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Other Hardware and Peripherals Other Apple systems and peripherals discussion.

iMac - Are external FW800 enclosures fast enough for audio?


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pcnix

 
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I am currently running Logic Express and Digital Performer on my PowerMac G4 1.42GHz. I have two internal drives where I store most of my projects (I'm a voiceover guy and part-time musician.) I'm considering buying a new iMac 2.66GHz, but don't want to entirely rid myself of the internal drives in the G4. My question: are external SATA Firewire 800 enclosures fast enough for multitrack audio editing? I know it's slower than a direct SATA drive connection, but would it cause severe problems enough to consider getting a Mac Pro?

I'm recording audio at 16-bit, 44.1k sampling rate. But I have an audio interface that can record high-definition audio at 24-bit, 96k.

Would the iMac and Firewire 800 be able to handle the high data rate? I welcome any advice I can get because I'd like to make a purchase decision in the next few weeks. Thanks!
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Barring a more authoritative response since I don't do that type of work.... I would imagine that getting a Firewire 800 enclosure that will let you run 2 or more drives as a RAID 0 (stripe) array should do fine. You should do hardware RAID though, rather than using a software solution like OS X supports with non-RAID hardware. This enclosure for example will let you take 2 SATA drives, run them as a single 1.5 TB drive with a sustained data transfer rate of 80MB/sec.

I may be overlooking something, but this should give you something to start with.


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pcnix

 
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Thanks, lifeisabeach. Pardon my ignorance, but each of the two drives has double partitions. If I get the enclosure like the one you recommended, will my drives lose their partitions?
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Originally Posted by pcnix View Post
Thanks, lifeisabeach. Pardon my ignorance, but each of the two drives has double partitions. If I get the enclosure like the one you recommended, will my drives lose their partitions?
I've never heard of using drives with multiple partitions in a RAID array. I can't imagine it would serve any point, if it even is possible. I would certainly not try.

BTW... the speeds that particular product promised is largely based on the speed of the drives they have available for sale. I don't know what yours are capable of... presumably they are somewhat slower since they are older, but shouldn't be too drastic. Also... ideally all the drives in a RAID stripe should be identical for max performance. You can use different ones (in size and speed) but it won't result in maximum performance or capacity.

You may also be able to boost that transfer rate by using an enclosure that supports 3-4 drives. You'll have to shop around a bit and see what's out there and what they can do. When I get a chance later, I'll see what others I can dig up also.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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Lifeisabeach

 
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I just did some more checking on data rates for FW800 vs SATA. Going with an external FW800 RAID stripe may not be your best bet. Here's the breakdown:

The maximum sustained data transfer rate for Firewire 800 is 100 MB/sec.
The maximum sustained data transfer rate when using the FW800 enclosure I pointed out earlier is 80 MB/sec. So adding a 3rd drive would be almost pointless since you are already nearly maxed out with 2.
The maximum sustained data transfer rate for SATA 300 is 300 MB/sec (this is the overall bus bandwidth, not what any one drive can sustain).
Looking at the specs for a new SATA 300 drive, and this one as an example can do sustained data transfers of 120 MB/sec.

So basically, "if" your existing drives are SATA 300, then putting them in a RAID enclosure would result in your data transfer rate being cut from 120 MB/sec or so for a single drive to 80 MB/sec for 2 in a RAID stripe using Firewire 800. YUCK!

Now... that all said... going with the FW800 RAID enclosure is still going to be your fastest option if you are sticking to getting an iMac. Which leads us back to your question... "is it fast enough?" That depends on if your existing PowerMac G4 has been fast enough for you, and what data transfer rates you have been getting. I'd need to know your drive model to look up that sort of thing.


Please verify and include the exact model/year of your Mac and OS X version number (available from "About This Mac", then "More Info" on the Apple menu).
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