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System Specs for AE - HP Z420?

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Sam HodgettSystem Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:09:47 pm

I work for an IT company and can get some very good discounts on gear. I'm wondering how the following spec'd system will handle AE, and if I should make any adjustments to the system. Thanks in advance for your help!

HP Z420 Workstation - 3.6Ghz Quad-Core Xeon processor
-UPGRADE 4x4GB RAM
-UPGRADE 500GB 10K HDD (C drive)
-UPGRADE 2x2TB 7.2K HDD (2TB total RAID1 storage)
-UPGRADE EVGA GeForce GTX 570 2.5GB Graphics Card
-2 x HP 24" LED-IPS monitors

Thoughts? Suggestions? Is there a better (more ideal) hard drive configuration? A better/different memory and/or graphics solution?

Thanks for your help!


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Dave LaRondeRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:38:31 pm

Before anyone can give you a truly useful answer, we'll need to know how you intend to use the system. The types of files you'll create and their resolution. The additional software you'll run.

If you plan to make videos to burn to DVD for Grandma, that's one thing.
If you're going to create multi-screen HD videos for corporate extravaganzas, that's another.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Sam HodgettRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 9, 2012 at 8:52:07 pm

Okay, okay... here's some further insight into my work:

I plan doing the majority of my edits in 1080 resolution, at 24 and 30 FPS. I plan on shooting from a few different cameras, primarily Canon DSLRs and Panasonic AVCHD cameras. I plan on doing fairly comprehensive/complex motion graphics/animation to complement the videos (or exclusively motion graphics)

The types of videos I will focus on, for starters: events (primarily 2-3 camera weddings), corporate/promotional/web videos, display/presentation videos. I also plan on getting into music videos, multi-cam live events, short films, the like...

**BOTTOM LINE: This system needs to be able to edit 1-4 shots of full 1080p resolution, with multiple effects layers and motion graphics added on, including color grading... all in CS6.

I'm fairly set on the system, but my main concerns are my upgrades; are they what I should be shooting for? overkill? under-kill?

Thanks!


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Dave LaRondeRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:13:05 pm

Others will make additional suggestions, but here are a few to begin with:
  • You might think it's a lot, but 2 TB storage will get used up VERY quickly. I would go for a lot more. Think in terms of an effective 16 TB storage in the RAID configuration of your choice.
  • AE in particular likes lots of processors and memory. I'd double up on what you're planning for both.
  • I STRONGLY recommend further investigation of a graphics card. CS6 applications, both Premiere Pro and AE, can take advantage of Cuda, which can greatly enhance the performance of both. You'd want a card that would work well for both.
Stay tuned for more input from more people.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Sam HodgettRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:39:29 pm

Dave,
I appreciate your insights.

I agree that I will need more storage, but will turn to an external RAID configuration for larger storage purposes. The 2TB will be primarily for current/recent projects, and stock media, etc. More storage will come!

As far as the processor/memory is concerned, I have no problem adding more memory, but considering this is a server-mobo, There will be plenty of slots to upgrade in the future. I thought about starting with 16GB, and adding an additional 16GB in a year or so.

The GTX 570 is definitely cuda-approved, and is exactly why I'm getting it. I can't quite justify the cost of a Quadro card just yet, but I've heard a lot of good things from these Nvidia GTX cards.

Any other thoughts? Specifically with the storage? That's where the least of my knowledge/research is...


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Tom DaigonRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 10, 2012 at 12:54:03 am

Make sue your external storage is a raid array capable of read and write speed that support your work flow.

The GTX 570 is a card that has tested superior to more expensive ones in performance

http://www.ppbm.com

http://www.liftgammagain.com/forum/index.php?threads/cuda-performance-tests...

Faster processors will allow you to handle some of the more challenging codecs that are used on the kind of projects you have mentions. The faster , the better.

If you dont plan on doing Red or Epic projects you might consider a Sandy Bridge system (1 chip) which at high speeds is as good or better for most tasks as the Sandy Bridge EP (dual Xeon) systems, at HALF the price.

Tom Daigon
PrP / After Effects Editor
http://www.hdshotsandcuts.com
Mac Pro 3,1
8 core
10.7.3
Nvidia Quadro 4000
24 gigs ram
Maxx Digital / Areca 8tb. raid
Kona 3


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Walter SoykaRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:25:54 pm

[Sam Hodgett] " I plan on doing fairly comprehensive/complex motion graphics/animation to complement the videos (or exclusively motion graphics)"

After Effects could benefit from more hardware. Stepping up to a six-core with 24 GB of RAM will give a noticeable speed benefit.


[Sam Hodgett] "including color grading... all in CS6."

The only way to get SDI monitoring with SpeedGrade is, for the moment, an NVIDIA Quadro card with an HD-SDI output daughter card.


[Sam Hodgett] "Any other thoughts? Specifically with the storage? That's where the least of my knowledge/research is..."

You can peruse the Arrays and RAID Setup forum [link] for more, but in general, you probably want a four-spindle MiniSAS RAID enclosure and controller. Some good brands include CalDigit, Dulce, G-Tech, Maxx Digital, and Sonnet. Good controllers are from ATTO and Areca. I don't recommend Highpoint RAID controllers for video work.

Use RAID5; that's the best mix of performance and redundancy for a four-drive set. Remember that while RAID offers some redundancy, RAID is not backup.

For AE, I also recommend getting a small SSD (solid state drive) for the disk cache.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Sam HodgettRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 10, 2012 at 6:58:01 pm

Thank you Tom and Walter for your insights.

CPU: for CS6 (mainly PP and AE), which would provide better performance?
Intel® Xeon® E5-2620 (2.00 GHz, 15 MB cache, 6 cores) -OR-
Intel® Xeon® E5-1620 (3.60 GHz, 10 MB cache, 4 cores)

aka... more cores, or faster per-core speeds?

Walter, unfortunately I won't be able to afford the Quadro/SDI/monitor solution for actual color grading. I will do the best I can with IPS monitors and color calibration tools that fall within my budget.

Tom, I specifically picked the 570 for it's value. It has a decent amount of CUDA-cores, and to go from 1.25 to 2.5 in RAM was only about a $50 price increase; worth it IMHO.
Also, because of the steep discounts I can get through my employer, it's actually cheaper for me to go with a Xeon-based HP workstation than a DIY project; otherwise I would totally go the SBe i7 route!

Walter, I will definitely look in that forum for more storage-specific questions... but, from what you're saying, and what I've read, I'm thinking something along the lines of:
--1TB 10K boot/system drive
--60GB SSD cache disk (does size matter for this disk; if so, what size?)
--2x2TB 7.2K Media Storage
--EVENTUALLY... external 4x2TB RAID5 storage (6TB total) w/ either USB3 or eSATA connection.

I am just starting out and have a limited budget, so I have to get the best bang for my buck.

Thoughts?


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Walter SoykaRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 10, 2012 at 7:51:33 pm

[Sam Hodgett] "CPU: for CS6 (mainly PP and AE), which would provide better performance?
Intel® Xeon® E5-2620 (2.00 GHz, 15 MB cache, 6 cores) -OR-
Intel® Xeon® E5-1620 (3.60 GHz, 10 MB cache, 4 cores)
aka... more cores, or faster per-core speeds?"


Sorry, I don't know the answer.

You'll have to try to find some benchmark data (Brian Maffitt's "Total Benchmark" is commonly used to compare AE performance across systems), but I haven't seen any yet with systems on these processors.


[Sam Hodgett] "--1TB 10K boot/system drive
--60GB SSD cache disk (does size matter for this disk; if so, what size?)
--2x2TB 7.2K Media Storage"


Looks good. On the SSD drive, of course bigger is always better. The larger the drive, the longer the cache's history will be.


[Sam Hodgett] "EVENTUALLY... external 4x2TB RAID5 storage (6TB total) w/ either USB3 or eSATA connection."

I'd recommend MiniSAS with a dedicated PCIe controller card for the best performance, but if budget is the overriding factor, eSATA or USB3 might be reasonable. I have no experience with USB3 RAIDs, though.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Sam HodgettRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 10, 2012 at 9:15:20 pm

Regarding processors, simplified: Generally speaking, do AE and PP prefer multiple cores, or faster per-core speed?

I'm just wondering if the 6-core processor is worth the upgrade if those programs don't fully utilize multiple CPU cores... or do they?

Thanks again for your help!


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Walter SoykaRe: System Specs for AE - HP Z420?
by on Jul 11, 2012 at 1:06:53 am

[Sam Hodgett] "Regarding processors, simplified: Generally speaking, do AE and PP prefer multiple cores, or faster per-core speed? I'm just wondering if the 6-core processor is worth the upgrade if those programs don't fully utilize multiple CPU cores... or do they?"

Ae and Pr can both use multiple cores very well -- see Todd Kopriva's video Optimizing CPUs [link] for more.

I'd probably be inclined to get the 6-core, but I don't know for sure that extra two cores would make up for the slower clock speed.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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