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JeffCullen
06-18-2008, 08:59 PM
Hi All,

Our Graphic Design department is working with Photoshop on Mac Pros. They have recently started working with huge files (4-6GB, sometimes more!) for some very large murals they are doing.

We'd like to explore the possibility of building one or two Ultimate Mac Pros for them to ease the pain when working on these huge files.

I can imagine starting with an eight-way 3.2ghz box with 32GB of ram, but I am troubled on the ultimate hard disk configuration.

My major stalling point is that I am stuck with the four drive bays inside the machine, plus the two more I can squeeze into the second optical bay. I am not allowed to use an external enclosure for aesthetic reasons. I know the benefit is potentially huge, but this is my limitation...

I'm open to anything, cost no object... SAS, SATA, any combination of RAID cards, as long as it all fits inside that case and I get to keep the optical drive. Let me know what you think the ideal configuration of drives/arrays for boot, data, and scratch would be! We don't need to store a huge amount of data locally (just whatever projects are active) and will be backing up to our (massive...) Windows fileserver, so we could never possibly lose more than a day's work.

Just throwing out there I am not averse to any suggestions anyone might have for shoehorning those Western Digital Velociraptor drives into a Mac Pro... I have tried these in PC workstations and have found them noticeably quicker than the Raptor hard drives. I can imagine that ripping the "IcePak" off and mounting in a different sort of 2.5"->3.5" adapter might work? I also don't mind trying to replace the internal cabling so that it will line up, but am not willing to modify the actual case... have to be able to return it to 100% stock. Of course, if I only need to stick two of these things in they can be squeezed into the second optical bay and then we're all set...

There is also a possibility that we might need to send one of these workstations to a GD's home. Any thoughts on whether a RAID1 array for about a weeks worth of safe data storage is workable, or would we need to implement a backup solution for this workstation (i.e. external 1TB FW800 with backup software...? needs to be super easy to use and very elegant...)

Thanks very much for any input!

Cheers,
--Jeff

ricks
06-18-2008, 10:01 PM
We won't stick data drives inside a MacPro. I would certainly never store any important data on an internal drive in that oven. The MacPro is seriously heat challenged, worst of all Macs ever. Apple put keeping the hard drive at a stable temperature way down their list of important design criteria. Instead you get quiet when you buy a MacPro.

To get around that you put your data in high quality external box with great cooling and power. Then use the internal drives with one for OS, one for apps, 2 WD Raptors in a RAID0 for scratch. Great setup. Hide the darn box if you have to.

Not enough advantage to get me to add even more drives over the optical bay. Good way to cook everything. However, when esthetics rule, and as long as you have the bucks to replace stuff, go for it.



Rick

JeffCullen
06-18-2008, 11:16 PM
I figured that might be the answer...

As is the answer with many things in this company I suspect we would rather it perform great and be replaced often than have extra cables or another box hooked up to it.

Perhaps I could get them to be into an external array chassis, but only if it were really ridiculously good looking... i.e. styled like the Mac Pro itself, or perhaps like a vertical XServe Raid. Would have to be iPass cabling as cabling at the back must be kept to an extremely clean and manageable minimum... can you get white iPass cables...?

Anyway, cost is really not an object... so what is the best I can do for performance, and toss reliability to the wind, while working "inside the box" so to speak?

Boots
06-19-2008, 06:51 AM
For the startup drive inside the MP:

Use either a 10K Raptor 150G SATAII, Velociraptor, or an SAS or SCSI card with 15K SAS or SCSI- I think the Fujitsu MAX3147 (http://www.fujitsu.com/us/services/computing/storage/hdd/enterprise/max3147-sas.html) is the fastest; Seagate Cheetah 15.5 maybe a close second..You could even stripe a pair of these for another bit of boost.
Photoshop likes a 'fast as possible' startup disk; there are many PS processes which occur only on the startup disk. And the OS will like it too because of the inevitable vm swap files which will occur on the startup disk (even with 32GB of RAM) when working image files of that size.

For your user files:
As Rick said, user files on external box. If you stripe 2 or more fast SATA drives like the Barracuda 7200.11 750G or maybe those new Samsung drives, you'll get a nice boost with Photoshop file saves and file open operations, which are the two commands most dramatically affected by using faster disks.

For your Photoshop scratch disk:
4 drives in RAID0 is about the best cost/benefit ratio. 15K SCSI or SAS in an external box dedicated solely for PS scratch. Use the Disable Scratch Compression plugin.

Of course, backup your user files volume and system volume to standard external hotswap firewire or SATA on a daily if not hourly basis.

For CS3, don't forget to use the Bigger Tiles and ForceVMBuffering plugins also..

Nicolas
06-21-2008, 09:59 AM
Hello,

if money is not relevant...
Raid5
http://macgurus.com/productpages/sata/CalDigit_S2VR.php

OR, a bit smaller Raid0 or 3
http://www.ciprico.com/solutions-mediavault_4105.html

Regards

Nicolas

travelerbe
07-01-2008, 12:56 PM
I'm struggling with this too. But not to the same degree. A new 2.8 Dual Quad Core, 16GB RAM and 4 x 750MB Spinpoints are sitting in boxes right next to me. I thought I had a solid plan, but I keep hesitating. Most of my work is Photoshop, but a little of everything happens (lots of open apps). Most of the Photoshop images reside on a server and the work is done via that connection, and I'm not in control of that pipe. Since the images open up on my machine, I feel the scratch disc is one of the most important things. I backup everything to external drives for anything that is on my computer (there's a lot), so I'm not worried about backup.

My plan is Raid0 2 of the drives for scratch and some extra backup. The other 2 drives I'm confused about. RAID 0 them and put the OS/Users/Apps on it, or...put the OS on one, Users/Apps on the other. The RAID 0 option is easier for me to handle, but I don't want to leave speed on the table. Are there huge gains to be made by splitting the two, or just bit. Again, I'm running lots of apps so it's not just Photoshop all the time.

Thank you all so much for your amazing advice!

ricks
07-01-2008, 01:37 PM
There are VERY few benefits to using a RAID0 for the OS and applications. All those teensy little accesses that the OS and applications do waters down any semblance of performance gains. A RAID0 array does one thing really fast - it does multiple things less fast.

You do get to boot up faster... but I personally reboot a computer as seldom as humanly possible, so that never appealed to me.

R

Boots
07-01-2008, 01:45 PM
Most of the Photoshop images reside on a server and the work is done via that connection, and I'm not in control of that pipe.

If you can possibly either:

a) use Version Cue, or

b) copy the image file from the server to an internal volume on the MP....

and then work on the image file-

You will eliminate serious potential problems to the files themselves and speed up Photoshop performance. Working the files as they reside on your server will probably be more of a performance penalty/bottleneck than other aspects of your setup.


My plan is Raid0 2 of the drives for scratch and some extra backup. The other 2 drives I'm confused about. RAID 0 them and put the OS/Users/Apps on it, or...put the OS on one, Users/Apps on the other. The RAID 0 option is easier for me to handle, but I don't want to leave speed on the table. Are there huge gains to be made by splitting the two, or just bit. Again, I'm running lots of apps so it's not just Photoshop all the time.

If your working image files are large, I'd probably try 3x RAID0 on the scratch, everything else on a single volume startup/users internal etc.

However, since you are such a good back-er-upper :) , I might also try 2x RAID0 startup/users, 2x RAID0 scratch- with the image file save destination being the startup/users. You'll get some additional benefit in Open and Save performance that way- assuming you are opening and saving from and to that volume and not the server volume.....

my 2+ cents..

travelerbe
07-01-2008, 04:06 PM
You guys are amazing! Thanks for the quick response. So Ricks is saying OS on 1 drive and Users/Apps on the other. But Boots is saying possibly trying the the other way with the RAID 0 the two together. I'm a bit confused still. Does it really matter in terms of performance? Photoshop being the King, but I'd like all of the other apps to be happy and fast too. If I RAID 0 users/OS/apps I would be reading, writing, and copying to it often, so wouldn't that be a plus?

No chance working local with the images...server based everything. The images opening and closing are the lag, but not awful. Working on the images is done locally as the "temp" file is stored on my machine till I hit save. That's why I thought the 16GB of RAM and the RAID 0 Scratch would be enough.

Boots
07-01-2008, 04:45 PM
Ok- well, if server-based is mandatory, don't bother with the RAID0 of startup volume; that would only have been a performance plus if opening and saving the image files locally to that volume...

Do Rick's system/user split or the standard "everything on a single drive except scratch". Each has their pro's and con's- but certainly both are far safer and give better overall performance than than a RAID0 startup....

I recommend the RAID0 startup for regular work on large Photoshop files (100MB+ layered, 300MB+ non-layered) because it can boost the Open and Save times considerably when the image file is on the same volume, and the scratch disk is separate and dedicated (either 2x RAID0 or more internal or external).....

...and with a good backup routine and system already in place.

travelerbe
07-01-2008, 06:13 PM
Thanks again Boots! My thoughts regarding the RAID startup were easy of use and some performance boosts. Most of the work will be done on the server like I said but some of it would be on that start up RAID, maybe 15%. Also going to run Parallels/Boot Camp, so again I figured the RAID start up/everything, and another RAID Scratch, and then backing up to external FW drives would be the way to go, now not so sure. I think I've hurt my brain with all the options. Appreciate your advice very much. Thank you for taking the time to help me out.

Boots
07-02-2008, 09:37 AM
Personally- over the long run, I prefer the "everything on one drive except scratch" setup for ease of maintenance and backing up..

But Rick has an excellent guide to the "separate User drive" method also which gives a plan for organizing data and backing up..

Accumulating experiences trying out different setups is really the best teacher to eventually finding what works best for you; these setups we've mentioned are a great way to start...but I'd stay away from a RAID0 startup for the time being.

And really- this is "fine-tuning" stuff, no need to split hairs too finely or sweat over it much. Most of your speed and performance is from your fast computer, tons of RAM, and those fast drives you've purchased.

Just be sure to use force vm buffering, Bigger Tiles, and keep your scratch disk as the first volume (outer tracks) of your RAID0 scratch disk. Also try the disable scratch compression plugin with your scratch disk- you may get a boost there too.

rrische
04-08-2009, 07:14 PM
You guys are amazing! Thanks for the quick response. So Ricks is saying OS on 1 drive and Users/Apps on the other. But Boots is saying possibly trying the the other way with the RAID 0 the two together. I'm a bit confused still. Does it really matter in terms of performance? Photoshop being the King, but I'd like all of the other apps to be happy and fast too. If I RAID 0 users/OS/apps I would be reading, writing, and copying to it often, so wouldn't that be a plus?

No chance working local with the images...server based everything. The images opening and closing are the lag, but not awful. Working on the images is done locally as the "temp" file is stored on my machine till I hit save. That's why I thought the 16GB of RAM and the RAID 0 Scratch would be enough.

I know this thread is a bit old. Hopefully you still check in....

I have worked at many companies that store everything on servers (visual effects companies) and aside from the performance hit you get opening and saving over the network (unless you have a super-fast network), I've also experienced the heartbreak of the network failing during a save. VERY very unhappy event....

Have you thought of copying the file you want to work on to your local drive, doing your work while saving locally (to take advantage of your snazzy system's speed) then copying your result back to the server when you're done? That's what I've gotten into the habit of doing on the job....and have had reason to be glad I did.

Just a thought....


Rick

Boots
04-09-2009, 08:51 AM
Have you thought of copying the file you want to work on to your local drive, doing your work while saving locally (to take advantage of your snazzy system's speed) then copying your result back to the server when you're done? That's what I've gotten into the habit of doing on the job....and have had reason to be glad I did.

Just a thought....


And this is exactly what Adobe recommends- they don't deliberately support the open from-and-save to-server model because there are just way too many variables of hardware/software/network combinations.

Besides- what you suggest rrische, makes much more sense from a performance standpoint. And Version Cue explicitly supports that model...Not that I work for Adobe- but I can totally see their point of view, having read about countless horror stories involving the server-based model.