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Topic: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

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  1. #1

    How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    I've been using one 750GB hard drive to stream all my sample libraries, but I'm about to add additional hard drives to share the streaming duties (not RAID configuration). For example, I'll probably divide up an orchestral library onto different drives so each section is stored on a different hard drive.

    So my question is, how many simultaneous streaming hard drives before the benefit stops, and the CPU/RAM limitations kick in?

    I currently run a quadcore 2.4Ghz, WinXP 32-bit with 4GB RAM (3GB switch activated) on one DAW, and my other DAW (laptop) is running Core2 Duo 2.4Ghz, Vista 64-bit with also 4GB of RAM. I could upgrade the WinXP 32-bit to a 64-bit OS and add more RAM if needed, and if I choose to do that, what is the RAM to multiple hard drive streaming ratio? For example, is it something like 2 GB RAM = one streaming hard drive (so that if you add one more hard drive, it won't help any as the RAM will become the bottle neck. You'd have to then add more RAM to benefit from adding additional hard drives)?

  2. #2

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    I don't think RAM would be a big issue here. If you wanted (and have the buck) you could even buy a big matrix (like for a professional video processing, streaming in 2k) and still benefit from it.
    You can also think about using one of those "easy RAID" features that some mobos have. I'm using it and it works great - no drivers, nothing at all, everything works 100% on a hardware basis so it's very handy. And how much faster it is? I didn't run any serious "scientific" tests but my simple checks showed about a 30% benefit on 7200 RPM drives.
    The third option is using SSDs but those are still too small and expensive I guess. But I'd say it's a good idea to keep an eye on those.

    Best,
    Henry
    NorthernSounds.NET.
    View my profile at NorthernSounds.net
    and visit my homesite: www.henrykiwan.com

  3. #3

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    The bottleneck with streaming samples is not the speed of the drive, as long as it is a 7200 drive. It is the amount of samples needed to be streamed, so the more drives the better. as to what point all those hard drives cause their own problem, I don't know, but I currently stream from 4 hard drives (5, if you include the audio drive), and have no problems.

    D

  4. #4

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    I think it's the other way around: the less memory, the more drives you need. With less memory, you have a smaller sample cache in memory and your system will have to access your hard disk drives sooner. So IF (and this is just an example) I would have 200 gigabytes of memory, I would try to load most of my samples completely in memory, which, of course, reduces the load on my hard disk drives.

    Now this is all kind of theoretical stuff. It's hard (not to say impossible) to give a formula that calculates all sizes of your hardware components, so they're all perfectly balanced. It really depends on the requirements of applications and sample libraries (and they differ). It also depends on the number of sample libraries you want to run simultaneously.

    Deciding on what to do, you have to realise that:
    • Lots of memory really helps running sample-based software; I buy as much memory as I can afford or am willing to spend.
    • Adding drives and dividing samples is always a good idea and there is virtually no limit except for the number of available connectors and space in your computer.


    Simply adding memory or hard disk drives doesn't raise the requirements on other computer components. So don't worry about that. Unless you're also planning to use more sample-based software simultaneously, which, of course, draws extra load on your system as a whole (more CPU cycles, memory and drive load).

    I guess, I'm echoing the other replies more or less.

    Just wondering, do you have performance problems with your DAW at the moment? Or planning to use new software?

  5. #5

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Durk View Post
    I think it's the other way around: the less memory, the more drives you need. With less memory, you have a smaller sample cache in memory and your system will have to access your hard disk drives sooner. So IF (and this is just an example) I would have 200 gigabytes of memory, I would try to load most of my samples completely in memory, which, of course, reduces the load on my hard disk drives.
    This would depend on whether or not your chosen sample player allows you to load all the samples into memory, or even whether the pre-load is user configurable.

    In any case, loading samples completely into memory is not really an option for me. My template is 23GB. The samples take up around 750GB on disc. I don't think I want to wait whilst 750GB loads. ;.)

    D

  6. #6

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    Theoretically...more drives should help a lot.
    In practice, there may come a point of diminishing returns.

    Hard drives are extremely slow compared to computers.
    They also tend to operate more or less autonomously.
    When a program needs data, it calls the OS.
    The OS then initiates a DMA (Direct Memory Access) request to the hard drive.
    The drive does its thing, and when finished, signals the OS.
    Software can be written in such a way as to be able to do other things while it waits for the DMA to complete.
    (Of course, software can also be written so that it just sits and waits for the data)

    As far as I know, there is no way to accurately calculate the performance improvement.

    You need to measure it.

    If I had to guess, I might guess that adding 2-3 might help, and by the time you get to 20, it might actually get worse...(but it's just a guess)

  7. #7

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    Thanks for the comments--they really help put things in perspective.

    I'm adding some new libraries and also sometimes I get audio crackle and pops and drops outs when I stream too many samples (full orchestral cue, for example).

    I'm thinking maybe I should swap out the 750GB with an 1.5TB, and then add 3 more 1.5TB so I get 4x 1.5TB total. I can then split the 4 orchestral sections onto 4 hard drives (plus all my other libraries like drums, percussion. guitars, basses, choirs...etc).

    I'm debating whether or not I should upgrade the OS to 64-bit. I know for a fact that a few of my favorite oldies don't run on 64-bit. Someone told me about jBridge, but I don't know if it works on software that get errors when you try to install on 64-bit OS. Maybe it's time to say good-bye to those oldies and the additional 4GB of RAM (I have 4GB now, and my mobo only supports up to 8GB total) would be worth the sacrifice?

  8. #8

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    Give a list of the plugs that you think won't work, and maybe people can suggest alternatives.

    D

  9. #9

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    You can always use 64-bit OS and run 32-bit host and plugins on it, it's ram-wise beneficial too.
    NorthernSounds.NET.
    View my profile at NorthernSounds.net
    and visit my homesite: www.henrykiwan.com

  10. #10

    Re: How many streaming hard drives before the benefit stops?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lunatique View Post
    Thanks for the comments--they really help put things in perspective.

    I'm adding some new libraries and also sometimes I get audio crackle and pops and drops outs when I stream too many samples (full orchestral cue, for example).

    I'm thinking maybe I should swap out the 750GB with an 1.5TB, and then add 3 more 1.5TB so I get 4x 1.5TB total. I can then split the 4 orchestral sections onto 4 hard drives (plus all my other libraries like drums, percussion. guitars, basses, choirs...etc).

    I'm debating whether or not I should upgrade the OS to 64-bit. I know for a fact that a few of my favorite oldies don't run on 64-bit. Someone told me about jBridge, but I don't know if it works on software that get errors when you try to install on 64-bit OS. Maybe it's time to say good-bye to those oldies and the additional 4GB of RAM (I have 4GB now, and my mobo only supports up to 8GB total) would be worth the sacrifice?
    Hi there,

    Depending on what libraries you use don't forget to keep the same manufacturers releases on the same drive only.
    It is a big mistake to put VSL and Sonivox for example on the same drive.
    Even using partitions.

    I use EWQLSO Platinum (along with others) and I have dedicated drives for them. I also have 3 machines using EWQL.
    The 4 sections are split on their own drives.
    500 Gig are fine too. You need to keep 30% free.
    Decide what libraries you want where and get a drive just big enough for that.

    As far as 64 bits go in short-
    If your plugins will work do it!
    The difference it makes for large orchestral sequences is huge!

    Here's a post I did on 64 Bits, have a look.
    http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67241
    2 X Intel i7 920 sys. 12 gigs Ram. XP & Win 7 64
    Cubase 5. Kontakt 4. EWQL C.C.C. (Play)
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    My two passions. Music and Cooking.
    Both require just the right ingredients....

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