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More Workstation

The last installment provided details for building your own 10GbE workstation capable of reaching 750 MB/s transfer rates. For my last post of this series, I'll discuss the workstation build a bit more, then move on to a beefier server configuration.

First, here's the component diagram for the ASUS Z87-WS motherboard I use in my own editing workstation. It has two 1 GbE network ports and sufficient PCIe bandwidth for two SLI-capable video cards, while running a single-port 10GbE network card.

ASUS Z87-WS motherboard

ASUS Z87-WS motherboard

At the upper end of the workstation motherboard range, the ASUS P9X79-WS workstation uses a socket 2011 configuration to provide both more lanes of PCIe bandwidth and significantly more memory capacity. If you are looking to build a serious editing workstation/server with two video cards, a RAID card, and dual port 10GbE card, all running simultaneously, this board would be required to ensure sufficient PCIe bandwidth.

ASUS P9X79-WS motherboard

ASUS P9X79-WS motherboard

Benchmarks

The Asus Z87-WS workstation I used for Adobe Premiere CC (current as of January 2014) network tests generated some very respectable numbers using the Adobe Premiere Pro Benchmark for CS5 (PPBM5) and Premiere Pro Benchmark for CS6 (PPBM6). Bill Gehrke and Harm Millaard maintain these benchmarks in an attempt to assist editors in building cost-effective editing workstations. You can download the older test series at http://ppbm5.com/Instructions.html or the newer (takes longer to run) version at http://ppbm7.com/index.php/homepage/instructions

This benchmark numbers for the older PPBM5.5 tests are generated during the render and output of three timelines, pictured below:

PPBM5.5 benchmark

PPBM5.5 benchmark

I’ve updated the PPBM5.5 tests shown earlier in this series with more tests, including top 10 average results for the highest scoring online submissions. For these tests, the project, source files, cache files and preview files were all in the same directory on the local drive, NAS, or Server to reflect a completely shared network solution. The results, using various local drives and network shares, are summarized in Table 1.

Target Disk

Disk I/0 Test (seconds)

Mpeg2-DVD encode (seconds)

H.264 Encode (seconds)

MPE (mercury engine enabled, seconds)

Local 500GB SATA3 SSD Samsung Evo with RAPID enabled

29

41

49

4

TS-470 Pro 10GbE, Intel 530 SSD x 4, 1 TB, RAID 0

35

42

52

4

Windows 2012 Server R2, 10GbE, RocketRaid 2720, 24TB, 6 x 4TB Hitachi 7200 disks, RAID 5

39

43

49

4

TS-470 Pro 10GbE, 16TB, 4 x 4TB Hitachi 7200, RAID 0

54

43

51

5

Local WD Black 2TB 7200 HD

84

40

49

5

5 year old TS-509 Pro, 1GbE, 5TB, 5 x 1TB 5400, RAID5

263 (Yikes!)

80

53

7

Average Top 10 of 1351 results posted: http://ppbm5.com/DB-PPBM5-2.php

55

31

40

4.5

Table 1: PPBM5.5 Test Results

From these results, you can see that the 2012 Windows Server with a six disk RAID 5 array (third down) performed almost as well over 10GbE as did the locally-connected Samsung Evo SSD with RAPID RAM caching enabled (first entry). In other words, the 10GbE network drive was almost as fast as the very latest SSD technology connected directly to the motherboard, but with 40X the capacity.

Expand the Server’s RAID array to eight or more drives and the 10GbE results could easily surpass a locally-connected SSD, which is limited by SATA3 to around 500 MB/s.

The importance of these benchmarks is that they use real video files in various time lines to offer real-world comparative benchmarks. The 1 GbE results (sixth down) should reveal why editing over older 1 GbE links is not recommended. If you are doing a lot of rendered finished output and time is critical, a more powerful Nvidia like the GTX 780 would reduce all of the rendering times I’ve posted significantly.

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