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Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there problem

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Time4aPint
Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there problem
on Oct 13, 2002 at 11:07:24 pm

Hello,

I'm getting conflicting information about IDE controllers and Matrox's RT.X100. Will this setup be OK?:

- Primary Master: Operating System drive
- Primary Slave: Application drive
- Secondary Master: DVD-RW drive
- Secondary Slave: CD-RW drive

Then, on a Promise SuperTrak SX6000 controller:

- 2 or 3 drives for A/V in RAID-0, and
- a dedicated export drive

Is this setup reasonable or is it over kill?

The controller is open for negotiation. I only mentioned it, because it has 6 IDE channels. I've read that some people have problems with controller cards. Mostly, becuause a lot of controller cards take away bandwidth from the PCI bus. The SX6000 controller has an i960RM RISC processor onboard and can accept up to 128MB of memory. I would presume that the card would not need to rely on the CPU and the PCI bus to preform most of its work. Is that a valid assumption?

I'm also considering an ASUS P4T533-C motherboard. Since I haven't purchased any items listed above (except the CD-RW) I'd be happy to hear comments, suggestions, and criticisms on my proposed setup. In the end, I want a stable and mostly hassle free system.

Thanks!


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Gary Bettan
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 14, 2002 at 4:06:32 pm

Everything looks OK. We've found that promise controllers can be PCI bandwidth hogs. They've got some tips for optimizing them:

Cause: PCI BUS Latentcy issue between FastTrak100 & Video Capture Card.

Solution: The main problem is that most video capture cards do not have a buffer, relying completely on the speed of the PCI bus. The problem with that is when you get HDDs that are transferring large quantities of data, they also need a large portion of the PCI bandwidth. This, of course, prohibits the video capture card from getting enough PCI bandwidth to stream video without flaw. There are only two things you can do that would affect this.

1) One is to adjust the PCI Utilization slider bar in the FastCheck utility. This will, however, slow the transfer rate of the FastTrak100.

2) The other will only work if you have an array consisting of two HDDs. If you reconfigure the HDDs into a master/slave setup, this will also reduce the PCI utilization of the card. Changing BLOCK SIZE (upon setup of array) can help in these situations. We are currently looking into issues between our card and the Pinnacle DV300/500 Series of Capture Cards.

Gary
Videoguys.com

The Electronic Mailbox 800 323-2325
We Are The Desk Top Video Editing & Production Experts

All DTV purchases come with our exclusive 30 day customer assurance program and FREE Tech Support


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Gary Bettan
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 14, 2002 at 4:10:01 pm

And another tip fro promise:

Cause: Dropped frames can be the result of Resources Issues such as Bus Master Contention Conflicts or IRQ sharing issues. Formatting an Array or Hard Disk with 3rd party utilities can also be an issue. The use of odd memory can be an issue for writes on the FastTrak Controllers. Not using Chipset drivers for System Chipsets like VIA´s can be issue. Example: VIA has a patch referred to as the 4 in 1 service pack. This service pack installed VIA latest Bus Master Drivers for the OS, an IRQ Routing Driver, ACPI registry entries (ACPI compliant Motherboards only), PCI Bridge Patch, and USB Supplement.

Solution: Benchmark the array/s to determine if the problem is a resource issue between the two controllers or a performance problem with the array on the FastTrak Controller. Go this Url for info on Benchmarking, http://support.promise.com/techsupport/benchmark/benchmarking_drives_FastTr...If you benchmark results are good, then the problem is Resource issue between the two controllers.

1.) Be sure that the FastTrak Controller and the Video Capture Card are not on the same IRQ. The should have their own IRQ if possible. Using a Motherboard that allows you to specify the IRQ for specific slots is recommended.
2.)Try slot swapping. Placing the cards in different slots can resolve some BUS Master contention conflicts.
3.)Obtain the latest BIOS from your motherboard manufacture.


If you Benchmarks are poor then the issue is a performance problem on the FastTrak controllers. Follow the suggestions below:
1.)Try configuring the Striped Array on the same channel in a Master Slave Configuration. Some latency issue appear from time to time and the Master/Slave Setup provides a workaround.
2.)Backup all data on the Array then try different block sizes by deleting the array and then recreating the array. Then change the block from the default (of 64kb) to 128kb or 256kb. In many cases especially with large arrays a large block size can improve sustained data rates.
3.) If needed install Chipset drivers for the System Chipset. Such as those needed for VIA´s Chipsets.
4.)If the array has been partitioned or formatted with 3rd party utilities, try partitioning and formatting the array with Fdisk and Format in DOS.
5.)Try reducing the PCI BUS usage of the FastTrak controller by installing the FastCheck Utility. Once the Utility is installed, launch it, then click on the ´´options´´ tab. Slide the PCI BUS Utilization slider towards ´´less´´.

Gary
Videoguys.com


The Electronic Mailbox 800 323-2325
We Are The Desk Top Video Editing & Production Experts

All DTV purchases come with our exclusive 30 day customer assurance program and FREE Tech Support


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Time4aPint
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 14, 2002 at 6:19:41 pm

Gary (videoguy),

Thanks for all of the great information!

I'm curious if the Promise SuperTrak SX6000 controller would be a better choice than the FastTrak100?

http://www.promise.com/product/subsys_detail_eng.asp?pid=86&fid=2

I originally thought about using the SuperTrak SX6000 because it has it's own processor and its own memory. I would presume that the concerns about hogging PCI bandwidth would be minimal with the SuperTrak SX6000 when compared to the FastTrak series. Is that true?

Thanks for your help!


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Gary Bettan
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 14, 2002 at 8:01:40 pm

Stick with the base fasttrack. the more advanced units actually use more resources. They are designed for servers with redundancy, not video raid 0 stripes.

Gary

The Electronic Mailbox 800 323-2325
We Are The Desk Top Video Editing & Production Experts

All DTV purchases come with our exclusive 30 day customer assurance program and FREE Tech Support


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Time4aPint
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 15, 2002 at 2:26:04 pm

Yikes! I thought the processor and the memory onboard the SX6000 would reduce the burden of the CPU and PCI bus, not add to it. That's discouraging, because it seems like cheaper controllers take away bandwidth because they rely solely on the resources of the motherboard, and more expensive controller steal bandwidth because they do more work.

Since I'll have a CD-RW and DVD-RW drive on my system, (in addition to my system drive and an export drive), I will have used all of my onboard IDE channels. Therefore, I have two options:

1) Use an IDE RAID controller for my A/V drive(s)

2) Use a SCSI RAID controller for my A/V drives(s)

I think I read that SCSI controllers do not steal the bandwidth away from the other peripherals the way that IDE controllers do. However, I can buy a couple of large IDE drives for the same price as a single (smaller) SCSI drive. So, I would have to add a lot of extra $$$ to my budget if I went with a SCSI setup.

<Groan> I didn't think this would be so hard.

Thanks for all of your help and advice!


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John Q
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 16, 2002 at 3:46:29 am

The other option is to do what Matrox recommends and use 7200 rpm IDE hard drives on the motherboard IDE ports. The built-in IDE ports don't use the PCI bus, so they don't fight with the X100 for PCI bus bandwidth.

Mine is configured as:
IDE1 MAS - 27 GB 7200 rpm ATA100 boot drive
IDE1 SLA - 27 GB 7200 rpm ATA100 export drive
IDE2 MAS - 75 GB 7200 rpm ATA100 video drive
IDE2 SLA - Pioneer A03

It works. No dropped frames. My video drive is mounted in a carrier with a dedicated fan. I can shut down and swap projects, and the dedicated cooling fan keeps the drive cool.

Their other recommendation is to use an external SCSI RAID, but it's not necessary.


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Time4aPint
Re: Promise Controller & RT.X100: R there pro
on Oct 16, 2002 at 10:08:44 pm

OK. I guess that's an option I should consdier. Although, that means that I'll have to dump my new CD-RW drive and get the largest drive available for A/V. Sad

Thanks for the input.


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