Top Technology Pick: High Point Technologies
by David Helmly
One of the challenges I face quite often in my ProVideo testing lab is the ever changing hardware that arrives on a regular basis. While it sounds awesome (let’s be honest – it is…) , it’s also a challenge – as we all know in the real world we need to keep those older high dollar investments up and running as long as we can. I get these types of questions on how to keeping older tech updated all the time.
One clear example of this $$$ investment is storage. As man you of you know, I have always been a fan of the Gtech ES Pro line of SAS drives. They are blazingly fast, very reliable, and in heavy use by video professionals world wide. I’ve had my pair of ES Pros with 8TB of storage running pretty much everyday for years without a hiccup. For many of those years it was the only real way to get the speeds I needed for true 4K editing on a Windows or mac based computer (Remember that PC Windows Dual Xeon Workstations did not really get Thunderbolt2 until mid-2014 and SAS was and still is a solid performer) .
Once companies started to offer Thunderbolt 2 add-on option cards for Dual Intel E5 class Xeon processor workstations like HP’s Z 820/840, Dell Precision 7910, and Lenovo’s P900, things got a little tricky in terms of keeping those SAS drives going at full speed while taking advantage of new technologies like Thunderbolt2. For the past 12 months or so, I have been testing some add-on gear to help solve this problem.
Why so long before recommending it?
I wanted to insure its reliability and overall performance for the long haul. The desktop I’ve been using in my most recent stress tests over the past 6 months as been the Dual Xeon equip’d “tricked out” ThinkStation P900 with a M.2 Boot SSD module, 128GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce TitanX, and Thunderbolt2 option. With the proper storage speeds as I’ll discuss here, it edits 4K & 6K with ease.
The best solution I could find to solve the challenge from a price/performance standpoint was High Point Technologies RocketStor 6328 Raid adapter (priced at about $675.00) . With its Dual SAS Input connection and Thunderbolt2 I/O it gave me the speed I needed to keep the raided pair of Gtech ES Pro units up and running at full speed (about 650-750 MB/s) . Installation was a breeze. Just load the Windows 7/8/10 Thunderbolt2 RocketStor driver and connect your SAS cables to the RocketStor 6328 Thunderbolt2 storage adapter and watch your drives mount. *note* HighPoint recommends that you back up your SAS drives before you proceed with adding the RocketStor 6328 adapter . I had no issue as my data was intact after the upgrade and still is as of this day. For the record, OS X users can also take full advantage of the RocketStor 6328.
One reason that my data was still intact and no need to format might be that the original G-Tech SAS card that came with my ES Pro drives was in fact made my HighPoint Tech (If you have one just look at the SAS card) BUT AGAIN, be careful with your data and make sure you take the proper steps to insure that you are covered if you need to reformat. If you don’t need the data on the drives or can back them up , then I would HIGHLY recommend formatting the drives to have a solid fresh start on the new raided drive set. I will admit, that the HighPoint Web UI takes a little getting used to for Raid management but has everything you’d expect to see in a utility like this. Setting up the unit for RAID 0,1,5,6,10,50, or JBOD was straight forward.
For people just wanting to add Windows 10 compatibility and wanting to stay with a SAS card (many older SAS card drivers won’t work reliably on Windows 10), you can now just replace your older SAS card with the new RocketRaid 4522 (priced at about $599.00) which still gives you a full 8 channel PCIe 2.0 connection to 8 SAS/SATA drives with 6Gb/s hardware RAID. With 512MB DDR3 Cache and Thunderbolt aware (for TB chassis use) it’s my top pick for a new SAS card. (Also supports OS X) The RAID modes are basically what you would expect from any high-end card – RAID 0,1,5,6,10,50, & JBOD. Speeds are great…. (750MB/s in my tests on SAS equip’d ES Pro drives – 2 pair of 4 drives , 8 total)
I also wanted to point out a few other cool technologies from High Point Tech that I use on a regular basis. The RocketStor 5212 dual bay Thunderbolt powered docking station for 3.5” & 2.5” HD/SSD’s is something I use nearly every day in prepping drives for various machines (6Gb/s channel for both drive bays) . Compatible with any Mac or PC with Thunderbolt
Recently, I received a RocketStor 6414AS drive enclosure (mini SAS connection) paired with a RocketRaid 4522 card mentioned above as well as the new RocketStor 6314A Thunderbolt2 Raid enclosure and both units have been up and running non stop for about 45 days or so and no reported issues. In short, these enclosures allow you add your own drives (I usually get matching drives from AMAZON or reuse older matching drives) and build out a RAID system based on your specific storage and speed needs. Both units support, SAS, SATA, and SSD drives. For 4K editing I highly recommend a total of 8 drives on a hardware RAID card or Thunderbolt 2. This will insure that longer projects load quickly and give you the playback performance needed. You can pair two 4 bay units or Highpoint also offers a full 8 bay rack unit like the Rockstor 6424TS or even a 16 bay unit like the RocketStor 6424TS
If you are new to High Point Technologies you can find out more here : http://www.highpoint-tech.com
DAV TechTable Top Pick
5 out of 5 stars on the Rockstor 6328