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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > Best set up for Final Cut Pro

Best set up for Final Cut Pro
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Jul 28, 2008, 06:43 AM
 
I've got a new Mac Pro with four one terabyte disks. And a Raid Card.

I'm using Final Cut Pro and the whole Producers kit and am editing high definition material so a terabyte quickly fills up.

What's the best way to configure this system? What volume size should I create for the operating system? What Raid Configuration on the remainder?

I have a terrabyte external disk for backing key files... I don't need to back up every single thing... so maximum safety for a Raid set up of the four internal drives isn't a must.

Essentially I just want a fast system that operates as much real time editing without rendering as possible and opens and populates menus instantly.

Stupidly I set the whole system to one big raid volume and the result is too slow and prone to giving me alarming error messages in the Raid Set Up programme whenever I start the machine. So I'm wiping the whole system and want to set up a more usable configuration.
     
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Jul 28, 2008, 11:04 AM
 
Well, if this is only used for editing (nothing else like iTunes and iPhoto stuff) you can partition a drive as small as you want for OS X, just leave at least 10 Gb free. How much RAM do you have? If you want it as smooth as possible don't even think of having less than 4 GB of RAM, 8 Gb would be preferable.
     
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Jul 28, 2008, 11:44 AM
 
We need more details: what drives are currently in your Mac? Do you plan on replacing some of them?


Making one big RAID is not such a brilliant idea for what you do, in fact, just using a dedicated scratch disk, a system disk and a storage disk will be fine. If you need more speed on your scratch volume, you can create a RAID0 array just for that. Zero investment and a very decent speedup.

Right now, your drives `feel slow', because there is a lot of interference. I don't know what RAID configuration you have, but unless you have configured a JBOD (= just a bunch of disks), disk accesses get in each other's way (e. g. if you want to render something, then FC Pro will read the source files from your video storage disk, for example and then write to the scratch space. So it will read a little, then move the disk heads, and then write something, etc.
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Jul 28, 2008, 09:46 PM
 
What RAID level are you using now, 5? If 0, are you sure you created a hardware RAID volume? You could still create a software RAID volume despite having a hardware RAID card installed.
     
lwgray  (op)
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Jul 28, 2008, 10:24 PM
 
This is what I've got...

Model Name: Mac Pro
Model Identifier: MacPro3,1
Processor Name: Quad-Core Intel Xeon
Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
Number Of Processors: 2
Total Number Of Cores: 8
L2 Cache (per processor): 12 MB
Memory: 8 GB
Bus Speed: 1.6 GHz
Boot ROM Version: MP31.006C.B05
SMC Version: 1.25f4


And here's my hardware RAID specs...

Mac Pro RAID Card:

PCI Slot: Slot-4
Hardware Version: 1.00
Firmware Version: M-2.0.3.3
Expansion ROM Version: 0018
Shutdown Status: Disorderly shutdown with battery backup
Battery Info:
Firmware Revision: 1.0d19
First Installed: 08/03/2007 4:05 PM
Last Date Conditioned: 28/07/2008 3:18 PM
State: Working battery
Fault: Normal battery operation
Status:
Charging: Yes
Conditioning: No
Connected: Yes
Discharging: No
Sufficient Charge: Yes

Drives:

Bay 1:

Product ID: Hitachi HDS721010KLA330
Serial Number: GTE002PAJ9UDYE
Firmware Revision: GK0BA96A
Type: SATA
SMART Status: Verified
Capacity: 931.51 GB
RAID Sets: RS1
Status:
Assigned: Yes
Failed: No
Foreign: No
Missing: No
Reliable: Yes
Roaming: No
Spare: No

Bay 2:

Product ID: Hitachi HDS721010KLA330
Serial Number: GTE002PAJA9E2E
Firmware Revision: GK0BA96A
Type: SATA
SMART Status: Verified
Capacity: 931.51 GB
RAID Sets: RS1
Status:
Assigned: Yes
Failed: No
Foreign: No
Missing: No
Reliable: Yes
Roaming: No
Spare: No

Bay 3:

Product ID: Hitachi HDS721010KLA330
Serial Number: GTE002PAJA99NE
Firmware Revision: GK0BA96A
Type: SATA
SMART Status: Verified
Capacity: 931.51 GB
RAID Sets: RS1
Status:
Assigned: Yes
Failed: No
Foreign: No
Missing: No
Reliable: Yes
Roaming: No
Spare: No

Bay 4:

Product ID: Hitachi HDS721010KLA330
Serial Number: GTE002PAJA98UE
Firmware Revision: GK0BA96A
Type: SATA
SMART Status: Verified
Capacity: 931.51 GB
RAID Sets: RS1
Status:
Assigned: Yes
Failed: No
Foreign: No
Missing: No
Reliable: Yes
Roaming: No
Spare: No

RAID Sets:

RS1:

RAID Level: 0
Capacity: 3.64 TB
Available Capacity: 0 bytes
Drives: Bay 1, Bay 2, Bay 3, Bay 4
Volumes: R1V1
Status: Viable (Good)

Volumes:

R1V1:

BSD Name: disk1
Capacity: 3.64 TB
Read Command Size: 2 MB
Read Ahead Margin: 16 MB
RAID Set: RS1
Status:
Degraded: No
Inited: Yes
In Transition: No
Viable: Yes
     
lwgray  (op)
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Jul 28, 2008, 10:26 PM
 
My RAID set up is 0

With one large volume for everything... a mistake that I'm going to rectify once I've found the optimum set up.
     
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Jul 29, 2008, 10:10 AM
 
You don't have to spend any money to speed up your system. Just have a look at the configuration I have proposed before (separate drive for apps and OS X, separate scratch drive (possibly a RAID0) and a drive for storage). Since you already have four drives, all you need to do is break up your RAID, and install OS X onto your fresh drives.

What capacities do you need for (i) file storage and (ii) scratch space?

I propose you change the layout of your storage solution to the one above (again, it doesn't cost you anything) and if you are still unhappy with the performance of your system, report back to us.
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lwgray  (op)
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Jul 29, 2008, 12:16 PM
 
Not really sure how much scratch space I need. I've only just started using FInal Cut. A TByte will probably suffice. THough I wonder if I could split one disk between the system and the scratch and leave all the others as a storage area. Perhaps make the three disks a 3T Raid?

Storage... well... how much you got! I've already filled up my TByte's of external storage. I'm on a tapeless workflow and discovering the disadvantage is that you don't have cheap reliable tape archives.

Simply assigning one disk as System, one as Scratch and two with a Raid 0 for storage might be OK... don't know why I'd need to do a Raid for the scratch in this set up.

In fact, why have a RAID set up at all! WHy not just have four separate disks?

When I bought the machine the implication was that I would need a Raid Card and that I would need to set up a Raid System to make the machine more efficient and safer. It seems that it makes it slower and more unreliable!

SO my final questions are:

Make Disk 1 into two volumes with System on one and Scratch the other and leave the rest as storage or one disk for System, one for Scratch with the remaining two as storage?

And... is there a way of back up all my apps before reformatting the drives and then merely copy them back to the system's APP folder instead of having to re-install from disk and then go through all the upgrades and download all the helper programmes needed to work with the Sony XDCam... takes a day just doing all that!
     
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Jul 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
Not really sure how much scratch space I need. I've only just started using FInal Cut. A TByte will probably suffice. THough I wonder if I could split one disk between the system and the scratch and leave all the others as a storage area. Perhaps make the three disks a 3T Raid?
I'd advise against that.
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
Storage... well... how much you got! I've already filled up my TByte's of external storage. I'm on a tapeless workflow and discovering the disadvantage is that you don't have cheap reliable tape archives.
What is your backup solution?
Each storage solution must contain a backup solution, especially if you use your machine professionally.
So far, I have heard nothing about backups … 
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
Simply assigning one disk as System, one as Scratch and two with a Raid 0 for storage might be OK... don't know why I'd need to do a Raid for the scratch in this set up.
Do you have backups of your data?
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
In fact, why have a RAID set up at all! WHy not just have four separate disks?
In your situation, that'd probably be fine.
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
When I bought the machine the implication was that I would need a Raid Card and that I would need to set up a Raid System to make the machine more efficient and safer. It seems that it makes it slower and more unreliable!
No, that's not true.
There are many types of RAIDs and each one should be adapted to the application the user has in mind. Your solutions just wasn't adapted to your workflow.
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
Make Disk 1 into two volumes with System on one and Scratch the other and leave the rest as storage or one disk for System, one for Scratch with the remaining two as storage?
No, that wouldn't be a very smart idea.
In order to get the best speedup possible, you must put the scratch volume on another disk, one that you don't use for storage or the OS. You could get a smaller drive for that, 1 TB is way too much.
Originally Posted by lwgray View Post
And... is there a way of back up all my apps before reformatting the drives and then merely copy them back to the system's APP folder instead of having to re-install from disk and then go through all the upgrades and download all the helper programmes needed to work with the Sony XDCam... takes a day just doing all that!
Yes and no. It'd involve work.
You could back up your data separately, then delete the data from your system drive and create a system image. Then you use the system image to restore your installation.

If that sounds like too much work, you should install things from scratch.
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Jul 29, 2008, 03:18 PM
 
IMO your RAID setup should be pretty fast, better than using single drives, assuming you're using the RAID card (which I can't tell). I'm interested to see if Oreo's suggestion improves things.
RAID isn't for reliability; RAID0 is for performance and large volumes, RAID1 is for availability, and RAID5 is for recoverability.
     
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Jul 29, 2008, 04:24 PM
 
The OP uses a RAID card (see second post) and has four 1 TB drives combined in a single RAID0. Since he uses the same drive for scratch, system and storage, I think the degradation in performance is due to `interference' effects: several concurrent accesses to different parts of the RAID0 volume (which is distributed equally among the drives).

My proposal is clear: separate system drive, separate scratch drive and the other two drives for storage. Whether you create a RAID0 for the storage drive, well, why not, if you have a good backup solution. But the major improvement is that disk accesses to the system, scratch and storage can happen simultaneously without slowdown.

I don't think a scratch RAID is absolutely necessary as a first attempt to improve performance: if the OP is happy with the improvement in performance, there is no need to purchase faster drives for the system or scratch. And if there is, well then, he can replace the single scratch drive with a scratch RAID0, for example. Does that sound reasonable to you or not?
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Jul 29, 2008, 06:00 PM
 
I see that he has a RAID card, and he has a RAID array, but I don't see anything in the RAID sets portion that explicitly says it's a hardware managed array.

RAID Sets:
RS1:
RAID Level: 0
Capacity: 3.64 TB
Available Capacity: 0 bytes
Drives: Bay 1, Bay 2, Bay 3, Bay 4
Volumes: R1V1
Status: Viable (Good)
What would that look like if it was a software RAID array?

A good hardware RAID controller should improve IO performance by reducing the amount of time spent reading/writing each transaction (by spreading it over the disks) allowing you to get more transactions in.
     
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Jul 29, 2008, 06:26 PM
 
I don't think it matters whether the RAID0 has been done purely in software or in hardware, IMO the OP would see a definite improvement if he separates the disks. The massive linear read/write speeds won't matter much if the disk heads are seeking all the time.
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lwgray  (op)
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Jul 29, 2008, 10:20 PM
 
See how easily it was to get confused at the beginning about how to set these things up! I too thought that a Raid Card and making one single volume of the whole system would make for a fast performance with plenty of space.

I'm assuming that I'm using the Raid Card. It's installed and I'm using the programme that comes with it rather than the Disk Utility. I can't see any other way of using the Raid card or not using it as the case might be. So I'm assuming the card is functioning.

Regarding back up, I was advised on the course I went on to simply have an external drive and copy over the scratch files and other project related files to it, making sure to update this at the end of each session. I was advised against using Time Machine or relying on a Raid5 set up unless it was a large external array, and I'd only need that in an industrial situation with many machines accessing a large complex project.

In retrospect when I bought the machine I should have got a smaller faster systems drive, but a friend of mind has a four T system that he finds no problem. But then he uses a Kona Card and I suspect that takes a lot of strain off the system and I suspect he's left his system disk separate. I opted not to get the Kona card because with the camera I'm using I don't need a capture card. And I can capture on my PC set up, which does have a capture card, and transfer to the Mac if I need to.

I'll try mirroring the system and copying that back onto the new system volume because I've found reinstalling everything time consuming - to get "compressor" to work I had to reinstall several times and I found putting together all the little tweaks and settings that I know makes things work for me took time. (Apparently installation problems are not uncommon and not a sign of a problem machine... I had a long long phone call with Apple Support.)

I've been editing and tweaking the settings and am pretty happy with most things about FC apart from the tendency to suddenly crash when I'm checking various templates or playing around with filters. I suspect that's to do with the slowness of my system's responses. It takes about six seconds to populate a menu and that should be instantaneous.

I'll opt for separate disks for System and Scratch. And I think I'll simply not use the Raid set up at all and leave all four disks separate.

What you said above about having a smaller Scratch Disk makes me wonder if I should attach a 500gig external Lacie disk as a Scratch Disk and using the three internal Tbyte disks as my storage AND back up. If they are separate, then even if one disk goes down, the others should not be affected. So it would be no different to having an external disk.

Would that set up give me even better performance? (I have a spare 500gig external that I use as back up on my iMac so it wouldn't cost me anything to just swap around the external disks I have.)


I
     
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Jul 29, 2008, 11:47 PM
 
No, putting your scratch drive on an external Firewire disk would be a performance disaster.

Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I don't think it matters whether the RAID0 has been done purely in software or in hardware, IMO the OP would see a definite improvement if he separates the disks.
It certainly does; fortunately the OP has clarified he's using the tool for the card rather than Disk Utility.
     
lwgray  (op)
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Jul 30, 2008, 04:48 AM
 
I think that probably covers everything.

One last last question...

Would creating a smaller volume on the TByte systems disk - say half the size of the disk - leaving the rest of the disk as a storage area, be a better option than simply leaving the whole disk as System?
     
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Jul 30, 2008, 05:27 AM
 
You don't need to create a smaller volume, it won't give you any advantage/disadvantage. And yes, you can do that, if you wish. There will be some `interference' if the system tries to access data and parts of the system at the same time, but it'd be a pity to waste that much space.

BTW, you can still use Time Machine for your non-video data (you should!). Then, you always have a working `clone' of your system (you can restore your whole OS X installation from your Time Machine backup).
( Last edited by OreoCookie; Jul 30, 2008 at 06:08 AM. )
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Aug 3, 2008, 06:09 AM
 
hi,

i am new to this wonderful forum and this is my first post,i have a macbook pro 2,5GHZ and today i am going to order the 3,2GHZ mac pro and going to fit a 3 300gb 15,000 rpm hard drives and the nvidia 8800 gt graphic card and upgrade the ram memory to 8G and i am new to FINAL CUT PRO,but i don't know if this is fast enough do get the maximum speed of FCP,so if there is anything else i should know about to make it faster plz let me know before i order,thanks a lot in advance and have a nice day all.
     
   
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