Report: Piranha FireWire enclosure with Western Digital 120GB, 8MB cache

rharder

Do not read this sign.
Though a fast drive for other purposes perhaps, I've been terribly disappointed with this combination for use with iMovie. Then again, I'm becoming more and more disappointed with iMovie even on my internal hard drive.

For $55 I picked up a Piranha FireWire enclosure, and for $160 after rebates I got a new Western Digital 120GB drive with 8MB cache. Too bad none of my files are less than 100MB! The cache does me no good. Oh well, it's cool, and that's what counts, right?

Using the 'dd' command, I get a steady 25MB/sec read and write speed, for file sizes from 100MB to 1GB. Not too shabby. Conclusion: Thumbs Up.

I copied 36GB of 100MB+ video files from my internal HD to the FW one in 25 minutes with the Finder. That's about 25MB/sec too. Not bad. Conclusion: Thumbs Up.

With my Formac Studio I can record two hours of Looney Toons without a problem and only hitting 50% CPU utilization. Conclusion: Thumbs Up.

With iMovie I frequently get continuous scenes broken up, and often the camera view screen will go blue in iMovie although I can hear the camera through its speaker still playing a signal. Of course iMovie also uses 100% CPU utilization: what's up with that? And I get these problems, though not as frequently, with my internal drive too. Conclusion: Stinkin' iMovie. Fix it, Apple.

OK so maybe I was a little harsh in my first paragraph, but seeing as how I bought the drive to use with iMovie "I stand by my disappointed grunt." Stinkin' iMovie.

Otherwise it's a really cool drive for about $200. You probably don't need to bother with the 8MB cache drive. Go for the IBM DeskStar 120GB for about $130 online. The Piranha enclosure is great: looks great and good price. http://www.piranhatech.com/products/displayproducts.asp?catid=1047&subcatid=2132&manufacturer=Firewire It says $65, but came up as $55 in my shopping cart.

I have an 800Mhz flatpanel iMac with 256MB RAM, Mac OS X 10.1.5, iMovie 2.1.1. When my RAM-that-went-bad comes back in the mail this week, I'll do the iMovie tests again with 768MB RAM. Maybe iMovie doesn't work with 256MB RAM...

I'd be interested to hear how other people did with their FireWire drives.

-Rob
 

rharder

Do not read this sign.
OK with my 768MB RAM back in my computer, I still get scene breaks where there shouldn't be breaks, and the video signal goes blue when using the FW hard drive. I even tried plugging the camera directly into the second FW port on the computer instead of daisychaining through the HD: no help.

Rats.

-Rob
 

ladavacm

Unperson Spotter
Even though DV required bandwidth is "only" about 5MB per second, DV over FireWire requires real-time response; it will lose sync if the FireWire bus is occupied by something else (e.g. transfer to disc) when it needs it NOW! You have seen the end-result.
The "second" FireWire plug on Macs does not help, because both plugs are wired to the same bus (unlike USB).

Since you have an iMac, your only choice is the internal disc for DV capture--you can move clips away for post-processing. Also, you should move everything back to internal drive to export finished movie to DV recorder.

On a Power Mac you could use another FireWire adapter, or even SCSI.
 

rharder

Do not read this sign.
Boy, that's pretty frustrating. Apple praises FireWire as being a godsend for video editing etc, but you can't even use it for that, save one device per bus. So much for daisychaining.

-Rob
 

ladavacm

Unperson Spotter
Originally posted by rharder
Boy, that's pretty frustrating. Apple praises FireWire as being a godsend for video editing etc, but you can't even use it for that, save one device per bus. So much for daisychaining.

-Rob
Well, FireWire IS nice, even for video editing. The problem here is the real-time nature of the task and the fact that camcorders have no buffers worth mentioning (especially the relatively cheap ones).

CD burning is similar; you just have to know the limitations inherent in the task you are trying to accomplish.

Daisychaining hard disks will work, up to 80 or so percent of the total available FireWire bandwidth. The same holds for any bus, really. Including SCSI.
 
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