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Compact Drive Recording Media
Compact Drive Media Stations
Compact Drive FAQ
What does it mean if the camera marks a Compact Drive as "INVAL"?
It means that you need to update your ALEXA Mini LF to SUP 7.1.
Codex has had to switch a component of the compact drive, which had become unavailable. This change does not have an impact on the drive's performance, reliability, or capacity, but it causes the drive to have a different electronic "signature". The camera therefore has to be updated to ALEXA Mini LF SUP 7.1 so the new Compact Drives are known to the camera and accepted.
If you look at the serial number of the drive, you can easily tell if the drive is the original version or the revision:
- The serial number of the original Compact Drive 1TB starts with ‘1’.
- The serial number of the new version starts with ‘5’.
What do I have to consider if I want to upgrade to a new Mac with the Apple M1 chip?
• Codex Device Manager includes the necessary software components to use an SXR Capture Drive Dock with the Mac. The software is not required for use with a Compact Drive Reader or Compact Drive Dock. It is, however, needed if you want to apply Codex High Density Encoding (HDE) to ARRIRAW data.
Codex offers Device Manager for Intel machines on macOS 11 down to 10.13. At the time this article was published, there was also a public beta for Apple Silicone (M1) machines.
Note: As beta versions should be expected to have bugs that would be removed for a release version, it should only be used for evaluation purposes. If there is no way around it, you have to at least ensure that the software meets your requirements before deploying outside of a test environment!
• Compact Drive Readers and M1 Macs: The substantially different architecture of M1 processors has been found to introduce compatibility issues with certain chipsets that can be found in many USB-C devices that were designed and tested on earlier processor architectures. The Compact Drive Reader USB-C is a device that falls into this category, whereby one of the chips used in the original PCB revision of this device (up to serial number 01052271) is affected by such a compatibility issue. Specifically, if one of these Compact Drive Readers is used on an M1 Mac running macOS 11.4 or lower when data is read from the Compact Drive the transfer will stall or fail.
There is a temporary fix which still works under macOS 11.4: Connect the Compact Drive Reader to the Thunderbolt "loop through connector" of a Thunderbolt 3 docking station (with USB, Ethernet HDMI out etc). There is a good chance are that the docking station uses another USB-C host chipset that does not have the compatibility issues. As said, this fix may no longer work once Apple addressed the problem in an update to the operating system.
Compact Drive Reader performance on Intel based Macs is not affected by the issue detailed above.
Compact Drive Docks, with a Thunderbolt connection to the host, are not affected as well and provide superior read performance.
Are there any tips for handling the 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 or 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 kep clean.
- Never force the drive into a slot. It is easy to damace the connection pin if they are obstructed by small objects or if the drives are inserted upside down.
How can I clean the equipment?
- The surface of drives, docks and readers can be cleaned with 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!
Can I use the Compact Drive 1 TB with the Compact Drive Adapter in the ALEXA LF or SXT?
No. While the Compact Drive Adapter will fit physically into an ALEXA LF or ALEXA SXT, the Compact Drive uses a different command protocol (NVMe), which is not supported by ALEXA LF and SXT.
The Compact Drive Adapter can be used to offload a Compact Drive in media station for ALEXA SXT, ALEXA LF and ALEXA 65, i.e. Capture Drive Dock, Capture+Transfer Drive Dock or the Codex Vault/Vault XL.
How can I download data from a Compact Drive?
What is the best option to access Compact Drives from an old Mac Pro (pre 2019 model)?
An older Mac Pro (introduced late 2013) does not offer USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. To access Compact Drives, you can use:
- SXR Capture Drive Dock Thunderbolt 2 with a Compact Drive Adapter.
- SXR Captutre Drive Dock Thunderbolt 3, connected to the Mac Pro with an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to 2 Adapter (works in both directions), with a Compact Drive Adapter.
- Compact Drive Reader USB-C with a CalDigit TS3 Plus, connected to the Mac Pro with an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to 2 Adapter.
How can I get full speed with the Compact Drive Reader (USB-C)?
The Compact Drive Reader has been designed to work with host machines offering a USB-C port. This port has to offer at least 10Gbps bandwidth (USB 3.2 Gen 2) and minimum 3A power delivery. The reader can also be used on a USB 3.0 host at reduced speed.
To achieve the maximum download speed:
- Only use USB-IF certified calbes and adapters. Non-compliant cables are likely to cause speed issues.
- On a Mac, always connect the USB-C cable into the reader before connecting it to the computer to allow proper USB power delivery negotiation.
- Do not USB Type C to A adapter cables, as most of them are simple charging adapters and some of them may drop your speed below 40 MB/s.
- Don't connect the reader to a USB-C hub! All connected devices would have to share the 10 Gbps bandwidth from a single USB-C port and may not offer the required power, which lowers the performance.
- The use of a Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) hub/docking station cannot be unconditionally recommended. Please ensure that the USB-C ports hub in fact can deliver 10 Gbps and 3A power with a quick test! Unless it’s already occupied by e.g. an external TB3 RAID, you may also be able to use the TB3 loop output such hubs. Be aware, however, that we also received reports that the Reader did not work at all on that port for certain docking stations. Apart from that, the loop output may already be occupied by e.g. an external RAID.
When loaded in the USB-C Compact Drive Reader, the Compact Drive LED will indicate the power it is getting from the host system:
Advertised host power
Possible data rate
1000 MB/s or 8 Gbps
550 MB/s or 4 Gbps
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.
How can I get full speed with the Compact Drive Dock (Thunderbolt 3)?
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 copy speed by about 50% (~1200 MB/s). This will still be 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.
Is there a particular connection sequence for the Compact Drive Reader or Dock?
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:
- Connect the cable to the Compact Drive Reader (USB-C) or Compact Drive Dock (Thunderbolt 3).
- Connect the cable to the computer.
Can I daisy-chain the Compact Drive Dock with the Codex SXR Capture Drive Dock?
Yes, you can daisy-chain the Compact Drive Dock to the open Thunderbolt 3 port on the Capture Drive Dock. Sharing the same Thunderbolt 3 port on the computer, however, may reduce the connection speed.