Saturday, April 17, 2010

ZFS - The Saga Continues.

After an unceremonious removal of and a complete back out by Apple, Inc. from shipping the file system with Snow Leopard 10.6.0 retail. The Indy Film maker community was left wondering as to why, what, where, who etc..

Well bluntly put Apple does not have it's .... together. Not quite, they're too busy selling iPhones and iPads. I love the company but come-on, did no one at Apple, Inc. go to bat for this?

Well fear not : The ZFS for Leopard and Snow Leopard is still kicking:

I'm not going to go into why ZFS is super cool for storing your HD Media/2K or 4K footage and also why you *SHOULD NOT* like many wanted to - use ZFS for a boot drive for OS X Leopard or Snow Leopard- or even Open Solaris for that matter.

But ZFS should be kept alive on OS X at all costs, the alternatives not to have ZFS on OS X are dire to the Indy Film Maker, Boutique edit shop etc... It makes storage expensive. ZFS is not a "shared/global" filesystem but.... Here is the brass tax.

So here is a test case scenario - You need 4 Terabytes of reliable and fast storage to complete your 30 minute film you shot on your RED per-se...

Apple's current model to attach 4TB of storage to your single (non XSan-afied) Mac Pro is

1. Get a FibreChannel 4Gbps dual adapter - $599.00
2. Get an XServe RAID (discontinued) or Promise Vtrak E-CLASS RAID 4TB $7,499.00

Wait that's 8 GRAND to be able to store 4TB and read/write them at 4Gbps (theoretical)?

FCPHacker - You have to be kidding right? No I'm not.

Alright the E-Class box from Promise can hold up to 32 SATA 3.0 or SAS disks but what gives.
So even if fully loaded with re-branded Seagate ES drives running at SATA-3 7200RPM drives with some woo-doo magic disk firmware in em - this thing will still need OS-X Software raid to have a single namespace storage of 32GB, and if you've played with X Serve RAID before, you'll need to slice it for better performance and do crazy #%$! to get the right buffer (128kb) for streaming capture/stutter-less playback.

So 8 grand later and 2 days worth of setup you have a loud-... power sucking enclosure in your studio that's pretty to look at.

They've got to be kidding, this makes Apple's ideas cost just about as much as AVID ISIS or EMC solutions (which are intended for other things..) - Bad for you, good for Apple professional services group.

I say, like Nancy Reagan - "JUST SAY NO".

Here is the FCP Hackers alternative version of that that costs quite a bit less.
It starts with an OUTSTANDING in my humble opinion company called Sonnet Tech
their brand logo is hard to read sort of looks like SoNNoS or something but certain products they have are just $*@! outstanding. Outstanding - Can you tell that I really like them and their products. - Oh yeah their cards work under Hackintoshes runing OSx86 and PowerMac's as well. (How did they manage to do this while every other PCIe adapter is either for PC/Mac Intel See AJA Kona vs. AJA Xena etc... - don't ask...

1. Sonnet Tech: E2P PCIe Card - $50.00

This will give you two Sil 3213 eSATA port muliplier supporting ports at 3Gbps (fairly close to the FC-AL Mac Only HBA for $600 from Apple, ahem I mean ATTO...)

Before you go on the site and start drinking the coolaid, I like Sonnet's HBAS but I'm still too stingy to buy their enclosures (though they look amazingly sweet).

Here is another company I really like - Sans Digital, they don't want to re-sell you drives from Hitachi, Seagate or WD, they just want to enclose them for ya.

2. Enter stage left : Sans Digital TRM8 enclosure with Port Multiplier support.$300.00 shipped. - This thing aside from its annoying blue fan, complements a Mac-Pro just like the G-Drive product line. (You can get one in black too..)

And you can figure out the current price of 1TB or even 1.5 or 2.0 TB drives is about $100.00 per terabyte. So let's get some 2TB drives and pack in into the first half of the enclose ($200 per four Hitachi 2TB Ultrastar/Deskstar SATA-2 - If you like Seagate or WD Green go ahead...) $800.00 total cost.

3. 4x Hitachi DeskStar 2TB 7200RPM drives - $600 shipped

Use RAID-Z / ZFS on the 4 drives in the enclosure connected to a single 3.0Gbps port and you've got. 6TB of fairly high speed storage at 3Gbps read (yes you will get killed on the writes with sata port mulipliers) - Total Cost: $950.00

The Apple Inc Coolaid: $8000 for 4TB @ 4Gbps (can add 4TB more for $2500+)
FCP Hacker Coolaid: $950 for 6TB @ 3Gbps READ (can add 6TB more for $600).

If you're using the machine to online-edit or color correct, etc... and not actually capture, you will not notice a one iota of difference. And as SSD will become more ubiquitous and 1TB and 2TB SSD will fall in price and ship in 3.5" configurations, this version will be future-proofed, while the Apple's cool-aid will continue to cost you in special drive modules. (They even ship an on-site replacement kit with an extra drive module, that in 2 years will be so antiquated that it will seem like a joke, but you won't be able to buy a naked drive, nor the special firmware Promise loads into it.)

No this does not scale like XSan a couple of XServes and a Q-Logic or Brocade FC-AL switch, so its not for a shop. But if you're doing that you're already looking at a $80,000.00 setup and some Finalcut Server, X-grid etc.. yadada...

Now now, this is just a spreadsheet type comparison, in the real world you would not get only 4TB of Promise/XServerRAID storage nor would you get just 4x2TB hitachi drives and a lonely enclosure - since we want to do something more daring, we want to be able to playback 2K footage in real-time for either the Apple flavored or commodity flavored versions.

I'll show you how in a bit, and scope it out price it, and give you real benchmark metrics.
As I want to keep this blog as hands-on as possible, but ZFS is what makes this all possible on Mac OS.

So In case you missed it: ZFS Project is still kicking it here : Do Your Part, _HELP THEM_ in Any Way you can, including testing their drivers, debugging, getting more developers involved, providing bandwidth or code, bug reports - anything... otherwise you the Indy filmmaker will be looking at a similar documentary : Who Killed the Electric Car and driving an over-priced hybrid instead.

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