Anyone using NAS (Network Attached Storage)?

Liam_Vegas wrote on 5/22/2005, 5:03 PM
Several of my current projects have a required for an OBSCENE amount of hard disk space. My current one contains 34 hours of video.... multi-camera stuff. I'm currently swapping in and out about 4 hard drives.

I'm also splitting the workload between several PC's - doing network rendering and other tasks across the machines.

This got me looking hard at the options for Network Attached Storage. The idea being to get a minimum of 1.0TB of storage that is easily accessible by all my machines - to make network rendering and sharing of project source files very easy.

There are several "lower-cost" units out there which seem to offer some pretty nice features.

Problem is... I really don't know just how well they perform. Will accessing the files be significantly slower than using locally attached storage?

I know this type of arrangement is how some production companies work... especially on large projects where editors share the same source files.

I suspect in high-end post production systems this storage is likely on a Fiberchannel "network" rather than merely Gigabit ethernet.

So... my simple question is... does anyone here have experience with NAS solutions? Would you recommend them?

For an example... one unit that I am considering is the Buffallo 1.0TB


OdieInAz wrote on 5/22/2005, 5:22 PM
I've been looking at these, but haven't taken the plunge:

Don't know how well they work, but looks like it turns your IDE drives into a FireWire connection. Probably want to stay away from the Oxford 911 chips, as I don't think those can handle drives above 120G.

Probably faster than 100BaseT ethernet, perhaps competitive with GBit ethernet.... You could then share this drive with the network.
Liam_Vegas wrote on 5/22/2005, 5:31 PM
Thanks for the link... and I will check them out. But.. I really do want to hear from anyone on the NAS front specifically.
GlennChan wrote on 5/22/2005, 7:10 PM
The best solution for your situation may be adding more locally attached storage?
More drives need more hard drive controllers, cooling, power, and space. You may need to upgrade all of those (i.e. add SATA controller cards, more drives, get a better case with good cooling and a fan for the drives, and maybe get a better power supply).

From what about people are saying about the stitching process of network rendering, a NAS wouldn't help?
Spot|DSE wrote on 5/22/2005, 7:14 PM
We use 4 ADS breadboxes consisting of 1.5TB each on our network over a giganet system. These are FW800 drives. It works, but it isn't without it's hiccups from time to time. We recently moved it to it's own server with the rest of our stuff, and it performs much, much better. Of course, HDV won't stream over the giga once it's in Cineform or 4;2:2 YUV, but everything else is just fine.
Liam_Vegas wrote on 5/22/2005, 10:08 PM
I have oodles of locally attached storage already.... what I am trying to find out is are there examples of better approaches than locally attached... especially in a situation where NR is the norm rather than the exception.

However... Spots reminded me that the HDV Intermediate codec is much higher bit-rate (100Mbps) than the M2T files so doing rendering using that codec is likely to be impractical using a NAS solution (and for that matter ANY solution - even locally attached storage). In the end if you are spreading the load of rendering across multiple nodes some of them will have to be accessing the files across the LAN - and that 100Mbps bit-rate will be a pretty large amount of bits to be flying around (especially between multiple render nodes and the NAS box).

Hmm.... this is going to be a difficult one. If NR can't help in a HDV workflow.... it looks to me like it will have a limited usefulness as we move more and more to the HDV world.

AM I missing something obvious here that would make the HDV side of things still apply to a network rendering ability?
Liam_Vegas wrote on 5/22/2005, 10:15 PM

thanks for the info.

Do you have a product link to those ADS breadboxes... for some reason I can't find anything on the ADS site that jumps out at me as being the product you are using.

Can you elaborate on the hiccups you had?

Any suggestions on how to do network rendering with HDV?
farss wrote on 5/23/2005, 1:17 AM
I've done a fair bit of research on this topic before parting with lots of $s. NAS over GB ethernet is adequate for anything upto 10 bit 4.2.2 if the server is built to handle it, anything upto 4 streams is doable. You do need good switches as they'd be handling a LOT of data but this is WAY cheaper than SAN and fibre.
Even SAN boxes and fibre isn't THAT expensive if you only have one PC connected however if you want file sharing I was told it'd cost another $70K just for the software!
None of this stuff is cheap and the costs are exponential as you push up performance. As my supplier pointed out though you can save huge sums of money with a bit of thought. The only time everything has to run in realtime is during capture and PTT. You can do that to a local drive in one PC and then move it to / from the big box out the back.

I've not run any of this myself, I have seen this companies NAS running RT playback over GB ethernet to more than one machine so that's certainly doable and given that these guys worked pretty hard at saving me dollars I'm pretty confident in what they're saying.
They were using a box with SATA drives in RAID 0 though, and they did design the thing to do just that job. You can check them out at, sorry they're 'down under' but it'll give you some idea of what to go looking for.
Liam_Vegas wrote on 5/23/2005, 8:40 AM
Thanks for that info. At least this NAS thing is not a totally impossible dream. What sort of $$$ are we talking about for their unit (was it the Datastor?.

And... maybe I have been thinking about this wrong.

Most of my projects that I use NR for have a lot of FX which means most of the time on the rendering boxes will be spent on intensive CPU work - rather than constantly requesting huge gobs of data from the NAS. So perhaps 100Mbps x NR Nodes will not be truly need here.

In fact... for rendering... at least from the source materials perhaps it could be done using the M2T files (which are regular 25Mbps) rendering to the cineform intermediate (100Mbps)- rather than cineform - cineform.

I also take the point that RT performance is NOT required for anything other than capture/PTT. In the case of HDV though that performance is only 25Mbps anyway as it comes in as M2T MPEG at 25mbps anyway.... and if you PTT... it's also going out via that as well.

With all that said.... if it is significantly slower at accessing / wrting to the cineform intermediate over NAS... then the gains from NR will likely be far less... and eventually (depending on the project FX) will show very little if any return over single machne rendering.

I guess what I am really trying to find out is whether the costs for getting into useable NAS - especially for NAS in an HDV workflow will be astronomical or not.

Perhaps the dual-core "revolution" will provide the best solution. Do NR on a single box... or simply rely upon V6's better multi-processor support.