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I am building a system specially to create good video content. One thing I am not sure about is the hard drive setup I need. I know the most important parts are the RAM, CPU, and GPU, but I have those covered. I want to be able to render quickly, and if it's possible render and record at the same time. I mostly do screencasts.

Now the setup I am thinking of is the following. I have one SSD where I record to, and have a second smaller SSD to render to. Besides that I will have separate storage for my finished content. The SSD where I record to will also be my windows drive.

I am wondering if the second SSD is just overkill, and one SSD is just fine. I know that it does make a difference on normal drives, because read/write at the same time can be tricky. I have no clue how does works with SSD's.

Or is there even another setup from which I can better results.

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How many recordings per day are you doing, and how many GB is each consuming? You know that SSD have a limited lifetime, don't you? If possible, I'd do it with RAM, else with 2 non-SSD S-ATA RAIDs. – ott-- Oct 2 '12 at 19:19
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It depends on what format of media you're using, which will dictate your bandwidth requirements. Some example raw-format 24-bit (3-byte) colour video frame rates are computed below:

 720p @ 30 FPS: (1280 x  720)px x 30 FPS x 3 bytes/px / (1024^2) =  79 MB/s
 720p @ 60 FPS: (1280 x  720)px x 60 FPS x 3 bytes/px / (1024^2) = 158 MB/s
1080p @ 30 FPS: (1920 x 1080)px x 30 FPS x 3 bytes/px / (1024^2) = 178 MB/s
1080p @ 60 FPS: (1920 x 1080)px x 60 FPS x 3 bytes/px / (1024^2) = 356 MB/s

Assuming you're working with a SATA-3 solid state drive capable of the above throughput, and you're working with media that fits the above characteristics (specifically 1080p RAW video at 60 FPS), then yes, I would recommend the additional solid-state drive if near real-time rendering is a concern (and possible, given your existing hardware).

However, if you're working with compressed video, and your intermediate targets happen to be compressed as well, you will likely not benefit from the increased bandwidth. Furthermore, some rendering processes have the ability to "render to RAM", pushing out frames to storage in a buffered manner (effectively mitigating any speed gains you might get from a SSD to begin with).

TL,DR: It all depends on what your current hardware is capable of (in terms of rendering speed and throughput), how fast you need to see the results, the capabilities of your particular software suite (especially the renderer/encoder), and most importantly, what video format you're working with.

And for those looking into the future, as we progress past "Full HD" (1080p) to "Ultra HD" resolutions, the above bandwidth requirements will be drastically increased (e.g. a 4K UHDTV [double the resolution of 1080p] video will require over 711 MB/s bandwidth, uncompressed at 30 FPS and 24bpp colour). In these cases, until storage media can meet these bandwidth requirements, you may want to consider adding additional RAM to your computer, and performing the video processing on one or two dedicated RAM drives, which can provide performance on the order of gigabytes per second.

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Great answer, really detailed. I can be a little more precise, I only make 1080 @ 30 FPS. Currently I think I use compressed video, but I can change that to uncompressed if that will help speed up the end process. I think I will go for the additional SSD I guess. Do you think I will be able to render and record at the same time, or is that too much to ask from the system. – Saif Bechan Oct 2 '12 at 18:40
As for the system, I have 32gb of ram, 2gb video and the new intel 3th gen processors, so pretty good setup i guess. My software suite is vegas pro. – Saif Bechan Oct 2 '12 at 18:43
from my experience the real bottleneck is IO and not cpu. so, compress "a little bit" (something lossless like HUVYUV, FFV1 or something similar) to create the "raw video". and then reencode that later on. – akira Oct 2 '12 at 18:44
@SaifBechan it depends what you're rendering. Simple 1080p video should be able to be transcoded on-the-fly given your setup, so long as you can read it fast enough from the storage media. If you want to be able to render and record simultaneously, then it depends if you only want to keep the rendered result, or both the source and output media. In the latter case, I would highly recommend the use of two SSDs. Given the large amount of memory (and assuming you can use a RAM buffer), it might be possible with a single SSD so long as you want to keep only the rendered result. – Breakthrough Oct 2 '12 at 18:46
I have never looked at the formats of the raw video file, I always used avi, and I think that is compressed. I will look at the format a little more and try to be as uncompressed as possible. And I guess it is always good to have a copy of my unrendered file for a little while, so I guess I will use the additional SSD. Can anyone recommend a good format which most software suits support for creating my raw video. – Saif Bechan Oct 2 '12 at 18:54

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