One way to get more performance from storage is to move from spinning drives to solid state memory. At the Lexar booth, they showed a portable SSD with a capacity of up to 1 TB and a possible 900 MB/s write speed. That’s about 5 to 6 times the speed of an average single spinning disk drive.For even more speed, I stopped at the G-Technology booth. They showed their G-Drive mobile Pro SSD. This unit takes the possible write speed to 2800MB/s.
You might wonder why I’d consider storage like this in an edit suite. With a maximum capacity of 2 TB in their largest model, it doesn’t hold that much. (These days 2 TB isn’t much.) Obviously, it will work screamingly fast for small projects, but it’s also a great tool as a cache drive.
When you set up your edit software, you’re often asked to point to a drive that the software can use for caching—offloading data out of memory. You might also have to select a scratch drive for generating previews. Pointing to a very fast drive can make your edit experience much better—less waiting for the software to process data. These drives don’t have to be that big because the data stored is temporary, and the space is usually managed by the software.
All SSDs aren’t created equally though. Engineers have developed Non-Volatile Memory Express—or NVMe—a new way of using solid state in drives. Instead of the traditional drive control (position the drive head, write or read the data, seek a new position), we now have SSDs that are treated more like RAM. There’s no head to reposition, just a location to read and write to.
OWC uses NVMe in its ThunderBlade drive. Comprising 4 NVMe modules in the chassis, it can achieve read speeds up to 2800 MB/s and writes at 2450 MB/s. It’s via Thunderbolt 3 with up to 8 TB of capacity.
Finally, there’s shared storage using Network Attached Storage (NAS). Once relegated to complex and expensive Storage Area Networks (SANs), NAS was prevalent at NAB.
Qnap showed their NAS products. Using 10-gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), which can run on copper, the multi-drive connected storage can deliver terabytes of 4K footage to multiple users. In a future post, I’ll talk more about how NAS has become more affordable.
Next time, I’ll cap my recap of NAB with a little bit about advances in edit software.