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New Mac Pro - Performance less than expected

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Kevin Hill
New Mac Pro - Performance less than expected
on Nov 21, 2010 at 3:36:24 am

After editing with an iMac for a year, we finally purchased a 2010 Mac Pro (One 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor). I immediately added the following upgrades:

Raid 0 striped array with 3 7200 rpm 1 TB Western Digital hard drives (Used for media and rendering)
60 GB solid state drive (Used for OS, Apps, FCP project files).
8 GB ram.

These are not extreme upgrades, but I'd hoped I would get a little more out of the system than I am.
Do you think there might be some obvious limiting factors that I'm overlooking? All our media is AVCHD converted to Prores 422. The main effects that we use are color correction, Neat Video's denoising plugin, and Smoothcam.


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Todd Gillespie
Re: New Mac Pro - Performance less than expected
on Nov 21, 2010 at 6:25:26 am

Hi Kevin,

Having edited on both iMacs and MacPro's, I can understand you're confusion. iMacs are extremely fast for a bulk of editing work. However the point where the 'rubber meets the road' for faster performance with MacPro's is the media drives.

You added 3 internal drives (you didn't mention a internal SATA card-which you'd need to notice better performance) but you really need a SCSI, SAS, ESata, SATA, or Fibre drives connected with a PCI card to enjoy a speed boast. Internal drives, RAID or not, still use the bandwidth from the motherboard and there's only so fast a Mac can push and pull the data across. I also have 3 internal drives as well as a SAS external, and believe me, there is no comparison in the speed boast and really time performance.

Also, I know somebody who works for a Major HD manufacture, and they've spent A LOT of time testing Solid State drives, and they couldn't get a speed boast of more than 10 seconds. So, Solid State is good, but hard to see a big speed improvement. Also, more RAM. With all the apps in FCS, you can never have too much RAM, I bump up my and immediately noticed an improvement in FCP.


Todd at UCSB
Television Production

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Kevin Hill
Re: New Mac Pro - Performance less than expected
on Nov 21, 2010 at 8:38:36 am

Hi Todd,

Thanks for your reply - I'd never even heard of those drives before! I think I'll have to make do with these for now, but you've given me ideas for the future.

I just did some comparisons between the imac and the mac pro.. They're performing the same for rendering. Both seem to have low read / write speeds (about 8 to 10 MBs per second according to activity monitor) when rendering. The CPU is at 35% and I've got 5 GBs of unused RAM. Does that sound strange? I've tried various combinations, e.g. writing to the solid state drive, reading media from the raid array, writing and reading to the raid array, etc. No performance changes. :(

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Michael Kammes
Re: New Mac Pro - Performance less than expected
on Nov 21, 2010 at 4:26:06 pm

Hey Gang-

A few things to consider:

FCP is still 32bit. Thus, throwing more RAM at it won't help much, if the application has already hit it's "saturation" point (4GB).

A 3 drive array (internal) on a Mac Pro at RAID 0 should give you about 150MB/s - by far enough for ProRes editing.

This will, however, not be suitable for uncompressed or uber high end codecs.

Codecs, like 32 bit apps - can also be written in 32bit. This means that encoding / decoding with them will also not full utilize the horespower of a 64bit OS. In addition, if the codec is older, or not written well, it may not ave the ability to take advantage of all of the CPU you've got. This is where virtual clustering or encode farms come into play.

AJA has a free utility called "System Test" which will test the Read / Write ability of your drives. It's a good tool to test with.


.: michael kammes mpse
.: senior applications editor . post workflow consultant
.: audio specialist . act fcp . acsr
.: michael A T

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