Kachel_group Codex 2TB (1)_data

CODEX Compact Drive™

Animation Header_ALEXA 35_CODEX Compact Drive (1)
Made for professional production

The CODEX Compact Drive is designed to support the demands of creative professionals working with the ALEXA Mini LF and the ALEXA 35. It offers strong mechanical protection, efficient cooling, and a robust connector for the high-performance NVMe SSD inside the drive.

Special Notice

To allow that Compact Drives are used with ALEXA Mini LF and ALEXA 35 cameras, the cameras and drives need to run on a certain minimum SUP/firmware version. In some cases, an update will be required before using a Compact Drive.

On an ALEXA 35, users may encounter a “Firmware version of recording media is outdated” message, which means that the inserted drive needs to be updated before it can be used in the camera.

On an ALEXA Mini LF, users may encounter an “INVAL” message, which means that the camera needs to be updated to ALEXA Mini LF SUP 7.1.1 or later. This update makes no change to the camera or its images, other than allowing it to use new and updated drives.

More details about the specific drives affected can be found in our FAQ section below.

File Access

ARRI cameras use the ARRI UDF file system to store the original camera files onto a CODEX Compact Drive. ARRI UDF can be accessed freely with standard operating system software and no need for additional software.

CODEX Compact Drives can be accessed with the versatile Compact Drive Reader (USB-C), with the high-speed Compact Drive Dock (Thunderbolt 3), or with an existing SXR Capture Drive Dock or a CODEX Vault that is "upgraded" to accept the new drives with a cost-effective Compact Drive Adapter.

40% savings of time and budget with High Density Encoding

CODEX High Density Encoding (HDE) is a sophisticated, loss-less encoding scheme which reduces ARRIRAW file sizes by around 40%. While exhibiting a smaller footprint, HDE does not compromise on quality. Once decoded, the output results in a bit-for-bit perfect match to the original ARRIRAW file. HDE lowers storage costs, shortens transfer times, and speeds up workflows, which translates to direct savings in time and money.

  • ARRIRAW data from any ALEXA before ALEXA 35 can be encoded to HDE frame sequences (.arx) using the free CODEX Device Manager software (Mac only) available here.
  • ARRIRAW data from an ALEXA 35 can be encoded to HDE MXF clips using the free ARRIRAW HDE Transcoder software. It is available for macOS, Windows, and CentOS 6 from our Tools & Apps.

The HDE format is supported by major studios and many standard postproduction applications. The HDE file structure and HDE decoding is published in a SMTPE RDD. HDE can be used at no charge as long as the Original Camera Data was captured by CODEX Drives. CODEX also offers paid HDE license options for use with CFast 2.0 media.

Compact Drive FAQ

  • When the camera flags inserted recording media as "INVAL", then its firmware and/or hardware identification is not known to the camera as an approved combination. No need to worry though; here's what you should do:

    • ALEXA 35: All Compact Drives 1TB that were shipped before the ALEXA 35 was announced* need a firmware update to be used in the ALEXA 35. These drives will be flagged as 'INVAL' until they are updated. The firmware can only be updated in an ALEXA 35. The camera automatically prompts for the update when a drive that requires the update is inserted.
      *Note: This concerns Rev A drives - S/N starting with #1 and Rev B drives - S/N starting with #5.
    • ALEXA Mini LF: All Compact Drives that have been updated in an ALEXA 35 and all Compact Drives shipped after ALEXA 35 was announced* will be marked as 'INVAL' until the camera is updated to ALEXA Mini LF SUP 7.1.1 or later.
      *Note: This concerns Compact Drive 1TB Rev C - S/N starting with #6 and Compact Drive 2TB.

    Please note: ALEXA Mini LF SUP 7.1.1 introduces absolutely no change to the camera other than support for the new and updated drives. No change to the images. No change to any components other than the list of accepted drives.

  • End of November 2021, Microsoft released updates for Windows 10 and Windows 11 which accidentally caused an incompatibility with ARRI UDF formatted media. This affected:

    • ALEXA Mini LF with CODEX Compact Drives
    • ALEXA Mini with CFast 2.0 cards
    • AMIRA with CFast 2.0 cards

    The issue was resolved with another update, end of June 2022, which may not have been installed on your PC. The updates repairing UDF compatibility are:
    • Windows 10: 2022-06 Cumulative Update KB5014666
    • Windows 11: 2022-06 Cumulative Update KB5014668

  • The ALEXA 35 can reach considerably higher fps with a 2TB Compact Drive. For the ALEXA Mini LF, the max fps are a limited by the camera.

    The following table shows the achievable fps on an ALEXA 35.



  • The Compact Drive uses a command protocol (NVMe) that is not supported by ALEXA LF or SXT and therefore cannot be used even though the Compact Drive Adapter mechanically would fit into the cameras.
    The Compact Drive Adapter is intended to allow data transfer from a Compact Drive with an SXR Capture Drive Dock, the Codex Vault, or other media stations for the SXR Capture Drives.

    • Do not use tape on any sides of the drive! Even small amounts of residue can prevent proper thermal connection to the camera and cause the drive to run hot. Peeling tape off a drive may accidentally remove serial number labels (Compact Drive) or damage the plastic end cap.
    • Drives obviously should be kept away from dirt, dust, and liquids.
    • Only place drives down on clean surfaces.
    • If not used for an extended duration, drives should be stored in their cases.
    • Make sure that the connectors are kept clean.
    • Never force the drive into a slot. It is easy to damage the connection pins if they are obstructed by small objects or if the drives are inserted upside down.
    • The surface of drives, docks, and readers can be cleaned with a lint-free cloth and 70% isopropanol alcohol (IPA). Wipe gently and pay attention not to rub the paint from painted surfaces of e.g. the Drive Docks or serial labels.
    • The connector should only be cleaned with an air duster to avoid mechanical damage to the pins. Anything that cannot be blown away can be cleaned off very carefully using a soft brush with some 70% IPA. Ensure that the connector is completely dry before loading the drive in a camera or reader.
    • Check the downloads for detailed cleaning instructions from CODEX!
  • You have several options to read data from a CODEX Compact Drive:

    • The Compact Drive Reader is designed to allow easy access to original camera data. Connected to a Mac or PC via USB-C, it offers up to 1 GB/s transfer speed. The reader requires no additional power supply, software, or drivers, and also works if it's adapted to USB-A (offering max 5 Gbps or 450 MB/s speed, usually depending on the amount of power that is provided by the USB port).
       
    • The Compact Drive Dock offers high-speed data transfer and quiet operation. It connects to a Mac or PC via Thunderbolt 3 and provides access to original camera data without additional software. The dock offers up to 2,400 MB/s transfer speed over Thunderbolt 3 or ~1200 MB/s over Thunderbolt 2 using e.g. an Apple TB3-to-2 adapter. Even on an older Thunderbolt 2 Mac, the dock therefore is over 2x faster than the USB-C Reader, which would connect to a USB 3.0 port on that machine.
       
    • A third option is to use the Compact Drive Adapter, which can be inserted into an SXR Capture Drive Dock or other Codex Capture Drive media stations, allowing them to accept Compact Drives. The copy speed will be on par with the Compact Drive Dock. The adapter is the most affordable and fastest option if you have access to one of the mentioned media stations. It's also a good choice if you are using SXR Capture Drives and Compact Drives on the same production.


  • The ARRI UDF File system requires no special driver or software to be accessed from an operating system, so the drives can also be accessed with the latest Mac hardware and macOS 12.4 or later. If you are facing issues or low performance with the USB-C attached Compact Drive reader, please refer to 'My Compact Drive Reader (USB-C) does not work OK with my M1 Mac.'

  • To apply HDE on ARRIRAW data from AMIRA and ALEXA cameras pre-dating the ALEXA 35, you need to install the free CODEX Device Manager software. The software is only available for macOS. It will encode ARRIRAW to HDE on the fly from Codex recording media to a target directory. You can find the latest version of Device Manager at help.codex.online.

    To apply HDE on ARRIRAW data from the ALEXA 35, you need to install the free ARRIRAW HDE Transcoder software. The software is available for macOS, Windows 10/11, and CentOS 7. It will encode ARRIRAW to HDE from a Codex Compact Drive or another source location to a target directory. The software can only encode the new ARRIRAW MXF formate and therefore does not work with older ALEXA models. You can find the latest version of the ARRIRAW HDE Transcoder by heading over to our Software & Tools section.

  • An older Mac Pro (introduced late 2013) does not offer USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. To access Compact Drives, you can use:

    • An SXR Capture Drive Dock Thunderbolt 2 with a Compact Drive Adapter.
    • An SXR Capture Drive Dock Thunderbolt 3 with a Compact Drive Adapter and an Apple Thunderbolt 3-to-2 Adapter (works in both directions) for the connection to the Mac.
    • A Compact Drive Reader USB-C with a CalDigit TS3 Plus, connected to the Mac Pro with an Apple Thunderbolt 3-to-2 Adapter.
  • The Compact Drive Reader has been designed to work with host machines offering a USB-C port. The port has to offer at least 10 Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen 2) and at least 3 A power delivery. The reader can also be used on a USB 3.0 host at reduced speed.

    To achieve the maximum download speed:

    • On an Apple Silicon (M1 or later) machine, ensure you installed macOS12.4 or later and CODEX Device Manager 6.1.0 or later to address a hardware/firmware issue described in "My Compact Drive Reader (USB-C) does not work OK with my M1 Mac."
    • Only USB-IF certified cables and adapters should be used. Non-compliant cables are likely to cause speed issues.
    • On a Mac, the USB-C cable always has to be connected to the reader before it is plugged into the computer, to allow correct USB power delivery negotiation.
    • If the reader needs to be connected to a USB Type A port, it's important to use an actively switching adapter. A good example is the Angelbird USB Type A to Type C Adapter. USB Type C-to-A adapter cables should be avoided at all times. Most of these cables are simple charging adapters and some of them may drop your speed to USB 2.0 40 MB/s or less.
    • USB-C hubs should be avoided, too. All devices connected to the hub will share one 10 Gbps connection and may cause the reader to not get enough power.
    • The use of a Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) hub/docking station can work and can be a good solution, but there also have been reports that this solution did not perform as expected. We recommend to verify that the USB-C ports on a Thunderbolt 3 docking station really offer 10 Gbps bandwidth and 3 A power delivery.

    When loaded in the USB-C Compact Drive Reader, the Compact Drive LED will indicate the power it is getting from the host system:

    Status

    Advertised host power

    Possible data rate

    Blue

    15 W

    1000 MB/s or 8 Gbps

    Green

    7.5 W

    550 MB/s or 4 Gbps

    Amber

    4.5 W

    180 MB/s or 1.5 Gbps

    Note: USB-C is great for connectivity, but you should be very cautious when you bring in new components and always check that they do not impair the performance of your system. It is not recommended to use USB Type C-to-A adapter cables, as most if not all of them only support USB 2.0, which will drop the copy speed below 40 MB/s.

  • A compatibility issue between Apple's M1 architecture and certain USB chipsets caused issues with the original/REV A version of the CODEX Compact Drive Reader (USB-C). The reader would mount a drive, but as soon as the drive was accessed, the connection would 'collapse'. This issue is known to affect all M1 Macs including M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Studio running macOS 12.3 and below.

    This issue was partially fixed with Apple's release of macOS 12.4. Following the installation of this update:

    • The first production run of readers (Rev A), which did not work at all on the M1 machines, will now operate at ~600 MB/s speed.
    • The second version (Rev B), which had been working at full speed before macOS 12.4, unfortunately also drops to ~600 MB/s. This will be fixed with a firmware update which CODEX plans to ship with Device Manager version 6.1.0 (coming soon).
    • CODEX will soon start to ship Rev C of the reader, which already includes the firmware to operate at full speed. To enable HDE encoding with this reader, all customers are encouraged to update Device Manager to version 6.0.2 or higher.
  • The Compact Drive Dock has been designed to work with Thunderbolt 3 host machines.

    • On an older Mac with Thunderbolt 2 ports, it is also possible to connect the Compact Drive Dock with an (Apple) Thunderbolt 3-to-2 Adapter. This will lower the speed to ~1200 MB/s. That's still much faster than the USB-C reader, which could only connect via USB 3.0 in this case and therefore offer about 400 MB/s.
    • It is possible to connect the Compact Drive Dock to a Thunderbolt 3 loop-through port on e.g. an SXR Capture Drive Dock or a Thunderbolt 3 connected RAID. This, however, will be slower than using both devices on two separate Thunderbolt 3 ports.
  • Thunderbolt is backwards compatible, so the Docks can be connected using a Thunderbolt 3-to-2 Adapter e.g. from Apple, which works in both directions.

  • Yes, you can daisy-chain an SXR Capture Drive Dock or Compact Drive Dock to the open Thunderbolt 3 port on an SXR Capture Drive Dock. Sharing the same Thunderbolt 3 port on the computer, however, means both docks share the connection bandwidth. That's usually OK on a 20 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 connection.

  • Particular care should be taken when the Compact Drive Reader (USB-C) or Compact Drive Dock (Thunderbolt 3) is connected to a Mac. Ideally, the Compact Drive Dock or Reader should already be connected before the computer is booted.

    When the computer is already booted, please always follow this sequence to allow proper operation:

    1. Connect the cable to the Compact Drive Reader (USB-C) or Compact Drive Dock (Thunderbolt 3).
    2. Connect the cable to the computer.
  • Unfortunately it does not. The hardware architecture of the SXR Capture Drive Dock does not allow the device to be certified on Windows. The SXR Capture Drive Dock only works on Mac computers and requires the installation of the CODEX Device Manager (including CODEX Platform system components, Device Manager, and RAID support).

TECH TALK Live: Insights into CODEX HDE