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Thread: SSD/HDD speeds photo opening and saving

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    Ausphotography Regular wideangle's Avatar
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    SSD/HDD speeds photo opening and saving

    I am trying to work out possible bottlenecks in computer hardware. If you have a SSD as the OS drive will the only bottleneck when accessing images from another hard drive that is say HDD 7200RPM / USB2 etc the initial opening of the image/s. I take it that once an image file is open that all the work on this image will then be done on the fast SSD drive so you will be getting the fastest performance possible? Likewise, saving back to the "slower" device will be the only time that there is a bottleneck in speed?
    please ask before PP my images

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    There are a couple of things to consider:

    1. Library performance - You will see considerable performance gains from an SSD with your library itself. i.e. Lightroom/Aperture
    2. Editing performance - in most cases, when you open an image, the editing software may not be open so opening the image consists of 2 parts, opening the editing software and opening the image. 3. Virtual ram - When your machine runs out of memory, it uses hard drive space to help. This is called virtual ram. Obviously using virtual ram with a solid state is much faster than a spindle drive, as it is the same technology as ram.
    4. I tend to keep images on my SSD while they're being edited. Every month, I move older images to the external as they are generally accessed infrequently and the majority of access if via my library itself where a view thumbnail file is stored.

    So, to answer your question, yes, if it is retrieving the image from an external USB 2 drive, it will be slower for opening and saving, but the rest of the performance will be incomparable.

    I switched to SSD a couple of years back. I can honestly say that I would never go back to spindle as my main drive anymore.

    The other thing to consider is whether you want to upgrade your external drives into a USB3 enclosure which is much faster (if your machine can handle this).
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    Also RAM availability, Video Card memory and speed. It also depends where your photoshop scratch disk is set to and your CPU Bus speed

    There are a whole heap of things involved in the process of opening a file and displaying it on screen.

    Often the biggest bottleneck on computers is access to RAM, I see it all the time where upgrading from 4gb to 8gb RAM makes the world of difference to the speed that the computer does things.
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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    It's probably worth asking, what are your current machine specs and what platform are you on? I.e. mac or pc?

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Before you splurge on devices that may not actually help(even tho they're supposed too), as Missionman said post your PC specs.

    One thing to note about PC's ... even tho you acquire this fast SSD for the purposes you state, if your mainboard is of a cheap low end quality, the drive won't be able to perform at it's best anyhow(so in the end it's wasted money.

    That is, if your motherboard has a cheap SATA controller, and you purchase the fastest SSD to decrease load times of the data on the drive, the bottleneck may actually lie in the controller of the SSD .. not the SSD itself.

    Found this out the hard way, and a brand of onboard devices to really avoid is those from JMicron. I've had nothing but trouble with their controllers(IDE and USB-ATA).

    If your motherboard has a JMicron SATA controller doing the data transfer then this may be partly the problem too.


    I found that a good quality late model mechanical hard drive is usually the best option for storing images on.
    The speed differential between these SSDs and a fast HDD isn't worth the $/Gb's.

    In the end, I used my SSD in my Windows tablet which runs a lot faster now than it did with the piddly 2.5" HDD it originally had.
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    Thanks for your help everyone. This would be a total new build, so no problems regarding bottlenecks around old computer parts etc.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Make sure it's a SATA 3 SSD and that your motherboard supports it. It doubles the speed. Also upgrade your external to a USB3 (USB3 is 10x faster than USB2 on paper), external housings are relatively cheap, I got one that takes two drives and supports RAID for $60.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MissionMan View Post
    Make sure it's a SATA 3 SSD and that your motherboard supports it. It doubles the speed. Also upgrade your external to a USB3 (USB3 is 10x faster than USB2 on paper), external housings are relatively cheap, I got one that takes two drives and supports RAID for $60.
    Yeah thanks, I was only using the USB2 as an example, would be using USB3 drives. Re SSD drives, the Samsung 256GB SSD 830 Series - SATA III 6Gbs looks to be a good one in terms of speed and performance.
    Last edited by wideangle; 01-05-2013 at 4:23pm.

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    Have a look at Umart.com.au or Gamedude for parts.

    If you need a hand with the build, I've done more then a few in my time. Happy to help out.

    SSD's are awesome! Now I've got one, I don't know what I ever did without one! Windows load times go from over a minute to under 10 seconds depending upon Mobo.

    Which leads me to the next point ... Get the best Mobo you can afford. That will clear up bottlenecks in later days for the future upgrade path.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    Have a look at Umart.com.au or Gamedude for parts.

    If you need a hand with the build, I've done more then a few in my time. Happy to help out.

    SSD's are awesome! Now I've got one, I don't know what I ever did without one! Windows load times go from over a minute to under 10 seconds depending upon Mobo.

    Which leads me to the next point ... Get the best Mobo you can afford. That will clear up bottlenecks in later days for the future upgrade path.

    what about the GIGABYTE GA-Z77-D3H as MOBO coupled with 16GB DDR3 RAM and coreI7 3770K processor?
    Last edited by wideangle; 01-05-2013 at 4:48pm.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wideangle View Post
    Thanks for your help everyone. This would be a total new build, so no problems regarding bottlenecks around old computer parts etc.
    Old hardware wasn't my actual point(apologies) .. even new hardware can have bottlenecks somewhere along the pipeline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    ......

    Which leads me to the next point ... Get the best Mobo you can afford. That will clear up bottlenecks in later days for the future upgrade path.
    Usually the price of a motherboard is directly proportional to the quality of the item(as well as support) .. that is, even if there is initially an issue(say with a driver) .. a fix is offered pretty quickly.

    That Z77 Gigabyte looks to be pretty new in terms of tech.
    If it were my money, I'd prefer the GA-Z77X-UD3H instead.
    Reasons, I've had prior not so good experience with Realtek connection ports(both gigabit eth, and wireless eth) and having recently switched to an Atheros based chipset on one PC ... well, Realtek are now on my avoid list too.

    The 77X-UD3H does seem to have a few extra goodies, but with caveats.. that is, there seem to be 4 extra USB3 ports on this board, but they are controlled via a VIA chipset, and it says in the notes that they seem to have issues with Win7(or something to that effect) .. doesn't mean you can't use them, but you should use the other 4 first, before using these VIA USB3 ports.

    Also, and this is what I was referring too about watching what chipsets are used on what devices/connections.

    Either of those boards have a multitude of SATA connectors .. I think 8 in total. But only 6 are controlled directly via the Intel Z77 chipset, and that means two SATA ports are controlled by another chip.
    Turns out to be a Marvel controller. I can't ever remember having issues with a Marvel chipset of any description, but the point is, you should be careful as to where you connect your SSD too.
    If that Marvel chip is one of those dodgy types that don't live up to the expectation of 500 Mb/s, and can only muster 100Mb/s(known to happen) .. then you won't get the real benefit of using the SSD(which should sustain about 300 or so Mb/s.

    My fastest drive can achieve just over 100Mb/s over the long haul(ie. not a short burst rate) ... and I've seen 200+ on short transfers.
    The difference that this makes on a system(especially for opening large files, is what makes the system 'fast'.

    While it's impressive that the OS can start up in only 10sec, as opposed to 30-60sec .. this is only a once off performance issue to deal with.

    On my PC I run my slowest drives(HDDs) for OS and programs, and use the fastest drives for the actual work.

    I open my programs very rarely, and if I do it's usually for quite some time. Once it has been opened, on Windows, it hibernates in a cache file, so that if accessed again when the PC is still running, the next opening of that program will be naturally quicker anyhow. ie. the way I saw that, is that having the programs on the SSD was of no real benefit anyhow.

    On my tablet tho, I turn it on and off regularly, so it's not 'always on' as such like the PC is. The hdd it came with was large(for a micro hdd), but slow as hell(5400rpm). The SSD has made a massive impact in the tablet because of the way the tablet is used(in short bursts).

    For your images, I'd recommend a Seagate Barracuda 3Tb HDD. Very fast and tons of space. If you regularly open extremely large files, eg. 2Gb panoramas .. then maybe look at getting 2 SSD drives, one for OS and programs, and one for scratch disk. But I still reckon a very fast mechanical HDD is better value for money in terms of very good speed but tons of space.

    Good luck with the build anyhow.

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    Thanks for your in-depth reply. In short are you saying that it's better to look for motherboards where the SATA connections are controlled directly by the motherboard, not by another manufacturer/chipset?

    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    Old hardware wasn't my actual point(apologies) .. even new hardware can have bottlenecks somewhere along the pipeline.



    Usually the price of a motherboard is directly proportional to the quality of the item(as well as support) .. that is, even if there is initially an issue(say with a driver) .. a fix is offered pretty quickly.

    That Z77 Gigabyte looks to be pretty new in terms of tech.
    If it were my money, I'd prefer the GA-Z77X-UD3H instead.
    Reasons, I've had prior not so good experience with Realtek connection ports(both gigabit eth, and wireless eth) and having recently switched to an Atheros based chipset on one PC ... well, Realtek are now on my avoid list too.

    The 77X-UD3H does seem to have a few extra goodies, but with caveats.. that is, there seem to be 4 extra USB3 ports on this board, but they are controlled via a VIA chipset, and it says in the notes that they seem to have issues with Win7(or something to that effect) .. doesn't mean you can't use them, but you should use the other 4 first, before using these VIA USB3 ports.

    Also, and this is what I was referring too about watching what chipsets are used on what devices/connections.

    Either of those boards have a multitude of SATA connectors .. I think 8 in total. But only 6 are controlled directly via the Intel Z77 chipset, and that means two SATA ports are controlled by another chip.
    Turns out to be a Marvel controller. I can't ever remember having issues with a Marvel chipset of any description, but the point is, you should be careful as to where you connect your SSD too.
    If that Marvel chip is one of those dodgy types that don't live up to the expectation of 500 Mb/s, and can only muster 100Mb/s(known to happen) .. then you won't get the real benefit of using the SSD(which should sustain about 300 or so Mb/s.

    My fastest drive can achieve just over 100Mb/s over the long haul(ie. not a short burst rate) ... and I've seen 200+ on short transfers.
    The difference that this makes on a system(especially for opening large files, is what makes the system 'fast'.

    While it's impressive that the OS can start up in only 10sec, as opposed to 30-60sec .. this is only a once off performance issue to deal with.

    On my PC I run my slowest drives(HDDs) for OS and programs, and use the fastest drives for the actual work.

    I open my programs very rarely, and if I do it's usually for quite some time. Once it has been opened, on Windows, it hibernates in a cache file, so that if accessed again when the PC is still running, the next opening of that program will be naturally quicker anyhow. ie. the way I saw that, is that having the programs on the SSD was of no real benefit anyhow.

    On my tablet tho, I turn it on and off regularly, so it's not 'always on' as such like the PC is. The hdd it came with was large(for a micro hdd), but slow as hell(5400rpm). The SSD has made a massive impact in the tablet because of the way the tablet is used(in short bursts).

    For your images, I'd recommend a Seagate Barracuda 3Tb HDD. Very fast and tons of space. If you regularly open extremely large files, eg. 2Gb panoramas .. then maybe look at getting 2 SSD drives, one for OS and programs, and one for scratch disk. But I still reckon a very fast mechanical HDD is better value for money in terms of very good speed but tons of space.

    Good luck with the build anyhow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wideangle View Post
    Thanks for your in-depth reply. In short are you saying that it's better to look for motherboards where the SATA connections are controlled directly by the motherboard, not by another manufacturer/chipset?
    Assuming that the secondary controller can run at full speed, comparing the 2 will result in nanosecond delays that you would never notice unless you're a gamer too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    Assuming that the secondary controller can run at full speed, comparing the 2 will result in nanosecond delays that you would never notice unless you're a gamer too.
    Gamer Mobo's are a good choice for photo editors as they are designed to push through a lot of data quickly. Mine is http://www.gigabyte.com/products/pro...px?pid=4046#ov

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    I cheaped and got an asrock z67 mobo, never again!!! overclocking is ridiculously difficult and didn't take well to a mild overclock. I ended up going back to stock, so now I have a super duper you beaut air cooling heatsync that really doesn't come close to it's potential.

    I miss my Gigabyte mobo.

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    1. From what people have been saying, it seems like it's important that the secondary SATA controllers can run at full speed so you can gain full advantage 6Gb/s devices aka SSD drives.

    2. Why do many motherboards have third party chipsets like Marvell, are these only found in "cheaper" motherboards, what's the benefit of going with MOBOS that only provide non third part chipsets?
    Last edited by wideangle; 02-05-2013 at 9:56am.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    On my PC I run my slowest drives(HDDs) for OS and programs, and use the fastest drives for the actual work.

    I open my programs very rarely, and if I do it's usually for quite some time. Once it has been opened, on Windows, it hibernates in a cache file, so that if accessed again when the PC is still running, the next opening of that program will be naturally quicker anyhow. ie. the way I saw that, is that having the programs on the SSD was of no real benefit anyhow.
    I'd be interested to see benchmark comparisons of how two machines setup would compare. I'm of the opposite school of thought. I have my SSD for my OS and use spindle for files, but I incorporate any files that benefit from SSD on my SSD. I.e. my Lightroom Library and thumbnails are stored on SSD but the original files are stored on an external in RAID. My search index is also on SSD so if I look for files, the search results are instantaneous.

    My reasoning behind this is I found the OS is constantly changing and interacting and whilst you may leave applications open, the cache on the machine is constantly being flushed depending on what is used. Whilst file access is slower, the reality is most files you access are smaller so the time taken to open the file is negligible in the grand scheme of things. I also keep my photographs on SSD for the first 3 months before moving them to the external when they are no longer used so most of my file access is instant for my key working files and it's only historical files that are slower.

    Quote Originally Posted by wideangle View Post
    1. From what people have been saying, it seems like it's important that the secondary SATA controllers can run at full speed so you can gain full advantage 6Gb/s devices aka SSD drives.

    2. Why do many motherboards have third party chipsets like Marvell, are these only found in "cheaper" motherboards, what's the benefit of going with MOBOS that only provide non third part chipsets?
    Most motherboards have third party chipsets of some form, be it wifi, bluetooth etc. It allows them to use existing technology and reduces the cost of manufacture. Most of the issues with these chipsets seem to relate to exactly how they interact and how well they are tested together which is why it's good to chat to people to find out what combinations work better together. Most people don't realise the importance of combining the right motherboard, graphics cards etc, they simply assume that everything works perfectly together but this is not always the case.

    I remember an article 3 or 4 years back when a new Mac Pro was released. The machine at the time was benchmarked as the fastest windows machine which create confusion because it didn't have the fastest individual components in the machine. The premise of the whole article was that the reason it was so fast was because Apple had actually tested the individual components together and made sure they created the right combination of parts for the machine. This is often not the case with home built machines because the majority of the people simply picked the best motherboard, fastest graphics card etc and thought they would be the best combination.

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    My search index is also on SSD so if I look for files, the search results are instantaneous.
    With an SSD as your main drive, Indexing should be turned OFF, since searches should be almost instantaneous anyway. You can leave indexing on for your spindle drives though.

    as a side note, if you're thinking of getting a graphics card, remember that although Photoshop can and does use the GPU, Photoshop Lightroom does not.
    So, if you're not gaming and use lightroom as your major editing program, a graphics card is superfluous to requirements.

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    Ausphotography Regular MissionMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rattus79 View Post
    With an SSD as your main drive, Indexing should be turned OFF, since searches should be almost instantaneous anyway. You can leave indexing on for your spindle drives though.

    as a side note, if you're thinking of getting a graphics card, remember that although Photoshop can and does use the GPU, Photoshop Lightroom does not.
    So, if you're not gaming and use lightroom as your major editing program, a graphics card is superfluous to requirements.
    Depends on your OS. With Mac, Spotlight (search) is design to run with SSD and it also indexes your external (spindle) drives so your searches on those drive are instantaneous as well.

    That said, for windows, it's important not to use defrag if you have an SSD and to switch on the native TRIM functionality in windows.

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    Depends on your OS. With Mac, Spotlight (search)
    Oh!! You're one of "Those"!

    Well, I retract my earlier statement then ...

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