4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 10, 2013 1:26 PM by Alex - DV411

    Really fast CF card reader?

    Alex - DV411 Level 2

      My client needed really fast transfers from several CF cards in parallel and asked me to supply and support Sonnet Qio-CF4 for him.  The thing is a beast on paper, transfers from up to four CF cards at line speeds of a PCIe 2.0 x1 link or close to 400MB/s aggregate.

       

      The only problem, it routinely freezes the system when taking out CF cards and putting in new ones.  The mouse cursor is still moving; nothing else does.  The system is HP Z820 with two 8-core Xeons, 64GB RAM and is stable otherwise.  It's also not plug-n-play: you need to "scan for hardware changes" to recognize newly inserted cards, or use Sonnet's own app for that.  This is where the system usually freezes.

       

      Plus, transfers max out at about 55MB/s per card while the same card transfers at 75MB/s using a FireWire800 based CF card reader.  So it's not as fast as they claim it to be.  The freezing makes it a non-workable solution.

       

      Sonnet says the device is not compatible with the Z820 even though it's listed as "not tested" on their compatibility chart.  They said it's not compatible with Z820's PCIe 3.0 slots, and yet have to get back to me to tell me if it's compatible with the Z820's solo PCIe 2.0 slot (#20 on the chart).

       

      Anybody out there doing similar things and having recommendations for fast parallel CF card transfers?  Ideally something you've actually tried.

       

      Requirements: 3-4 CF card transfers simultaneously to the same system at 70MB/s each.

       

      Thanks!

        • 1. Re: Really fast CF card reader?
          Averdahl Level 3

          I would have tried this: http://www.addonics.com/products/cf_cfast_drive.php

           

          You will ger six *independent* CF-slots, each one hocked up to a *separate* SATA contact/card. *

           

          On the Z820 the internal drives are for some odd reason attached to the SAS-ports. I have personally attached the internal drives to the SATA-ports so i can take advantage of the SATA3 speeds. The SAS is speced at 6 Gbit/s in the Z820 but the write speeds on the SAS ports are not as good as the SATA ports. (The Z800 internal drives are attached to the SATA ports.)

           

          Point is, use the SAS ports for the CF reader to get the best reading speeds and don't foget that the CF cards have the biggest role. If you have the Sandisk Extreme the speeds will indeed be kind of slow. If you use the Extreme Pro it's way faster and thus worth the price.

           

          I know that this works as charm on a Z400 with an e-SATA card. But it is limited to one card at time: http://www.addonics.com/products/aepddesu.php

           

          EDIT:

          I forgot: I have not tested the CF / CFast Drive but a client of mine is using the Pocket eSATA/USB DigiDrive attahed to e-SATA on a daily basis without issues in a big post production house. That's why i recomend products from Addonics.

           

          * Hum, it seems that the CF / CFast Drive is targeted primarily as an option to use Cf cards as storage or to combine them CF cards into fast storage. I could not find any info such as "...you can use it as an CF reader as well.". I suggest you to contact them to see if it is possible to use it as a CF reader.

           

          /Roger

          • 2. Re: Really fast CF card reader?
            Alex - DV411 Level 2

            I would have tried this: http://www.addonics.com/products/cf_cfast_drive.php

             

            You will ger six *independent* CF-slots, each one hocked up to a *separate* SATA contact/card. *

            This is awesome, thanks Roger.

            Point is, use the SAS ports for the CF reader to get the best reading speeds and don't foget that the CF cards have the biggest role. If you have the Sandisk Extreme the speeds will indeed be kind of slow. If you use the Extreme Pro it's way faster and thus worth the price.

            Have you tested the transfer speeds by any chance?

             

            Also, would you know if these are recognized as removable storage devices?  (Those that you can "eject" and that are automatically recognized when you plug them in, avoiding the whole "scan for hardware changes" step.)  This is fairly important for the client.

            I know that this works as charm on a Z400 with an e-SATA card. But it is limited to one card at time: http://www.addonics.com/products/aepddesu.php

            Potentially you could use several of them simultaneously?

            On the Z820 the internal drives are for some odd reason attached to the SAS-ports.

            ...

            The Z800 internal drives are attached to the SATA ports.

            May depend on a model - Z800 systems with SAS primary drives have them attached to SAS ports as well - but you're right, several Z820 systems I worked with, all had SATA drives on SAS ports.  I also routinely move them to 6G SATA ports and disable "SAS Option ROM download" to speed up boot times.

            The SAS is speced at 6 Gbit/s in the Z820 but the write speeds on the SAS ports are not as good as the SATA ports.

            Hmmm... That has not been my experience: 480-520GB/s r/w speeds with Intel 520 Series 480GB on LSI SAS 6G port on HP Z820:

             

             

            This last test may only indicate line speeds (not actual media transfer rates) given that SSD's internal controller and caching may simulate media reads.

            • 3. Re: Really fast CF card reader?
              Averdahl Level 3

              "Have you tested the transfer speeds by any chance?

               

              Also, would you know if these are recognized as removable storage devices?  (Those that you can "eject" and that are automatically recognized when you plug them in, avoiding the whole "scan for hardware changes" step.)  This is fairly important for the client."

               

              No, i did not personally test transfer speeds, but the client did and he phoned me up and was very happy with the results. I don't know if they are recognized as removable storage devices. The "Internal SATA/USB DigiDrive" has a "mode" jumper that should take care of that issue, but i could not find any information about that in the manual for the "CF / CFast Drive".

               

               

              Potentially you could use several of them simultaneously?

               

              If you have enough of e-SATA ports i suppose the answer is yes, but i have not tried that with the "Pocket eSATA/USB DigiDrive". (I have only tried multiple external HDD cabinets hooked up to multiple e-SATA ports on the Z800, and that worked perfectly, everytime.)

               

               

              I also routinely move them to 6G SATA ports and disable "SAS Option ROM download" to speed up boot times.

               

              Thanks for the tip regarding the "SAS Option ROM Download"!

               

               

              Hmmm... That has not been my experience: 480-520GB/s r/w speeds with Intel 520 Series 480GB on LSI SAS 6G port on HP Z820

               

              I tested an Intel® SSD 520 Series 240GB and got this with the Blackmagic Design Speed Test:

              SATA3 port: Write = 300MB/s, Read = 414 MB/s

              SATA2 port: Write = 249MB/s, Read = 257 MB/s

              SAS-port: Write = 157MB/s, Read = 313 MB/s

               

              I don't know what settings i used when i ran the test. I can change the file size in that test as well, but don't know the settings i used. That and the SSD itself may have been the issue. The disc was not empty when i tested it. Can the AJA System Test be downloaded and installed without the need for AJA hardware in the system?

               

              /Roger

              • 4. Re: Really fast CF card reader?
                Alex - DV411 Level 2

                Can the AJA System Test be downloaded and installed without the need for AJA hardware in the system?

                Yes, on the AJA Kona 3 software download page, for instance, look for "AJA KONA System Test Version 1" and there you can download the zip of it directly.  After extracting the app from the zip, "unblock" it in properties or it will give a "are you sure you want to run it" popup every time.

                No, i did not personally test transfer speeds, but the client did and he phoned me up and was very happy with the results.

                If your client has a chance to test the transfer speeds, that'd be awesome.  (Even if it's as simple as looking at transfer rates in "more info" when transferring large files.)

                I don't know if they are recognized as removable storage devices. The "Internal SATA/USB DigiDrive" has a "mode" jumper that should take care of that issue, but i could not find any information about that in the manual for the "CF / CFast Drive".

                They say the CF cards are "hot swap" when attached to a "hot swap" SATA port. No clue what that means. Always thought SATA ports were "hot swap" in AHCI mode by specification as long as SATA devices were recognized as "removable" - like optical discs and flash cards.

                Thanks for the tip regarding the "SAS Option ROM Download"!

                Anytime. Another one I routinely disable is network boot (NIC/PXE Option ROM download).