The G-Tech G-Raid
The G-Tech G-Raid
A Creative COW Product Review
Biscardi Creative Media, Buford, Georgia USA
© 2003, Walter Biscardi and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
For years Medéa Corporation has been the hallmark of reliability when it comes to storage for the media industry. If you wanted big, fast storage with mission critical reliability, Medéa was the drive array for you. Now comes its little brother, G-Technology Corporation. In this article, Creativecow leader reviews the G-Tech G-Raid and concludes...''This is the most versatile unit I've ever used with its ability to work seamlessly with anything up to 10bit uncompressed and just remain solid no matter the situation or machine it's connected to. ''
For years Medéa Corporation has been the hallmark of reliability when it comes to storage for the media industry. If you wanted big, fast storage with mission critical reliability, Medéa was the drive array for you. Now comes its little brother, G-Technology Corporation. Spun off from Medéa and headed-up by Roger Mabon, the G-RAID line of drives looks to bring the same reliability and performance to Firewire 800 units.
You might think Firewire 800 is in the realm of DV only and not enough speed for uncompressed. Well see about that as we explore the many uses of the G-RAID as we run both the G-RAID 800 and the G-RAID 500 through their paces in a real-world editing environment.
The Test System(s)
Normally I would completely describe the test system and each component that was used here. Well, in the case we've been running the G-RAIDs since November 2004 in just about every possible configuration of a system. G5 Dual 2.0 with an AJA Kona 2, G4 Dual 1.25 with an Aurora PipePro, an Apple Powerbook G4, an Apple G4 Dual 533 and even an eMac for good measure. Theyve been in the clean environment of a post house to working outside on location in heat and humidity. So let's just say we've put the units through their paces.
Setting up your G-RAID
A G-RAID is two drive units connected together inside a chassis giving you more speed than a single drive unit because they form an internal RAID. To get started simply plug it in, erase it clean, start editing. Yes, Erase the Drive! You're going to see the unit show up as ready to rock and roll, but always, always erase any harddrive unit before you use it for the first time.
Now if you want even more speed, you can stripe two G-RAID units together by installing a second Firewire 800 PCI card (available from G-TECH). If you're working solely in 10bit SD material, then this would be a recommended way to go.
Now here's the part of our review with the ubiquitous speed tests. There's a little twist on these today, but first how about a look at what the AJA Kona 2 speed test brought up.
The first image is the G-RAID 500 and the second image is the G-RAID 800 both being tested with SD-8bit video frame size. They're almost identical which really should be expected.
Now about that twist I mentioned? Normally these speed tests are run are brand new drives that are empty. As I stated in the beginning of this review, both of these units have been running in our shop on a daily basis since about November 2004. Despite my best efforts, each unit has only been erased one time and the last time either of them was erased was three months ago. So with all the work going on here, they're getting fragmented and yet, they're holding very good speed. Oh and one more thing, they're far from empty.
The G-RAID 800 is over 50% full while the 500 is about 70% full. With all the data that's on these drives and the amount of fragmentation that's happening, these units are still delivering plenty of horsepower. This is a hallmark of Medéa and now G-RAID, the ability to hold their speeds as the drives fill up. In my own experience, they will hold their speeds until well past 75% full with no dropped frames or other issues that can plague other systems as they fill up.
Oh one last note, the G-RAID 500 is daisy chained to the G-RAID 800 which is connected directly to the FW 800 port on the G5. If I was running these through the G-TECH FW 800 PCI card, I would get more speed.
Basic Editing Tests
Now here's the part where I would go ahead and show you a bunch of different timelines and show you how the drive performs with various media. Well, I'm going to focus on uncompressed standard def here because that's how this unit has been used day to day.
But first, if you're cutting DV or DVCPro HD, suffice it to say that the G-RAID smokes these formats. Plenty of speed and horsepower to get a ton of real-time tracks and effects in DV, especially color correction.
Now on to some 8bit Standard Def timelines. Why 8 bit? Well, because 90% of my Standard Def projects are 8bit since there is no reason to go 10bit. Also, the G-RAID basically will give you one stream of video with little realtime filters or effects as a single unit. If your workflow is all 10bit and you want to use these Firewire 800 drive, then I highly recommend the purchase of two G-RAID units which you can stripe together.
Click on small graphic below to view larger image
||Timeline Number 1 shows two video tracks with a Picture in Picture Effect and an FCP generated Title. Video track 2 is shrunk down over Video Track 1 and note that there are multiple dissolves in both tracks. This played in a loop for 5 minutes with no issues.
||Timeline Number 2 is the exact same timeline, but with the 3-Way Color Corrector added to all the clips in Video Track 1. I threw the color corrector way over to Green so you could see that it's on. Note that only the dissolve in Video Track 2 have to be rendered.
||Timeline Number 3 is a very typical timeline for our workflow. One video track with color correction applied to all clips (note the red hue on the clips) with a name super or other graphic on track 2 all playing in realtime. Beyond this, we start getting into a lot of nesting, keying and compositing which can be 10 - 30 tracks of video so all of that needs to be rendered no matter what drives I'm running.
Performance under pressure
As noted at the beginning of this review, these units have been in production here at Biscardi Creative Media since November 2004 and I had every intention of writing a review much sooner than this. But with an absolutely insane production schedule this review has had to wait until now. And quite frankly, I'm glad it did take this long.
During the past 6+ months we have cut about 15 - 20 projects on the two G-RAIDs with all, but two, of them being 8bit or 10bit projects. The other two are DVCPro HD projects. In addition, we've done about 20 Animation projects and numerous graphics / DVD projects. I've dumped huge amounts of data off my FibreChannel array to the G-RAIDs for backing up on another machine. The drives have moved around my edit suites and been connected to whatever machine needs it at that moment. They have gone on location for a broadcast series and an independent film. I've probably connected and disconnected the units over 100 times between the two of them.
And they have been absolutely rock solid. No hiccups, no errors, no disappearing off the desktop, no refusing to mount, nothing. Without a doubt, the most trouble-free hard-drive units I've ever worked with, and that's going back about 10 years or so of non-linear editing experience. It's one thing for a product to work well during limited testing needed for a review. It's another for it to perform daily for almost 8 months and still be running like the day I first opened the box.
What else can I say. This is the most versatile unit I've ever used with its ability to work seamlessly with anything up to 10bit uncompressed and just remain solid no matter the situation or machine it's connected to. Hands-down the best Firewire 800 product I've ever used and one of the best hard-drive products I've ever used, period.
Let's give this thing 5 Cows with a Snap!
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
Biscardi Creative Media
Creative Cow Final Cut Pro, CinéWave and Atlanta FCPUG Forum Host
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