ultrastar-dc-sn640 nvme-server post-production

Case Study: Western Digital® SSDs Accelerate Servers for Post-Production

With Western Digital® into the first league of video servers

From internal measurements, our engineers already agreed that the All-Flash NVMe server with Ultrastar® DC SN640 SSDs from Western Digital® could be the benchmark for performance in this configuration. But how would its performance – compared to conventional technology – affect post-production? A test should provide answers.

  • Disk performance with NVMe SSDs from Western Digital®.
  • Fast multi-core CPU effectively handles multiple tasks
  • 100 Gigabit per second supply several workstations simultaneously

A tested server with Western Digital® Ultrastar® series NVMe™ disks.

Test setup with specialists from the industry

Especially in a profession like video post-production, which produces vast amounts of raw data, an NVMe bolide quickly awakens desires – especially among media designers, cutters and editors. Therefore, sales manager Bernd Widmaier confidently turned to Tobias Feterowski, head of service and support at dve advanced systems GmbH. The Starline partners from Aschheim in Upper Bavaria were to independently test our hand-forged top model as proven experts in this field.

Mr. Feterowski was not slow to respond, after all, their film, video and broadcast clientele requires extremely fast workflow solutions to handle the massive amounts of data in a timely manner for VFX, grading and video storage.

NVMe™-server for post-production

A previously delivered all-flash server served as a benchmark, which also still corresponded to the state of the art, but was less opulently equipped. With its 36 SATA SSDs, it’s more at home in the backup area than as a work machine. In addition, its interfaces were slower, with two 10 GbE upgrades. So be it. In the end, the technicians needed a comparison model.

Excursus: Data rates

Media workstations require an extremely large amount of bandwidth for editing HD, 4K or even 8K video data in the original color depth (4:2:2, 4:4:4), because they ultimately edit the raw versions – so-called RAW files. The data is therefore stored without data reduction and compression of any codecs, so that no image errors that could result from this are inherited in later processing steps.

A 4K camera that delivers 24 full frames per minute, for example, requires more than 12 gigabytes of memory per minute of film. Such a video therefore requires at least 1.6 Gbit/s net data rate in order to be processed in real time. Another aspect is the number of workstations to be supplied: With each additional workstation, the data rate that the server has to process is multiplied.

Server prototype proves itself in use

The NVMe candidate, meanwhile, was able to offer everything that was good and fast, and of course still is: a 24-core from AMD, half a terabyte of DDR4 RAM, 100 GbE cards from Mellanox and the eight NVMe SSDs from the Ultrastar® DC SN640 series from Western Digital® mentioned above. The Red Hat-based Linux distribution CentOS (Community Enterprise Operating System) was selected as the operating system. In order to be able to evaluate the practical use, the grading and editing software DaVinci Resolve was installed.

A few days and various tests later, the answer was clear: the NVMe server, powered by Western Digital® SSDs, delivered a whopping 4 gigabytes per second of useful data rate, beating out the standard server. It would thus theoretically be able to supply up to 20 workstations simultaneously with 4K raw data in real time. Even when writing, the test server achieved a transfer rate that conventional servers only reach when reading: With 2.5 GB/s via SAMBA/NFS, 12 workstations could still store their edited 4K movie snippets in parallel.

Conclusion: Servers equipped with NVMe power revive the old wisdom: Good is good, but better carries it. In the end, the blazing fast Ultrastar® DC SN640s from Western Digital® can deliver their data about six times faster than conventional SATA SSDs. So in an industry with exorbitantly high demands on read/write operations, the fast drives save a lot of time and consequently money.

Our strengths in service

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Comprehensive Project Support

Starline assists from the planning stage through to the implementation of the system.

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Innovative products

Our product managers and technicians are constantly searching for sophisticated server and storage products.

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Independent provider

We are committed only to you – the customer – and therefore always offer the best solution for you.

Do you need NVMe performance in your servers?

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dve advanced systems GmbH specializes in technical solutions for film, video and broadcast postproduction. The company’s portfolio includes in particular workflow solutions for VFX, grading and storage infrastructures.

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Any questions? Please contact us.

In 2018, Bernd Widmaier celebrated his 25th anniversary with Starline. With great experience and broad knowledge – combined with high customer orientation – he heads our sales team. However, he also contributes plenty to sales himself and frequently represents Starline externally at events. The VFB fan has an excellent knowledge of various vertical markets, such as Mac, video storage and media streaming, which earns him the exhibition booth support at the IBC in Amsterdam every year.

Bernd Widmaier