A look at the Dell PowerEdge MD1400 for Post Production.
Dell PowerEdge MD1400 Overview.
Dell introduces the latest technology in the MD Series of direct-attach storage enclosures designed to maximize your server storage capacity. The MD1400 offers low-cost storage expansion with double the bandwidth using 12Gbps SAS connectivity to support your growing application workloads.
As the resolution grows so does the storage required to access it along with its size, So today we are looking at Dell’s MD1400 Direct Attached Storage as a post production tool for your Daily Rushes storage and connected to your Grading Suite.
The MD1400 provides up to 120TB of storage per unit and can be expanded to 8 units per H830 HBA for a total of 960TB of storage per server. It sports hot-swap redundant 600W 80Plus Titanium power supplies, some of the highest on the market. There are a 4 SFF-8644 Ports, providing 12G SAS for connectivity to your server.
- Single Path: for daisy chaining of up to 8 enclosures per PERC H830 (4 enclosures per port, single path)
- Redundant Path: for daisy chaining up to 4 enclosures per PERC H830 (4 enclosures connected to both ports via redundant path cabling)
For this review, we had the opportunity to try a number of different test OS configurations.
Dell MD1400 Config:
- HDDs: 12x 6TB NL-SAS 12GB/s 7200rpm
- System: DaVinci Resolve — Colour Suite D03
- CPU: 2x Intel Xeon E5–2696 v4
- RAM: 4x 32GB DDR4–2400 RDIMMs
- OS SSD: Intel DC S3700 400GB
- OS: CentOS 7.3 and Windows 10 Pro
- HBA: Dell Perc H830 w/ 2GB Cache
BIOS Setup & Management
We wont be covering BIOS and management today, but hitting CTRL+R when prompted takes you to the BIOS of the H830, This can also be done through a GUI on a Dell PowerEdge server which is a lot easier for the non technical type.
We will be testing CentOS and Windows 10 Pro, On CentOS we will be using Disks GUI benchmark for tests and on Windows we’ll use Blackmagic Speed Test and AJA Benchmark. We are going to be testing 4 of the most common we think would be used, Our recommendation to our clients is always a nested raid level like 50 or 60, This provides the added bonus of striping 2 arrays together for improved write speeds for DPX footage although Raid 10 offers the best in redundancy and write performance its not always chosen for Rushes and Footage. Linux filesystem was XFS and under Windows NTFS.
- Raid 10 — Usable space: 32.7 TB
- Raid 5 — Usable space: 60 TB
- Raid 6 — Usable space: 54.6 TB
- Raid 50 — Usable space: 54.6 TB
Blackmagic Speed Test
A fairly straight forward read and write test wrapped in a pretty GUI. Nothing too fancy here and max file size is 5GB.
A much more in depth read and write test for post production with the ability to select resolution, file size, and codec.
When running all tests the settings we used are:
Resolution: 5120x2700 5K RED
Test File Size: 16 GB
Codec: REDCODE (8:1)
We tested with 1000MiB files 100 times to report the average read and write times.
As old school as it gets here, I tried to find its first implementation but couldn’t, i am guessing it was one of the first implementations of Read and Write testing on Linux, Either way its simple, Its built in and it works. The bonus of choosing unlimited file sizes also help. We only tested Raid 50.
Below is the command used, this is testing a 52GB write transfer.
$ sudo sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=testfile bs=1M count=50000
52428800000 bytes (52 GB) Copied 30.4697 s, 1.7 GB/s
Below is the command used, this is testing a 5.2GB write transfer.
$ sudo sync; dd if=/dev/zero of=testfile bs=1M count=5000
5242880000 bytes (5.2 GB) Copied 2.6097 s, 2.2 GB/s
Before ending, I am obviously a Dell Partner and also sell the MD1400 but this has been an unbiased performance review.
Linux and XFS offer a substantial performance increase in read and write, So much so that the write performance in Raid 50 (lowest linux) exceeds a Windows NTFS Raid 10 (highest windows), There is a reason the majority of storage appliances are using Linux as the OS. Unfortunately we understand Linux is not always an option in some Post Production facilities as a workstation.
Can the MD1400 cater to your post production requirements?
The answer is Yes, The expandable nature of these chassis’ are great and the fact you can expand to 8 on a single Host Adapter is another reason to jump on these. Performance wise it will handle all your Large Format Footage edits and rushes with speed left over. Dell also offer a true Next Business Day on site drive replacement which is something not many companies truely stand by when the array goes down and your mid project, Drive failures happen but having a replacement only 4–8 hours away is definitely something to cherish.