High Performance Sonoma-32+ Computer Platform
The Sonoma System runs on a Windows XP platform with full length 32 bit PCI slots (one slot per each 8 channels). While it is possible to use your own existing computer if it meets Sonoma requirements, we are recommending our own platform for high performance 24 and 32 track applications. Our platform based on Supermicro hardware is now available from Super Audio Center as a turn-key multitrack recorder / editor. The Sonoma-32+ Computer features:
- SCSI 320 RAID - 8 slots for removable 80 pin high performance SCSI drives on sleds
- SCSI 320 dual channel HBA 64-bit PCI controller (two 68pin HD ports in rear)
- 3.4G Pentium 4 with 1G RAM
- Dual Gigabyte Ethernet ports
- Four PCI slots for 8 channel Sonoma cards
- Dual Flat Screen Monitors
- Four hot-swap thermostatically controlled fans with failure alarm
- Rugged case construction - Optional rack mount kit available
The Sonoma architecture supports playback of double the number of DSD streams as channels in the system. For example. an 8 channel Sonoma can play 16 DSD streams mixing two DSD streams on each channel. This is primarily to facilitate real time crossfades in the DSD domain, but it is also useful for applications where layering audio on a single channel is needed. (i.e. doubling vocals.) While playing two streams on each channel, the Sonoma can also record on all channels. It is not a difficult task for a computer to keep up with this requirement on an 8 or 16 channel system, but keeping up with a 32 channel DSD system places significant demands on the host computer. The Sonoma-32 Computer Platform effortlessly handles, dishing out 64 streams while recording 32 more. Performance bottlenecks are a non-issue as this system can cope with the demands of high-ticket recording projects.
Populated with eight 68G 10k drives, you have about 9 and a half hours of 32 track recording time. This should be more than plenty for the typical studio record project. And it is possible to double or triple this amount using higher density drives (146G or 300G).
The built-in SCSI RAID has slots for 8 removable 80-pin SCSI-320 hard drives. The high quality removable SCSI carriers are inexpensive and the installation of fresh SCSI drives into new carriers is a simple matter of fastening the drive into the carrier with four screws. There are no wires to connect - the back end of the hard drive inside the carrier plugs directly into the SCSI back plane and fiber optic light pipes run the length of each carrier to bring drive status and activity lights from the SCSI back plane to the front of the computer. While the 540GB of RAID-0 storage delivered in our standard 32 track platform should easily satisfy the storage needs for a typical project, facilities working on multiple projects have the option to remove and replace RAID sets to satisfy the needs of multiple clients. The SCSI-320 RAID controller is installed in a 64bit PCI-X slot for maximum performance.
High Quality Enclosure
The Sonoma-32+ enclosure has a number of features to cope the demands of professional use. The Sonoma cards are clamped at both ends to prevent cards from dislodging during transportation. This method of clamping the PC card is more desireable and effective than the type of clamps that hold the PC card down from the top. Four hot-swapable temprature controlled fans installed in the center of the enclosure cope with adverse climate conditions with a minimum of noise. A clutter-free inside makes for a highly reliable system. The PCB SCSI back plane reduces the number of internal cables and reduces the chance of cable related failure. The optional rack mount kit provides structural support at both ends of the PC case. (A rack enclosure with rear rack rails is required).
Incredible Backup Performance
Backup to an optional LTO-3 tape device is recommended for speed, storage size, and storage cost. The LTO-3 tape holds 400GB of data (enough space for a typical album project) and backs up at a rate of 80MB per second. Tapes cost about $120 at the time of this writing. The SCSI architecture within this platform can take full advantage of the LTO-3's high performance. Of course, it is also possible to backup to other media such as USB hard drive or other tape formats, but LTO-3 will deliver maximum performance. In the example illustrated on the left, you can see that it took only 20 minutes to back up 100 Gigabytes of data. That is about 1 hour and 45 minutes of 32 track DSD recording time. This example was made on the Sonoma-32+ Computer Platform using the HP StorageWorks Ultrium 960 LTO-3 tape drive. (Who thinks up these names?)
Dual Gigabyte Ethernet ports can be used in the studio facility to access network back-up services, or SAN pools. The computer can also be configured as a server other Sonoma recorders within the facility providing a bank for all the studio's DSD files.
While it is possible to record to IEEE-1394a or IEEE-1394b devices on Sonoma systems with less than 32 tracks, this platform does not support 1394 as it is not viable for 32 track projects. With all 8 slots populated with 68GIG Seagate Cheetah drives configured as RAID 0, there are 540 Gigabytes available for the multitrack project. Our experience is that a typical 32 track album project will use less than 400GB. The SCSI RAID's high performance will provide trouble-free operation during recording, overdubbing, editing, and playback.
Pricing and Configurations
The Sonoma-32+ Computer Platform standard configuration contains 8 SCSI 320 68GB 10kRPM drives. It is also available without drives, or in custom configurations equipped with larger drives. Drives installed in sleds, and empty sleds are also available. Prices will be announced shortly and will be found on the Pricing and Configurations page.