4K Editing Performance in Vegas: Raid 0 vs SSD
Hey guys I've been shooting music videos with a 5d Mark 3 and eventually plan to start working with 4k footage soon. (for instance RED or one of these 4k DSLRs) I'm researching upgrading my computer to prepare for the transition. Currently I edit music videos in Sony Vegas 12 and use a separate 256 GB Sandisk SSD as the drive to store my project media and work in Vegas with. I have been doing some research and read that I should use a RAID 0 array with multiple disks to prepare to work with larger 4k files. I'm aware of the other RAID configs but at this point, speed is my priority so I am focusing on RAID 0. I will backup the media files on my raid drives on other HDDs in case of failures.
I have been doing research online and have concluded that what I need to pay attention to in regards to improved speed and performance (editing large files smoothly in Vegas) is the access time or read time of whatever config I choose. Currently I am contemplating trying out a RAID 0 with 2 (maybe even 3), 1TB HDDs and I want to know if this will improve the access/read time for me to edit in Vegas more smoothly as compared to my current configuration with 1 SSD. I have found different posts on line that contradict each other. Some websites say you absolutely need RAID and at least 3 disks to work with 4K. However some articles have benchmarks showing that RAID 0 improves data transfer rates but does not improve access time. If access time is not improved, am I correct in thinking that RAID is useless for performance in active editing?
1. Does anyone have experience with this or able to give me a more definite answer?
2. Let's say hypothetically I get the RAID 0 config described above, what is a good tool to use to measure the access time of my SSD vs my RAID 0 setup to evaluate the improvement with numbers?
For other tech specs I'm using an i7 quad core processor with 24 gigs of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 550 ti graphics card. I eventually contemplate upgrading to a 6 core processor.
If you're looking to upgrade your current system's CPU, and will be shooting 4k, you should be upgrading to a Xeon processor (or two). You'll also need to swap out the motherboard as well.
In regards to your hard drive question: don't look anywhere else except moving to RAID 0 with 4 of the fastest SSD drives you can afford (Samsung 840 Pro or equivalent). You might want to look at vendors that provide dedicated RAID systems, like G Drive for example.
So RAID 0 does indeed improve access time? I was looking at G RAID but I couldn't find any SSD configurations. Are there any other dedicated RAID systems I could research as well?
Does anyone else have input on this or is a 4 ssd RAID 0 the absolute way to go?
RAID 0 does not improve access times, but the access times are better when comparing a SATAIII SSD to a conventional hard drive. Here is an article that should help you:
I guess I am confused. Am I correct in thinking that access time is the indicator to how smoothly a large file will work/play inside of an editor? What is the SSD RAID going to improve in editing if it is not access time? RAID 0 seems to only affect transfer rates. How is that going to help me with editing? Am I missing something here?
Not only access time matters. If you need to access an amount of data, the access time of reading the next amount of data will be the actual access times + the time needed to read all that data in the first place.
But, you should download some 4k files and play with them in current configuration. Vegas lets you choose the quality of the preview. Lower it a little bit and maybe you will be satisfied.
[Roger Alexander] "I guess I am confused. Am I correct in thinking that access time is the indicator to how smoothly a large file will work/play inside of an editor?
"Access time" is kind of a nebulous thing. In order to get a bit of a file loaded, you have to get your drive to where that file is on the disc (seek time) and then load it into your NLE (transfer speed). RAID will improve your transfer speed. It will actually make your seek time worse -- when seeking for any RAID sector, it's the slowest of N drives for that seek that determines the aggregate seek time. Of course, within a file, you're doing far fewer seeks -- each track is N times larger.
SSD improves things in general, both in seek time and transfer speed. There's no physical seeking, so moving to a new block is always the same speed, and dramatically faster than an electromagnetic drive.
But an SSD RAID isn't necessarily cheap, and isn't necessarily what you need -- it depends on what you're working with. I have a single SSD for my boot drive and a four-drive RAID10 for my data drive... so I get a factor-of-four (ish) boost on transfers, making the RAID read/write at about half the speed of the SSD, as benchmarked (forget which tool I used -- I did some measurements when the system was new last summer).
But how much do you really need? I get about 250MB/s from the RAID and about 500MB/s from the SSD. My typical video files range from 25Mb/s HMC-40 AVC files to 90Mb/s Canon 6D AVC-Intra files. I might get a bit larger using intermediate file (usually MXF MPEG-2), more like 100Mb/s, which is about what I had for Cineform back when I used it. So that RAID could handle 20 of these files in realtime without seeking, probably more like 10 in real life/realtime. If I used every HD-compatible I have, I could have six streams at once. Realistically, a drive 10x faster would not do much for me, far as video access goes.
It's a bit different for animation... which I do occasionally. I might have 20-40 different video files, all uncompressed (because "Alpha Channel"). But I'm only doing a 2-5 minute animation...so even with uncompressed file, it's not a crazy amount of storage. If I did enough of this, I might think about an SSD RAID, that would have a noticeable improvement on editing speed, because there's simply no way my existing RAID can load up a whole animation in realtime. On the other hand, having enough RAM (64GB) also solves that problem, since a whole project may actually fit in RAM.
[Roger Alexander] "
What is the SSD RAID going to improve in editing if it is not access time? RAID 0 seems to only affect transfer rates. How is that going to help me with editing? Am I missing something here?"
If seek + access adds up to enough time, you notice the delay when editing. If it doesn't, you don't.
Looking at the 4K cameras I'm currently drooling over, er, thinking I could actually afford, I see AVC at between 60Mb/s and 100Mb/s... really nothing I'm not already doing. On the other hand, my CPU is going to need 4x the time to decode 4K AVC versus HD AVC... quite a bit more, yet, if you're comparing MXF MPEG-2 or AVC-Intra files.
In short, with limited funds, I personally make the choice to spend more on the CPU (six core i7-3930K) rather than the RAID. And I also wanted the reliability of RAID10 vs. RAID0. Now, you could argue that SSD is more reliable than HDD... but that's actually not the case. Rather, SSD and HDD have different aging mechanisms. HDDs basically last a fixed amount of time, with little aging due to use. SSDs are more likely to last for a certain amount of use, no matter how long that takes (within some limits -- electronic components also fail in a secondary mode, due to thermal stress, electromigration, etc. unless they're kept very cool).
There's also the question of how you're connecting your SSD RAID. Given that a single SSD can use up most of a SATA 6GB/s link, you're not going to "about double" performance with 2+ drives on an eSATA box. In-the-box "soft" RAID0 may actually go faster.... in fact, Tom's Hardware just did an article on exactly this option: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-raid-benchmark,3485.html.
Put it on PCIe rather than SATA, faster still. But that can get crazy, and expensive. So figure out what you need first.
Dave! Thank you for taking the time to answer! It's going to take me some time to process all this and make a decision, but thank you!