com/p_and_p/NehalemRAM/Performance.html

             

            Scroll to the bottom of the page, check out two rightmost columns in the table, Unbuffered vs. Registered 666MHz Dual-Rank memory, see the numbers starting at 4 memory modules.

            • 3. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
              Harm Millaard Level 7

              While I agree with Alex, there is one other argument against using SSD's in a raid and that is the problematic support of the trim function for SSD's in a raid, and that means the performance of the SSD's degrade much faster over time than when used as a single disk.

              • 4. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                ChasHertz Level 1

                Thanks very much. No, the message wasn't specifically for Harm, I just mentioned that I was relying on his suggestion for the overall configuration, i.e. a RAID array vs separate drives for various functions once you get to five drives and above.

                 

                I found the detailed specs for the Z820 (a 64-page document!), and you're right, the 300GB SSD is only rated at 3Gb/second.  Oddly, the 256GB SSD, signficantly cheaper, is rated at 6Gb/second, so it looks like that will be my boot drive instead.  Thanks very much for that warning!

                 

                Re RAM: Since apparently unbuffered vs registered makes no signficant difference, given that both are ECC (and the detailed specs confirm that), would you opt for 64GB?  Or is that clearly overkill?  Even if the benefit is marginal, I'm okay with paying more -- my friends drive BMW's and Porsches, while I drive a Honda Accord; the Z820 is my self-indulgent sports car, so to speak, and I don't need to justify everything from a cost effectiveness standpoint, but on the other hand don't want to pay for something that is COMPLETELY wortheless to me.

                 

                Along those same lines, when you say that, for example, 7200 rpm drives have "sufficient performance for the purpose," do you mean simply that they are perfectly adequate to get the job done, or that I will in fact achieve equal rendering speeds, equally good quality playback in the program monitor, etc., whether the drives are 7200 or 15,000?  Again, I'm willing to pay more for even marginally better performance, but not for no better at all.

                 

                Thanks again for your help.

                • 5. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                  ChasHertz Level 1

                  I was aware of this potential issue. Googling around, I was under the impression that as long as you had an Intel i7 or later processor (and I think the Xeon e5-2690 qualifies on that score), and the latest drivers, TRIM was supported with RAID, as of earlier this year.  (No one I could find at HP had any idea what I was talking about, however.)  But now that I re-read what I found, it all refers to RAID 0.  Is that different from RAID 5?  I mean, of course it's different, but are you saying that TRIM might be supported with SSD's on RAID 0, but not RAID 5?

                   

                  Based on your comments, and those of Alex, I am definitely leaning away from the SSD solution, but just want to be sure I have all the information I need to make an informed decision.

                   

                  Having spent some hours looking through these forums before posting my message, I am simply amazed at your experience and knowledgability, and even more by your generosity with your time, so please feel free to make any other comments that you think might be helpful to me.

                   

                  Thanks very much.

                  • 6. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                    ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                    Actually the Reference term ie technology trim does not work efficiently on raid so it's not implemented. They have another technology for raid arrays but I forget the name. However as of a few months ago most controllers did not support the new technology for SSD raids. This is something you would want to research.

                     

                    Eric

                    ADK

                    • 7. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                      Starmore369 Level 1

                      This is interesting question you pose relative to considering a prebuilt vs building your own. The Z8 is a really well built Workstation platform that looks great and has some really nice points of servicing. With that noted I have always been bias to support the flexibility and superior interoperability of a DIY system whether done by yourself or built by a system integrator.

                      Another option you may want to consider is working with a system integrator  who focuses on using DIY components as opposed to OEM developed components and the limited they can have.

                      An example is considering a

                      ASUS ESC1000 G2 barebone these are available at vendors like AVA Direct, Puget Systems or others. They can configure it specific to your needs and still provide you the support in a product you are looking for.

                       

                      Some benefits of this are

                       

                      1. Superior BIOS/UEFI flexibility this comes into play into know no issues are present should you want to upgrade the CPU at a later time for improved performance. In addition superior support for new features like CAP based UEFI ( which is ideal format for performance, compatibility and interoperability with Windows 8 ) In addition more expansion due to a enthusiast class motherboard being the board present P9X79 WS.
                      2. Memory flexibility more varied Dimm configurations supported ( speeds, ECC or Non ECC and flexibility for support of density and speed upgrades ).
                      3. Non proprietary aspects of systems components ( Like the PSU ). You are free to select different models minimize cost replacement and other aspects of upgrade/replacement
                      4. Faster USB 3 performance with UASP Support ( The HP uses a Ti instrument controller which has lower performance and does not offer UASP Support )
                      5. SSD Caching support so if you plan on having a larger mechanical volume you can still accelerate its performance with an optional SSD.

                       

                      Hope this helps and does not throw you a curve! Best of luck either which way.

                      • 8. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                        ChasHertz Level 1

                        Well, yes, that is a curve.  I had already pretty much decided to go with HP.  But I've just finished looking at the Puget Systems website, and reading a series of highly favorable reviews of them elsewhere, and i must say you've piqued my interest.  I may study this a bit more, then give them a call.

                         

                        Thanks!

                        • 9. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                          ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                          From what I have seen with the current configurations, reviews, and the evolution of Puget Systems configurations and services, they are a very good option to go with. I would definitely consider their products.

                           

                          Eric

                          ADK

                          • 10. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                            Alex - DV411 Level 2

                            Faster USB 3 performance with UASP Support ( The HP uses a Ti instrument controller which has lower performance and does not offer UASP Support )

                            HP uses NEC and TI USB 3.0 controllers; add-on USB 3.0 cards are always an option.

                            SSD Caching support so if you plan on having a larger mechanical volume you can still accelerate its performance with an optional SSD.

                            HP does support SSD caching on its workstations.

                             

                            Yes DIY and custom systems typically offer better performance for the money and offer more configuration choices.

                             

                            That also means no single point of support, limited warranty and support terms and choices (where is Abit now? What custom system integrator offers a valid 5-year warranty?), and that if there is a problem with the system, you have to deal with it yourself (DIY) or in case of custom systems, pray and hope that the integrator:

                            - is still in business when the problem occurs,

                            - their support is still adequate

                            - the component in question is still supported by the manufacturer

                            - there is a replacement part available and it doesn't force you to re-activate Windows

                            - if you need an on-site support (hey, stuff happens), whoever services your system won't look at it with that bewildered expression, you expect me to support this?

                             

                            There is a reason Dreamworks uses Z-series systems nearly exclusively.

                             

                            There is also a really good reason Google and FB use in-house developed DIY servers.

                             

                            To each his own.

                            • 11. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                              Alex - DV411 Level 2

                              I found the detailed specs for the Z820 (a 64-page document!), and you're right, the 300GB SSD is only rated at 3Gb/second.  Oddly, the 256GB SSD, signficantly cheaper, is rated at 6Gb/second, so it looks like that will be my boot drive instead.

                              Their 256GB model isn't all that great either.  USA SOC's Public Affair Office for example has three 8-core Z800 systems with CS6 and they've upgraded the boot drives to 480GB Intel 520-series SSDs rather than HP 256GB ones.  More capacity and speed for less money - although we did have to ensure those SSDs worked well, even if only in 3G modes.  Also, a special mounting bracket had to be used to put those SSDs in LFF-sizes drive bays.

                              • 12. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                Alex - DV411 Level 2

                                Chaz, how many people so far tried to steer you away from your Z820 choice? Three? Harm, Eric, and Frogo?  Did I miss anyone? (Yes I am starting a black book. )

                                • 13. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                  Actually I did not steer him away from HP. I recommended considering Puget Systems as well since the forum poster stated he might. What is wrong with considering all of the options available? You really need to relax on this HP thing. HP is an awesome company and is important in the industry with creating competition with Dell. Without HP then Dell would own the OEM industry and that would not be good for anyone. However there are other options specific to the Media Content Creation Industry and there is nothing wrong with people taking a look at those before they make a educated choice.

                                   

                                  Eric

                                  ADK

                                  • 14. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                    Alex - DV411 Level 2

                                    What is wrong with considering all of the options available?

                                    Oh just one little thing: OP's preference:

                                    ChasHertz wrote:

                                     

                                    I am going to purchase an HP Z820 sometime in the near future.

                                    (Highlighting's mine.)  Puget was suggested to him w/o his solicitation.  Note that the OP did not ask for alternatives, or if his choice was good.  He asked for specific Z820 configuration recommendations.  Yet he still got a swarm of people trying to steer him away from it.

                                     

                                    I'd relax if this wasn't a recurring experience.  To turn it around: imagine someone asking for advice on an ADK system on this forum, and me offering a two-pence:

                                     

                                    "Consider an HP Z-series workstation as a good alternative to an ADK system: better warranty and more hardware support options, unmatched engineering, and hey, it's the DCC industry standard. Oh and you can also get it from an good DCC integrator meaning you'd have outstanding software support."

                                     

                                    How would you like them apples?

                                    Without HP then Dell would own the OEM industry and that would not be good for anyone.

                                    That's all you can think of, what makes HP products any good?  The only reason Adobe and lots of other companies uses HP workstations?

                                     

                                    I am actually not a big fan of HP as a company.  Had my share of subpar experiences.  Nothing as bad as Apple, but still.  This doesn't take away from my opinion that HP Z820 is today's best workstation bar none.

                                    • 15. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                      ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                      Actually read where my post followed. It was after the Poster mentioned looking at Puget as am option. I simply stated that was a good idea. So no I did not send the poster that way when he was not considering it.

                                       

                                      People recommend Dell, HP, Apple, and others instead of our systems all the time in the forum and we never reply. We leave it to the poster to decide which way they want to go. It's their choice so why try and change that.Actually there are far, far more threads and posts which bring up Dell, HP, And Apple systems than ours. Since that is the case and we don't respond, why are you worried about it?

                                       

                                      So it's not enough to leave HP to list their own advantages which are stated in these forums often enough, I must re-list them again. Really you are way to defensive on this. I didn't list any specifics for Puget either. You really need to relax. I think stating HP was an awesome company was enough along with why I am happy they are in the OEM industry. Competition breeds innovation which only improves the final solution the end client purchases.

                                       

                                      Eric

                                      ADK

                                      • 16. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                        Alex - DV411 Level 2

                                        You really need to relax.

                                        OK.  How was your Thanksgiving?   (Spent mine in Topanga Canyon mountains - quite lovely.)

                                         

                                        (My peeve isn't with generic recommendations either way, it's with two trends: one, unequivocally knocking down Tier 1 systems as a "waste of money".  Two, suggesting to people who ask for tech advice on Tier 1 systems, that their choice is wrong. Both happen quite a bit and always rub me the wrong way - and not me alone.  I don't think anyone specifically asking for advice on an ADK system, received "just get an HP; ADK is a waste of money" response - unless I missed it.)

                                        • 17. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                          the_wine_snob Level 9

                                          In Reply # 8, the OP wrote:

                                           

                                          I had already pretty much decided to go with HP.  But I've just finished looking at the Puget Systems website, and reading a series of highly favorable reviews of them elsewhere, and i must say you've piqued my interest.  I may study this a bit more, then give them a call.

                                           

                                          So, there was some consideration, and some comparisons being made already.

                                           

                                          Hunt

                                          • 18. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                            the_wine_snob Level 9

                                            Maybe I missed something, but other than one poster suggesting reasons for DIY, I did not see any negative responses (even that was not negative, just more positive, in their opinion, for DIY).

                                             

                                            While my choice is ADK, I see mostly favorable comments on the HP Z-Series workstations. Around these parts, I feel that they are held in high esteem.

                                             

                                            HP was a great client of mine for a decade (many divisions), and I have owned a ton of their gear, though never a Z-Series workstation. I cannot think of any, that did not give me great service. OK, maybe one All-in-One printing unit did so south too quickly, but then my original LaserJet lasted for 15 years. Not too bad, as I have a closet full of dead Epson printers!

                                             

                                            Championing really good companies is a wonderful thing, as the evil that they do is spread all across the Internet, but the good... well, it's interred with their bones. [Really loose paraphrase]

                                             

                                            Considering viable alternatives is a good thing, at least in my mind. I seldom purchase, without some comparisons.

                                             

                                            Glad that the Canyon trek was good.

                                             

                                            Hunt

                                            • 19. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                              Alex - DV411 Level 2

                                              So, there was some consideration, and some comparisons being made already.

                                              So you believe that the recommendation in post #7 was made with OP's solicitation?

                                               

                                              Bill, the OP might well end up with that #7 recommendation rather than a Z820 and be happy ever after.  Beautiful.  My issue isn't that, it's the trend.  Please read my previous post again.

                                              • 20. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                                Alex - DV411 Level 2

                                                Maybe I missed something, but other than one poster suggesting reasons for DIY, I did not see any negative responses (even that was not negative, just more positive, in their opinion, for DIY).

                                                You're right, nobody was specifically knocking down the Z820 in this thread, although I find it funny that when OP clearly states that he's (1) pretty much decided on a Z820; (2) has a technical question about how to configure it, he still gets unsolicited advice to get something else.

                                                 

                                                In other threads, many a time, I see "Tier 1 systems are a waste of money" thrown around.  I don't see that being done to ADK.

                                                • 21. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                                                  You see the Tier 1 threads are a waste of money because of the limited configuration options key to media content creation on the Tier 1 websites yet the pricing does not always reflect that. There are system integrators such as yourself who build with HP systems and offer far more options than what is available on the Tier 1 integrators website. List those and why that is available. However those options are just not available from the OEM's.

                                                   

                                                  Eric

                                                  ADK

                                                  • 22. Re: New system drive and memory setup - please help!
                                                    Alex - DV411 Level 2

                                                    You see the Tier 1 threads are a waste of money because of the limited configuration options key to media content creation on the Tier 1 websites yet the pricing does not always reflect that.

                                                    Eric you are a tuner, a Mugen of video editing systems, except Mugen makes at least some of their components in house, and you use COTS ones.

                                                     

                                                    HP isn't a tuner.  They are a BMW if you will, making everything from golf carts to buses.  Some of their cars (M-series) work well on a track but more often than not it's professional tuning that makes them really shine there.

                                                     

                                                    Expecting HP to provide all the configuration options for a specific set of applications is misguided, to put it mildly, and that's the very reason HP video editing integrators exist, along with all kind of other types of integrators and VARs.  Calling Tier 1 systems a "waste of money" because of that - seems so strange to me.

                                                     

                                                    That said, HP already made huge inroads into DCC, evidenced by the fact that the Z800 was the most popular Windows system at the last three or four NABs.

                                                     

                                                    Edit: on a 2nd read, I see that Eric said basically the same thing. I misread his post. Case closed.