6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2009 10:08 PM by Videoman54321

    Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions

    Videoman54321 Level 1



      I am looking at a computer upgrade in the near future and wanted to ask some questions regarding what would affect my After Effects user experience the most.


      1) I have heard CPU is the most important.  I will look at the new Core i9 processors with 6 (12) cores.


      2) A lot of Ram.  I will try to get as much as I can afford.  Some motherboards can handle up to 24gb.


      - Is there a point that AE will not use all of the resources?  Or if it is there, AE will use it?


      3) Windows 7 64bit.  Will I see any improvement by going to a 64bit OS from XP 32bit?


      4) Disc access.  I noticed this post by Navaro Parker on a different thread:


      "I highly recommend a RAID if you have a multicore system. I've found that with 8-cores, each one wants to access and write a frame of footage off your drive at the same time. So if you have 1080p source files, that's nearly 50MB reading and 50MB writing. That's a lot of disk activity. "


      Which disc or discs would this apply to?  Is it the system scratch disc?


      Would an SSD drive as the system scratch disc help?


      Or where would SSDs best help AE performance?



      A lot of questions!


      Thanks for your help!

        • 1. Re: Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions
          Todd_Kopriva Level 8

          Yes, CPU and RAM are very important.


          Regarding the benefits of running on a 64-bit operating system: The operating system can see and use more memory, so that means that appliations are able to use more memory (though each process of a 32-bit application is still limited to the theoretical maximum of 4GB). See this post about Production Premium on 64-bit operating systems.


          Fast disk drives are important for reading source footage, writing output files, and running the application from.

          • 2. Re: Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions
            Videoman54321 Level 1

            Thanks for your reply Todd.


            My main thrust of the drive question is to find out where the fast SSD drives would have most impact.


            Right now I am planning on an SSD for the operating system and thinking of adding another to act as the system scratch disc.


            My other drives for media etc... will be sata drives.


            Would the system scratch disc be a good use of an SSD?


            There are a lot of drives involved with an AE project so I am wondering if it is only as good as the weak link in the chain?



            • 3. Re: Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions
              Mylenium Most Valuable Participant

              Would the system scratch disc be a good use of an SSD?


              Not really. SSDs/ Flash drives write very small blocks, which is pretty unsuitable for fast file I/O of large files. Even if they are buffered, you will eventually reach a point where the caching reaches its limits and then everything slows down to a halt. Also note, that concurrent read/write access is likewise limited due to how the controller needs to manage available address space. SSDs may make perfect sense for mobile use, but for workstation class computers their disadvantages stil loutweigh the benefits. And lets be honest: For the price of a single SSD you can get a decent, quiet, eco-friendly SATA RAID with double the capacity, so why waste money?



              • 4. Re: Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions
                Videoman54321 Level 1



                The SSDs are expensive but they do seem to be a great option for the Operating System drive.


                Meanwhile I will be saving for the huge amount of DDR3 ram I wold like to put in this computer as 1080p chromakey work is bringing my current XP system to its knees.

                • 5. Re: Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions

                  The number one slow item on today's desktop computers are the ubiquitous 7200rpm IDE dirves that everyone has, be them 40gb or 500gb.

                  The number tqwo item is RAM -- not enough of it.

                  The number three item is the CPU (nd related bus speeds).




                  The new SATA hard drive interface is much faster (an surely more reliable due to fewer wires) for sure -- but the underlying hard drive performance is exactly the same as before so there's no gain there.  No point in having a 3gb/sec interface when the drive itself only runs at 200mb/sec (and that's very optimistic in most cases).


                  SSD's do indeed speed things up.  A computer with an SSD will boot in seconds rather than minutes.  However, SSDs are small and very expensive.  This has (mis)lead many to think that an SSD as a boot drive, plus a slower conventional drive for applications, is the way to go and a lot of computers are being sold this way now.


                  I don't like this solution because you end up with a drive C: as a system drive and a drive D: for applications and data and there's all sorts of Microsoft mischief possible with this configuration.  You system registry, which is on the C: drive, will contain all sorts of referrals to the second drive.  More troublesome depending on your applications -- your temporary files are still probably on the smaller drive C: unless you can specify otherwise (most applications don't allow you to specify).  Backups must include both drives.  None of this matters until something goes wrong -- which it inevitably will.  In my experience, rebuilding a 2-hard drive system after a crash is much, much more difficult that rebuilding a one-hard drive system.


                  So -- I have been using a compromise which is actaully qyuite good -- two fast drives in  RAID 0 configuration.  RAID 0 can be up to 2X as fast as the same hard drive used alone -- and there is twice the storage space.  My latest endeavor has been two WD 10,000rpm Velociraptor SATA 300gB drives running in RAID 0 off a Gigabyte motherboard..  Booting is extremely fast, storage space is more than adequate (600gb), and there is only one volume to worry about.  To those who say that RAID 0 is too risky because the failure of one hard drive means you are dead, I say you are in exactly the same situation with a one hard drive system.  You need to keep backups, period.  By the way, cost of a RAID 0 configuration can easily be cheaper than an SSD plus a conventinal hard drive.




                  32-bit WIndows, which almost all of us are using, is limited to 4gb ram by design.  Yiou can put more on the motherboard but Win32 cannot use it.  In actual fact the number is often signifcantly less than 4gb; 3gb is closer to the real number.  The trouble is, mosty machines out there have only 1 or 2gb of RAM and you end up with lots of page swapping -- the hard drive being beaten mercilessly as a slow substitute for adequate RAM.  With RAM prices so low, there is no excuse for running anything less than 4gb anymore.


                  64-bit Windows is a whole other story.  Let's limit this discussion to Win Vista and Win7 (because WinXP x64 turns out to be a *******).  First -- 64-bit windows can absolutely run most 32-bit applications.  Most 32-bit drivers work too.  But you can't always mix the two.  For example, the 64-bit version of Internet Explorer cannot currently show Adobe Flsh conent because the Adobe Flash drivers are still 32-bit for now.  But you can easily run the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer on Win7 x64 and the 32-bit Flash drivers work fine.


                  Why use 32-bit applications on a 64-bit OS?  Because the OS can access a lot more RAM and place these 32-bit sessions within it.  Yes, each application is limited to 4gB, but you can have multiple 32-buit applciations each running in their own space witrh no page-swapping.  New motherboards offer the chance to install anywhere from 12gb to 192gB.


                  64-bit memory is best deployed in 3-channel mode.  This usually means that your SIMM modules are deployed in multiples of 3, rather than multiples of two as was the case with 32-bit.  So you will see future systems configured as 6gb, 12gb, rather than 2gb, 4gb, 8gb and so on.


                  This is the way to go when building a new system.  Period.  Forget Win32 unless you are married to an application that simply won't run on Win64.





                  The much-hyped CPU is the least important piece.  Anyone who has stared at Windows Task Manager wondering why in the world their computer is taking so much time, only to discover the CPU is actually not doing much ---  you are not crazy,  The CPU spends most of its time waiting for the hard drives and other peripherals.


                  That said, there are perfomance gains to be had in many situations and the new Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs deliver the goods.  However they run really, really hot compared to the previous generations and I have to wonder how reliable these chips will be in the long term.  If you get up into the really high end here, you should consider water cooling for sure but I have visions of water running all over my studio floor so I'm not going there until forced!


                  There is little reason to buy a CPU at the high end of clock speed.  Stay with the cheaper, cooler ones.



                  • 6. Re: Computer Upgrade, Syetem Questions
                    Videoman54321 Level 1

                    Thanks for your reply.


                    I will disagree with your SSD implementation a bit though.


                    I would put the OS and the Programs on the SSD and move the "My Documents" folder to a large drive.


                    Most of your drive/CPU interaction will be OS and Program related, so I see the SSD pulling ahead of a RAID setup in this configuration.


                    Backups are for data and I really don't ever backup the OS or Programs as they can be re-installed.


                    I do keep a clone copy of the OS drive on the shelf using Seagate's Disc Wizard software.  This allows an instant swap if something goes wrong and you are up and running again.


                    Just my take.