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Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?

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Morten Ranmar
Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 17, 2010 at 10:09:00 am

Moving into a shared storage system for 2 FCP seats plus an encoding station, I need advice in chosing between different solution options being presented by the reseller.

Present solution is to share some data over network from a PC server, and shuffle Firewire disks, which is unbearably slow, and it seems like SnowLeopard hates to connect to Windows XP Server 2003.

My reseller has adviced me to ditch my aging 2TB X-Raid storage, which is currently directly connected to a standalone G5. But it breaks my heart to trash such a beautiful piece of hardware, so I cannot stop trying to find a solution where this can be used as storage before stepping up...

SOLUTION No1:
Sonnet Fusion RX1600 Fibre (which has 4 fibre ports) - connect directly to my stations with MetaSan, and retain a fourth port for a server connection. I guess this is the fastest solution, but also the most expensive since every workstation requires a $1200 fibre card and $995 for SAN software. I am afraid moving into SAN will challenge my limited IT skills...

SOLUTION No2:
Mac Server with Caldigit HDPro2 - expand with the newly announced SUPERSHARE PCIe sharing technology. But I guess this solution is almost as expensive as Fibre, also requiring SAN software? And then again this new PCIe technology might be a temporary thing in comparison to Fibre?

SOLUTION No3:
Mac Server with Caldigit HDPro2 (or the old X-Raid) and Smalltree 6 port card - link aggregate to a managed switch, to where the workstations connect. I guess this is the simplest, but also slowest solution? Would MetaLan Server do anything for speed in comparison to regular AFP connection?

We work a lot with large ProRes files and Targa Sequences from 3D rendering.


- No Parking Production -

Finalcut Studio3, MacPro, ioHD, X-Raid


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Bob Zelin
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 17, 2010 at 4:54:44 pm

you do not need a server. You have 2 clients. IF you are working with uncompressed HD you can use 10Gig ethernet. If you are working with compressed HD like ProRes422HQ or DVCProHD, you can use regular ethernet.

If you want to still use your "aging" G5, you can still use it with regular ethernet if you stick with FCP6, by putting in a ethernet card that supports jumbo frames. If you get the Sonnet solution, you will need
to get fibre cards for each mac, and a seat of MetaSAN or Command SoftFibre Jet for EACH FCP workstation.

Ethernet is the cheapest way to go, and it works just fine.

If you want more details just write back

Bob Zelin



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Bob Zelin
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 17, 2010 at 4:56:23 pm

If you can get a Fibre card that works with your Apple XServe RAID, I can show you how to do this with a simple MAC Pro as a server, where you do not have to get rid of your Xserve RAID. And you will just use ethernet.

Bob Zelin



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Matt Geier
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 17, 2010 at 7:43:09 pm

SOLUTION No3:
Mac Server with Caldigit HDPro2 (or the old X-Raid) and Smalltree 6 port card - link aggregate to a managed switch, to where the workstations connect. I guess this is the simplest, but also slowest solution? Would MetaLan Server do anything for speed in comparison to regular AFP connection?



Hi Morten,

I noticed you referred to a Small Tree card with a lot of hardware that Small Tree network adapters work just fine with.

The reason you'll find that this suggestion is the slowest, isn't because of the Small Tree network card;

(Noticed... I said the network will work okay.)

I don't know enough from your post about how you intend to use this configuration, or any configuration you choose for the long term.

I do know Ethernet will serve your Real Time editing needs just fine, however, using Apple's OS. I also know you need very FAST configurations from your Server, Workstation Clients, as well as your Storage.

I do know that you won't need MetaLAN if you are just using Final Cut to edit at the same time with on your Mac's.

But please expect to spend about 7-11K to make this work correctly for your basic Real Time editing needs using Mac OSX and Small Tree networking adapters.

Also please test your Storage all the way to ensure you're not going to drop frames when you begin Sharing it with the two Mac's and then start using both of them to edit with.

Please feel free to reply back to us all for further advice.

Bob Z is very good to give you advice on these details.

If you'd like to talk more about Small Tree Real Time editing you can certainly check out our Cow Forum: http://forums.creativecow.net/smalltree

Be careful to check your hardware you choose to run this when you begin Sharing it and using Final Cut from 2 Mac's at the same time

.... the Small Tree network adapter should be the last worry.

Good luck!


Regards,

Matt G
Small Tree
http://forums.creativecow.net/smalltree




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Bob Zelin
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 18, 2010 at 1:27:03 am

Hi Morton,
if you are willing to get a new MAC Pro to act as your "server", I can show you how to use your old XServe RAID as the drive array, along with the special ethernet equipment, to do exactly what you want -
and we can use regular ethernet if we are working with compressed HD. If you only have TWO FCP systems (and will have no more than that for now), I can show you how we can get two uncompressed HD systems to work with 10 Gig ethernet.

Forget your dealer - they just want you to buy the products that they carry.

Bob Zelin



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Morten Ranmar
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 18, 2010 at 7:05:07 am

Thanks for the replies.A few new questions did arise:

1) Is there no benefit in buying an XServe instead of a MacPro as server apart from 2 x16PCIe slots?
2) Will using MetaLan on an ethernet setup NOT give me any speed benefits in regards to AFP?
3) Do you honestly believe that the XRaid would be a fast enough storage?

Just to clarify a little: apart from editing on the 2 MacPros with compressed HD, I also do a lot of large AfterEffects projects, and often at up to 4K resolutions. Also need to connect a third workstation for AE rendering and compression. The 2 suites are located within 15 meters from server room.

I have had a look over at the SmallTree forum, in regards to using a 10GbE solution. Is there a 4 port 10Gb ethernet card available, so I could connect clients with 10GbE card directly through cat6e? Or is it possible to put two of the 2 port cards in one server?


- No Parking Production -

Finalcut Studio3, MacPro, ioHD, X-Raid


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Bob Zelin
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 18, 2010 at 6:04:53 pm

1) Is there no benefit in buying an XServe instead of a MacPro as server apart from 2 x16PCIe slots?

There are two x16 slots in a regular MAC Pro. You move the graphics card into the x4 slot.
It works fine.

2) Will using MetaLan on an ethernet setup NOT give me any speed benefits in regards to AFP?

MetaLAN will not give you any speed benefits in regards to AFP.

3) Do you honestly believe that the XRaid would be a fast enough storage?

REPLY - an XServe RAID (not an XRAID which is made by Active Storage) will do about 220Mb/sec, which is enough for compressed HD like ProRes422HQ for multiple stations. It is not fast enough for
2K DPX files which require 292Mb/sec.



Just to clarify a little: apart from editing on the 2 MacPros with compressed HD, I also do a lot of large AfterEffects projects, and often at up to 4K resolutions. Also need to connect a third workstation for AE rendering and compression. The 2 suites are located within 15 meters from server room.

Reply - NO, 4K requires an enormous bandwidth, unless you transcode to ProRes. Compresssed HD will work fine, but not uncompressed HD or 2K or 4K - not with the XServe RAID.
You said you wanted TWO stations - now you want THREE stations. With 10 Gig, unless you are willing to have a more elaborate drive configuration (two RAID arrays stripped RAID 50), todays' drives will not let you have THREE stations doing uncompressed or 2K.



I have had a look over at the SmallTree forum, in regards to using a 10GbE solution. Is there a 4 port 10Gb ethernet card available, so I could connect clients with 10GbE card directly through cat6e? Or is it possible to put two of the 2 port cards in one server?

REPLY - yes, there is a 4 port card, but todays drive arrays are not fast enough - you have to rig something up, which I can explain to you, if you contact me directly. 10Gig does not connect via CAT6.

The moral here is that you are not going to do this by yourself. There are many wonderful companies that do shared storage solutions. If you want to contact me, contact the folks at Maxx Digital, and we can do something with the Small Tree Hardware. Or contact Small Tree. Or contact one of the other SAN companies that you see on these forums, like JMR, Sonnet, Studio Network Solutions, Active Storage, or countless others. There are lots of ways to do this, but one way to absolutely FAIL is to do this by yourself without professional assistance.

Creative Cow is the best resource to find who can help you.

Bob Zelin




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Morten Ranmar
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 19, 2010 at 8:30:42 pm

Dear Bob

thank you very much for all your input. You are absolutely right in advising me not to do the installation by myself. Since I am based in Denmark, I would prefer to use my regular supplier who has experience with video storage solutions for TV stations and smaller production companies, and for example also are dealers of SmallTrees products.

But 10GbE is something new so it is always great to get cutting edge advice.

My idea would be to connect the two editing stations directly to the server via 10GbE, use a third port for the compression station, and possibly a fourth port for linking to a 1GigE switch. Can this be done?

I know that the diak array will be a limiting factor, but I will not be doing AfterEffects composting at the same time as editing. So worst case I have 2 AfterEffects jobs working simultaneously, and in that case I would not expect any real time performance.

Regarding to a 4 port 10GbE card - I cannot seem to find any 4 port server cards on SmallTrees website? What card were you going to suggest?

- No Parking Production -

Finalcut Studio3, MacPro, ioHD, X-Raid


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Caspian Brand
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 19, 2010 at 10:21:18 pm

If you want to use storage capable of presenting iSCSI Targets, such as Studio Network Solutions' EVO, with the multi-pathing update to our globalSAN iSCSI Initiator for Mac we are able to capture and playback 1 stream of 10bit Uncompressed HD over the two built in GbE ports on a MacPro.

Caspian Brand
Product Specialist
Studio Network Solutions


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Bob Zelin
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 20, 2010 at 1:26:17 am

Small Tree has the 4 port 10Gig cards right now, but it's a fantasy to think that you will have 4 systems running at these bandwidths today with the existing drive arrays that are available. Certainly, you can contact Small Tree - they will sell you the cards (you need a 4 port 10 Gig card in your server, as well as 10 Gig cards in each clients, and SPF+ transceivers, and fibre cable) but this will not give you the performance you desire without a drive array that can handle this. Unless you want to spend a lot of money now, you will have to WAIT for the 6 Gig drive products to be released later this year. Owning a 4 port 10 Gig Small tree card will do nothing for you.

Bob Zelin




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Matt Geier
Re: Fibre, PCIe or Gigabit ethernet...?
on Apr 20, 2010 at 8:00:45 pm

Small Tree offers a SIX Port 10Gb Card today ....

Small Tree will be introducing a 4 Port version soon!




Matt G.


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