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M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

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M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Boulez » Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:13 pm

Hello Again

Are there any heavy users of Orchestral Sample Libraries on this Mac part of the forum? I have some questions about NVMe drives vs standard SSDs.

Are sample library users now employing things like Sonnet M.2 4x4 PCIe Card (Silent) with NVMe SSDs as their main sample drives? https://www.sonnettech.com/product/m2-4 ... rview.html Have these now basically replaced SATA SSDs as the storage platform of choice? Is NVMe now the recommended setup, regardless of price? That's my impression from reading around...

I have a 2019 Mac Pro 16-Core, and will soon invest in bits of VSL, Spitfire BBC, Orchestral Tools, Synthogy Ivory and other instrument libraries. I’ll use large templates in Logic and the work will be in extreme detail. So I'm wondering...

If you’re using Sonnet/M2/NVMe (or similar), relative to SATA SSDs are you experiencing:

1. Reduced wait when loading large templates?
2. Smooth and trouble-free playing of instrument samples?
3. Any over-heating of the M2 NVMe SSDs during short or long sessions?
4. Any other problems / issues? :crazy:

Do you recommend this route—or have alternative suggestions?

I’m not toooo concerned about cost—I’m mainly just interested in getting maximum speed, efficiency and reliability.

Also, from what I can gather, there seems to be a debate :round1: whether Samsung 970 Evo Plus (or Samsung 970 Pro for reliability?) or perhaps Intel Optane is best for sample library use. Anyone have direct experience or comparison of these?

Any advice would be much appreciated as I’m much more musician than computer hardware expert!

Thanks :thumbup:
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Humf » Sat Sep 19, 2020 1:58 pm

Good post Boulez - I’ll be keeping a close eye on responses. Have you posted on VI Control or anywhere else?

I’m certainly not able to give you an answer, sorry. But I am shortly to invest in an entirely new setup for precisely the same type of orchestral work.

I’m not ready to invest mega £ in the Mac Pro so building a setup around Mac Mini and external drives. I’m too old and busy to be building PC servers or suchlike but definitely going for the DIY RAM upgrade to save some money.

Reading around on SSDs, I hear similar responses from people saying it’s simply not worth the DIY approach (ie. NVMe sticks plus enclosure for external drive) but better to stick with pre-built versions like the Samsung X5. The issue I think being (a) bottlenecks from transfer across busses (b) built in throttling to prevent overheating.

However, I appreciate those issues may not be inherent in the PCIe Sonnet card that you link to?

But my basic understanding also tells me that the speeds offered by NVMe SSD sticks, even if able to read/write near the max speeds published by manufacturers, may not have much benefit to streaming large libraries anyway, other than to speed up the initial loading of a template?

Sorry - it’s beyond me this stuff - but I’m definitely keen to buy future-proof tech, so very interested to know the answers........
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Agharta » Sat Sep 19, 2020 3:33 pm

I’ve read a lot of anecdotal reports that suggest that real-world performance varies a lot depending on the library in question which presumably is linked to the playback engine.
Kontakt doesn’t seem to scale well at all so PCIe/NVMe drives are generally a waste there.
But someone suggested that if you use Kontakt in Reaper and assign a different ‘process’ to each instance of Kontakt then it scales.
There are a lot of variables including how the library is encoded for example.
Some have a monolithic file structure and some have tens of thousands of files.
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Humf » Sat Sep 19, 2020 10:01 pm

Just came across this write up on VI Control. You might be interested to read.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wL8XYGgd_O9fomMrK1EpSnZJeQwhVOAn91e82byj8s4/mobilebasic
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Sep 20, 2020 8:10 pm

This is my anology. Your SSDs, NVMEs collect the musicians for your virtual orchestra, some get there quicker than others. It doesn't really matter.

The Concert Hall is where your virtual musicians meet. And that is RAM based. From what you are planning, I would say you need 128 GB RAM as a minimum.

As for NVMEs, I am running multiple Samsung Evo Plus, but on PCI4, wheras you have PCIE3, (half the speed), on your MAC. The Pro version is actually slower in real life!
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Boulez » Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:01 am

Hello Humf,

Thanks for response and sorry for slow reply. (Side issue: do you by any chance know if there's some place to tick a box to receive notifications of replies on this forum? I expect it's staring me in the nose...)

Yes, I posted on VI-Control and had various responses. See: https://vi-control.net/community/thread ... use.98419/

The general consensus seems to be, as you say, NVMe will noticeably reduce the load times of large (or very large) templates, compared to SATA SSD, but NVMe has no perceivable benefit for actual sample streaming (possibly with the exception of some VI players/software. Which ones are which, I have not discovered). On the other hand, no one has yet said there is a disavantage to using NVMe (other than NVMe costs more). So maybe that's the answer, and all there is to it.

For this reason, I'm still considering: https://www.sonnettech.com/product/fusi ... rview.html in RAID 0 (Assuming the above paragrapgh is correct, this would ensure more than enough speed for sample playback, is cheaper than NVMe, and altogether pretty neat). However, this doesn't help you with the Mac Mini, I assume.

OTOH, maybe templates are going to be very large, and without NVMe I'd regret the slower loading times... Hmmm.

I've another parallel project (music related but at one remove from sample libraries), and I'll certainly have to invest in NVMe for that anyway. So that muddies the waters a bit. I'd prefer to keep the sample libraries on a dedicated storage device, and not put anything else at all on it/them. If I end up buying a mixture of SATA and NVMe, then I'll certainly do some testing and report back here. That said, it ain't going to happen immediately I'm afraid!

Then again, maybe it will be all NVMe...

Flip, flop, flip, flop....
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby zenguitar » Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:13 am

Boulez wrote:do you by any chance know if there's some place to tick a box to receive notifications of replies on this forum?

Below the last post in a Topic are three labeled black buttons. The middle one is 'subscribe topic'. Just click that one.

:thumbup:

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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Boulez » Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:17 am

Thanks also Agharta and Trevor

Trevor wrote:
"I would say you need 128 GB RAM as a minimum."

Thanks. I'd be interested have confirmation of this from others who are using very large orchestral templates. I see a lot of conficting opinions about this, but from what I can gather it's becasue different musicians are doing very divergent things with divergent softwares etc.

Trevor wrote
"As for NVMEs, I am running multiple Samsung Evo Plus, but on PCI4, wheras you have PCIE3, (half the speed), on your MAC. The Pro version is actually slower in real life!"

Thanks, that's useful too. Yes, I've seen that the Samsung 890 Pro is just round the corner, much faster again, and PCie 4.0. And I underastand the Mac Pro won't be able to take advantage. But I think it's will do the job very well and reliably for a good long while, and hopefully that's what matters. It is a very nifty machine. As I'm mainly a PC person, I thought hard about going PC /Cubase.... but have used Logic (Notator) since Atari days.....
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Re: M2 NVMe drives vs standard SSDs for heavy Sample Library use?

Postby Boulez » Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:20 am

zenguitar wrote:
Boulez wrote:do you by any chance know if there's some place to tick a box to receive notifications of replies on this forum?

Below the last post in a Topic are three labeled black buttons. The middle one is 'subscribe topic'. Just click that one.

:thumbup:

Andy :beamup:

Marvellous -- exactly in front of my nose -- Thanks!! :headbang:
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