To RAID or not to RAID?

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Nigel Longman
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Joined: Apr 28 1999

I’m just building my first machine for HDV editing. I’ve chosen an ASUS P5B Deluxe motherboard, which has an Intel ICH8R southbridge chip. The processor is a core 2 duo E6700 with 2GB of RAM.

I have available 3 Seagate Barracuda 400GB SATA-II 16MB buffer hard drives for data storage and handling. (The OS is currently held on another 120GB PATA drive on a separate controller.)

The ICH8R chip allows me to configure these drives as individual IDE drives or as a RAID array. What’s more I can create both RAID0 and RAID5 level arrays concurrently on the drives using the Intel matrix storage technology, dividing the combined storage volume of the drives between the different levels as required.

With so much choice I’m struggling to decide how to configure this for best performance. What I want to do is edit HDV footage from my Canon XH-A1 camera as m2t files or in an intermediate codec. Most of my editing is cuts and dissolves, but I do sometimes go in for multi-layer edits. I have also been known to apply a liberal sprinkling of filters and effects to clips.

To boil it down, my questions are really:

1 Will the SATA-II drive performance as IDE drives be adequate or will I need to build a RAID?
2 If I build a RAID will the speed of a level 5 array (with its better security) be adequate or should I make the array level 0 or a combination of both?

Thanks for taking the time to read all this. It takes so long to try all these things out for myself that any guidance you can offer would be most welcome.

NL

harlequin
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Joined: Aug 16 2000

answers from personal experience

ignore raid0 = more bother than it is worth
raid5 is great for security , but , are you going to have removeable cradles and a spare drive , and or hot swapping.

i would be tempted to raid1 2 of your drives giving you a fast 400GB mirrored array to capture to , and a single 400GB to export final timelines etc to.

Gary MacKenzie

sepulce@hotmail.com ( an account only used for forum messages )

Thinkserver TS140 , 750ti Graphics card  & LG 27" uws led backlight , Edius 8

Humax Foxsat HD Pvr / Humax Fox T2 dvbt

Claire
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Joined: Apr 28 2001

Nigel, I have the same motherboard as you with 3 Sata drives in Raid 0 for HDV video.

Before I built the computer I honestly didn't know if Raid would turn out to be overkill but from experience over the last 6 months I now know better.

Yes I know there is no security with Raid 0, but this doesn't bother me since it's only video files on these drives, source files are still on tape and edited versions soon going to disk or back to tape.

As you will know, capturing HDV as intermediate AVI files are 4 times larger but edit more easily, I have the same E6700 CPU as you and find converting to intermediate "on the fly" flawless. Editing the intermediate HDV files is effortless, but recently it came to my attention that I have been taking for granted the excellent performance of this system and had frankly almost forgotten my video drive is in fact 3 separate drives.

The other day I copied some video which I had rendered back to m2t onto my non raid drive, when I brought it into my NLE I got a surprise at the significently slower response on the timeline. If I put these m2t files back on the raid system the response is back.

So all I am saying really is that I am now convinced of the advantages of Raid for editing HDV, especially if using intermediate files.

Claire

Nigel Longman
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Joined: Apr 28 1999
Thanks for your input

Gary & Claire, thanks for your replies albeit that they are contradictory regarding RAID0!

Based on other research I have done it does appear that RAID level 0 is favoured for heavy duty video use and so, persuaded by Claire’s enthusiasm, I’m going to give it a try. I’ll use all 3 of the 400GB drives and split them roughly 50/50 between level 0 and 5. In this way I can use the level 0 for ‘work in progress’ and keep other useful stuff (general video clips, music and graphics files) on the more secure level 5 volume. I could also render out to that volume.

Whilst playing around with this set-up I have noticed how s-l-o-w RAID volumes are to format. Using the Disk Management tools in WinXP it looked like it would take many hours to format a 500GB level 0 array (I stopped the process before it had completed having run out of time!). Is this normal or have I missed a trick here?

Claire, I was interested to see we have chosen the same motherboard. I intend to try using Edius v3.16 in software only as a starting point, using the component HDTV output on the graphics card, an ASUS EN7600GS, for monitoring. The Edius NX with HDV expansion looks tempting but expensive.

It’s all trial and error at the moment for me, taking one step at a time to get the system up and running. Any further guidance and advice on offer would be much appreciated to avoid time consuming and costly mistakes.

Many thanks, Nigel

fuddam
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Joined: Nov 19 2005

IIRC, formatting my 500GB Raid 0 took a couple of hours, mebbe 3..........

i.e. not forever.

Claire
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Joined: Apr 28 2001
Nigel Longman wrote:
Using the Disk Management tools in WinXP it looked like it would take many hours to format a 500GB level 0 array (I stopped the process before it had completed having run out of time!). Is this normal or have I missed a trick here?

Nigel, maybe this is a bit like the choice between quick format and full format? Not sure but I don't recall using Disk Management at all. I used the Intel ICH7R Southbridge Raid setup described on page 5-32 of the MBO manual and it was very quick, no waiting for anything that I recall. Sorry I can't be more concise, this was the first time I set up a Raid of any description and so I just followed the handbook.

Claire

Claire
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Joined: Apr 28 2001

Nigel,

My apologies, I see that my MBO is not quite the same as yours after all, it is in fact a P5W DH Deluxe, sorry about that.

Claire

Nigel Longman
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Joined: Apr 28 1999
Difference between quick and full format

Thanks for that additional information Claire.

On the principle that when all else fails I read the instruction book, my manual does indeed describe creating and handling arrays using a ROM utility during boot-up before the operating system has loaded. However, I chose to use an Intel software utility called ‘Intel Matrix Storage Consul’ (included on the disc that came with the motherboard) to create the arrays on my machine. I found it to be easy and intuitive to use.

Interestingly the automatic install routine on the ASUS utility disc only offers the option to install this utility if the southbridge chip is configured in the BIOS for RAID. If it’s in IDE mode the option to install the utility is not given (quite sensible really) – you have to go searching for it on the disc.

Anyway, having created an array using the software, WinXP then identifies it as a new disc, so it has to be activated and formatted in the disk management software like any other.

One thing I’d like to know is the difference (apart from about 1-2 hours) between quick and full formatting. Presumably full formatting is a more thorough process, but is it really necessary? Anyone able to enlighten?

Regards NL

Nigel Longman
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Joined: Apr 28 1999
How my RAID performs

I thought it might be interesting to test the speeds of the various configurations I have tried whilst building my new computer to compare the way various arrays perform.

The testing method is not very vigorous – I used Storm Test (a utility supplied with my DV Storm card) to check the sustained read and write speed and took the average of 3 readings. Back of fag packet stuff really, so please don’t take these numbers as in any way definitive.

The 3 drives are identical 400GB, 7200rpm, SATA-II discs with 16MB buffers. They are freshly prepared with no data on them.

3 Drives configured as RAID level 0: Read 102 MB/s, Write 133 MB/s

3 Drives configured as RAID level 5: Read 75 MB/s, Write 18 MB/s

2 Drives configured as RAID level 0: Read 97 MB/s, Write 121 MB/s

1 Drive configured as IDE: Read 69 MB/s, Write 81 MB/s

The figures are about in line with what I was expecting. Interesting to note the slow write speed of the level 5 array, which I understand to be typical of this arrangement due to the calculation of the parity bits which are written to the 3rd drive to save data in the event of a drive crash.

I expect these figures will drop as the drives fill with data.

Hope that may be of interest.

NL

smartbird99
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Joined: Dec 19 2007
P5W DH Deluxe 2 raptor 150gb 10,000rpm and 1 western digital 500

Hi, can you help me how to set my computer for HDV, I have 2 raptor 150gb 10,000rpm and 1 western digital 500gb. From my poin of view I need one hard drive for window xp pro, 2 hard drive raid 0 for scratch disk and 1 hard drive for storage. But I'm not sure if it the right way to do it, and how to set motherboard to one raid 0 and one system drive and one storage drive, do I need additional raid pci cards?

smartbird99
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Joined: Dec 19 2007

P5W DH Deluxe 2 raptor 150gb 10,000rpm and 1 western digital 500gb

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Hi, can you help me how to set my computer for HDV, I have 2 raptor 150gb 10,000rpm and 1 western digital 500gb. From my poin of view I need one hard drive for window xp pro, 2 hard drive raid 0 for scratch disk and 1 hard drive for storage. But I'm not sure if it the right way to do it, and how to set motherboard to one raid 0 and one system drive and one storage drive, do I need additional raid pci cards?

fuddam
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Joined: Nov 19 2005

from your description, you need 4 drives, but you only have 3

anyway, connect them all to the mobo. install your system drive with xp. format your storage drive. set up your Raid 0 for your 2 x scratch drives during your boot sequence, when no doubt it will ask you to do something (mine is Ctrl + S) to enter raid configuration, and off you go.

if your mobo can handle 4 drives, and has built in raid, then no additional cards needed.

Nigel Longman
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Joined: Apr 28 1999

Your motherboard has a RAID controller built in to the Intel ICH7R southbridge chip so you won’t need to buy an extra card. Although the RAID configuration can be done through the BIOS as has been said, Intel make a piece of software called the ‘Matrix Storage Manager’ which I believe will work with the ICH7R. It was probably supplied on the disc that came with your motherboard, or it can be downloaded from the Intel site. It runs under Windows and I found this made setting up the hard drives into arrays or single discs a fairly simple process. The changes you make via this software will be reflected in the boot messages the next time you start the computer.

With the drives you have the obvious solution is to configure the 2 Raptors as a RAID0 array. You may like to consider creating 2 partitions on the WD 500GB drive. 25GB, say, for the system partition with the remainder for general data use. Although not giving the benefit of physically separate devices, you may find this configuration makes for less confusion and easier back-ups when using the computer.

Don’t forget to connect the disc with the system partition to a bootable SATA connector – these on my MB are coloured red – others are black for data discs (check your manual). You’ll need to set the boot disc in the BIOS too.

My 2p. Hope that helps. Good luck.

NL

Richard Payne
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

Be carefull with using motherboard raid chips for anything other than Raid 0 or 1 - you need a hardware chip to do raid 5 and most motherboard raid controllers do not have this - therefore it's using raid 5 in software which gives very slow write speed.