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SSD vs Mech HDD for AE CS4 Source Files?

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Richard CaninoSSD vs Mech HDD for AE CS4 Source Files?
by on Oct 23, 2010 at 3:17:42 am

When starting a new AE project, should I copy all the source files to my SSD? Will AE work faster that way or should I just leave them on the mechanical drive?

I'm running a Win7 64-bit system with 12G of RAM, a 6-core processor (core i7 980X) and an SSD, plus a couple internal 7200K mechanical drives and some USB drives.

Currently on the SSD I have the OS and my apps and I've still got nearly 80G of free space. I'd like CS4 to exploit that space if possible.

I have the same basic question regarding the other apps in the CS4 Production Premium Suite, if you'd care to comment on them as well. If not no problem, I understand this is the AE forum.

Thanks for any thoughts you can share - I appreciate it!

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Kevin CampRe: SSD vs Mech HDD for AE CS4 Source Files?
by on Oct 23, 2010 at 4:45:09 am

you can run aja's system test to test your drives as you have them configured.

but i'd say that if you have them on separate buses, you'd be better off in ae using the ssd as a disk cache, and the hd for media/files.

for capture, the ssd may provide better sustained write speed, but probably not as great a difference as the smaller random read/write speeds that would benefit the disk cache.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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Walter SoykaRe: SSD vs Mech HDD for AE CS4 Source Files?
by on Oct 23, 2010 at 5:55:29 am

I agree with Kevin -- SSDs shine at random access.

I'll add that for most folks, disk IO is not the bottleneck in an After Effects render. If you're looking to boost your render speeds, you should get more RAM -- 12 GB for 6 cores with After Effects is not very much, and I think you'd see a big speed increase with multiprocessing by stepping up to 18 or 24 GB.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
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Richard CaninoRe: SSD vs Mech HDD for AE CS4 Source Files?
by on Oct 23, 2010 at 2:08:40 pm

thank you Kevin, thank you Walter - I appreciate you guys taking the time to reply.

I will certainly add another 12G kit of RAM; I've got 3 slots just sitting there unpopulated right now, so thanks for the reminder - adding that RAM is one of my top priorities so I will order it today.

re: the SSD and scratch disk space - I'm kind of locked in to how I have the SSD now, with the OS and my apps installed on it already. I can certainly buy an inexpensive 40G SSD for scratch space.

I'm sure the AE CS4 Help won't be amended to include the use of SSDs but I wonder how much would change if it were. I've tried searching the CS5 Help but AE CS5 being a 64-bit app is a game-changer and many of the 32-bit rules don't apply.

btw, the reason I asked about the source files was because of something I read in AE Help:
Before rendering, put all of your source footage files on a local diskā€”not the one that the application runs from. A good way to do this is with the Collect Files command.

I'm just wondering how to incorporate an SSD into the workflow, whether shortening its life is worth the speed advantage of using it as a scratch disk as well as a boot disk/OS disk. How much speed advantage is there really?

I guess all I can do is find out - how quickly the drive dies when it's constantly being accessed, compare that to an SSD that isn't a scratch drive. Although to complicate matters further, I've been told AE doesn't us scratch space very often, and that scratch space in Premier is far more important.

Thanks you guys!

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Kevin CampRe: SSD vs Mech HDD for AE CS4 Source Files?
by on Oct 25, 2010 at 3:24:24 pm

generally speaking, i think it's better to have your media files separate from your os/applications drive... fragmentation is probably the main reason, though the more modern file structures lessen fragmentation issues.

another may be that even if disk caching is disabled at application level, the os often uses disk caching if it needs more ram.

as for the importance of disk caching in ae, i don't think it is as important as it may be in other apps (and that may be why the default is set to off). i do know that if you want to enable disk caching, you'll want to have a separate drive and drive bus for your media or you will start to encounter a data bottleneck, particularly if you are working with uncompressed (or lightly compressed) hd.

i'll also add that if you choose to enable disk caching to the ssd, or choose to put your media on it, i don't think you'll see a big performance gain in most comps...

if you are experimenting, a good way to monitor how efficiently ae is rendering is to look at the task manager (or osx's activity monitor) to see how well all the cores are processing. if that is looking good, then they are getting enough data, if they are not near peaking out, then you probably have a data bottleneck.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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