We took the Glyph Atom Raid for a spin (excuse the pun), and we were super impressed. It is the fasted drive we have worked with to date! But first let me share some background about SSDs, hard drives and some other nerdy terms.
When you are working with 4K files over long periods of time, moving files over becomes a burden. It takes time, it needs “babysitting”, and it hogs computer resources. This is why we were looking for a fast way to move files around. We stumbled across the Atom raid SSD which is both an SSD and RAID0 configuration. We heard it was fast, but we did not know how fast it was until we tested it*.
SSD vs HDD
This is the first thing you’d wanna talk about if you are looking at drive performance. Hard drives use a spinning metal disk and a moving arm with a sensitive magnet/sensor to read and write data from a standard hard drive.
The slow hard drives spin at about 5400 Rounds Per Minute (RPM), most drives spin at 7200 RPM and fast enterprise-grade drives can spin at 10,000 RPM. This sounds very fast, and indeed hard drives usually output about 100MB/second – 200MB/second.
Then there are SSDs, those have no moving parts and they don’t spin. They are built from Flash memory chips. You can think about them as large disk-on-key boxes. Those drives usually output about 400MB/second. sounds fast, right?
Here is the thing, thunderbolt is capable of more speed, but the drives are just not fast enough. What if you took two of those drives and only wrote half the data to each. you would gain an even faster speed. This is called RAID0. And this is the technology that the Glyph Atom Raid SSD uses. Spec-wise it is capable of about 1,000MB/second. Our new-ish macbook pro got to about 800MB/second which is quite impressive.
While the SSD and the RAID configuration take care of the rate at which you can read (or write) from the drive, you still need to get that data into (or out of) a computer.
The Atom Raid SSD uses Thunderbolt 3, which is technically (depending on the cable, port and so on) rated for up to 10Gbps/sec. And The Glyph indeed uses that bandwidth getting about one Gig/second. We measured about 800MB.second and if I had to speculate I would say its the cable or port that limited us and not the actual drive.
Here is a thing though, not all USB-C ports are Thunderbolt 3 ports, and not all Thunderbolt 3 ports are compatible with all speeds. My DELL XPS 15, for example, only implemented 2 lanes into its Thunderbolt port, capping the speed in half. If you plan on using this drive to its fullest make sure your computer indeed supports a 4-lane Thunderbolt port.
We ran three tests on the drive, and it’s probably best to watch the video. The TL;DR is as follows:
- We were able to get jsut over 800 MB/second with the Glyph supplied USBC-USBC cable (other cables did not perform as nicely, but that’s understandable). The older SSD got about 400 MB/second. The Atom Glyph got just over 800 MB/second
- Getting a 5.5GB 4K file from an A7III took 57 seconds with an HDD, 12 seconds with an old SSD and only 8 seconds with the Glyph Atom RAID.
- We were extremly happy working with the Glyph as a work-drive running multiple 4K streams and editing in real-time.
I really love the Glyph Atom RAID SSD. At $249.95 for 1TB, $399.95 for 2TB and $749.95 for 4TB is it not the cheapest drive in the market. (at MSRP it usually has about an $80 premium over the Samsung T5 @2TB). If you need the speed, though, you will be super-happy with a small fleet of those.
*Over at IBC 2019, Glyph showed us a drive that is over twice the speed: 2.8GB/sec, the Glyph Atom Pro. At $400 for 1TB, though, you’d really have to justify wanting a super-fast drive.
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