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Thread: RAID1 for Digital Audio Mirroring?

  1. #1
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    Question Who Makes Stock G5 DP 2GHz Hard Drives?

    Can anyone tell me who makes the stock 160GB and 250GB hard drives that Apple is shipping in the G5 DP 2 GHz these days?

    Background Info:

    I'm fixing to order a G5 DP 2GHz, probably with a 250GHz drive. I'll be setting up an internal RAID 1 array with 2 bootable volumes per drive -- one for normal usage (70GB) and one for digital audio recording (180GB), with each volume mirrored to corresponding identical volumes on the second drive. I plan to use SoftRaid...not Panther's Disk Utility.

    My preference is Hitachi Deskstar drives (formerly IBM), simply because that's what I've been using for years and they've always worked perfectly. I realize that Apple's choice of manufacturers might vary, in which case, I guess I'll just take my chances. I don't know whether there are any caveats that pertain to using drives from two different manufacturers in the same RAID 1 array, but I figure it would probably be best to eliminate all doubt and get two identical SATA drives, both by the same manufacturer.

    Because I haven't purchased the G5 yet, I'm still flexible. If there's no way to determine with any certainty the stock drive's manufacturer, I might just get the standard 160GB, yank it out and use it elsewhere, and go with two matched Hitachi drives for the internals. Or use a G5 Jam and add a second 160GB and a SeriTek/1S2...or something...

    ...oh, and I'll be buying the G5 directly from Apple, so at least the drive info will be whatever they're shipping right now, if anyone knows.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Arrow G5 Internal RAID

    I don't know of Apple using Western Digital, so chances are it will be Maxtor, Seagate or Hitachi ;-) But right now, Seagate doesn't have a 250, so that's one you can rule out.

    Unless you plan to RAID a pair of drives, in which case wait, buy what you feel most comfortable with, Hitachi 7K250 (and now 7K400) are a decent drive based on some reviews.

    I'm not sure I would mirror. I prefer to backup frequently. If you are planning to use SoftRAID (3.03) then you'll be booting from FW800 I take it. SR 3 isn't bootable, and they are planning and hoping to have a bootable version, but so far has alluded them, and means native support from Apple OS X installer, too.

    Sometimes, some of us like to have a 10K Raptor for system, one for scratch, and let each drive serve its own I/O, then move RAID to external SATA or SCSI (while hoping that someday FW800 will improve on G5s).

    You really might want to look at the BTO price on letting Apple provide 2 x 250.

    Different manufacturers DO use different firmware and I/O commands, so mixing drives isn't probably something you want to do.

  3. #3
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    FWIW, our off-the-shelf DP 1.8s at work came with 160GB Maxtors, but that was months ago.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  4. #4
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    Hi TZ:

    Thanx for your reply. You wrote...

    "I'm not sure I would mirror. I prefer to backup frequently."
    I'm going to have to mirror...at least on the "normal use" volume. The work I'll be doing on that volume is for a research project, and the contract specifications require mirroring rather backing up. The audio stuff on the other volume is my own, and backing up is OK with me for that.

    However, I'm curious as to why you think mirroring is not a good idea (if indeed that's what you meant by "I'm not sure I would mirror."). For the "normal use" volume, speed is not really much of a consideration. The G5 DP 2GHz should easily handle all the of the stuff I'll be asking it to do (text, static graphic illustrations, mail, spreadsheet, data base, browser, etc.)...I'm doing most of that stuff on my G4-400 "Yikes" right now without much difficulty.

    As for the audio recording work, I probably won't be recording more than 6 channels simultaneously (max), and most of the recording will be done on one or two tracks at any given time. Plug-in usage will eat the most processing power and RAM (2GB), but I still don't see a problem with the kind of stuff I'll be doing. Based on the info I've gotten from folks who are using the same hardware and setup that I'll be using (ProTools LE with Digidesign's 002R), throughput to the hard drive(s) is not even close to being a problem.

    "If you are planning to use SoftRAID (3.03) then you'll be booting from FW800 I take it."
    Well...actually, I hadn't gotten that far in planning it. I figured that the stock 160GB drive might be usable in a FW800 external enclosure to get everything all set up and running on the internal drives if I went that route, but I thought I had options that precluded my having to use a third drive. Here's what I mean...

    Maybe I'm not understanding the way SoftRaid works. I read the QuickStart pages on the SoftRAID website and I assumed that it could partition disks on the fly, meaning that I could install it on one volume and use it to configure its own (boot) disk into multiple volumes, as well as configuring the mirror/backup volume. If I read that wrong, so be it...but I still figured on being able to repartition the boot volume without erasing it by using VolumeWorks by SubRosaSoft...yes/no? Am I outa my mind?

    HOLD ON...NEWS FLASH!! I just heard back from my sales dude at Apple, and he assured me that there is absolutely NO way of knowing which manufacturer's hard drive is going to be installed in any given computer. He says that even if you custom configure it with 2 x 250GB, the most they will do is guarantee that the two drives will be by the same manufacturer (although he didn't say where I could find that "guarantee")

    Anyhow, there's no pretense here...I'm a RAID newbie. If it weren't for the contractual spec I'll be working under, I'd probably have just gone with frequent backups. So I'm extremely grateful for any wisdom you or others can offer on this subject. Your advice that I should do what I'm most comfortable with is solid gold. It looks like the best path here is to install the stock 160GB drive that comes with the G5 in an external FW800 enclosure, and use it (with SoftRAID installed on that volume) to configure two identical Hitachi 7K250 drives. Then, I'll just operate off those drives.

    Hmmmm... it just occurred to me: I've got my G4 "Yikes", a PowerBook G4, and an iMac G4 all connected on a LAN...can SoftRAID be installed on one of those machines and used to configure the RAID disks over the network? Prolly not, is my guess. How about in FireWire target disk mode on a crossover cable connection between two machines?

    BTW, what does "BTO" mean?

    Thanx again!

  5. #5
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    Question RAID1 for Digital Audio Mirroring?

    I've posted this on the Audiophiles Forum, but it actually seems most appropriate for posting on the RAID forum. Here's my principal question:

    Can anyone tell me whether I can run a RAID1 array to mirror digital audio & MIDI recording? I saw something on another forum that said Pro Tools LE "doesn't support RAID". (The impudent upstarts...)

    Don't miss out!! See below for More Exciting Questions!!! But first...

    Background:
    I'll be buying a new G5 DP (2GHz or 2.5GHz; 2GB RAM), yanking out the stock 160GB drive, and installing two 250GB Hitachi drives. I want to partition both drives identically into two bootable volumes (Volume A = 70GB; Volume B = 180GB) on each drive, with Volume A for general use, and Volume B for digital audio & MIDI music projects. I'll be using a Digi 002R with Pro Tools LE (initially), and eventually either Digital Performer 4 or Logic Platinum.

    I want to be able to boot off either volume on Drive 1 and have everything I write to that disk also write automatically to the corresponding volume on Drive 2. This is purely for backing up – I'm not concerned about speed here.

    I'm a RAID newbie, so I'm not even sure that RAID1 is the best way to get this done. Here are all the detailed questions I have about this matter:
    1. First, can I partition the two drives and set them up for RAID1 without using a third drive? I don't see why that shouldn't be possible using SubRosa's VolumeWorks to do the partitioning, and SoftRAID to do the RAID1 configuration, but since my RAID experience is ZERO, I'm educable.
    2. When I'm booted up and operating off, say Volume A on Drive 1, will it mirror to Volume A on Drive 2? Similarly, will Volume B on Drive 1 mirror to Volume B on Drive 2?
    3. How could mirroring in RAID1 possibly have anything to do with whether Pro Tools "supports RAID"? If the RAID controller (regardless of whether it's hardware or software based) is writing to Disk 1 and Disk 2 at the same time, why should Pro Tools have anything to say about it?
    4. If there's some reason why I have to use a third drive to get this to work – even if only to do the RAID1 configuration – can I do it reliably with an external FW800 drive (probably using the stock 160GB drive, since it'll be lying around all sad & lonely an' everything...)?
    5. Would there be any advantage in leaving the stock 160GB drive in place and adding a Swift200 SATA expansion kit & SeriTek controller card to handle the two 250GB drives?


    Sorry if these questions are particularly annoying in their ignorance of RAID1 functionality, but we all have to start somewhere. I will be most grateful for comments, suggestions, or advice from anyone who knows more than I do about this.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by freevito; 06-09-2004 at 12:15 PM. Reason: Change post icon; multi-forum post notice

  6. #6
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    VolumeWorks is new to me, I can't quite see the need, and it really is pretty much a new "1.0" product - even though they've updated to 1.1 (and companies tend to upgrade versions more often). SoftRAID lets you delete and create and given how long resizing can take, and possibly dangerous, I just backup, erase or delete. And which I trust.

    Audio does seem to be an area where a mirror RAID makes sense and works. Where you want to leave no margin for error or failure or lost work.

    It is not possible to modify the boot drive unless you are running from another drive. And there are plans but no timetable when SoftRAID will be bootable, but I would expect late fall, post 10.4 but I could be way off base. It could be the first day of fall, or 2005.

    Your stock drive will be SATA, so while you can use SATA externally, it isn't running off FireWire but would be running off SeriTek or similar controller. I would not be putting more drives inside the G5. We are working toward SATA-II and using Granite Digital SATA external cables to multidrive enclosures.

    In order to keep from having multiple discussions, fragmented threads, I've gone ahead and combined your new and old threads into one existing thread, which works best here. Can always put an anchor and redirect in RAID or Audio to this thread.

  7. #7
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    Just to weigh in with some 2 bits worth, or 2¢ worth as the case may be.

    I would not count on, nor recommend ever installing your OS on a RAID, mirror or otherwise. At this time the mainstream RAID applications do not support it and even if they did I wouldn't recommend it as being too complicated a scheme by far when simpler is to separate your data from the OS and just protect the data.

    The data files are what is important. In this case I would recommend a quality two or four drive Firewire RAID enclosure over most any other solution. Well supported and more than capable of resolving your audio file needs.

    We don't list them at this time but have a Granite Digital FW box that is made for just this purpose. I believe that Unclemac is running one of them for just that purpose, maybe he will chime in.

    If you do not want the data on an external and relatively expensive solution then you should put the OS on an external instead and RAID the two internal drives. Firewire 800 or SATA, both will serve well and be easily connected as the G5's OS storage.

    I would absolutely use SoftRAID's software package. Easily accomplishes the goals you have in mind and the reliability and support are the best in the industry. The ability to fine tune your disk structure, make on the fly instant mirror backups to other drives, and this is HUGE for what you are doing! You can have a handy Firewire enclosure sitting there and use SoftRAID to instantly mirror the mirrored data files to move to another computer or location. Instant redundant data security.

    The G5 is interesting because of heat issues and limited internal storage options. I have yet to be comfortable with the kits to install more drives internally. The cooling was designed down to the last btu of heat and adding more heat internally seems to me dangerous. I could be wrong there.

    Good luck. If we can help with a few solutions we are here for you.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
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  8. #8
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    How could mirroring in RAID1 possibly have anything to do with whether Pro Tools "supports RAID"? If the RAID controller (regardless of whether it's hardware or software based) is writing to Disk 1 and Disk 2 at the same time, why should Pro Tools have anything to say about it?
    Keep in mind that flagship applications like ProTols can use direct control of system I/O kits, the same as flagship RAID software does. They can conflict by using different parts of an I/O Kit or even different I/O kits altogether. Installation of ProTools may modify the way the system accesses and writes to disk during audio recording in the same ways that RAID software modifies how the system writes to disks controlled by the RAID software. So in some cases a RAID created by software may not work correctly with a given application. There are TONS of other factors as well. Like what controller is the RAID residing on, what drives and what firmware on those component parts.

    Different types of RAID apps are written with different types of data in mind. For many years the issues with artifacts and stuttering even with non RAID buses and drives were frequent and common. Workarounds were the discussion of the day. The faster a host card, the more often a problem. Many times third party software was used to reconfigure buses, drives and system access to those drives to resolve issues.

    Even hardware RAID is not inoculated from these problems. Some hardware RAID controllers and drives will have the very same problems with added artifacts and uneven performance. That is why major companies have built up around media storage for audio and video. It is why MacGurus can find a market for Huge Systems Media Vaults when the base price is over 3 grand.

    I am no where near an audio expert. Not even really conversant in the issues. But the frequency of those issues with quick solutions has taught me that attention to details will pay off. I wouldn't believe for a second that a solution will work just because it seems it should. Too many unknown factors that take FOREVER to get acknowledged publicly. You may very well have success with a given solution as well, I won't begrudge you that! Just because ProTools says it doesn't support RAID doesn't mean it WON'T work, only that the permutations are way to many for ProTools to do more than warn you that problems can happen.

    Just about anything you can think of implementing has been done by someone. So the trick is finding that someone and getting their input on how well it worked. And again, that is why we are able to sell the commercial solutions like the Huge arrays. They work. The developer has spent the time testing and resolving the problems in FCP, ProTools, and so on. Because you are building your own solution you must do your own research. Great start and good questions. Well on your way to being the expert on RAID and Audio.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  9. #9
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    Hey TZ:

    Thanx for your quick response. Thanx too for managing & consolidating my multiple posts. Now that I know how responsive these forums are, I'm much more confident that a single post will be read, even if it's not posted to all applicable forums. I belong to other forums that are considerably less responsive.

    You've tweaked my interest with your comment...
    I would not be putting more drives inside the G5.
    Is that a heat disspation issue? I've looked at G5 Jam, SATAMAXi, and Swift 200; of those three, Swift 200 looks best to me. Not that I have any direct experience with it...I'm going mostly by the Swift 200 Test Report written by Mad Scientist Rob-ART Morgan at BareFeats.com. In his test, he used ThermographX™ to measure the internal temps, and reported that with the addition of three drives to the G5 via the Swift 200, "The temperature readings were not significantly affected by the presence of the extra drives."

    Hey, hold on a minute – I need to check something... oops, that's what I was afraid of. I just checked the report, and it doesn't specify whether or not the G5 tested was a dual processor machine. I probably oughta ask the Mad Scientist about that. I would expect the number of processors to make a significant difference in the overall thermal load that the G5's cooling system has to dissipate. If he only used a single processor G5, then maybe the heat dissipation issue is more critical than his ThermographX tests indicated.

    Hmmmm...if heat is the issue, then maybe the new G5 DP 2.5GHz with the liquid cooling system is the way to go after all. Unfortunately, there's zero operating data available on that machine as of this writing...at least none that I can find. In fact, the addition of the radiator and other cooling system components undoubtedly takes up more of the available internal space, so it's not even clear whether there's enough room in the new 2.5 GHz model to accommodate a Swift 200 expansion.

    Of course, if I can operate the G5 with the two 250GB drives as I described in my last post, then there wouldn't be any need to add internal drives to the G5. It's still not clear to me whether I can operate as I described, wherein booting and operating off either volume on one drive will mirror to the corresponding volume on the second drive, but I'm assuming that the answer is "Yes". Is that correct? I don't know how else the concept of "mirroring" would work in a way that makes any sense to my RAIDally neophytic mind.

    What does seem clear is that, with current technology, I need a third drive to set up the RAID1 array, even if I don't need the third drive to actually operate in the mode I've described. Izzat right? Sheesh...as someone who's coming to the subject completely new, it sure seems kinda ridiculous to build RAID capability into Panther, expecting it to work on a computer (the G5) that isn't configurable with the third drive needed to make the doggone thing work without adding third party stuff.

    Hey...thanx for pointing out my mistaken assumption about using the stock 160GB drive as an external FireWire drive. I forgot about the SATA thing. In the past, I've looked at empty third-party FireWire enclosures as an option for taking one of my ATA/IDE drives outboard, sticking it in the FireWire enclosure, and using it... well, for whatever reason I might need to use an external drive. But I admit that it didn't occur to me that such enclosures won't accommodate SATA drives...assuming I've correctly understood your qualification about needing to run the stock 160GB SATA drive off a SeriTek (or other) SATA controller rather than using FireWire connectivity.

    The upshot of all that is this: The research project I'll be working on (which has imposed the RAID1 specification as a means of ensuring that nothing is lost) specifies the G5 DP 2GHz with two 160GB drives (min.), and SoftRAID to configure the RAID1 array for each machine used in the project. It sounds to me like that spec isn't going to get the job done, and that there's going to have to be a bootable external FireWire drive with SoftRAID installed on it passed around to each user to configure his machine for RAID1 functionality. Did I get that right?

    Thanx again, TZ.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricks
    Just because ProTools says it doesn't support RAID doesn't mean it WON'T work, only that the permutations are way to many for ProTools to do more than warn you that problems can happen.
    Rick is right on here. Lots of people run drive setups that are not officially supported by Digi with success. They do so at their own risk however. If you call Digi tech support with a problem, and have an unsupported hardware setup they will tell you that you're on your own. Supported simply means that they have tested that particular configuration with success.

    That said PT setups traditionally create a high load on the PCI bus. Having additional cards that require high bandwidth can create bus trafiic issues.

  11. #11
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    Do the native SATA bus/drives in the G5 support or work well with RAID?

    Maybe not. Some people have had trouble, or lower than expected results. Same for FW800 RAID on G5s. Thinking is, that Apple needs to revise the G5 hardware to overcome these problems.

    Creating your RAID using 3rd party PCI cards such as SATA from FirmTek tends to be more reliable and better. Same with FW800. ie, running internal RAID using SeriTek instead of the native SATA bus.

    Qualifying controllers, drives, OS, and application(s). This takes time, testing, and not everyone does it or thinks about it. Retrospect is one and it is very slow.

    You'll see where disk drives may need new firmware or drivers. Or updates to a controller. And then there is OS X which is a moving target but has had trouble enough with disk and RAID support - gradually improving and probably getting close. With EVERY major OS X upgrade (10.2 to 10.3) there has also been a major change and rewrite to drivers - which makes it hard, costly, takes a lot of extra time and work for 3rd party (applications, drivers, etc such as SoftRAID, ATTO etc - it took 5-6 months for ATTO to "transition" support to Panther).

    It always helps to have disk drives be given time to spin-up, warm-up, have their own power etc external. While it creates clutter, cables, and noise, it also tends to work better, too.

    When a drive in a mirror fails, it may take minutes, hours, or a full day to rebuild.

    I use to use a mirror under OS 9 using SoftRAID for my system to protect my system. I still don't know if it was problems with OS 9 itself, applications, or RAM (though I spend $$$ swapping out RAM to finally end up with correct chips).

    If it was me, while ATA has become mainstream, and SATA is the future, the best engineering in disk drives has been SCSI. Audio applications - not my area - and while ATA and now SATA offer more than enough performance, audio is very sensitive to noise. Maybe external cables will shield drive noise and prevent any feedback RFI (?) from interferring.

    Pulling someone out of the woodwork who has "been there, done that."

    It would have been nice to see just one more drive bay in the G5. Whether for a 2nd optical drive, or for hdd so you could have boot drive and two drive RAID.

  12. #12
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    My brief 2c worth...
    I could not get PT to run on a 9600/G4/350 OS 9.1 using SoftRaid 2.2.2 <=>2 x 36G Cheetahs.

    After weeks of trying to resolve I discovered a very obscure note on the Digi site that stated PT will not function on a raid!!!

    If anything, maybe try ATTO to stripe the drives as PT seems to like ATTO.


    Bernard
    The Meek Won't Want It!

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