DAT Optics external RAID system
My manager and I have been in the market for a fast external RAID for my editing system for a while. I have survived up until now using a small internal RAID in my Mac Pro 3 Ghz Dual Quad. It is made up of only three 500GB drives as the first bay is used for my Macintosh HD. It's RAID 0 which is pretty scary, I have been copying all of my EX1 HD media to a second and third location as a 'backup'.
Obviously, the system is ripe for speed improvements and a faster more useful backup solution. There are some big name options we looked into, but Tim had put an E-SATA system together earlier for my old Dual G4 system from a company named DAT Optics, and it worked very well, even though it is relatively not known to our industry. The reason I'm writing is to let all of you know that our new system is clocking faster than some of the top name systems that cost much more than we paid for our system!
We used the AJA software to clock the speed of the system. Friday we took some of my longest clips recorded to SxS media in 1920x1080p30 and upconverted them to ProRess422 and were able to stack eight tracks scaling each track so they all fit in boxes inside the sequence, and we could not get my system to need a render - and everything played without delays or chugs. That not being enough - we were pretty excited - we took the original clips and upconverted them to uncompressed 10 bit video clips. A sliver over 1 gigabyte worth of video turned into 33 gigabytes of uncompressed video. We were able to drop them into a uncompressed 10 bit sequence and stack three tracks before we got the red render line. In this test, we also took each of the two 48k audio tracks. We were able to go four tracks when we selected Unlimited RT in the sequence playback property.
It was stunning and exciting - AND my eight cores were not even working at all! The funny thing is that we had more than enough speed to deliver the three uncompressed tracks, but just under the speed needed to deliver the fourth track!
I know these guys don't advertise here, so I won't drop a link, but if you're interested in stunning speed and reliability for a fraction of the typical cost, you should really consider looking into DAT Optics. It's a hardware RAID that utilizes a controller card that basically extends the lanes out to the hardware boxes, (we have two boxes that each house eight 1 terabyte drives). If anyone out there is interested, I can post an update as I begin to move down this new road of less compressed video editing on this system.
Keystone Media Productions
Was it the eBox-M that you bought, Stephen? If so, did you buy your own drives or did you just have DAT Optics ship it with drives installed?
Let me take this one I am the Tim stephen is talking about
It is two Ebox m's with a 16 channel hardware raid controller card installed. Sam at DatOptic spent a lot of time working with me to customize this set up. The drives are wired via 4 mini sas cables. The one drawback is the controller card has internal connections so we had to us up one card space for a adapter to go from the internal sas to external sas wiring. This does take up a lot of room in the card bay but no additional lanes.
We did let DatOptic supply the drives. They run them through to make sure there are not bad sectors and built the raid so it is ready to go for you. When dealing with 16T it does take a while to build (about 6 hours). We could have bypassed this as we decided to test a few different set ups before for speed. We settled on Raid 6 with a hot spare.
short update: Friday, Tim and I had made a couple of folders just to test the system out, mentioned in the original post. After playing around with the uncompressed HD clips, Tim decided to turn off the top box (hard drives 1 through 8) to simulate a failure in the power supply. I thought it was a bit extreme, and I was thinking it would have been enough to pull a drive out (or two) but there it was; eight drives off-line during a big write.
We waited a minute or two and powered the top box back on and the system was already trying to rebuild the drives. We left the editing bay and let it go, and on Saturday I came in and the report showed that the entire RAID completely rebuilt and restored the files and finished the transfer in 7 hours. It was done at 1AM Saturday!
The other thing that's kind of cool, (and kind of not) is that the system, which I've dubbed "BIG Fat Panda" named after Kung Fu Panda's leading character, actually e-mailed Tim and me to say that I had turned it back on; so we get reports in the event of a failure when I'm compressing or rendering overnight. What's not so cool is that Tim called to see why it took me until this afternoon to power up the RAID, "What have you been doing all day?" uh huh! (I was burning DVD's on the Dual G4... true story.
Keystone Media Productions
Thanks to you both for your detailed explanation of the DAT Optics eBox-M. It sounds like another great available option for relatively inexpensive yet professional RAID storage.