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NX: Gen -- NX performance on a RAID0 system

Discussion in 'Nikon Capture and View NX' started by MikeA, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    Your advice requested -- especially of people running Capture NX and/or Photoshop under Windows, on a single proc/quad core system with fast drives.

    I ordered a new computer, which turns out to have been set up incorrectly. It has two SATA hard drives. I had asked for them simply to be formatted and the o.s. to be installed (of course) on drive C:. I would then use Drive D: as the data drive -- including the "scratch disk" for Capture NX (v.2) and Photoshop (CS2 at the moment, CS3 in the future). Using "scratch" drives separate from the ones containing the application itself is said to enhance performance of these programs.

    But the computer company shipped the machine set up with RAID0. The o.s. thinks the two drives are one drive (they are "striped"). So there goes using drive D: as the "scratch" disk drive for NX and PS.

    Apparently the only way to get back C: and D: is to "un-RAID" the system via the BIOS, then reformat the drives and re-install everything. What a huge pain, but there's apparently no alternative. (The box has no more drive bays available, so the easy-out here -- installing a third internal drive -- isn't possible. Using an external drive for this would probably defeat the purpose speed-wise, and isn't desirable as external drives are notoriously prone to failure -- and this one would have to be up and running all the time.)

    BUT...this is a single proc/quad core machine with 4 GB of RAM (with WinXP recognizing only 3 GB of it). Two -- probably fast -- SATA drives, with faster disk access yet via RAID0. Is it possible that I could still get decent performance out of both Photoshop and Capture NX if I don't go through this time-consuming "un-RAID/format drives/re-install everything" process? I have never had a machine this fast before and I've never had drives this fast. But for all I know, these two programs still should have their "scratch" directories on separate drives -- or performance will suffer.

    Leaving the thing as-is would not give me a separate "data drive." But then, there's always the ancient "SUBST" command if I wanted to create an illusion of having another internal drive.

    Thanks in advance...
     
  2. I have been using RAID 0 for the past 2 years on my old computer. No problems just get an external drive or two and back up. I make an image and update it weekly on one external drive and then back up my images on both drives. But my new computer which will be here tomorrow has 2 750 gig harddrives not RAID0. But, hey it is not big deal about reformatting and starting over. In fact if there is a lot of fluff loaded on the new computer, depending how you ordered it and from where, it would help a lot to do that.

    Cheers
    Nancy
     
  3. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    This isn't about backing up. It's about having a separate "scratch" drive so that the "scratch directories" for NX2 and Photoshop are on different drives from the one where the apps themselves are installed. The theory is that this improves their performance -- sometimes, noticeably.

    Given the much lower speed of data transfer of an hard external drive, it seems to me that using an external drive for this purpose specifically would not provide any advantage at all. In fact it might slow things down. For backup purposes, of course external drives are fine.

    Removing the unnecessary utilities is probably a good idea -- though I didn't do that with my previous computer (built also by a large company, not from the ground up by a local PC builder). There was only one utility that I had to get rid of. The rest remained and haven't been a problem. The frustration here is that I was hoping to get up and running ASAP. I was very clear with the salesman on the phone that I wanted a C and D drive and specifically for "scratch disk" purposes. Either he spaced it out or the assembly people spaced it out. Whatever the case, RAID0 was not what I ordered.

    Re-installaing apps is not a big deal. But IME, re-installing drivers and getting all of that stuff right can be non-trivial.

    I'm hoping someone who is now using a RAID0 system and a single proc/quad core system might have the time to comment on Photoshop and/or NX performance when it isn't possible to put the "scratch disks" on separate drives. If these programs will run acceptably fast with the drive "striping" still in place, then maybe I just swallow my irritation with the computer maker and live with the system as-is. No question about it, RAID0 will speed up disk access.
     
  4. Mike, I'm sure you considered sending the computer back and telling the manufacturer to send you the product configured as you ordered it. You apparently have reasons for not doing that, so this compromise must be pretty frustrating. I know it would be to me.
     
  5. Before you reinstall everything you should make an image of your system, turn off RAID in the BIOS and restore the image and see if that works. Could save some installation time.
     
  6. AndyE

    AndyE

    871
    May 2, 2005
    Vienna, Austria
    Mike, I understand if you don't want to touch the system. Personally I would do it, as I have most systems set up at home without RAID systems - separate spindles are just faster.

    Just to give you some performance indication.
    System: Mid range Quad Core (Q9450), 8 GB RAM, separate drives. Vista64, NX2.

    Test1: Double clicking on a D3 NEF file (lossless compressed) - NX2 will start, file will be loaded, ready to use - 4 sec

    Test2: NX2 is not loaded. Selecting 10 D3 NEF files. Same procedure. 20 sec.

    regards, Andy
     
  7. jafo

    jafo

    238
    Jun 11, 2008
    Chatsworth, CA
    You should use the system as is, and if you need the scratch disk, install a 3rd drive. The two RAID drives should be on a separate controller on the motherboard... You will get better performance that way than installing all your apps on one drive and using a separate "scratch disk" just for a few cache files from NX2/PS!
     
  8. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    Ugh...the sheer hassle of boxing the thing up meticulously and sending it back... that's what is deterring me. I had hoped to convince them that this is their mistake, but because "RAID0" appears on the packing list, it looks to them as if they haven't made any mistake. Ergo, no on-site attention under warranty, and the only thing they'll do is talk through the flatten-and-reinstall process over the telephone.

    Actually, they didn't even do that. They made an appointment to call back to start the process -- but didn't call at the appointed time. No e-mail, either. Twice they've said they'll call or send mail, and they haven't done any of it. I ran across a local representative of the company and am now trying to work with him to notify their tech support managers that this is some extra-bad service. He might be able to get some resolution on this. Hope so. I'm done talking to their "outsourced" tech support department for a while, if I can possibly avoid it. I have to wonder how much they're paying those vendors to give their customers non-service...
     
  9. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    As it happens, a local tech guy for the company has suggested doing exactly that. I had not been aware of some of the newer disk-imaging tools that are available now and it sounds like a promising approach. Thanks.
     
  10. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    Hi, Tom --

    Everything I've heard up to now about RAID0 suggests that it makes a substantial improvement in HD performance. And, it might well be that the current drive performance (plus CPU speed, plus its being a quad-core CPU) might well be good enough to make these programs "scream" anyway. I would prefer the "apps versus data" separation (two distinct drives) but who knows -- the performance might be good enough as-is and I'll find some other way to make an appearance of a distinct separation -- apps-versus-data folders. I don't yet have either NX2 or CS3 on the machine. I'm just trying to get some ideas about what I might expect, before committing to one approach vs. the other. Thanks.
     
  11. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    Ok -- great feedback. This does give me an idea what I might expect given one of the possible setups. Thanks!

    My experience in the past with RAID wasn't exactly thrilling. Hard drive failed. But it turned out the RAID array also failed. That was a "mirroring" setup (not "striping"). Net result? All data lost, RAID or no RAID.

     
  12. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    No available bays, alas. But today someone at work asked me: "why did you install two optical drives, for crying out loud?"

    Answer: paranoia. I had a one-optical-drive system and the day that drive failed, I was in a world of hurt. But who knows...maybe this is a case in which I should eat the cost of the 2nd optical drive (set it aside for a rainy day), pull it out, install an internal HD in the bay that would become available, and deal with it that way. Might turn out to be the least expensive approach after all. That'd give me a gigantic drive -- meaning C:, where the apps are usually installed -- that I'm not likely ever to fill up, and a second logical drive for the data. (Things could be worse, of course. :) 
    Thanks for the feedback.
     
  13. When I had similar issues with a major international manufacturer, I called the sales department and said that I wanted to speak with a sales manager or a VP. My experience both as a salesperson and a customer is that, ironically, the sales managers understand the word, "service," more than the service managers. I got action and an apology from the sales manager, whereas the service manager kept blaming the issue on me.
     
  14. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    It makes sense to me. The salespeople thrive or fail depending on what and how well they sell, and they won't do well by having hostile relationships with customers (certainly not if they're hoping for repeat business or additional business via word-of-mouth recommendations). Depending on how the service dept. is set up, though, the service techs might thrive or fail depending on 1) how many issues they can resolve without having to go to the next "tier" and 2) how many issues they can resolve without the company's having to be blamed for the problem. Entirely different mind-set.

    I have to wonder if this computer company truly realizes that if their outsourced service is poor a lot of the time, they are in effect being "fleeced" by that vendor. Those bums still have not called back, nor have they sent e-mail. Infuriating. Their e-mail failed at first because the first tech mis-wrote my e-mail address. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if I didn't get their call because the latest tech transposed numbers in my phone number and got a wrong number. Yeah, what a great plan -- "save money" by outsourcing that way. Penny-wise and pound-idiotic.)
     
  15. Caution with RAID 0 - you have twice the chance of losing your data then when using a single disk. If either disk fails you lose all your data RAID 0 data. Backups are twice as important for RAID 0. Its like flying a twin engine airplane that won't fly with just one engine.

    You might poke around the Intel site for info on their RAID chipset. At one time they published RAID vs non-RAID info by application in a table. One set of data was for Photoshop. The speed improvement was 8-12% over a single disk if I recall.

    Yes, RAID 0 can be faster but the speed improvement depends on disk I/O patterns - address, frequency, write size, etc. A specific RAID 0 config may not be signficantly faster for everything. The fastest configs will be tuned for specific workloads.

    For me, I use simple disks and an appropriate backup strategy for my disk. I absolutely hate rebuilding systems after data loss.

    I tested Dell's system restore CD on my daughter's laptop as soon as it arrived. Worked like a charm and then I started removing the software she didn't need. I mention this as it might be a fast way to get back to a simple disk config - unraid and use the vendor's restore CD if they provided one.
     
  16. MikeA

    MikeA

    316
    Aug 26, 2007
    Left coast, USA
    Thanks for this information. The more I talk about it with various people, the more inclined I am to undo the RAID0 setup and have done with it. Just waiting for the local Dell rep to get back to me...


     
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