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Old 11-30-2013, 09:14 PM
Darryl Ramm Darryl Ramm is offline
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 13,558
Default Re: Internal PCIe-based Flash Storage for Pro Tools audio

I'll give you an unsatisfctory non-answer. And I don't have a HD + MBP Retina to test with.

Avid still recommends using dedicated audio/session drive. I don't know if they have tested PCIe Flash as a combo boot/system/audio drive.

If you are getting away today with a single Firewire 800 external HDD then I suspect you might work OK to a the Boot/System PCIe drive if you are very careful. And if you are using timeline cache that could help significantly.

My personal approach with these Retina MBPs would be to get the largest SSD available, I'm always in need of space on the system disk (for plugins, etc.). I would try it and see if sessions record reliably to that disk then great, if not then I'd go back to an external HDD or SSD. And $1/GB for the extra disk capacity, is a pretty good price for a PCIe Flash from Apple, well it could be a lot worse. I'd work with the Apple provided SSD until the unit was a little older and out of warranty then I'd likely look at upgrading to larger again SSDs from folks like OWC. The Retina SSD are replaceable/upgradable but it's a hassle.

SSD disk performance is fairly complex, even though PCIe buses are fast, the actual NAND flash erase/writes are realtively slow, and SSD performance for write and mixed write/read performance depends critically on how well the garbage collection is implemented in the processor inside the SSD. So even with the apparent blinding speed of PCIe flash I would not just assume that Pro Tools will work OK with audio to the system drive. You have to test it (and under sustained load). (and FWIW I'm routinely running small sessions ~dozen tracks with a few tracks of SD drum VIs on it on an older MBP off a single Samsung 840 Evo system drive, of course I'm not surprised if it sometimes hiccups).

And with these MBP the Thunderbolt (and even USB 3) connections to an external SSD offer so much more performance than a Firewire 800 external HDD that I'd be looking at one of these for session files if I did not want to or could not record to the internal SSD. Here is an interesting starting point for Thunderbolt/SSD external drives...
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