We have a HP Z840 Windows 7 PC for video editing. Recently we recorded 4K video onto 24 SSD drives in the 4K Pro Res 422 format.

We need to connect up to 12 of these SSDs (12 cameras, with 1 drive per camera) into our editing station to edit simultaneously. Our sequences will have 6x 4K video footage being composed into a single sequence simultaneously.

What options do we have for connecting these drives to our workstation and eliminating the IO bottleneck (as much as possible)? The SSDs are already full of data and can't be re-formatted. Each drive is 1TB large.

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    I would just use a 12 disk JBOD enclosure over an eSATA connection. – Ramhound Apr 24 '15 at 19:14
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    as Ramhound said, a JBOD enclosure will allow to access each drive independently. Still, the single eSATA connection will be a bottleneck, so a RAID-card would be the best solution – Slizzered Apr 24 '15 at 19:40
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    @Slizzered Well, you are correct about throughput. But what about the inherent redundancy of copying data to one central location and then storing the source drives somewhere else for safe keeping? This is a common workflow of many media editors working with audio and video since working on source material directly often assures complete data loss of something goes amiss in the editing process. 12 directly connected drives with no backup is an accident waiting to happen. – JakeGould Apr 24 '15 at 19:51
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    @JakeGould I completely agree. Having a backup is certainly a good idea and one should never work on the only available copy. That being said, I would still prefer to work on the SSDs and keep an additional backup for the files (maybe on a big, slow storage like a 4TB HDD) – Slizzered Apr 24 '15 at 19:56
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    Just to add to the conversation - we have already cloned the 24 SSDs to a hardware-RAID enclosure with 24TB of storage. However, working from this USB3.0 enclosure is a no-go, as the I/O bottleneck is huge. – CAMason Apr 24 '15 at 20:19

To get the greatest throughput, your going to want something hooked to the bus. I would recommend an add-in RAID card for SATA drives, similar to this model which boasts 10 SATA connectors:

enter image description here

Don't RAID the drives together, just have individual volumes.

I've have no experience with that brand, but that single card could get you where you need to be for $800. General speaking, add-in RAID cards work great for this type of work. I would do a quick cruise on ebay to see if you can grab any used SATA-III RAID cards, and put them in multiple PCIE slots. 12x drives in an enclosure off of a single eSATA connector is definitely going to cause some bottlenecks.

Also, as pointed out in the comments, this card pictured could cause a performance bottleneck due to 10 cards sharing one PCIE slot. Your best option would be to go with 2 4-port cards, and if your motherboard can support it, plug the rest of the drives in directly.

I would count how many drive headers your motherboard has, add one for your OS drive, then subtract that from your total of 12 and buy the appropriately sized RAID board. Make sure you buy the correct type for your drives, SATA or SAS. SATA has individual connectors, SAS has one long connector.

enter image description here

  • Please reread the question. This is not about RAID setup but rather connecting 12 SSD drives with unique data on each for editing. – JakeGould Apr 24 '15 at 19:37
  • @JakeGould It should still work. You can set almost any add-in RAID controller into JBOD-mode, where it will pass each drive to the operating system individually. – Slizzered Apr 24 '15 at 19:38
  • @Slizzered Fair enough. – JakeGould Apr 24 '15 at 19:40
  • Just having lots of ports isn't enough -- the controller has to be fast enough to handle delivering the data to the workstation. – afrazier Apr 24 '15 at 20:31
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    True, I just pointed out that card because it had many ports. I would be likely to choose 2 four port cards with good controllers, and make up the difference with motherboard ports. – Lee Harrison Apr 24 '15 at 20:33

You will want to set a few SATA adapter cards as your SATA controller likely can't handle all of those drives at once. You could use SATA multipliers but that distributes the bandwidth, resulting in slower throughput of data. RAID cards are typically more expensive than SATA adapter cards. If you are not going to be setting up a RAID, you should use a SATA adapter.

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