View Full Version : Configuring 8-core Mac Pro

01-09-2008, 06:53 AM
Hi Rick,

I bought a new Mac Pro 8-core yesterday, so now I'm really trying to figure this drive set-up out before it arrives.

I have two configurations in mind and I wonder if you could weigh in on which you think is best. Note: it will have 10 GB of RAM installed.


Drive 1 (Seagate 1 TB)
- Partition A (150GB): OS X & Apps
- Partition B (800GB): backup of images & user directory

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

Drive 4 (750 GB SE2)
- Partition A (150GB): Photoshop scratch
- Partition B (550GB): backup of OS X & Apps


Drive 1 (Seagate 1TB)
- Partition A (150GB): OS X & apps
- Partition B (800GB): backup of images & user directory

Drives 2 & 3 (2x 750GB SE2 in RAID 0)
- Partition A (100GB): Photoshop scratch
- Partition B (1300GB): images and user directory

Drive 4 (750GB SE2)
- TM backup of OS X, apps & images & user directory

1. I believe it's not possible to partition a RAID 0, but I've read that you can partition the single drives before putting them together in a RAID 0 to get the same result. Is this true? Is it safe? Is there any disadvantage?

2. I think I remember reading that the Photoshop scratch should be faster than the disk the images on (or faster than the boot drive?). If this is the case, the first scenario wouldn't work well but the second would.

I'd love to hear your feedback/ideas. Thanks!

01-09-2008, 09:06 AM
Never run scratch from a partition of a drive or a RAID where the other partition is also being used while you actively use the scratch partition.

Slowest part of a computer is the heads on your drives. If you have 2 active partitions, both used during your Photoshop activities, then your computer will be waiting on the heads to travel back and forth all the time.

Whatever you figure out, don't do anything with a second partition but run backups to it.


01-09-2008, 09:13 AM
So I guess that leaves option #1 then :)

Any problems with that one? Do you think the partition on the 750 SE2 will be fast enough for scratch considering the rest of the setup?

Thanks again for your help. It is much appreciated!


01-09-2008, 10:36 AM
It's a fine plan.

How fast anything is is not an absolute. Like adding horsepower to a racecar, is it enough power? well, the driver will say 'never enough'. But the racecar runs just fine on 600 HP until it runs against cars that have 750.

Same thing here. No way to tell exactly what is THE best setup for you. Depends. How many files are you moving, how big, what types of operations do you perform on those files and how often do you perform operations that use a lot of scratch? How much history? How many layers? The variety is literally infinite.

The big invisible elephant in the room is how much is it worth to you to get more speed. Initial investments in hardware tend to cost the same, and give larger percentage of gains than later additions. Like putting in 4 GB of RAM, that gives immediate and large gain in performance over a single GB of RAM. But adding a second 4 GB of RAM gives a lot less total improvement than the first 4 GB gave. It costs more to accomplish less. You can spend nearly unlimited amounts of money making tiny incremental gains in performance.

Your first plan seems to be a decent one. I literally have no idea without testing whether a RAID for the data files will improve performance more than a RAID for the scratch. When I need scratch I typically am working a single huge file, so I tend to run a RAID for the scratch. The way you use a computer may benefit from RAIDing the data more.

The most important part is having a plan that is logical and fits your needs and finances. Money is always important. You can tweak things later if it appears you could benefit from a little different setup.


01-09-2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks again for your reply, Rick.

The biggest files I work on are about 150MB. Although I sell the occasional photograph, I'm not a pro and don't have intensive storage needs. I usually work with about 6-8 history states.

I have 10GB of RAM for my new MP. I got a good deal on it and it seems like it may be a bit much, but I often run Lightroom, Photoshop, Illustrator and other apps simultaneously, along with another user account running Mail, Safari, etc.

That's why I chose to have the RAID for the data/image files... I don't imagine super-fast scratch would be necessary, especially with the Force VM Buffering plug-in enabled.

I guess I can always change my mind on the configuration later. Thanks again.


01-11-2008, 10:06 PM
hi there,

First off i must say i'm no expert
So therefore i don't take any responsibility for this advice.

However if i had access to your set up, here's what i'd do

Seagate 1 TB -applications- only programs ( hey i know it's kinda a waste but why not, theres a 5 year warranty, 32mb catch, and plenty of room for all your applications. Plus, the blazing speed of the outer rim of a seagate 1TB
makes this the perfect drive for running all your application data.)

2x 750GB SE2 in RAID 0 -in photoshop the main thing slowing you down is catch use this as a huge speedy cash it may seem like a waste but once again one of the main things slowing down a computer is how fast it can access it's data. I think if you move the files your working with onto this drive before you open them in photoshop it might work faster, but that's a question i would have ( i said i'm no expert)http://www.macgurus.com/forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif
i would have an automatic backup program that copys my drive every day to what i did that day in a separate folder. (or obviously in whatever structure you prefer)

750 GB SE2 you main storage (what ever it is)

I think having a backup inside of the mac pro is not really in the spirit of backing up. I would invest in a external fw 800 hard drive to back up to
while remembering to back up everything to dvd and place into archiving sleeves. (i have a friend who then places his dvd's in a fire resistent safe, but he's another story)

Be sure to get a good external drive, make sure it has a cooling fan on the case, i would suggest a case that has both fw 800 and usb. sometimes the firewire goes out (many do) and you can use the usb.

If you don't want to buy an extra drive, you could always use the raid as your project, use the application drive as the photoshop cache, take the 4th drive out and put it into a good fw enclosure to back up to.

I've heard rumors that the mac pro really isn't that good at keeping 4 hard drives nice and cool, i never let me drives get hot at all, and they usually last me a long time.

Remember, it's all temporary storage.


01-14-2008, 09:19 PM

Thanks for sharing your idea! I think what I'm going to do is this:

Drive 1 & 2 (2x750 RAID 0)
- os x, images, applications, user directory

Drive 3 (Seagate 1TB)
- partition A (100 GB): Photoshop scratch
- partition B (850 GB): Time Machine backup

Drive 4 (750GB SE2)
- full bootable clone of RAID, updated nightly

I'm sure there's a faster setup out there, but this seems to be working well for me. Though the images are on the same drive as the apps, it's a fast striped RAID so everything is pretty snappy. PS scratch is on the outer platter of the Seagate, which is fast. I also have 10 GB of RAM, so with the force-VM buffering I may not need the scratch so much.

I like having redundancy in the backup on drives 3 & 4. Eventually, when I can afford an external enclosure and a few more drives I'll move the backup drives out of the Mac Pro and perhaps configure the two remaining internal drives into another RAID for image storage.


01-15-2008, 03:41 PM
Well, now I'm rethinking my strategy. I just re-read the Photoshop Acceleration and Storage Acceleration documents. At the end of the Storage document, I encountered this quote:

"Macgurus does not recommend RAID striping of any system startup disk and drives containing permanent user data. Those scenarios are far more vulnerable to permanent data loss, tend to complicate implementation of reasonable backup strategies, and yield only very modest performance improvements - if any."

I wonder if that's still true with Time Machine and redundant bootable clones of the start-up disk and user data? I have my OS X system, apps, user & images on a striped RAID (2x750GB). Disk 3 is Seagate 1TB partitioned into 100 GB for scratch, and 850GB for Time Machine backup. Disk 4 is a bootable clone of the RAID that updates nightly.

As far as performance goes, I think the 100GB partition on the Seagate is still pretty fast - yes? I have 10GB of RAM and plan to use the force VM buffering plug-in, so I wonder how often I'll actually use scratch if the max file size I'm working on is 100MB. Comments?

I feel pretty safe in terms of backup, but now I'm wondering if there isn't a better configuration I hadn't considered. I need to do it all in four drives, though. I spent more than I should have already on the new Mac Pro and three new drives, not to mention 8 extra gigs of RAM. Can't afford any new storage right now.