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Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?

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Peter Vandall
Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 13, 2014 at 9:39:46 pm
Last Edited By Peter Vandall on Apr 13, 2014 at 9:40:14 pm

Hi all,

I am trying to learn more about the thunderbolt workflow and would love some help. I just upgraded to FCP X and like it, but the program gets excruciatingly slow when working on projects.

First off, I am using a 2.6 core i7 mac mini with a 1TB fusion drive and 16 gigs of ram. I am working on a project now with a gtech 1TB drive raid 0 connected via firewire 800.

In the past, this set up worked fine with final cut 7. performance cutting together shortform projects with pro res 422 was totally fine. I never had any complaints.

Now that I switched to X, the same hard drive I am using with that program is horrible. I am trying to troubleshoot and isolate what the problem is. I have already tried turning on and off waveforms, turning off background rendering. The only thing I haven't tried is using proxy media, but I never had to cut with low res footage in the past, and I would like to avoid that now.

So I decided to go thunderbolt, copy my project over to a thunderbolt drive, and see if there is a difference in speed and performance of x, connected with thunderbolt.

The project is currently copying over to a lacie rugged thunderbolt 1TB drive.

Before I made the copy, I dragged a folder of 5 gigs of material from the thunderbolt drive to my desktop. it took about 55 seconds.

I then dragged that same media from my firewire 800 drive to my desktop and it took slightly longer at 1 minute.

All in all, I wasn't impressed with the transfer speed at all. I have read that it is blazingly fast, but my test showed me that it really isn't that much different than FW 800.

I have done some research and read that in order to take full advantage of thunderbolt, it isn't just the IO. It is also the speed of the drive. I have read that the real speed happens when you use a raided system via thunderbolt. Is this true?

And if it is, I am wondering if a lacie raid 0 thunderbolt drive is a gimmick, because if it isn't raided, it really isn't much faster than 800, and not worth the extra cost. Am I right or wrong on this?

I would love your thoughts. I always appreciate greatly the brilliant minds on CC here. All the best,

Pete V



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Eric Hansen
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 14, 2014 at 12:49:17 pm

That is true. You need multiple drives to see the speeds that TB is capable of. Lacie's 2 drive RAID 0 should perform about twice as fast as a single drive. Lacie doesn't help things by writing "10Gb/s*" on their packaging for the Rugged, when really it's closer to 100-150MB/s.

I've never used FCPX, so I can't help you there. But I will say I almost never cut using a single drive as the source. I always use a RAID. Even when clients send me a small drive (like the Rugged), the first thing I do is copy them to my 4 drive RAID-5. The problem isn't the transfer speed, in which FW800 is fine for ProRes. If the clips in your edit are spread all over your drive, or if you drive is fragmented, it will spend a lot of time searching and piecing together the clips. This happens a LOT faster on a RAID. So it's the single drive, not the connection, that could be your limiting factor.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Peter Vandall
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 14, 2014 at 12:52:59 pm

Thanks Eric for this info. What RAID setup do you have and would you recommend or is there something better out there for 2014?

Appreciate this greatly.

Pete



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Eric Hansen
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 14, 2014 at 1:01:03 pm

You should have at least RAID-5 protection, which means one drive can fail and you'll still have your media. I would suggest a 4 drive system such as Maxx Digital's ThunderRAID Mini, and a spare hard drive to swap if one drive fails:

http://www.maxxdigital.com/thunderraid-mini.html

As far as anything better in 2014, all manufacturers use similar drives, controllers and enclosures. Anything new in 2014 is just going to be a reshuffling of those things with a prettier enclosure. I lean toward companies that use the most robust parts and have the easiest return/replacement policies.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Peter Vandall
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:17:40 pm

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the link. I have a Mac mini with one thunderbolt port and an HDMI port. I am currently using those ports to connect two dell displays. If I do the max digital with thunddrbolt, is there a way to still connect those displays and still figure out a way to connect the raid system via thunderbolt?

If not would an esata raid make more sense? Would i need some sort of dock pass through?



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Eric Hansen
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:24:58 pm

I have not tested that exact setup, but yes it should work as the ThunderRAID Mini allows passthrough on Thunderbolt. Connect one TB port to the Mac Mini and the other TB port to your monitor.

I would call Maxx, ask for Matt Stone, and he can answer your questions. Immediate phone support is another reason why I choose companies like Maxx over larger corporations like Lacie.

e

Eric Hansen
Production Workflow Designer / Consultant / Colorist / DIT
http://www.erichansen.tv


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Peter Vandall
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 14, 2014 at 9:14:06 pm

Thanks Eric very helpful. Have a good one.



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Fabrizio D'Agnano
Re: Thunderbolt transfer speeds not faster than firewire 800?
on Apr 26, 2014 at 8:38:47 pm

As Eric told you, the single drive data rate is a bottleneck for sure. If you go for a single drive there's no big difference between a FW800 (about 85 Mb/s) and a USB3, e-sata or Thunderbolt, as they can at best allow the single drive to express its max speed, usually something around 100/120 Mb/s. However, if you use the external drive for media, unless you're editing very heavy files, its performance should not affect FCPX speed that much. I often edit first cuts on the field on a FW800 external drive with a MBP, and there's no problem at all with native AVCHD. I can hardy see a difference with my fast RAID's, as far as it's plain cuts and transitions. Of course things can get worse if you edit uncompressed HD files, that may tax less the processor but require a high data transfer speed. I don't know the Mac Mini, but could it be the slugginess is not storage related?

Fabrizio D'Agnano
Rome, Italy
early 2008 MacPro, BM Intensity Pro, early 2008 iMac, 2011 MacBook Pro, FCP7, FCPX, OSX 10.8.3


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