10 Replies Latest reply on Jun 27, 2014 7:28 AM by Eric T Arroyo

    Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects

    Eric T Arroyo

      Hey everyone! Simply put I'm wondering how to optimize my hard drive setup for After Effects. I'm not sure if the answer to this changes between AE versions so let's just look at CS5.5 and CS6.


      My setup:

      i7-3930k OC'd to 4.5GHz

      48GB of RAM (1866 999 24)

      EVGA GTX 770 4GB Classified

      120GB SATA II SSD for C drive (OS and programs, nothing else. Not even games)

      240GB SATA III SSD for scratch files (50GB reserved) and output

      500GB HDD (7200RPM) for media files (Primarily AVCHD)

      3TB of external backup (not used while editing)


      My system already runs pretty quick for what I do, but if upgrading my Sata II SSD or replacing my HDD with an SSD would give me another significant boost in speed then I'm all for it. I doubt it'd be anywhere near as much of an increase as my last two upgrades though. The GTX 770 gave me a 3.5x render speed boost for my 3D projects and going from 16GB to 48GB of RAM gave me 5.5x ram preview speed boost. Regardless, I'm always looking to squeeze every last ounce of power out of my hardware because less time editing is more time with the family.


      Given my current setup. Should I change how I use my current drives or buy another SSD to replace one of my current drives? I was already planning on buying a Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD, but if it's really not going to matter then I'll just skip on that.


      Oh, I also use Premiere Pro CS5.5 frequently. Not sure if that changes anything.





      EDIT: Just found a link that helps with disk setup for Premiere Pro (below), but I'm still having a hard time figuring out how to optimize my disk setup given that each drive is capable of a different speed. Should my fastest drive be the C drive, the media drive, or the cache/scratch drive?



        • 1. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
          cc_merchant Level 4

          Take a look at Tweakers Page and the articles there.

          • 2. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
            ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

            Why do you have 48GB of ram and not 64GB? Sounds like your running 4GB and 8GB density. I highly advise against that especially with Quad channel. The 4GB and 8GB ram sticks have far different timings especially secondary timings and will likely have problems together even though the boards support asynchronous timings. I would either run 32GB or 64GB with all 8GB sticks.




            • 3. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
              Eric T Arroyo Level 1

              Thanks! I'll have to read though that. Do you know if the same recommendations apply to After Effects as with Premiere Pro?

              • 4. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                Eric T Arroyo Level 1

                Thanks Eric! I have a dual quad channel motherboard. The processor handles each set independently of the other, but the sets have to match within themselves. So in the first quad channel set I have 4x8GB sticks running at 1866 999 21 (there was a typo in my first post. The last number is 21, not 24). In the second set I have 4x4GB sticks running coincidentally at 1866 999 21. You are absolutely right though. Mixing the two densities on the same quad channel set could cause tons of problems. Especially if I tried to run different timings on top of that.

                • 5. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                  ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                  Even installing them in separate sets still causes the same problems. This is the asynchronous timing support I mentioned above. However there are allot of difficulties to overcome when you do that especially when dealing with the XMP profiles. This has been an issue since the ram controllers were moved to the processors and signal attenuation on the bus became a factor. I am just warning you that there are likely problems to deal with because of this and you may not have run into them yet if you didn't activate the XMP Profiles to set the ram at the higher speed. The base profiles on most of these sticks are 1333 or 1600 depending on the manufacturer. You have far better chance running them at base versus XMP in that config. Either way though random memory errors or applications crashing are common with the configuration so be advised what is suppose to work on paper doesn't always work well in reality. BTW many ram manufacturers will not even support such configurations if you call for support. Just so your aware.




                  • 6. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                    Eric T Arroyo Level 1

                    "Technically" I'm not using XMP so that's good news. Instead I'm using the default 1600MHz profile and overclocking my bclk to hit their rated 1866 speed. I'm almost positive that I read an article about my specific CPU with a dual quad channel motherboard not having issues as long as each of the quad channels matched within themselves. I'll dig around for the article and post it here if I find it again. Thanks for the warning though. Now I know the first thing to check if anything starts failing


                    Aside from the RAM though, I noticed last night that no matter what I did my HDD and SSDs wouldn't hit transfer rates over 20MB/s. Way less than even 10% of their max load when I do simple drive to drive transfers. Even overlaying and scaling multiple (6) AVCHD clips so they were all visible at the same time would barely push the drives any harder. Playback was also real-time. I've been reading all of these articles about setting up Raid 30 with 24+ HDDs to get optimum speeds, but I'm not even maxing out my non-RAID 3 drive setup even with 6 1080i AVCHD clips playing simultaneously. I'm really confused because based on these tests my current hard drive setup is already overkill.


                    What kind of project can I set up to really test my hard drives?

                    • 7. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                      ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                      The Motherboard manuals say you can do that as well. However call the motherboard manufacturer support or the ram manufacturer and ask their recommendation. Also Raid 5 is listed as supported by the onboard raid controller. I highly suggest against it due to the major issues with it. Just because its supported doesn't mean its a good idea and there wont be issues. Ram issues are some of the most difficult to troubleshoot. That is why its good to avoid any possibilities of creating some.


                      AVC media bit rates are essentially 2 to 10MB/s at most. The bandwidth is never really going to exceed what single drives can do. However mechanical drives have high latency due to how they work. That latency in multiple read and write requests does become an issue when the drive cache is already filled with instruction requests. The more cache a drive has the longer it takes to get to that point. However once you do then single drives start showing the 10 to 15 millisecond latency which is why raid 0's often show some improvement on performance when exporting. So for ideal export times raid 0's can improve the performance some but not double as the drive bandwidth is increased. Also keep in mind the higher bit rate codecs will exceed the drive cache much quicker so you have a far lower ceiling before you peak a single drive out and the latency starts to show. SSD drives don't show this since their latency is in microseconds.




                      • 8. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                        Eric T Arroyo Level 1

                        Thanks Eric! I noticed some odd artifacting on a youtube video the other day which I'm assuming is the RAM issue you warned me about. I'll try scaling back the RAM a bit more and see if it happens again. It may have just been a fluke, but I'm glad you gave me a heads up on what to check first.


                        The bit rates on AVCHD explain a lot because that matches pretty closely to what my max hard drive usage was. I try to keep all my video files on an SSD, but that is starting to run out of space. I just need to wrap up a few projects so I can archive them on my backup drives. It sounds like a larger SSD would be useful anyway though so I never have to store my media files on my HDD (which I occasionally do now).


                        I also found this image on the tweakers page that cc merchant linked that shows AVCHD being at the bottom of the disk intensity scale. I also use GoPro footage so this chart gives me an idea of where that stands too. Capture.JPG

                        I just have one last question then. I noticed that the tweakers page is all about optimization for Premiere Pro. Does the disk optimization apply "apples to apples" with After Effects? If it does I'll just go through the tweakers page and set things up accordingly. Thanks again for all the help!

                        • 9. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                          ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

                          Put the AE cache folder on the SSD drive. The Media cache will follow the other applications media cache settings. That is all you need to worry about really. The Windows Variable Temp directory is fine on the OS if that is an SSD as well.




                          • 10. Re: Hard Drive / SSD optimization for After Effects
                            Eric T Arroyo Level 1

                            Perfect! Thanks for all the help Eric!