Thanks to the super high-resolution sensors we see today in digital cameras, a fast computer is absolutely essential for an efficient post-processing workflow when working with RAW images. If a few years back a standard PC or a mid-range laptop were good enough for post-processing images, 30+ MP RAW files can put a huge burden on processing power and make a high-end machine seem obsolete. In addition, most commercial software targeted at professionals has also gotten pretty heavy, requiring more memory, faster storage and high-end CPUs and GPUs for a smooth, delay-free experience. Having spent most of my adult life in information technology, I have always been building my own PCs. In my recent articles and reviews of storage equipment, a number of our readers asked me to share my preferences for a solid, future-proof PC build that could take pretty much anything you throw at it for post-processing large numbers of RAW images and video. In this article, I want to talk about the ultimate PC build for photography and other needs, and discuss my personal preferences for working with Lightroom catalogs and RAW files in terms of file management and performance optimization.
As much as I have been trying to avoid traditional spinning HDDs (hard disk drives), replacing them with SSDs (solid state drives) when possible in my computer builds, HDDs still have no equivalents in terms of storage capacity and low cost per TB. The largest consumer-grade SSDs that we have seen so far are limited to 2 TB and those drives don’t come cheap – $800 a pop for a lower-end model. Well, it looks like this is about to change, because Samsung has just announced the successful development of the world’s largest hard drive, at a whopping 16 TB of storage capacity in a small 2.5 inch form factor. This 16 TB SSD drive, which is code-named “PM1633a” at the moment, uses Samsung’s new 256 Gb NAND flash as the basis for the storage, which basically stacks transistors vertically and allows squeezing much more storage into limited space. And to showcase this technology and its potential, Samsung mentioned a reference design for a server with 48 of these SSD drives installed for a total capacity of 768 TB. Now that’s mind-boggling, because we are talking about a true game-changer in storage technology. What does this mean for us photographers?