No doubt the most popular external solution for 4K video editing is a RAID storage box which has ideally direct Thunderbolt connectivity, it could be Thunderbolt 1 with 10Gbps (1250MB/s) transfer rate bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2 with 20Gbps (2500 MB/s) transfer rate bandwidth or latest Thunderbolt 3 with 40Gbps (5000MB/s) bandwidth. If you are editing only 1080P or 2K videos or just working on some picture files you might find yourself OK with even USB3.0 (5Gbps = 625MB/s) or USB3.1 (10Gbps = 1250MB/s). But what these speeds are actually mean? Would you get the speed just by having let say Thunderbolt 3 enclosure? – NO as this is only a max bandwidth this device is capable of, so what would be the ideal solution?
Well, first you may want to check on how much space your live, active projects (you currently work) takes and then decide on storage capacity will be required. If let say 1TB is OK you may think that you will be OK with one 1TB drive but then even if you have fastest enclosure in the world, the maximum you would be able to get from that drive is only max 144MB/s that certainly won’t be enough for any editing and that’s a maximum READ speed you can get out of one drive so in that case you will need more drives, to have more drives, you will need bigger array and therefor the costs will be much higher as you would need more drives and bigger enclosure. Then let say having 6x of these drives set as RAID 0 (no protection for your data if any of the drives fail) enclosure you will get in theory max 864MB/s (slice about 25% of that speed to see real average speed and you will get about 691MB/s, is that the speed which would be enough? Again that is depends on size of the files you are working on, if the file is about half of the given capacity = 350MB then it should be OK but would I recommend that solution – NO, for two reasons, your data is not secure enough, if one out of 6x drives fail you will lose the whole volume and all your work will be simply lost. To protect your DATA you should use RAID 5 (will slow down your RAID for about 40% but data will be saved, instead of 6x 1TB you will see 5TB) or RAID 10 (RAID 10 will be better for speed but you will only see half of the capacity so 6x 1TB drives will show up as 3TB).
This solution would not give you enough speed, you will have space required for your live projects but certainly you would not get the right speed. Using bigger drives you may get just OK in terms of theoretical speeds but then you will find yourself with many glitches and unstable situations.
So you ask, what shall I do? What will be the ultimate solution for 4K video editors?
Many of you ask what speed you will get having a fast box filled with drives, giving you a theoretical answer won’t mean anything in terms of how much editing you could do, it will be file copy speeds which are irrelevant to actually on how much editing can be done. We would need to take into this calculation a software/codec which has being used, frame rates, file sizes, resolutions etc.
Some of the popular are listed here:
AVCHD 1080p at 30 fps – 3MB/s
XDCAM EX 1080p at 30 fps – 4.5MB/s,
ProRes 422 1080p at 30 fps – 21MB/s
ProRes HQ 4K at 24 fps – 106MB/s
So in terms of that I urge you all to use SSD drives, yes, you hear me right, SSD drives are very fast and they have very fast access time called IOPS (input/output operations per second), this factor is more important than actual speeds you will see. You should also have a RAID volume created with hard drives to store your live projects once they are rendered, finished and done with. The size of SSDs would depend if you are only a sole editor of if there is 4x simultaneous video editors working at the same time, there are solutions with Thunderbolt as well as 10Gbe Ethernet which can allow you to do that. It is such a variable to predict the number of SSDs but the normal calculation is at least 1 SSD per editor for 4K. If you are working on 1080P then 1SSD per 2 editors.
The important thing to remember is that if you working on 500GB files then you may want to opt for at least 1TB SSD drives as once the SSD is filled 70% its speeds are dropping pretty fast.
Let me give you some figures to compare, here is a short comparison between a single HDD (WD Red Pro 6TB) and a single SSD (Samsung 850 Evo 2TB):
WD Red Pro 6TB HDD
IOPS Random Read – 63 IOPS
IOPS Random Write – 61 IOPS
MB/s Average Read – 177MB/s
MB/s Average Write – 175.2MB/s
Samsung 850 Evo 2TB SSD
IOPS Random Read – 98,000 IOPS
IOPS Random Write – 90,000 IOPS
MB/s Sequential Read – 540MB/s
MB/s Sequential Write – 520MB/s
From above you see how much more you gain by getting SSD drives instead of HDDs, the differences are absolutely huge, if you multiply these numbers in a device like our NAS so that you have 12 HDD’s or 12 SSD’s, it is no competition.
From my experience talking to customers about these devices for the past few years, it is always best to separate the archive/completed projects from the items that are currently being edited. For example you can use 8 x HDD’s in the main drive bays as the storage for the archive/completed projects or projects waiting to be edited but you will use 4 x large SSD’s (big enough for you in progress items) to be used like a scratch drive, the only data that will be in the SSD’s is the items the editors are currently working on, once completed they get moved back to the HDD area.
If you will have any question do send me an email or leave the comment down below.
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