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How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?

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Will Heine
How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 6, 2015 at 10:14:04 pm

I am a motion graphics editor and would like to get better speed from my late 2012 iMac with a 3 TB Fusion Drive.

I have three (hopefully quick) questions for any of you experts out there:

1. Does the Fusion drive in this iMac always run the iOS and apps on the ssd part of the fusion drive?
2. If not, is there a way to make that happen?
3. If I add an External Thunderbolt 512GB SSD Drive, will I get a significant boost in performance by keeping the files (video and images) on the SSD, or would After Effects need to reside on the new SSD as well?

I would really appreciate any help in the best way to go about this.

Thank you!

Will H.


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Walter Soyka
Re: How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 8, 2015 at 10:48:17 am

[Will Heine] "1. Does the Fusion drive in this iMac always run the iOS and apps on the ssd part of the fusion drive? "

Technically no, but generally, yes. It tries to optimize storage so that the most-accessed items are stored on the SSD.



[Will Heine] "2. If not, is there a way to make that happen?"

You can split a Fusion drive into two separate volumes, one on the SSD and one on the mechanical HDD:

http://www.macworld.com/article/2015664/how-to-split-up-a-fusion-drive.html



[Will Heine] "3. If I add an External Thunderbolt 512GB SSD Drive, will I get a significant boost in performance by keeping the files (video and images) on the SSD, or would After Effects need to reside on the new SSD as well?"

It'd be good to keep the cache on a fast drive like this. The application need not be installed on an SSD to capture this performance gain.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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Will Heine
Re: How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 8, 2015 at 9:50:14 pm

Thank you, Walter, for taking the time to provide answers to all three of my questions.

I have one follow up question: If I set the cache in After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop to the new external SSD, will the media files themselves, stored on the (unsplit) Fusion Drive, be the best case scenario, or should the video/photo files be on a second external SSD for optimum performance?

Thank you, again.

Will H.


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Spencer Tweed
Re: How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 8, 2015 at 11:12:15 pm

Hey man, I run a cache SSD on my Windows machine and I can tell you what I've learned from that. I don't know what to say about running the app off the SSD because that doesn't make sense to me, but in a Mac world it might help you out. Where I notice a speed increase is in three areas. Firstly I switched my dynamic disk cache and media cache (I guess those are now unified in CC - I'm on CS6) over to the SSD. That's not only way faster, it allowed me to allocate more space to the cache. Secondly when I need to do some really quick work and am in a crunch I copy all footage files off of the network at our studio onto the SSD and it goes WAY faster. Not just ram previews and renders, but the whole After Effects app speeds up - even saving and loading. Lastly if you render uncompressed like I do, it is theoretically a bit faster to render to the SSD because you are trying to write out gigs of data for some longer comps. I haven't tested the last one much, but in theory it could make a small difference (I definitely notice a difference reading off the drive to make proxies though).

- Spencer


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Dave LaRonde
Re: How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:04:18 pm

I guess it comes down to the way you work.
How do you archive your projects? Do you even HAVE to archive them?

In either case, the read/write times on SSD's are so fast that storing project footage on them makes sense if speed is your ultimate goal. But SSD's are expensive and they don't hold much, so you have to keep them cleaned off or you'll run into trouble. How much housekeeping are you willing to do?

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Will Heine
Re: How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:33:43 pm

Good point, Dave,

I am looking at the Elegato 500GB SSD. I plan on keeping only media files that are in "current development" on the SSD and then archiving them to my 3TB fusion drive which is backed up in other places.

What I am still not clear on:
Other kind folks here at CC have suggested that the cache location is really important and that an SSD would be perfect for that. So if I do that, would it benefit me to have a smaller SSD dedicated to the Cache for After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop and then a second SSD for media storage? Or would the SSD speed make a single drive suitable for both Cache and Medial File storage?

Much obliged.

Will H.


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Walter Soyka
Re: How will adding a Thunderbolt SSD drive to my later 2012 iMac make After Effects run faster?
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:54:40 pm

[Will Heine] "What I am still not clear on:
Other kind folks here at CC have suggested that the cache location is really important and that an SSD would be perfect for that. So if I do that, would it benefit me to have a smaller SSD dedicated to the Cache for After Effects, Premiere and Photoshop and then a second SSD for media storage? Or would the SSD speed make a single drive suitable for both Cache and Medial File storage?"


SSDs have very low latency (seek times) because they do not need to move a physical read head. The benefit you'd see from separate SSDs is small compared the big benefit you'll see going from HDD to SSD. Either solution will be a big difference compared to what you have now.

Walter Soyka
Designer & Mad Scientist at Keen Live [link]
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
@keenlive [twitter]   |   RenderBreak [blog]   |   Profile [LinkedIn]


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