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switters
10-26-2007, 07:51 PM
I'm just about to buy a Mac Pro. I use it for digital photography (Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom) and my images are about 10 MB right out of the camera. Occasionally they will get up to 70 MB in PS, but rarely bigger than that. I don't do video, 3D or any gaming.

The drives I have on hand are 74 GB Raptor, 750 GB Western Digital SE2 and the 250 GB OEM drive that will come with the Mac Pro. I intend to buy 2-3 new drives depending on what strategy I choose.

I have an idea for which way to go, but I'm not sure if it's the best choice. I'd welcome your feedback and suggestions. Here it is:

1. Buy a 150 GB Raptor to use as a boot drive (OS X & apps)
2. Use the 750 GB WD SE2 for my user directory and image files
3. Use the 74 GB Raptor for scratch disk
4. Buy another 750 GB WD SE2 for internal "Time Machine" backup drive
5. Buy another 750 GB WD SE2 and put in FW enclosure to use as external backup drive (I'd like to have a bootable clone of my boot drive in case it fails, since Time Machine backups aren't bootable).

What do you think?

switters
10-28-2007, 08:07 AM
Thinking about this a little further, the one question I have about this configuration is whether the 74 GB Raptor is a good choice for the scratch disk. First, is it large enough considering the kind of files I work on (50-60 MB Photoshop CS3)? Second, is it fast enough for my needs?

I guess the answer to this question also depends on how much RAM I have. I currently intend to install 9 GB from the start, and see how I do with that.

I did read your EXCELLENT Photoshop acceleration article (thank you!), in which you say the PS scratch disk should be 10-100 GB. But I'm not sure where in that range I fall with my needs.

Thanks again for your help.

kaye
10-28-2007, 11:15 AM
I am not the expert on this, Boots is, but if you take a look at the pdf doc PshopTestFileChart which is part of his PshopTest2.2 download, the chart gives a good summary of the various file sizes that bloat during his test.

Your work with the files may not be as involved as the test but the chart gives you a good idea of how much they can increase in the test including scratch size. Your intended purchase of RAM will also help very much. Also keep in mind that you don't want to work the scratch disk up to the limit of its size. That can slow you down.

Other points, while it may seem that you may want larger stripe size if doing a RAID, stripe size of 32KB works best for Pshop. And reducing History States and Cache Levels can help. Initial file sizes of 512MB or less also generally work best by letting Pshop CS3 use 70% instead of 100% for larger initial file sizes.

Boots can correct me where I'm wrong. k

switters
10-28-2007, 11:30 AM
Kaye,

Thanks very much for your reply. I have a few questions about it if you don't mind.


I am not the expert on this, Boots is, but if you take a look at the pdf doc PshopTestFileChart which is part of his PshopTest2.2 download, the chart gives a good summary of the various file sizes that bloat during his test.

Your work with the files may not be as involved as the test but the chart gives you a good idea of how much they can increase in the test including scratch size. Your intended purchase of RAM will also help very much. Also keep in mind that you don't want to work the scratch disk up to the limit of its size. That can slow you down.

Unless I'm misreading the PshopTestFileChart document, at my working file sizes of 50-70 MB, scratch files won't be any larger than 5 GB so a 74 GB scratch disk should be fine. Correct?


Other points, while it may seem that you may want larger stripe size if doing a RAID, stripe size of 32KB works best for Pshop. And reducing History States and Cache Levels can help. Initial file sizes of 512MB or less also generally work best by letting Pshop CS3 use 70% instead of 100% for larger initial file sizes.

You've left me behind here. Unless you folks recommend otherwise, my plan was to use only single drives: a 150 GB Raptor for boot, a 74 GB Raptor for scratch, a 750 GB WD SE2 for user files & images, and another 750 GB WD SE2 for Time Machine.

Currently I have Cache Levels at 4 and History States at 6.

kaye
10-28-2007, 11:50 AM
Unless I'm misreading the PshopTestFileChart document, at my working file sizes of 50-70 MB, scratch files won't be any larger than 5 GB so a 74 GB scratch disk should be fine. Correct?Correct, even less than 5GB scratch. 96MB test file size would yield a largest scratch size of 2GB, according to the chart. Cache Levels and History States less than default would reduce that max further.

I realize that your plan is not to create a RAID. Those of us with less RAM available and a slower processor (me) need a RAID for large file sizes. I mentioned it in case your plans ever change and need to work with large file sizes. k

Boots
10-28-2007, 06:00 PM
Hi switters,

Size of PS csratch disk is better larger than smaller; if you squeeze it, PS will not like it.

Since yours file sizes may change over time, maybe best to start out larger- the 74GB Raptor as a single volume will certainly do. I think it should be roughly as fast as the 750GB drive; you want the scratch disk drive to be at least as fast, if not faster than image file drive and the startup disk- especially the startup disk. I'd try out the OEM 250G as the startup disk before plunking down for more drives...

Since your image file sizes are not very big right now, the speed of the various drives in this scenario are not as important say, as the fact that you're installing gobs of RAM- which is great because it really makes working a whole lot easier, especially with multiple apps open. With those file sizes, you are getting biggest bang for the buck with installing lots of RAM and enabling vm buffering with CS3.

----

I don't know how things will play out with Leopard vis a vis Photoshop CS3 performance. I've assumed since it reputedly has better multi-processor threading and reputedly better I/O, performance should be bit faster than with Tiger, and I assume Apple has worked out the "vm pause bug" situation. But I won't know til I test myself which could be a while. I'm trying not to be an early adopter this time around!

switters
10-29-2007, 07:06 AM
Thanks for your reply, Boots. I think I'm starting to get a better handle on all of this, thanks to your help and the Photoshop acceleration article.

I'm actually planning on purchasing one of the (rumored) new Penryn Mac Pros when they come out. Theoretically, the 8-cores combined with Leopard's ability to take advantage of them should be blazing fast with Photoshop CS3.

Take care,
Chris

Boots
10-29-2007, 07:49 AM
Sounds like it's worth the wait if you can.

One other thing I forgot to mention: at this point, there appear to be two viable larger capacity hi-performance alternatives to the 150G Raptor; the 750GB WD caviar SE16 and now the 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11. Both are SATA II and are as fast if not faster than the Raptors....with obviously much greater capacity and probably better compatibility with MP SATA bus.

Something to consider anyway.

----

I wonder what hard drive the MP will ship with... Popular wisdom is the OEM drives traditionally shipping in new Macs are often mediocre performers, but that's not always the case; an iMac G5 I bought a few years back had a screamin' 250G Maxtor 16MB cache drive in it...Before you buy, might be good to try to find out who made it and what model the Apple-branded OEM drive actually is for comparison.

switters
10-29-2007, 07:58 AM
That's a really good tip, Boots.

Incidentally, I have the 74 GB Raptor and the 750 GB SE2. I know that the SE2 is supposed to be as fast as the Raptor as a boot drive, but in my experience that's just not true. I see a very noticeable improvement in start-up time and in opening applications/files when using the Raptor as the boot drive on my system (as compared to the 750 GB). Not sure what to make of this?

Add to that, the 150 GB Raptor is supposed to be 30% faster than the one I've got. If that's the case, it's almost hard to imagine how fast it would be combined with the new Penryn MP.

Boots
10-29-2007, 09:57 AM
Interesting your experience relative to the Caviar and the 74GB Raptor.

One really has to test these drives with your own workflow to get the definitive answer as to which is the way to go. Since I'm Photoshop-oriented, I use PshopTest as the bottom line.
I know my 150GB Raptors as a boot RAID0 is fast as hell opening and saving files, and really helps if pages start swapping with really big image files...but I'll be watching closely at the current drive choices when the time comes for a new MP for me.
I believe I have the fastest possible setup for my G5 Quad as far as available drives go- don't need massive image file storage yet; the 300GB Raptor stripe startup is still only 17% used and is 18% faster with PhshopTest than a single 150G Raptor.

switters
10-29-2007, 10:04 AM
Boots,

Later today if I have time I'll run the PStest booted from the Raptor and then booted from the 750 GB SE2. Then I'll post the results.

Chris

Boyd 9
01-04-2008, 08:23 AM
Just curious as to what you found out......

maybe you posted the results in a different thread?

Boyd 9

switters
01-04-2008, 08:27 AM
I never actually did the test. I'm now using the 750 as a start-up, and while it doesn't boot quite as fast as the Raptor, I think it opens files and apps almost as quickly. I'm about to do a major upgrade to the Mac Pro and Seagate 1TB drives so I haven't been motivated to test my current gear.

switters
01-08-2008, 07:32 AM
The new Mac Pros are out and I'll be getting one today. Thanks to your help, I've leaning towards this HD configuration:

Drive 1 (1 TB Seagate)
- Partition A: system & apps (150GB)
- Partition B: backup of drives 2&3 RAID (800 GB)

Drives 2 & 3 (2x 750 GB SE2 in RAID 0)
- user directory & image files

Drive 4 (1 TB Seagate)
- Partition A: Photoshop scratch (100 GB)
- Partition B: backup of drive 1, partition A (850 GB)

My only question is this: I've read here that the scratch disk should be as fast or faster than the disk the image files are on. That isn't true in this case. Will this be a problem? I will have 10 GB of RAM with the "ForceVMBuffering" plug-in enabled.