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Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?

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Ambarish Manepalli
Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?
on Dec 6, 2010 at 1:26:21 pm

Hello everyone,

FIrst off, this is my first post so bear with me. I apologize if I didn’t post into the right category.

It’s a pretty simple question, at the end but it merits an explanation.

I just got a decent E-sata/usb 2.0 toaster (off brand, I’m in Paris so…) for backups and archiving projects.
I was running some preliminary tests and I find it fantastically fast and always on for video editing HD and SD footage in FCP 7 (I have Studio 3) . I didn’t even have a problem with putting the computer to sleep (with the project running) and coming back, waking it up and getting back to the open project.

I’ve found that I can do 3 layers of Prores 422 with no problem (opacity effects) . Also I can do 2 layers of Prores444 (with the alpha channel turned off) same deal.
With Firewire 800 I could barely handle 2 layers of 422 and 1 layer of Prores444
-As a caveat these were just tests. I do most of my editing in Prores proxy-Prores 422 flavors. I’m currently on one project that has prores 444 from a 16mm film transfer.
I’m running a Macbook Pro early 2009 with 2.53, 4gb Ram and an OWC E-sata card (single port) through the expresscard slot.

Before this I used a combination of Raid O (G-raid) and regular FW800 external drives. They worked fine but I’m thinking of switching over to the toasters.
I’m interested in getting a VoyagerQ (from Otherworldcomputing i.e. when I get back to the States.

So the Question!
Has anyone had experience with this and would like to share caveats, tips and advice, I’d be interested to hear.

Thanks Much,

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Chris Gordon
Re: Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?
on Dec 7, 2010 at 2:55:58 am

What exactly do you mean by "toaster"? I'm familiar with that as slang for NetApp storage arrays, but I know that's what you mean. I'm guessing for the "VoyageQ" you're referring to adapters that allow you to plug a bare drive in.

As for uses, these things are great for archiving (copy data to the disk, put the disk on the shelf in a decent case, periodically spin up the disk and refresh the data). As far as using this for editing, you're really limited to the performance of the disk you put in there (bandwidth, IOPS, etc). What was the data rate of the files you were testing with? I'm going to guess that any HD files with any appreciable data rate are going to be far more than any single drive is going to service, and you'll need multiple drive in some kind of stripe set.

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Ambarish Manepalli
Re: Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?
on Dec 7, 2010 at 7:58:33 am

Thanks for the reply,

I do mean an adapter that allows you to put a bare drive in. The drive stays in basically by gravity, and the adapter has an e-sata connection.

With a 7200rpm 64mb cache 1tb Western Digital Caviar Green drive in a toaster (adapter) I've been getting sustained peaks of 60mbps with the ability to play three streams easily, with no dropped frames. And that's through the toaster (adapter) i.e. no raid striping.
As far as thoroughput I've found that I've been able to do 3-4 streams of prores 422 and up to 3 of prores 4444 both at full HD 24p whereas even with firewire 800 I haven't had the same performance.

My point of comparison is that I have a Graid 1 Tb (I think graid 2 from late 2008), striped in Raid 0 coming through a firewire 800, and that drive has been more than fast enough for my editing needs in xdcam, prores, and mastering on prores hq. I get a sustained thoroughput of about 45MB/s with occasional peaks of 55 when playing 2 streams, but then I drop frames.
I can do perhaps 2 streams of 422 and 1 stream of 4444

So, I guess, I do understand it's better to go raid but for those on a budget is this a viable solution, or am I asking for trouble?

Thanks, for any advice or anecdotes,

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David Roth Weiss
Re: Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?
on Dec 7, 2010 at 5:14:04 pm

[Ambarish Manepalli] " is this a viable solution, or am I asking for trouble?"

As you've discovered, eSATA is much faster than FW800. And, it makes no difference how or what you plug the drive into to read data off of it, the controller and how it connects to your procs is the main determining factor of any single SATA drive.

And, yes you are asking for trouble if you continue to use the drive over long periods without proper cooling. However, given the extraordinary ventilation it's getting without being enclosed you can probably get by for a very good while, as today's SATA drives are very robust.

David Roth Weiss
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles


A forum host of Creative COW's Business & Marketing and Apple Final Cut Pro forums. Formerly host of the Apple Final Cut Basics, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.

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Chris Gordon
Re: Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?
on Dec 8, 2010 at 2:16:27 am

The important thing, where the rubber meets the road, is if you have the IO performance to do the work you want.

In this specific case, like David said, you're seeing that eSATA (a 3 Gbps connection with better connections inside the machine) is much faster than Firewire (800 Mbps). You also have a much newer, faster disk in the toaster than I'm guessing are in your FW enclosure. My 2008 MacPro came with a WD blue 7200 RPM disk (WD3200AAJS-41VWA1) as the system disk and I recently (in 2010) added a 1TB 7200 WD Black disk (WD1001FALS-00E8B0). AJA disk test tool shows the older Blue disk getting around 60 MB/sec and the newer Black disk doing about 100 MB/sec.

Now why should you be cautious with this:
1. That disk is physically exposed to the world, including the PCB with the controller chips and such on it. Don't feel bad when something physically damages it. In the northern hemisphere, winter is upon us with heaters running, drying out the air and everyone getting static shocks -- not so nice for the electronics. I'd at least get a decent eSATA enclosure to protect that disk.
2. You have no redundancy with this single drive solution. If (ok, WHEN) that disk has a problem, you're starting over from your most recent backup (you are backing things up, right?). With RAID0, 5, 6 or 10 you get redundancy to survive a disk failure and keep working (this doesn't replace backups, though). Typically time is money.
3. Obviously you're fine with that single disk and the data rate of the files you currently have. I was assuming that at some point you might have files with higher data rate video in them and that rate would be more than a single disk will do.
4. Don't forget rendering your work at some point. That means you need to read all of those data streams and then write out the result. With one disk, you'll start to really thrash it doing both the high volumes of reads and writes. You'll eventually want to spread that work out across more spindles to improve your render times.
5. As disks fill up, their performance goes down. When you fill that drive to 75%, don't expect it to perform as well as it does at 10% full.

Again, if this works for you now then go with it -- we all would prefer to have money in our pockets instead of someone else's -- just understand your limitations.

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Ambarish Manepalli
Re: Editing on a SATA drive in an e-sata toaster for a mac ?
on Dec 8, 2010 at 2:55:40 pm

Thank you Chris and Dave for the extremely thorough responses!

I truly appreciate it. Especially the advice about winter, it's snowing in Paris and my heater is definitely cranked up.

I think I'll keep the toaster with that poor, naked, bare drive as a backup and maybe some light touchups of archive projects.

I definitely back up regularly and I have my projects backed up over various drives.
I also only edit on drives that have at least 1/3 free.

I'm looking into investing in a Weibetech e-sata/Firewire enclosure as my main project drive, that way I can keep replacing with new sata drives as the projects keep coming.

I'll hold onto my toaster to make backups and archive projects.

Again, thanks much,

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