Tag Archives: RAID

Riding the digital storage bus at the HPA Tech Retreat

By Tom Coughlin

At the 2018 HPA Tech Retreat in Palm Desert there were many panels that spoke to the changing requirements for digital storage to support today’s diverse video workflows. While at the show, I happened to snap a picture of the Maxx Digital bus — these guys supply video storage and RAID. I liked this picture because it had the logos of a number of companies with digital storage products serving the media and entertainment industry. So, this blog will ride the storage bus to see where digital storage in M&E is going.

Director of photography Bill Bennett, ASC, and senior scientist for RealD Tony Davis gave an interesting talk about why it can be beneficial to capture content at high frame rates, even if it will ultimately be shown at much lower frame rate. They also offered some interesting statics about Ang Lee’s 2016 technically groundbreaking movie, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which was shot in in 3D at 4K resolution and 120 frames per second.

The image above is a slide from the talk describing the size of the data generated in creating this movie. Single Sony F65 frames with 6:1 compression were 5.2MB in size with 7.5TB of average footage per day over 49 days. They reported that 104-512GB cards were used to capture and transfer the content and the total raw negative size (including test materials) was 404TB. This was stored on 1.5PB of hard disk storage. The actual size of the racks used for storage and processing wasn’t all that big. The photo below shows the setup in Ang Lee’s apartment.

Bennett and Davis went on to describe the advantages of shooting at high frame rates. Shooting at high frame rates gives greater on-set flexibility since no motion data is lost during shooting, so things can be fixed in post more easily. Even when shown at lower resolution in order to get conventional cinematic aesthetics, a synthetic shutter can be created with different motion sense in different parts of the frame to create effective cinematic effects using models for particle motion, rotary motion and speed ramps.

During Gary Demos’s talk on Parametric Appearance Compensation he discussed the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) implementation and testing. He presented an interesting slide on a single master HDR architecture shown below. A master will be an important element in an overall video workflow that can be part of an archival package, probably using the SMPTE (and now ISO) Archive eXchange Format (AXF) standard and also used in a SMPTE Interoperable Mastering Format (IMF) delivery package.

The Demo Area
At the HPA Retreat exhibits area we found several interesting storage items. Microsoft had on exhibit one of it’s Data Boxes, that allow shipping up to 100 TB of data to its Azure cloud. The Microsoft Azure Data Box joins Amazon’s Snowball and Google’s similar bulk ingest box. Like the AWS Snowball, the Azure Data Box includes an e-paper display that also functions as a shipping label. Microsoft did early testing of their Data Box with Oceaneering International, which performs offline sub-sea oil industry inspection and uploaded their data to Azure using Data Box.

ATTO was showing its Direct2GPU technology that allowed direct transfer from storage to GPU memory for video processing without needing to pass through a system CPU. ATTO is a manufacturer of HBA and other connectivity solutions for moving data, and developing smarter connectors that can reduce overall system overhead.

Henry Gu’s GIC company was showing its digital video processor with automatic QC, and IMF tool set enabling conversion of any file type to IMF and transcoding to any file format and playback of all file types including 4K/UHD. He was doing his demonstration using a DDN storage array (right).

Digital storage is a crucial element in modern professional media workflows. Digital storage enables higher frame rate, HDR video recording and processing to create a variety of display formats. Digital storage also enables uploading bulk content to the cloud and implementing QC and IMF processes. Even SMPTE standards for AXF, IMF and others are dependent upon digital storage and memory technology in order to make them useful. In a very real sense, in the M&E industry, we are all riding the digital storage bus.

Dr. Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, is a storage analyst and consultant. Coughlin has six patents to his credit and is active with SNIA, SMPTE, IEEE and other pro organizations. Additionally, Coughlin is the founder and organizer of the annual Storage Visions Conference as well as the Creative Storage Conference.

Promise, Symply team up on Thunderbolt 3 RAID system

Storage solutions companies Promise Technology and Symply have launched Pegasus3 Symply Edition, the next generation of the Pegasus desktop RAID storage system. The new system combines 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 speed with Symply’s storage management suite.

According to both companies, Pegasus3 Symply Edition complements the new MacBook Pro — it’s optimized for performance and content protection. The Pegasus3 Symply Edition offers the speed needed for creative pro generating high-resolution video and rich media content, and also the safety and security of full-featured RAID protection.

The intuitive Symply software suite allows for easy setup, optimization and management. The dual Thunderbolt 3 ports provide fast connectivity and the ability to connect up to six daisy-chained devices on a single Thunderbolt 3 port while adding new management tools and support from Symply.

“As the Symply solution family grows, Pegasus3 Symply Edition will continue to be an important part in the larger, shared creative workflows built around Promise and Symply solutions,” said Alex Grossman, president and CEO, Symply.

The Pegasus3 Symply Edition is available in three models — Pegasus R4, Pegasus R6 and Pegasus R8 — delivering four-, six- and eight-drive configurations of RAID storage, respectively. Each system is ready to go “out of the box” for Mac users with a 1m 40Gb/s Active Thunderbolt 3 cable for easy, high-speed connectivity.

Every Pegasus3 Symply Edition will include Symply’s Always-Up-to-Date Mac OS management app. iOS and Apple Watch apps to monitor your Pegasus3 Symply Edition system remotely are coming soon. The Symply Management suite will support most earlier Pegasus systems. The Pegasus3 Symply Edition includes a full three-year warranty, tech support and 24/7 media and creative user support worldwide.

The Pegasus3 Symply Edition lineup will be available on the Apple online store, at select Apple retail stores and at resellers.

Review: Promise Technology’s Pegasus2 R2+ RAID

By Brady Betzel

Every day I see dozens of different hard drives — from some serious RAIDs, like the Avid Nexis (formerly Isis), all the way down to the single-SSD via Thunderbolt. My favorite drives seem to be the ones that connect easily, don’t have huge power supply bricks and offer RAID options, such as RAID-0/RAID-1. If you’ve been to an Apple Store lately then you’ve probably ran into the Promise Technology Pegasus2 R2+ line of products. Also, the Pegasus2 R2+ is featured under the storage tab on www.apple.com. I bring that up because if you are on that page you are a serious contender.

The Pegasus line of products from Promise is often thought of as high-end and high-quality. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Pegasus. From their eight-bay R8 systems all the way down to the R2, there are options to satisfy any hardware-based RAID need you have from 0 to 1, 5 or 6. Lucky for me, I was sent the R2+ RAID to review. I was immediately happy that it was a hardware-controlled RAID as opposed to a software-controlled RAID.

Pegasus2 R2+

Software RAIDs run 100 percent on an external system to control the data structure, but I like my RAID to control itself. The Pegasus2 R2+ is a two-drive hot swappable RAID loaded with two 7200RPM, 3TB Toshiba hard drives. In addition, there is a third bay — the Media Bay — on the top that can be loaded with different pods. You can choose from an SSD reader, a CF/SD card reader or even an additional 1TB hard drive, but it ships with the CF/SD card reader. Keep in mind these pods will only work when connected via Thunderbolt 2 — under USB 3.0 they will not work. Something cool: when you pop out the interchangeable pods they can connect via USB 3.0 separate from the RAID case.

In terms of looks, the Pegasus2 R2+ has a nice black finish, which will go well with any recent Mac Pros you might have lying around. It has a medium-to-small footprint — picture two medium-sized books stacked on top of each other (5.3 x 7.3 x 9.8 inches). It weighs about 13.5 pounds and while I did stuff it in my backpack and carry it around, you know it’s in there. The power cord is nice. I detest the power bricks that typically accompany RAID drives, laptops and anything that sucks a good amount of power. To my delight, Promise has incorporated the actual power supply inside of the RAID, leaving a simple power cable to attach. Thank You! Other than that you have either a USB 3.0 cable or a Thunderbolt 2 cable included in the box.

Running Tests
Out of the box, I plugged in the RAID and it spun up to life. For this review, I found a Mac Pro running a 2.7GHz 12-core Xeon E5, with 64GB of DDR3, and an AMD FirePro D700 graphics card, so there should very little bogging down the transfer pipes when running my tests. I decided to use the AJA System Test for disk-speed testing. I started with the drive in RAID-0 (optimized for speed, both drives are together, no safety) because that is how it is shipped.

DiskSpeedTest Thunderbolt copy

Over Thunderbolt 2, I got around 390MB/sec read and 370 MB/sec write speeds. Over USB, 3.0 still configured in RAID-0, it at about 386MB/sec read/write. When I turned the RAID over to RAID-1 (made for safety, so if one drive is damaged you will most likely be able to have your data rebuilt when you replace the damaged drive), I definitely saw the expected slow down. Over Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0, I was getting around 180MB/sec write and 196MB/sec read. Don’t forget, the 6TB drive that ran in RAID-0 is now 3TB when configured in RAID-1.

On the front of the R2+ you have two lights that let you know the drive is plugged in via Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.0. This actually came in handy, as I was looking to see how I plugged the drive in. Cool!

One thing I was very happy with was how simple the Promise Technology RAID configuration tool was to use. Not only will it give you stats on the drive, like temperature of the drives, health of the drives and even fan speed, it lets you format and designate RAID configurations. This alone would make me think of Promise first when deciding on a RAID to buy. I really liked how simple and easy to use the RAID configuration software was to use.

As a final test I left my Pegasus2 R2+ configured in RAID-0 and pulled a drive out while transferring media to the RAID. The status light on the front changed from a bright blue to an amber color and began to blink. Inside of the Pegasus2 RAID configuration tool an amber exclamation point appeared next to the RAID status as expected. I left the drive alone so it could rebuild itself. Two hours later it was still running, so I left it alone overnight. I didn’t accurately time the rebuild, but by the time I came home the next night it was complete. I only had a few hundred gigabytes worth of data on it, but in the end it came back to life. Hooray!

General Thoughts
In the end, I really love the sleek black exterior, lack of a huge power brick and the RAID configuration software. The additional Media Pods are a cool idea too. I like having a Thunderbolt 2 CF/SD card reader (or better yet an SSD reader — think Red Mag) always ready to go, especially on the Mac Pro shaped like a black cylinder with no card readers built in.

I would really love to have seen what this could do when loaded with SSD drives, but since this review is about what comes with the Pegasus2 R2+, that’s what I’ve done.

Promise Technology has been around a long time and has been known to me to offer very reliable storage solutions. Keep in mind that the R2+ is shipped with the CF/SD card reader, but the other pods can be purchased separately. I couldn’t find anyone selling them online though. When I was writing this review, I saw the retail price of the Pegasus2 R2+ range from $749 to a little over $800. You get a two-year limited warranty, which covers all parts except for the fan and power supply. They are only covered for one year (kind of a bummer). When returning the product for warranty work, you can opt to be sent a loaner, but a credit card is required in case you don’t return it. In this instance, you will be charged retail price of the loaner). You can also opt to send yours in and wait for it to be replaced. Take note that you need a copy of the original receipt and boxes for return.

Summing Up
I really love the stability and elegance of the Pegasus line of RAID systems, and the Pegasus2 R2+ lives up to the beauty and name. If you are a small company or one-person band transferring, transcoding and editing media without the need for SSD speed or Thunderbolt 3 connection, this is the sleek RAID for you.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Brady was recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2 upgraded with Seagate hard drives for 4K

LaCie, a Seagate brand, has made updates to its 5big Thunderbolt 2 pro five-disk storage solution. Now featuring Seagate’s 8TB enterprise class hard disks, the new LaCie 5big provides more capacity (40TB), reliability and an extended warranty. This product is targeting 4K video workflows. The LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2 featuring these hard disks will be available this quarter in 40TB capacity for $3,999.

With Seagate’s new 8TB hard disks, the LaCie 5big offers a 33 percent capacity increase. These hard disks are designed to operate 24/7— versus 8/5 operations for traditional hard drives — and can support 8,760 hours of operation per year.

The LaCie 5big with Enterprise Class drives comes with a five-year warranty that covers the drives, enclosure and spare parts. The enterprise class drives feature 256MB cache, 7200RPM and rack environment optimization, offering the ideal solution for handling aggressive workloads.

More Details
With this Thunderbolt 2 technology, the LaCie 5big offers sustained speeds of up to 1050MB/s. This is enough bandwidth to edit several video streams in native 4K resolution. This kind of speed allows those working in Apple Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere to get maximum quality from footage and see native 4K edits in realtime.

The LaCie 5big offers a range of RAID modes that allow users to tailor the product to their needs. Its hardware RAID delivers sustained performance, better flexibility and the ability to connect the product to another computer while keeping the RAID configuration.

RAID modes 5 and 6 provide complete data protection against disk failure, while still providing speed and capacity needed for pro workflows. This feature helps users who want to use a single storage product for both video editing and backup. In protected RAID modes, even in the case of disk failure, the LaCie 5big’s hot-swappable disks mean zero data loss or downtime.

The LaCie 5big features two Thunderbolt 2 ports for daisy chaining. Pros can daisy chain up to six Thunderbolt devices to a computer via a single cable (included). Thunderbolt 2 is also backward compatible, using the same cables and connectors as first-gen Thunderbolt devices and computers. This allows pros to create a plug and play 4K video editing environment with increased capacity and speed.

The LaCie 5big’s cooling system consists of three key components: a heat-dissipating aluminum casing, a Noctua cooling fan and jumbo heat exhausts. The ultra-quiet Noctua NF-P12 fan pulls heat away from the internal components while producing little noise.

G-Tech intros two portable G-Speed Shuttles

At the BVE show in London, G-Technology is showing two new transportable 8-bay RAID storage solutions aimed at capture and editing on location. The systems can also be used in post and as back-up in the studio. The new G-Speed Shuttle XL with ev Series Bay adapters and G-Speed Shuttle XL are designed with an integrated handle to easily move the enclosure and fit inside a standard protective case that can be placed into an overhead airline compartment.

The G-Speed Shuttle XL with ev Series Bay Adapters is an 8-bay, transportable, hardware RAID, Thunderbolt 2 solution offering up to 48TB and high-definition performance. Designed to support multi-stream 4K workflows and beyond, this solution can be configured in RAID-0, -1, -5, -6 and -10 and features transfer rates up to 1,200MB/s. It also comes with six enterprise-class hard drives and a three-year limited warranty.

Based on the flexibility of the Evolution Series, two of the 8-bays feature ev Series Bay Adapters, which are compatible with any of the portable G-Drive ev external drives, including the G-Drive ev RaW, G-Drive ev 220, G-Drive ev RaW SSD and ev Series Reader Red Mini-Mag Edition.

Available now, the G-Speed Shuttle XL with ev Series Bay Adapters is $3,299.95 for 18TB, $3,499.95 for 24TB, $4,999.95 for 36TB and $5,999.95 for 48TB.

The G-Speed Shuttle XL is an 8-bay Thunderbolt 2 solution offering up to 64TB of storage featuring eight enterprise-class hard drives and a three-year limited warranty. It can be configured in RAID-0, -1, -5, -6, -10 and -50 and features transfer rates up to 1,350MB/s, easily supporting 4K workflows. The G-Speed Shuttle XL is $3,499.95 for 24TB, $4,499.95 for 32TB, $5,999.95 for 48TB and $7,999.95

Review: Sonnet Fusion QR 8TB External RAID

By Brady Betzel

We all know that Thunderbolt 2 has been the talk of the town in terms of storage and I/O devices for the last six months or so. Unfortunately if you don’t own a Mac Pro (2014 model), a high-end PC workstation like the latest HP z840, or have the DIY knowledge to build your Intel X99 architecture-based computer with Thunderbolt capabilities, you are kind of out of luck.

Some people, like me, still need access to “legacy” interfaces such as FireWire 800, eSATA and USB 3.0 — which is sort of on its way to be considered “legacy,” even though I use it as my primary connection. Luckily for us, Sonnet Technologies still provides outstanding external RAID devices like the Fusion QR.

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Scale Logic, led by former Rorke employees, holds grand opening

Bloomington, Minnesota — Storage solutions provider Scale Logic Inc. (SLI), whose executive team has been providing storage for media and entertainment for over 25 years, officially launched its new US world headquarters recently in Minnesota.

They celebrated with over 250 guests from around the world, including partners from

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