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  • Mon, Mar 14 2016 7:50 PM

    • doxilia
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    Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    We have recently updated our well used HP xw8600 (dual Xeon 3 GHz) running Symphony for a Z840 with the idea of being able to online 4K in the not too distant future (actually, we already have). The 8600 ran very well for several years on as recently as Symphony 7 or thereabouts. We currently have the latest Symphiony 8.5 on the Z840 and are experiencing some problems so we would like to keep the 8600 in the pipeline in order to handle smaller HD jobs on earlier more stable versions of Symphony.

    The main problem is that it appears the Quadro FX 3700 may be done with. It pixelates in green squares on boot up with question marks within the squares and all comments seem to point to bad video RAM. If that's the only issue, we could swap the video card and keep the machine working. As it stands, it fails to boot 99% of the time and I've isolated the problem to the Quadro card (by swapping PCI-E slots, boot drive and zapping both the system and card BIOS to the latest supported versions). I don't believe the system RAM is faulty as the machine boots into safe mode every time without issue.

    So, my questions to those who might have been here before are:

    1) Is it worth replacing the video card and maintain the 8600 running or is it less costly to buy a lesser new Z serires workstation?

    2) What video card specifically would you suggest using that would be compatible with both the 8600, current versions of Symphony and Windows 7 (or possibly 10 if the hardware and Avid will run well on it). Nvidia or AMD (ATI)?

    3) Can I run a lower cost Nvidia GeForce or does it need to be a Quadro? How much realtime FX processing power would I loose?

    3) How much system RAM at a minimum would you install? 8 GB or 16 GB? It currently has 4GB because two of the RAM cards (another 4 GB) apparently died.

    4) While I underestand Avid doesn't support it, how much usable life can I expect from the workstation if repaired in terms of Avid Symphony versions while doing HD online?

    5) I should add that the system was running on a Nitris classic which has now been moved over to the Z840. I don't expect to need much in the way of I/O from the 8600 but for monitoring what's the least expensive best quality HDMI/SDI hardware solution you'd recommend?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice you can offer.

    David

     

     

  • Mon, Mar 14 2016 8:44 PM In reply to

    • doxilia
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Montreal, Canada
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    A few additional questions:

    1) Researching Graphics cards, how would a Quadro K1200 fare as a replacement for the FX3700?

    2) Would it's four display ports allow triple HD software monitors plus a fourth HD client monitor?

    3) Does Symphony allow it to be stretched across three monitors? I'm primarily thinking of the standard 2 monitor software layout with bins on the left, timeline in the middle plus a third monitor on the right for other tools such as Audio Mixers, timecode windows, VU meters etc. and optionally other applications (e.g., wordprocessing or browsers) on the right if Symphony is kept to two monitors.

    TIA, David

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 12:20 PM In reply to

    • Bruno M
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Feb 11 2010
    • London, UK
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    Hi David,

    My own experience may help you here.

    doxilia:
    the system was running on a Nitris classic which has now been moved over to the Z840.

    I'm surprised that you've managed to get the classic hardware to work on the z840! Avid certainly never qualified the classic Nitris hardware beyond the HP xw series of workstations. If my memory serves me well, the base/codec boards needed two ajacent PCI X slots and the additional fan cooling kit for correct operation. I don't think the Z840 has any PCI X slots, so I'm intrigued to know how you've got it to work. Also, you can't use any Symphony software beyond version 5.5.

    doxilia:
    What video card specifically would you suggest using that would be compatible with both the 8600

    I have an old xw6000 which I've managed to use as an additional logging/edit workstation, and it's loaded with 8GB ram (I wouldn't recommend less than 8GB), Symphony 8.4 software and a Quadro 4000 card. This video card is a few generations old so you should be able to pick one up pretty cheaply, but it runs fine. I wouldn't attempt 4K on this setup but it is reasonably responsive at HD resolutions. I wouldn't bother with installing expensive video cards with the 8600 - it's best to use higher spec cards in your 840, where its potential can be fully exploited.

    doxilia:
    I don't expect to need much in the way of I/O from the 8600 but for monitoring what's the least expensive best quality HDMI/SDI hardware solution you'd recommend?

    My 8600 is a software only setup, but I guess the cheapest option is one of the Blackmagic cards. These aren't without some problems (as has been pointed out many times in these forums) but I guess if it's just for monitoring you shouldn't experience too much grief. If the Blackmagic hardware causes too much slowdown during (say) a quick essembly session, you can now 'switch off' the hardware from within the Avid software.

    doxilia:
    While I underestand Avid doesn't support it, how much usable life can I expect from the workstation if repaired in terms of Avid Symphony versions while doing HD online?

    Given that your Classic hardware was working fine on your 8600 (apart from your video card) I'm not sure why you removed it. I still have a HP8400 with the classic hardware and Symphony 5.5, specifically because one of my continuing clients still required a HD tape layoff of their shows. I then use Z series HP workstations to take advantage of the latest hardware and software, where the increased cores and throughput are necessary for modern software, especially if you intend to embrace 4K at some point.

    Bruno

    HP Z800, HP8760, SonnetFusion RAID, Mojo DX, Symphony 8.10, JVC DTV1910 HD tube monitor, HP Dreamcolor, Avid Artist Color [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 3:05 PM In reply to

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    doxilia:
    1) Is it worth replacing the video card and maintain the 8600 running or is it less costly to buy a lesser new Z serires workstation?

    If you ask me, Yes. I find the XW8600 a very reliable machine hardware wise and its performance, if upgraded with 12-16G of memory and an SSD for the OS, is good enough for HD work. With effects however the new Z4x0/Z8x0 machines show their processing power.

    doxilia:
    2) What video card specifically would you suggest using that would be compatible with both the 8600, current versions of Symphony and Windows 7 (or possibly 10 if the hardware and Avid will run well on it). Nvidia or AMD (ATI)?

    I would search for a new/used quadro 600 or k2000. Also a quadro 3800 works and can be found cheap but is already pretty old and not very powerful.

    doxilia:
    3) Can I run a lower cost Nvidia GeForce or does it need to be a Quadro? How much realtime FX processing power would I loose?

    Yes you can, but its always a question of trial and error. Many in these forums have been using geforce cards and I'm pretty sure if you dig around you will find some cards that others have succesfully used with older versions of MC/Symphony. With 8.5 however you won't find a lot of info of course.

    doxilia:
    3) How much system RAM at a minimum would you install? 8 GB or 16 GB? It currently has 4GB because two of the RAM cards (another 4 GB) apparently died.

    3 again? 8 is minimum but more is better. I advice 16.

    doxilia:
    4) While I underestand Avid doesn't support it, how much usable life can I expect from the workstation if repaired in terms of Avid Symphony versions while doing HD online?

    Hard to say. MC's performance fluctuates between versions and patches. I find 8.5 pretty good compared to previous 8.x versions but 5.5 and 6 are significantly faster. For simple small HD projects and spotting my XW8600 is still being used. But I have played around with some Z440's the last 6 months and the difference is huge. Certainly worth spending the money.

    doxilia:
    5) I should add that the system was running on a Nitris classic which has now been moved over to the Z840. I don't expect to need much in the way of I/O from the 8600 but for monitoring what's the least expensive best quality HDMI/SDI hardware solution you'd recommend?

    The nitris classic will only run with symphony 5.5. If you want to use later versions of symphony you need to change I/O. My favorite I/O between Avid, AJA, Matrox and Blackmagic if you only need 1K is the Avid nitris DX or any AJA. It depends on your setup. Above 1K I prefer AJA.

    The new Avid (BM) DNxIO seems to be getting a lot of attention from Avid development so it might be a good alternative as well. I just haven't tested enough with it to give you any advice on that. 

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own system: 1x Z420 E5 1650 16GB memory, 128GB SSD, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 12GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 5:53 PM In reply to

    • doxilia
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Montreal, Canada
    • Posts 356
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    Bruno, Jeroen,

    thanks for your informative replies. I should correct myself regarding the Nitris box as it's not a classic but rather a DX. Hence the ability to run it on the Z840 (as well as the 8600).

    I sourced both a replacement FX3700 512 MB as well as an optional 4000 2 GB. The difference in price is three fold about $50 for the 3700 and $150 for the 4000. Is the latter worth it for Symphony or should I just replace the 3700? I will probably also use the workstation for CAD work when not being used for editing.

    I was also planning on an SSD and 16 GB of RAM. For the latter, 2x6 + existing 2x2 or simply 2x8 and pull the existing 4? Does performance in general change if more RAM slots are used?

    I also need to buy monitors and was debating between 2x24" 1080p or 2x27" 2560p. Suggestions?

    I'll reply in more detail when in front of a keyboard.

    David

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 7:56 PM In reply to

    • Bruno M
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Feb 11 2010
    • London, UK
    • Posts 513
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    doxilia:
    I sourced both a replacement FX3700 512 MB as well as an optional 4000 2 GB. The difference in price is three fold about $50 for the 3700 and $150 for the 4000. Is the latter worth it for Symphony or should I just replace the 3700? I will probably also use the workstation for CAD work when not being used for editing.

    The FX3700 is an old card by today's standard - even the 4000 is not going to give you the best performance with software that leverages all the GPU power you can throw at it (eg. DaVinci Resolve). As far as MC or Symphony is concerned, the GPU cores aren't yet used to any great extent, but this may change in the future. Some third party AVX plugins are starting to use (and even require) Cuda acceleration in the GPU for their effects - especially if you want real-time performance or fast renders. I would personally go with the cheaper card in your 8600 and with the money you save, buy yourself a SSD drive as your boot drive. You should see better performance using SSD technology in most applications you might want to run.

    doxilia:
    Does performance in general change if more RAM slots are used?

    As far as I'm aware, dual Xeon processor systems benefit from both memory banks being used, but I don't think it matters how many actual slots you use in each bank, as long as both banks are populated.

    doxilia:
    I also need to buy monitors and was debating between 2x24" 1080p or 2x27" 2560p.

    Most editors I know like big screens, so it may seem to be a case of 'the bigger the better'. However, a couple of things you may want to check are...

    1) If you choose the FX3700, will it support two displays at 2560?

    2) Some editors complain about the font sizes in certain Avid menus/bins, as they become quite small at the higher resolutions. I believe that with version 8.5 they introduced some more options for changing font sizes.

     

    My personal experience is that once you've had the pleasure of working on a modern workstation like the Z840, it's very hard going back to something like a XW8600 for all but the most basic of things. As Jeroen has pointed out, everytime you upgrade software on an older workstation, it gets that bit slower. So I'm of the mindset that it's best to spend as little as possible on my 8600, with the expectation that I may have to retire it in the next year or so.

    Bruno

     

    HP Z800, HP8760, SonnetFusion RAID, Mojo DX, Symphony 8.10, JVC DTV1910 HD tube monitor, HP Dreamcolor, Avid Artist Color [view my complete system specs]
  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 8:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    doxilia:
    I sourced both a replacement FX3700 512 MB as well as an optional 4000 2 GB. The difference in price is three fold about $50 for the 3700 and $150 for the 4000. Is the latter worth it for Symphony or should I just replace the 3700?

    Go for the 4000. The 3700 is a piece of overheating junk that should never have seen the light of dvi/day.

    doxilia:
    For the latter, 2x6 + existing 2x2 or simply 2x8 and pull the existing 4? Does performance in general change if more RAM slots are used?

    No, At least not in the same way as with your z840. Either choice will practically result in the same performance. With more dimms it is however important to make sure all dimms have the same timing specifications. Therefor it is always considered best practice to use identical dimms in a system.

    doxilia:
    I also need to buy monitors and was debating between 2x24" 1080p or 2x27" 2560p.

    The new HP narrow bezel series are really nice. Here is the link of the 24 inch model

    http://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/accessories-88342--1/hp-z24nq-238-inch-narrow-bezel-ips-display-(energy-star)?jumpid=Accessories_Finder_PDP

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own system: 1x Z420 E5 1650 16GB memory, 128GB SSD, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 12GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 9:05 PM In reply to

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    double post

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own system: 1x Z420 E5 1650 16GB memory, 128GB SSD, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 12GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 9:07 PM In reply to

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    Jeroen van Eekeres:
    The 3700 is a piece of overheating junk that should never have seen the light of dvi/day.
    Really. WOW I had better immediately strip the 3700 out of my 8600. Though thinking back it has worked flawlessly for 8 (or is it 9) years now.....Stick out tongue 

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 9:12 PM In reply to

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    AndrewAction:
    Though thinking back it has worked flawlessly for 8 (or is it 9) years now.....Stick out tongue

    You should buy some lottery tickets then Andrew. The web was full of it. I had 3 of them die on me.

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own system: 1x Z420 E5 1650 16GB memory, 128GB SSD, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 12GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Tue, Mar 15 2016 9:30 PM In reply to

    • doxilia
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Montreal, Canada
    • Posts 356
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    Gentlemen,

    thanks for the ongoing support. I managed to pull a legacy PCI GeForce FX card from you don't want to know where, installed it in the first slot (after trying the bottom PCI-X slot to no avail despite having the LSI SAS controller disabled) and pulled the now evidently defective FX3700. Found an older but not too used 256 SSD and have the system reinstalling W7.

    My goal is to test things out and make sure the workstation is otherwise functional. W7 just finished installing in 5 min flat... I love SSD's :-)

    If all is well, I'll likely pick up the Q4000 and a couple of 27" HR monitors which are independent of the workstation so will serve me in the future. I was concerned with running Avid at such high resolution but like Bruno pointed out, Resolve is becoming increasingly important (even on a lower powered ws) and it desires lots of resolution.

    If all is well, I'll get the various software installed and swap the PCI card out for the Q4000 when it arrives.

    David

     

  • Wed, Mar 16 2016 5:53 AM In reply to

    • doxilia
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Montreal, Canada
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    Well,

    it took a good 3 hours but I actually managed to get the machine working (not 100% stable), Symphony installed and working (more or less - no proper video in composer windows) on 4 GB of RAM and this 12 year old PCI GFX card. It gives me some re-assurance that with a proper CUDA card in it, some 16 GB of RAM (or perhaps 20 GB if the existing 4GB play nice with the new RAM) and a nice monitor or two, the system will be usable.

    In the process of setting it up, I came across another issue which seems to cause some problems. For years we had this system running on 4 internal 2 TB SATA drives on the Intel RAID controller (not the SAS LSI controller). The 4 drives were striped into RAID 0 and if memory serves, they were partitioned into 4 equal volumes of a little under 2 TB each. I can't recall if the array was managed by the Intel RST or by Windows7.

    I tried setting up a new array with the same drives but partitioning into 2 volumes only of ~3.8 TB each. While Windows7 SP1 seems happy with their presence, I had to create the stripes in Windows rather than the Intel RST boot ROM. The latter only seemed to see 1 TB of each drive and would only create a sub 2 TB striped volume regardless of how many drives were in the stripe (2 or 4). I'm wondering if this is a limitation of the HP supported RST (also previously called the Matrix Storage Manager) software or whether it's a chipset hardware limitation. I was able to create, mount and stress test the two 3.8 TB Windows created volumes and it seemed to be fine (the RAID boot ROM just sees each drive as a non-array stand alone device). However, when rebooting, sometimes the system won't be quite stable. Should I just make 4 sub 2 TB 4-way stripe volumes rather than the two 3.8's to keep these arrays under the "2 TB limit"? Any one else experiencing issues with SATA stripe arrays like this?

    Jeroen, thanks for the tip on the HP 24" thin bezel monitors - they do look quite nice and they are higher than HD resolution which is unusual for 24" screens.

    Incidentally, I was able to get Resolve 12 installed and "working" as well. Although it did complain bitterly about lack of CUDA as did Symphony of the 4 GB RAM and lack of QT installed... It will all be fixed to get this system back into production.

    Thanks again for your help and suggestions. Any further advice and insight is always welcome.

    David

  • Wed, Mar 16 2016 6:51 AM In reply to

    • doxilia
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Oct 13 2005
    • Montreal, Canada
    • Posts 356
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    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    The larger than 2 TB volumes were causing boot hangup. I re-striped them as 1.81 TB 4-way stripes and everything seems to be fine now. I think this is how we had them originally.

    So, is this a chipset specific, xw8600, or W7 SP1 limitation?

  • Wed, Mar 16 2016 7:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    doxilia:
    So, is this a chipset specific, xw8600, or W7 SP1 limitation?

    Chipset specific. But what you are writing does not really make sense as a 4way stripe would give you a single volume of 8TB (7.2 in reality) and I don't think that would work either. How many volumes do you have inside windows and  the Intel RST/Intel matrix software?

    I've been struggling with the intel raid controller as well (not just on the xw8600). It's a software assisted (non hardware) raid controller and functionally/performance wise it's 'not perfect'... but what is. Because I have never found any firmware upgrades for these controllers I have learned to live with the limitations. From experience though while the bios utility will complain (about drive compatiblility) inside the intel RST/matrix software all is fine and the system works as expected. Parctically though if I need a reliable raid 5 setup I add a pci-e promise/3ware/LSI raid controller for internal/external storage.  

    From the old Apple Quadro 950 to HP Z8xx. My current own system: 1x Z420 E5 1650 16GB memory, 128GB SSD, 1x XW8600, 2x 3.0Ghz Quadcore, 12GB memory... [view my complete system specs]

    Jeroen van Eekeres 

    Technical director, Broadcast support engineer, Avid ACSR.

     

    Always have a backup of your projects....Always!!!! Yes Always!!!!

    A.V.I.D....... Another Version In Development

    www.mediaoffline.com

     

     

     

  • Wed, Mar 16 2016 10:37 AM In reply to

    • Bruno M
    • Top 200 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Feb 11 2010
    • London, UK
    • Posts 513
    • Points 6,505

    Re: Hardware Issue and Solution Path

    If it's any help, my 8600 has a LSI Megaraid 8880 SAS controller card in slot 4, connected to an external disk box with four 2GB drives in RAID 0 setup (using the LSI config utility).

    No problems with drive size limitations and I can see all 7.27 GB.  I tried Blackmagic's disk speed test on it and I got around 470MB/s read/write, which is quite respectable for a machine of this age.

    Bruno

    HP Z800, HP8760, SonnetFusion RAID, Mojo DX, Symphony 8.10, JVC DTV1910 HD tube monitor, HP Dreamcolor, Avid Artist Color [view my complete system specs]
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