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Jim Curtis
RAID HBA options
on Oct 21, 2009 at 4:23:23 pm

I currently have an Enhance ES8-MS RAID box, controlled by a HightPoint-Technology (HPT) RR3522.

HPT seems to be run by idiots. I have a list of grievances against this company. My first card failed, and it took them three weeks to get me a replacement... No cross shipping. The brand new replacement looks like it's going south after a week.

I'm thinking of cutting my losses by ditching the card in the dumpster and going with another company.

What, in your opinion, is the best card for me? I have the Mini-SAS connectors on the box, with 8 1 TB Barracuda SATA drives installed.

What manufacturer, and why? I want the best, not the cheapest. And I want to buy from a company that shows consideration for customers by offering excellent support.

Thanks,
Jim Curtis


.


Jim Curtis
jamesphilipcurtis.com


MacPro (Harpertown-Early 2008) 2x4 3GHz; 32G RAM all the same brand; 10.5.8; QT 7.6.4; FCS3; Kona LHi in PCI slot 3; Primary display: 30" ACD; Secondary: HP LP2480zx DreamColor via HDMI to LHi and DVI to MacPro.


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Bob Zelin
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 22, 2009 at 2:37:22 am

Jim,
there is an old expression, which you won't like - YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. You bought the cheapest Raid host controller you could find, and you bought the cheapest drive chassis you could find. I bet you bought your SATA drives at Fry's. You buy crap, you get crap. You want a company that supports you - YOU PAY MORE MONEY.

There are many excellent companies that sell storage, and golly gee -they advertise RIGHT HERE on Creative Cow. Look to your left, look to your right, and you will see teriffic products, with companies that actually support you. If you pay TWICE what you paid for your Highpoint card, that company will actually send you your replacement card RIGHT AWAY. "But I don't want to pay twice the price - I want to pay as cheap as possible, and get GREAT tech support". What planet do you live on Jim - because I want that too, but no one will give it to me.

Companies like Maxx Digital, Dulce, Sonnet, Cal Digit, Active Storage, and plenty of others will give you wonderful support. Try this tomorrow morning - take the list I gave you - (start with Maxx Digital for example), and give them a call - see what happens. Then call the others - they will all be nice to you, they will all be helpful, and they will ALL CHARGE MORE MONEY THAN HIGHPOINT AND ENHANCED. You want good, right ? You want reliable, right ?

Creative Cow makes it SO EASY for everyone, but "everybody" justs wants the cheapest piece of crap they can find. Then your stuff drops dead, you lose all your media, you lose your clients, and say "why oh why did I do that". But don't worry Jim, there are plenty of other forums where people still can't understand why their Lacie drives are dropping dead all the time.

Bob Zelin




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Matt Geier
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 23, 2009 at 3:21:27 am

Bob means well here - :)

Take his advice!



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Arnie Schlissel
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 22, 2009 at 2:42:34 am

Atto or Areca. Both make SAS controllers with hardware RAID on board.

Arnie

Post production is not an afterthought!
http://www.arniepix.com/


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Bob Zelin
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 22, 2009 at 2:48:02 am

Arnie is correct. For example, the Areca is specifically the Areca 1221x or the 1680x. Here is the Areca website -

http://www.areca.com.tw

give them a call, and see what kind of support you get. Ask them about replacement policy, and emergency support. When you get done with this phone call, re-read my previous post, and follow my instructions.

Bob Zelin




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Jim Curtis
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 22, 2009 at 3:27:27 am

I think I get it, Bob. The sardonic treatment.

I'll admit I was a babe in the woods when I put this RAID together. I didn't know much about them, and I bought the whole works on the basis of an article by a man whom I still consider to be a trusted source.

So much for your mind reading powers, Carnac. Does it make a difference where I bought my Barracuda drives?

I didn't know what better HBA cards were available at the time. I have since researched RAIDs for days and days while trying to understand what it all means. And even after all that research, it appears that HPT has the sweetest management interface for the Mac. If I'm wrong, somebody please correct me.

I see that some of the competitors use EFI based management schemes, which seems kind of user-unfriendly contrasted to one that sends you condition emails, and lets you monitor your RAID 24/7 using a browser while booted into the OS you use to edit and stuff.

Maybe that's not important. I've worked on Avid RAIDs for years (which I know are mostly if not all ATTOs) and never had to do any management on them - that's what the engineers were for. So, maybe the management interface isn't important. That's part of the reason I'm exposing my ignorance here. I'd like to learn. And I don't even mind you mocking me here publicly, Bob. As long as I can learn something from it, that's quid pro quo.

I have to say something in defense of Enhance Technology: Their enclosure is cheap, but they have given me fast and friendly and fair customer service. They took my calls, called me back, double-teamed me with an engineer, when I had some questions. I'm impressed.

Areca and ATTO, then? Any reason to favor one over the other?



Jim Curtis
jamesphilipcurtis.com


MacPro (Harpertown-Early 2008) 2x4 3GHz; 32G RAM all the same brand; 10.5.8; QT 7.6.4; FCS3; Kona LHi in PCI slot 3; Primary display: 30" ACD; Secondary: HP LP2480zx DreamColor via HDMI to LHi and DVI to MacPro.


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Eric Hansen
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 22, 2009 at 8:00:55 pm

I get what you're saying about the software. i really like the ATTO cards, but their software interface is a bit behind. all the needed info is there, but as an example, i think CalDigit's interface software is better. i would still buy the ATTO R380 over the CalDigit though.

as far as feedback, thats a function of how well the card works with the enclosure. this is just a case of getting on the phone with the companies and seeing if one plays well with the other. if the support is there on both sides, then go for it. this is where all-in-one solutions from companies like Maxx Digital can be worth the money. they guarantee that everything works together and can support you when it doesnt. in the case of a separate card and enclosure, it make take a bit longer to troubleshoot a communication issue.

Barracuda drives. i'm not going to get into the Seagate thing here, but one thing that differentiates the all-in-ones from the "byo" is the firmware on the drives. companies like CalDigit, Apple and Promise will put their own firmware on the hard drives. this increases the feedback to the enclosure and the card. you can get more valuable data on the health of your drives. they also do extensive testing to make sure the drives working together wont have latency issues (Seagate) and will customize the firmware to increase certain aspects of performance.

don't underestimate the importance of support for these critical systems. i'm learning hard lessons on that front everyday.

as far as ATTO vs. Areca. i've been using ATTO for years since i started with SCSI and everything has been 100%. never used Areca before so i have no experience.

e


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Jim Curtis
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 23, 2009 at 2:20:25 am

I didn't know that about the firmware mods either. I can now certainly see the advantages of getting all your parts from a single vendor. I had no idea that a RAID was such a persnickety and delicate proposition.

I'm curious about "the Seagate thing." Are they crap, too? I bought a model with a five year warranty. I thought that was a good bet. I've heard countless times that all drive makers make a bad disk here and there. There was a big Seagate fiasco earlier this year or late last year, when they sold thousands of bad drives.

If you don't mind elaborating, what other lessons have you learned?

Jim Curtis
jamesphilipcurtis.com


MacPro (Harpertown-Early 2008) 2x4 3GHz; 32G RAM all the same brand; 10.5.8; QT 7.6.4; FCS3; Kona LHi in PCI slot 3; Primary display: 30" ACD; Secondary: HP LP2480zx DreamColor via HDMI to LHi and DVI to MacPro.


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Eric Hansen
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 23, 2009 at 2:42:35 am

other forum members can speak to the Seagate issue too. but yes, it stems from the "fiasco" you refer to. the big issue is that discs with their faulty firmware had troubles in RAID systems. the drives did not work well in RAIDs because they would have slightly different spin up times, latency issues, etc. things that are incredibly small and don't matter as single drives, but are a huge issue in RAID systems.

the problem is that this issue has cropped up in drives that don't have the firmware that Seagate deems faulty. so you can't exercise the warranty because Seagate won't recognize that you have an issue. others on this forum have now sworn off Seagate completely. we all understand hard drive manufacturing issues, but Seagate's customer service during the whole ordeal left a bad taste. i have one previous installation where we used Seagate drives and we are very slowly replacing them. problem is, no one makes a 1.5TB drive that isnt a reduced power "green" drive. its difficult to take an installation of 1.5TB drives and replace them with 1TB drives when the client and his staff have become accustomed to the size of the RAID volume. the drives are fine used as single drives though.

e


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Jim Curtis
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:07:27 pm

Uh-oh. At the time, the Barracudas were being touted here and there as one of the best around. I happen to have bought 8 of the "fiascoed" model of Seagate Barracudas, although my serials are outside of the range of serials published by Seagate as the problem drives. One has failed, and I got a free replacement. And it was swell how the HBA secured my data and started rebuilding the RAID the instant I installed the fresh drive.

Is there a way of determining if I'm having an issue with latency?

Other than the total system lockup I was having with my bad HPT HBA card, the unit has been behaving itself, and giving me satisfactory results with the AJA disk speed tests.

The main issue I'm having with my replacement card is that the date gets confused when I reboot, and I have to set the time manually if I want my programmed Verify and Health Inspector tasks to run as scheduled. That's not a deal killer in itself, but may be a portent.

I looked at the ATTO R380 on their site, and they do indeed say they offer a "User friendly GUI-based configuration utility," which I'd much prefer over an EFI-boot scheme. Areca has a Web browser RAID manager as well. This is all very encouraging.

I appreciate everybody's advice, including the stern lecture. :0)

Bob, no offense, but your tone reminds me of some of the nuns who terrorized me into excellence as a youngster. It's something I didn't appreciate at the time, but came to many years hence.

Thanks again, everybody.

Jim Curtis
jamesphilipcurtis.com


MacPro (Harpertown-Early 2008) 2x4 3GHz; 32G RAM all the same brand; 10.5.8; QT 7.6.4; FCS3; Kona LHi in PCI slot 3; Primary display: 30" ACD; Secondary: HP LP2480zx DreamColor via HDMI to LHi and DVI to MacPro.


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Matt Geier
Re: RAID HBA options
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:21:39 pm

Jim,

The best way to test your storage capabilities is to install all the drives, build a RAID, and then start throwing video formats at it...

test each format limitations (because they all require different response times...)

for example you may find that you can run 5 or 6 streams of DV25 off the RAID with those drives, but if you try to run 1 stream of Pro Res it could fail.

Play with it, get some ideas from others here like the one above. Tell us how far it goes. That's your limitation on the drives.

Keeping in mind all the hardware plays a role, and all the different options you could configure will play a role in the performance profile of the entire configuration.

Keep us posted.


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Bob Zelin
Re: RAID HBA options (now Seagate)
on Oct 23, 2009 at 11:24:28 pm

Jim writes -
Uh-oh. At the time, the Barracudas were being touted here and there as one of the best around. I happen to have bought 8 of the "fiascoed" model of Seagate Barracudas, although my serials are outside of the range of serials published by Seagate as the problem drives. One has failed, and I got a free replacement. And it was swell how the HBA secured my data and started rebuilding the RAID the instant I installed the fresh drive.

REPLY -
I used nothing but Seagate drives since day 1 at AVID. And then something happened. Today, Seagate drives suck. Do I use them still - sure I do. I can't get Seagate to take back years of drives, and give me replacement Hitachi drives. The "fiasco" started with SN05 firmware, which has now been "resolved" with SN06. I didnt' believe it at the beginning either (after 20+ years of Seagate), but they ALL failed, and all the "refurb" free replacements are dying at my clients as well. So I am going to hold off for a year, before I consider them again. When a drive fails, I get yelled at (what kind of crap did you tell us to buy ?) - so I can no longer risk it. But do I have tons of clients that still have Seagate drives - you bet I do.



Is there a way of determining if I'm having an issue with latency?
REPLY - if your drive array tests fast (AJA System Test, Blackmagic Speed Test) but mysteriously stops after playing out a 60 minute show, you have latency issues.


I looked at the ATTO R380 on their site, and they do indeed say they offer a "User friendly GUI-based configuration utility," which I'd much prefer over an EFI-boot scheme. Areca has a Web browser RAID manager as well. This is all very encouraging.

REPLY - none of it is friendly. The manuals suck for ATTO and Areca. You need to reply on TECH SUPPORT. Tech support for EVERYTHING is critical. This is why I love AJA and Small Tree so much - they have GREAT tech support. Once someone shows you the ATTO or Areca interface, it's not hard, but you won't figure it out by yourself.



Bob, no offense, but your tone reminds me of some of the nuns who terrorized me into excellence as a youngster. It's something I didn't appreciate at the time, but came to many years hence.

REPLY -
My real name is not Bob Zelin - it's Sister Mary Iwillkickyourassuntilitturnsblue. And don't forget it! I apologize for my tone, but I can't take my frustrations out on my clients, so I take it out on you. Sorry ! Without great support from a company, you will continued to be frustrated. Raid arrays, and shared storage solutions are not like plugging in a TV you buy at Wal Mart (and neither are professional broadcast monitors !).

Bob Zelin








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Jim Curtis
Re: RAID HBA options (now Seagate)
on Oct 25, 2009 at 5:46:12 pm

Sister Mary, I think I was in one of your Catechism classes. I still have sore spots on my head from your knuckles.

I do have a 58 minute Avid HDV doc on my RAID right now. That's just a couple of minutes shy of your 60 minute test.

I just ran the sequence again last night, for the first time since I installed the new HPT HBA. It played the whole show without stopping. I don't know if you're implying that 60 is a magic number or not. I could add another ten or sixty minutes of out-takes to my sequence, and run it again. I think I will. I'd welcome a Sister Mary Bloodletting class Stress Test before I start another big job.

Whatever you do, Bob, don't change. I've read quite a few of your posts now on the Cow, and I'm very entertained, as well as informed.

I'm an Avid Expat also. I co-opened a sales office in Dallas in '91, and after a year, I had to get out of doing demos and get back into editing. All the MCs we sold had ATTO cards and I don't recall any problems with them outside of SCSI termination and cabling mostly. But they weren't even RAIDs at that point, just Ultra or Fast & Wide to support AVR27. By the time 1:1 and RAIDs became standard, I was working for places that had other people maintain them.

I'm a relatively recent convert to FCP, and built my own system after hoping beyond hope that the latest Avid DNx line would be reasonably priced viz the competition from AJA, etc. Now that I've been cutting mostly on FCP for about a year, I'm thrilled with it, and find that FCP trounces MC on many features.

You're right about another thing: I'm cheap. But only in the sense that I would rather buy quality stuff, like my Lexus, because it generally works out to be the cheapest in the long run. And that factors in my time, which I do value. And I've lost a lot of it due to this HPT Waterloo, and learned a valuable lesson.

I've read here on the CC that AJA will cross ship their PCI cards in case of a defect. Does anybody know if any of your preferred HBA vendors will?

Jim Curtis
jamesphilipcurtis.com


MacPro (Harpertown-Early 2008) 2x4 3GHz; 32G RAM all the same brand; 10.5.8; QT 7.6.4; FCS3; Kona LHi in PCI slot 3; Primary display: 30" ACD; Secondary: HP LP2480zx DreamColor via HDMI to LHi and DVI to MacPro.


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Bob Zelin
Re: RAID HBA options (now Seagate)
on Oct 27, 2009 at 2:20:33 am

AJA is a very unusual company. They cross ship - most people will not do this. However, VALUE ADDED RESELLERS (like Maxx Digital) will cross ship - so if you buy an ATTO R380 from them, or an Areca 1680x, they will cross ship - however, ATTO and Areca directly will not do this.

There is no one like AJA.

I am cheap too (hey, I use Behringer mixers all the time, because they are so cheap), but once you get burned, and your clients say "we are NEVER going to hire you ever again" for recommending a bad product, you change your mind about being cheap very quickly.
I laugh when I see people swear to Lacie drives, after all the nightmares I have gone thru. And unfortunately recently with Seagate as well. AVID used Seagate exclusively thru the "glory days", and now, Seagate is a mere shadow of what they were. Perhaps they will wake up, and become a good company again.

Bob Zelin




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Matt Geier
Re: RAID HBA options (now Seagate)
on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:48:50 pm

Jim,

Your test --
I do have a 58 minute Avid HDV doc on my RAID right now. That's just a couple of minutes shy of your 60 minute test.



What Bob speaks of is true. It will however, also depend on what video formats you use specifically. It has to be understood that EACH of the video formats from Final Cut Pro, have each of their own requirements when it comes to what the latency should be to pass an I/O before the next I/O needs to occur of that chosen format. (If you do not pass 1 I/O before the next is completed, you'll likely drop a frame due to disk latency)

Although you can use a tool like AJA's test to measure what you're raid will read/write - I do know that it pop's out what is usually a full bandwidth number of the raid, not a latency number of the disks. However, with that said, there's a lot of way's to test latency on the disks, and yes, running a video stream can certainly test it.

It would be too general to say that if you have a raid and you try to edit video on the raid and you drop a frame that your raid is truly the problem....
With that said, assuming the RAID is in fact fast enough, and you still have latency issues (completely possible). Well, then that's when you start forking out monies and putting the combination of hardware together to give you what you are looking for in the overall profile to meet the performance (disks, raid controllers, back-planes, motherboards, network ports...etc etc..) (be prepared to go through many configurations before finding one that works for your "preferred latency" performance number) ---

It should also be noted that vendors do a fair amount of "testing" prior to you purchasing their solution. This is "simulated" testing. (It's simulating a controlled environment, not your actual "working" environment) -- In simulation applications, 'latency' refers to the time delay, normally measured in milliseconds (1/1,000 sec), between initial input and an output clearly discernible to the simulator trainee or simulator subject.

Believe it or not -- the I/O requirements vary between video formats .... So it would be a valid comment to say you could likely put 10 x DV25 Streams on a RAID, that will only support 2-3 Streams of Pro Res... I'm trying to make the point that if one RAID is able to to XYZ, the same RAID under another condition may only do X, or Y, or Z, not all three together.



I hope this helps make sense..





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Simon Blackledge
Re: RAID HBA options (now Seagate)
on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:53:48 am

Matts right.

All these raids that are super duper fast.

Grab the AJA test and run it on 1080 RGB at say a 4gig file. Wonderful.

change it to 720P 60.

run it again and check the spike on the graph. Ouch!

s



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