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University's new SSDs boost video production speeds by 16X

Lucas Mearian, Computerworld | May 24, 2011
When Brigham Young University-Hawaii's digital media lab needed to turbo-charge its high-def video processing system, it had two choices: Add a storage area network, or plop a solid-state drive into its Mac Pro tower computer.

In addition, the write performance of the WarpDrive card helped enable the lab to consolidate workflows for large-scale CD-quality recording sessions.

Each of the WarpDrives only has 300GB capacity, but that's more than enough to perform the video rendering and audio editing work, Merrill said.

"The big thing for me is the savings on our resources," Merrill said, adding that the SSDs have cut the time spent in downloading video from cameras to the Mac and has shortened the editing process, where video is played back over and over again.

When in the field with the Red One hi-def video camera, users able to download content to the Mac Pro in minutes, according to Travis Cameron, digital media manager at BYU-Hawaii.

Typically, Cameron said, in order to capture video live in the field, playback editors are required to use a low-resolution setting. The SSDs allow the school to capture 4K resolution video straight to the Mac Pro.

"For media, that's the big thing -- the capture and playback," Cameron said.

Last year, the school installed an IBM DS5020 SAN on which it stores most of its video. The system is tied into video production systems through a 16Gbps Fibre Channel network.

But the expense of getting the video department's Pro Tools audio editing machine tied into the Fibre network prompted the school set up a separate Gigabit Ethernet network, according to Cameron.

"Pro Tools for audio doesn't consume much physical space, so 300GB is enough for all the projects we do," Cameron said.

Cameron said that beyond what the school can do in its lab, the new tools let him handle video editing chores on his Mac Pro home computer, using the cards with no attached networks.

"You don't need to run a cable. You can take out [an SSD] card smaller than a SATA hard drive, and it's easy to plug it into the machine and go with it," Cameron said. "We use it wherever we need it -- sometimes in my house, sometimes in our audio machine, sometimes in our editing bay that's not connected to the SAN. It really fluctuates."


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