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iodyne Pro Data 48TB Review – Blazing Fast SSD RAID for Video Editing

December 20th, 2022 Jump to Comment Section 14

The iodyne Pro Data 48 Terabyte Thunderbolt storage solution is now available for pre-ordering. We were curious to see how this crazy fast monster in capacity M.2 NVM express SSD solution can contribute to enhancing our daily editing routine.

Since having the iodyne Pro Data 48 TB in-house, I was breaking my head in regards to how to share my excitement with you guys about working with this storage device. After all, it is easy to excite users by showing beautiful images coming out of cameras and lenses for example, but here, with this kind of device, where do I begin?

I thought that what really interests us as users, is to find out what the iodyne device brings to the table in terms of daily usage but no review is complete without graphs with numbers of data transfer rates

iodyne 48TB Disk Speed Test
iodyne 48TB Disk Speed Test. BM vs. ATTO measurements. Credit: CineD

Different Benchmarks Exercise Different Attributes of the Device

Just a word on Disk Speed measurements: Some benchmarks like BlackMagic and AJA focus on comparing the performance copying video files of different resolutions for easy reference. However, they use engines that aren’t always a good representation of how modern multi-threaded apps like Adobe Premiere function on today’s monster multi-core Macs.

Other benchmarks like ATTO, do a more accurate job of simulating the workload from an app like Premiere but aren’t as easy to configure. Because of those differences in how benchmark tools work and what they test in the device, we highly recommend using multiple benchmark apps when testing your storage. That will let you get a complete and accurate picture of how well your storage will perform for your workflow.

The Elephant in the Room

Before continuing, it is important for me to say that this fast and high-capacity 48 TB Thunderbolt storage device is not for everyone. Depending on what you do and how your editing workflow is, be prepared to pay 17,500 USD for it. BUT if you are after the same exact solution or speed performance, and a reduced capacity IS an option for you, iodyne offers a 12 TB and a 24 TB version as well.

Now, with the price being out of the way, I can’t stress enough how my editing workflow improved while working with the iodyne Pro Data 48 Terabyte solution. 

Being a run-and-gun documentary filmmaker who is occasionally editing my own footage too, I’m perfectly falling into the target group of this device, but more on that a bit later.

Easy 8K editing, even on older MacBook Pro
Easy 8K editing, even on an older MacBook Pro. Credit: CineD

Specifications

I just want to properly introduce the 48 TB Pro Data first: 

  • It weighs 3.3 kilograms and has similar dimensions as my 16-inch MacBook Pro laptop, just thicker. I found it very easy to put it inside my backpack and take it with me whenever needed. 
  • There are 8× 40 Gigabit Thunderbolt 3 ports. Those can be connected to one or more computers, or other devices and accessories.
  • The device can be configured to use different RAID options. I chose RAID 6 for maximum data safety in case something goes wrong as I can not afford to lose any footage.

By the way, one of the advantages of working with a 48 Terabyte device is the ability to configure it in RAID 6 and still have enough capacity to work on projects with a big amount of footage.

Oh, and don’t look for an on/off switch because there isn’t one. When you connect it to the outlet, it powers on and stays like this at all times.

Tech Specs
Tech Specs. Credit: iodyne

Use Cases

OK, so I hear you asking when and why will you be using such a device.

Let’s start with the “why”. Simply put, if you want the feeling of complete freedom when editing high-resolution data-heavy projects, this is a great solution.

We all know that, from this point onward, since cameras are getting more and more advanced with recording codecs and resolutions, we will always get more footage to edit. Top this with solving some bottleneck issues that most of us have with our computers or accessories, this solution with a data transfer rate of 5 Gigabytes per second can surely help.  

When it comes to When to use it, I can clearly identify 3 solid scenarios: 

  • using large VFX files
  • running and gunning
  • when there are projects to share between the entire editing team

Personally, I can easily relate to the run-and-gun documentary filmmaking scenario. Back in the day, I used to work for some leading broadcasters and I could only wish for having the iodyne Pro Data with me. 

Knowing that I barely have capacity restrictions, and can edit the footage in real-time and full resolution, plus, being able to share it with the director or producer to view it in all of its glory is beyond having a good feeling, it is almost a must.

Cabling Guide
Cabling Guide. Credit: iodyne

Cabling Guide

One crucial element when using the iodyne 48TB Pro Data is how to connect it to your desktop/laptop, or other devices. At the end of the day, the strength of such a device lies in its capacity and speed. When I first got it, I was tempted to follow my “visual instinct” and connect it to my laptop in a way that made sense to me. There are eight ports divided into four port groups. Each port pair is marked like that: ( – | – ). I was about to use the “next to each other” port for maximum data transfer speed when I came across iodyne’s documentation which shows how to connect “everything to everything else” correctly.

So for a successful multipath to one host with one Pro Data, the cabling on the Pro Data looks like this:
( X | – ) ( X | -), or, ( – | X ) ( – | X ), or a combination of those two. But not: ( X | X ).

iodyne Pro Data Port selection
iodyne Pro Data Port selection

For those who are seeking a bit more comprehensive explanation, let me write the following:

In each group, one port is the uplink to the host/Mac and the other is the downstream to another Pro Data or Thunderbolt device like a 4K display. The ports are auto-configuring, so whichever port you plug your Mac into in a pair, the other becomes the downstream. This auto-configuration behavior is a requirement of the Thunderbolt spec. To multipath you need 2x upstream ports, so that means you need to plug into two separate port groups. (The cool thing is, you can connect the two downstream ports to another Pro Data and get multipathing down the daisy chain).

If my description is still lacking, the slide above is of great help to anyone who got the device and is hesitating about the right chain of connectivity.

Collaborative editing
Collaborative editing. Credit: CineD

Collaboration

The other scenario is dealing with collaborative projects, which fits perfectly with what we do here at CineD, and covering exhibitions is a good example.

Up to four users can be connected to the 48 TB Pro Data simultaneously. For greater speeds, each computer or laptop should be connected to the device with two Thunderbolt 3 cables. (See “Cabling Guide” slide).

We can create up to 15 different containers where each container is related to a different project. When one team member finishes working on his or her part of the project, he or she can simply “hand it over” to the next team member to continue working on it. By the way, you can use Thunderbolt 3 cables up to 50 meters in length without losing any data transfer speed.

When working in a team, please be aware of the following: because of some restrictions, multiple users can not access one container at the same time. Also, the size of a container must be defined beforehand. iodyne is currently checking the possibility of adjusting the container size “on the go” which will, of course, contribute to even greater workflow possibilities.

iodyne 48TB Pro Data. Easy maintenance
iodyne 48TB Pro Data. Easy maintenance. Credit: CineD

Usage Tips

The installation of the device is very straightforward, but I would like to share with you two tips that might be helpful down the road.

One, on older MacBook Pro laptops, you should connect the Pro Data to two different Thunderbolt ports, one on each side of the laptop. This will ensure maximum data transfer speeds since on those older computers, the two ports are sharing the same data transport bus. On Apple Silicon laptops, you don’t have to worry about this as each Thunderbolt port can work at full speed.

The other thing is maintenance. The iodyne Pro Data is designed to be repaired by the user. It is very easy to open and replace the M.2 NVMe SSDs if needed.

Same size as a 16-inch MacBook Pro, just thicker
Same size as a 16-inch MacBook Pro, just thicker. Credit: CineD

Room for improvement

Of course, no device is perfect and if I may suggest, I would have liked to see iodyne consider the following with their next generation of products:

Add a built-in CFexpress slot to the Pro Data itself in order to save a port on the computer and make the footage transfer from the camera to the storage device for editing even faster.

Also, consider splitting the location of the ports on the device and putting them on both sides of the device. This will allow easier connectivity at times.

And last but not least, a smaller and lighter device will be welcomed of course.

Up to four users can be connected simultaneously
Up to four users can be connected simultaneously. Credit: CineD

Conclusion

In all honesty, this is one of those rare cases that I’ll be terribly sorry to see it goes back to the manufacturer simply because I got so spoiled using it while editing during the last few weeks. Again, this device is not for everyone, yet, a working production house or busy professionals who are constantly editing next to filming will appreciate working with it. I’m really curious to see how this family of SSD products will grow and evolve.

Versions and Availability

iodyne sells the Pro Data SSD RAID in three versions:

  • 12TB for 3,950 USD
  • 24 TB for 7,500 USD
  • and the 48TB for 17,500 USD.

You can buy the 12TB and 24TB Pro Data and you can pre-order the 48 TB Pro Data at iodyne.com.

What storage solution do you currently use for editing/color grading/VFX/…? Would you prefer the iodyne Pro Data over what you currently use? Let us know in the comments below!

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