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OWC NVMe U2 Shuttle - 4NVMe drives inside an enclosure!

flamestalker

New Member
Don't know if anyone saw this, but OWC announced a new product that allows you to use NVMe drives inside a 3.5 enclosure to then put into some sort of 4-Bay or NAS setup. Looks super interesting, all I know is that NVMe drives are a lot faster for streaming samples than a normal SSD. Will there be a lot of demand for something like this in the audio community?

"Blistering speed. Massive capacity. RAID-ready flexibility. Swappable convenience. The OWC U2 Shuttle is everything you’ve wanted in a multiple blade SSD but couldn’t get until now. It is the world’s first shuttle for four NVMe SSDs that easily inserts into 3.5 inch drive bays. Built for OWC storage and PCIe expansion solutions, this innovative carrier shuttle can also be used with PCs and servers with U.2 drive bays."

https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ssd/owc-u2-shuttle
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
It uses U.2
So any drive system that uses the U.2 interface can use these enclosures.
Its not designed to just "hook up" with a single cable aka usb/thunderbolt.
But there likely will be thunderbolt enclosures that allow for U.2 drives in the near future. U.2 is excellent - and is seeing much uptake in servers / high end workstations.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
This might help - it can all get a tiny bit confusing (m.2 being backwards compatible with SATA, u.2 to m.2 adaptors, PCIE direct connections etc etc.

U.2 has been designed for high density solid state storage.

 

synthnut1

Active Member
Colony nofi,
This info is a good read!....I just recently hooked up sata ssd’s into an enclosure which is plugged into a dock that I have plugged into thunderbolt ...the connection to the enclosure is usb3(gen2)...This info you sent is far more advanced and will be used for a future build....Thanks again
 

synthnut1

Active Member
Jeremy,
I haven’t any NVMe drives to say one way or the other, but I will say that it would most likely depend on what the NVMe drive is plugged into....I’m content at the moment with sata ssd’s plugged into usb3 gen2 !!...My libraries load fast !
 

Jeremy Spencer

Senior Member
Jeremy,
I haven’t any NVMe drives to say one way or the other, but I will say that it would most likely depend on what the NVMe drive is plugged into....I’m content at the moment with sata ssd’s plugged into usb3 gen2 !!...My libraries load fast !
Mine’s connected directly to the motherboard.
 

synthnut1

Active Member
Back a few months ago, when the topic of sata ssd’s and NVMe drives were hot, someone had made mention of Kontakt being the bottleneck in data throughput, saying that it only allowed something like 1,000 mbps max....This was back when NVMe drives were more than twice the price of sata ssd’s....I followed that advice and bought my hardware according....so I’m good to go with what I have...
 
Back a few months ago, when the topic of sata ssd’s and NVMe drives were hot, someone had made mention of Kontakt being the bottleneck in data throughput, saying that it only allowed something like 1,000 mbps max....This was back when NVMe drives were more than twice the price of sata ssd’s....I followed that advice and bought my hardware according....so I’m good to go with what I have...
Do we know if anybody has tested that theory? Or if NVME helps when it comes to VI work (performance, etc.)?
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
There's other threads on this. @tack has done some pretty amazing testing.
Do we know if anybody has tested that theory? Or if NVME helps when it comes to VI work (performance, etc.)?
I've also done a decent amount - building out storage systems for various studios here.

There's some important things to think about. Different samplers need you to test drives with slightly different parameters. Kontakt reads in packets under 128k, but that's not the case with other samplers.

It also means that you need to test I/O with that sized block in mind - its not good enough to expect to understand what is going on just through doing a blackmagic speed test.

Kontakt has a major bottle neck when it comes to loading a patch which means that the throughput from your SSD is going to be restricted due to its design. You will generally see 100-200MB/s maximum during load time. No matter the drive - including some drives that can do 3000MB/s
(with the caveat that your drive is capable of 100-200MB/s read/writes with 128k blocks)

I/O latency becomes important for performance when you are streaming samples off the drive. NVME have a distinct advantage at this point.

Max voice counts seem to rise significantly with NVME (often restricted by CPU). But loading times may only be changed by 15-20% (there's loads of variables, so treat that figure as a grain of salt)
 
Max voice counts seem to rise significantly with NVME (often restricted by CPU). But loading times may only be changed by 15-20% (there's loads of variables, so treat that figure as a grain of salt)
Interesting. Would you say by enough (assuming the CPU can handle it) that it's worth it, or is a regular SSD fine? I ask cause I've got some heavy libraries.
 

colony nofi

Senior Member
It just comes down to what you want to do re future proofing, what your actual bottle necks are.

Most of the time, the bottle necks I experience are CPU related before drive related. I have samples spread out across 2 x 4TB SSD's - but 85% of those I use are on 1 of those. I run soundfx off a different drive, and projects off another. They're all in a blackmagic dock connected by USB3.2 - so that's the bottle neck, but I don't find it a problem at all.

For some other projects, we *have* had bottlenecks, and went with NVME - but thats very specific workloads. We are getting a new 10g ethernet between all our machines here and for fun I'm going to see how well I can run samples off the file server (2 servers - one will be a hardware copy of the other and used for snapshots). Its designed for running sessions (sound post) but I'm just interested. We have a VERY cool 15TB U.2 SSD here (micron) to test - and I've just got it in a direct attached thunderbolt box (OWC) and its incredibly fast. I have not got the time to test a bucket of kontakt libs on it - but just pulling up a quick test using 30 different patches from the same spitfire WW library that I did happen to copy across, the load time is within a second or so of being the same. I've not got the time to see how many extra voices I can run - but I suspect its a fair few more. I think I could also run kontakt with lower pre-load (saving ram - only truly useful if thats a bottle-neck for you - oh and I guess it speeds up load times)

SO many variables :)

Now for future proofing - yeah, I think NVME is the way to go *personally* - depending on budget. SATA is not designed for SSD, and NVME's using u.2 or m.2 will always have advantages. But real world differences for us as composers.... its certainly not earth shattering.

(The random I/O count though could well help for massive sessions...)
 

rnb_2

Rick Baumhauer
OWC has another new enclosure coming soon - the Mercury Pro U.2 Dual - which will hold up to two of the 4xNVMe drive sleds, 2.5" U.2 SSDs, 3.5" U.2 SSDs, or single NVMe drives with a U.2 adapter, in any combination. Probably more interesting for video creators or others who require truly massive amounts of fast storage, but figured some here might find it interesting.

Whenever I look at devices like this, I can only marvel at how quickly NVMe speeds have overwhelmed Thunderbolt 3 (and 4) bandwidth. We used to RAID SATA SSDs to get close to the theoretical limit, but now a single NVMe drive can hit that, and these multi-drive enclosures can only reach full performance if you fill them (at least, that's how my 4M2 works - each drive only gets allotted ¼ of total max bandwidth, or about 700MB/s, so you have to use 4 to hit 2800MB/s). Does this mean that the Mercury Pro U.2 Dual will only allot 1400MB/s to each bay, or 350MB/s to each NVMe stick? Just as when I bought my 4M2, this is for someone who needs more capacity than a single NVMe drive can economically provide - single drive enclosures will sometimes give better performance.
 
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colony nofi

Senior Member
OWC has another new enclosure coming soon - the Mercury Pro U.2 Dual - which will hold up two of the 4xNVMe drive sleds, 2.5" U.2 SSDs, 3.5" U.2 SSDs, or single NVMe drives with a U.2 adapter, in any combination. Probably more interesting for video creators or others who require truly massive amounts of fast storage, but figured some here might find it interesting.

Whenever I look at devices like this, I can only marvel at how quickly NVMe speeds have overwhelmed Thunderbolt 3 (and 4) bandwidth. We used to RAID SATA SSDs to get close to the theoretical limit, but now a single NVMe drive can hit that, and these multi-drive enclosures can only reach full performance if you fill them (at least, that's how my 4M2 works - each drive only gets allotted ¼ of total max bandwidth, or about 700MB/s, so you have to use 4 to hit 2800MB/s). Does this mean that the Mercury Pro U.2 Dual will only allot 1400MB/s to each bay, or 350MB/s to each NVMe stick? Just as when I bought my 4M2, this is for someone who needs more capacity than a single NVMe drive can economically provide - single drive enclosures will sometimes give better performance.
Such an interesting little device - thanks for highlighting it.
Our U.2’s are going straight into a server - but it might well be useful to have one of these around for a rainy day should the server go down and we need immediate access to the files. If we end up using XFS, even better, as one can mount an XFS drive very simply these days on our OSX machines.

It certainly bodes well for not using raid - by going with one massive 15TB NVME drive, there’s no problems shifting the drive out of the server (which in our case is designed for large amounts of I/O both # of files and size of files) and directly connecting them to an audio workstation.

If / when the m1 mac mini’s come out with 10GbE (its almost certain, as spare parts for said device have been seen in the wild), one could imagine small file servers running on an M1 with one of these OWC Mercury Pro U.2 Duals connected for the actual storage. For businesses where running a Unix server is a little too much “tech” to handle, it might just be the ticket / great entry point to multi-user storage environments.

Or for video, it could make an awesome injest machine.

Anyway - I’m getting off track. It’s amazing what is possible these days with off the shelf tech.
 

storyteller

Senior Member
I'm big on future proofing but something has always seemed squirrelly to me about NVMEs. I mean, I really like them for boot/OS drives... but when I think about a/v use, there just seem to be too many warning flags. Again, it may just be me though. I'm actually reading this thread because I just chose to upgrade and expand five more SSDs with Samsung EVO 870s. They are sitting here unopened as I started to debate whether I should go with NVME drives instead. I had to buy a secondary enclosure too... so another OWC Mini is sitting next to the stack on my counter. Are Sata SSDs the best decision here? My gut strangely says yes... which is usually right. But it defies logic and all of the stats and such you read about with NVMEs. Someone help convince me which way is???! :confused:
 

rnb_2

Rick Baumhauer
I'm big on future proofing but something has always seemed squirrelly to me about NVMEs. I mean, I really like them for boot/OS drives... but when I think about a/v use, there just seem to be too many warning flags. Again, it may just be me though. I'm actually reading this thread because I just chose to upgrade and expand five more SSDs with Samsung EVO 870s. They are sitting here unopened as I started to debate whether I should go with NVME drives instead. I had to buy a secondary enclosure too... so another OWC Mini is sitting next to the stack on my counter. Are Sata SSDs the best decision here? My gut strangely says yes... which is usually right. But it defies logic and all of the stats and such you read about with NVMEs. Someone help convince me which way is???! :confused:
There's really no difference between NVMe and SATA SSDs, other than how fast they can transfer data, so I don't think there's any reason to feel squirrelly about using them. That said, I think SATA is a better option if you need more storage space than a single NVMe drive can provide, so I think you're fine with your recent purchases. SATA drives in a multi-bay enclosure will still provide their maximum performance, individually or in a RAID setup, over Thunderbolt, whereas a single fast NVMe drive is possibly already faster than Thunderbolt can deliver.

So, for maximum performance in a single-drive configuration over USB-C or Thunderbolt, go with NVMe, but for a multi-bay device, I think SATA is a better match.
 
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