OK, I am at a point of fairly high frustration as we speak…the usual glitch when transitioning to the latest bleeding edge technology. What really makes me mad is that this problem should have been avoided by a little market insight into the design of some peripherals by two usually excellent manufacturers.
Since 2008-9, I have been using two five disk eSATA enclosures, both using port multiplication and a single eSATA connection each. They have terminated with 2 cables into a Sonnet Tempo Pro Express 34 card into my 17” loaded MBP. I run SoftRAID, and have a simple, very reliable scheme for maintaining backups, eliminating disk fragmentation, and enjoying excellent daily performance. I wrote about all this at length a while back in the Aperture support forum, I assume you can search my posts to see pages of detail on this if you are so inclined…
ANYWAY, I wanted to upgrade my MBP, and since I use an external calibrated wide gamut display for 90% of my work, I did not see the need for the Retina display model. This MBP does not travel very often, as I have another MBP in the studio for tethering, so I have this one only when I go on location that requires tethering. I do theatre work, Playbill and promotionals, lobby posters, headshots and the like. My location shoots are basically non-tethered in a theatre seat, the MBP back in the hotel room to cull the day’s work.
So a just bought a MBP9,1 with 16GB RAM, removed the optical drive and installed two 512GB SSDs for a 1TB RAID 0 array. This baby has the same CPU/GPU as the Retina, but with more and faster storage. OK, I am excited about my new horsepower until I encounter…
Problem one…this model, unlike the Retina has only has ONE Thunderbolt port, and I have to use this to connect my monitor. MY STUPID ASSUMPTION…I saw Sonnet had a TB chassis to hold Express 34 cards…great, I thought, this would allow me to use the same card and eSATA enclosures I have been using, and I would daisy-chain the monitor…PROBLEM – the Sonnet chassis shortsightedly has only one TB connector, so no daisy chain…ARRGGGHH! I called Sonnet and got a frankly rude response I should have bought the Retina MBP. Well, rudeness aside, that is no answer as the Retina, although it has 2 TB ports, has no Ethernet or FW connection, both of which I use…file transfer over wired Ethernet is far faster than wireless, and we are always sending large files between machines..SOOOO…I would have to eat one of the TB slots to have Ethernet on the Retina, and I am back at square one with the same issue.
I then contacted LaCIE, after looking at pictures of their TB/eSATA hub…looked great, has 2 TB, 2 eSATA, and even 2 USB 3.0 for good measure. It is bus powered, and looked perfect for $199, plus a TB cable….BUT NOOOO…in yet another example of short-sighted design, their two eSATA connections do not support port multiplier enclosures, they only see the first disk in a box… ARRGGGHH! AGAIN…
I think the problem may lie in the assumption these manufacturers are making that someone using eSATA needs only to maximize performance, like a video editor. That use needs 100% of the eSATA bandwidth per channel, and that means one device per connection. Now some of these single devices can contain hardware that makes multiple disks a standalone RAID array, but they suffer the same fate if you set their hardware to JBOD (which is what I require)…you will only see the first disk in the box.
Photographers do not need that ultimate continuous throughput, we need the other major feature of eSATA…port multiplication, and the ability to have massive amounts of fast storage in hot-swappable maximum flexibility JBOD configurations, running the awesome SoftRAID for stripes, auto mirrors and superfast rebuilds. SoftRAID rebuilds a mirror faster than any dedicated hardware box I have seen, and it is the daily offsite backup that is one of my requirements.
Sooo here I sit with this great MBP I cannot use ATM, and I am on the hunt for this answer…I do not need TB arrays, the performance I am getting now is basically immediate, so more data throughput would be paying for something I do not need. All suggestions are welcome.
- K.J. Doyle