fast multi-TB external RAID solution

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by CrayZN8, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. CrayZN8 macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2008
    Our workstation currently includes:

    MacPro 3,1: quad core Intel Xeon 3GHz
    4 x Hitachi Deskstar 7k1000 at 1TB each

    We are looking for a multi-terabyte (2TB+) external solution that will be (in descending order of importance) relatively high speed, cost effective, portable, and low power. We plan to edit fully uncompressed HD 1080p using the internal Hitachi drives (striped). The external drive does not necessarily have to sustain transfer rates for uncompressed HD, but should be fast enough that we can load/offload very large video files without significant wait time (i.e. 100-200 MB/s).

    I have been focusing on LaCie solutions for the time being, and see 3 possibilities:
    1. Biggest S2S (
    2. 4big Quadra (
    3. several external drives with software RAID (i.e. big disk extreme

    The Biggest S2S claims up to "sustained" 187 MB/s transfer rate over SATAII.

    The 4big claims 200-230 MB/s burst speed over eSATA, but this is just the theoretical limit based on "maximum drive speed"

    2 big disk extremes (2TB each, on RAID 0) on two different firewire/eSATA connections could be RAIDED together using software? The MacPro has six SATA ports on the board, four in use. The other two could be routed to external drives, but I have the feeling that may bottleneck the SATA controller and slow down the internal drives.

    Can anyone offer any insights on the truly sustainable transfer rates of these systems? We have been using MyBook 2TBs over firewire 800 and are not satisfied (both by transfer rate and by a %50 drive failure rate).
  2. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    I've owned several LaCie products, and I wouldn't look at a SATA solution, if you know you're going to hitting some disk bottlenecks. Avoid software RAID at all costs.

    Specifically, I'd look at an external subsystem, with its own dedicated controller and write-back cache, with SAS drives that supports RAID 10 or RAID 0+1 and has fibre channel connectivity. Get drives with dual ports and 15k RPM, and you'll be set. You'll get excellent read and write speeds from something of this caliber.

    I should add this thing will be louder than any desktop solution, and requires better cooling. This may mean purchasing a machine to be hosting in a secure, cool environment (may be costs for that too). But, you get what you pay for.
  3. CrayZN8 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2008
    Thanks for the reply.

    I'm pretty sure Fiber is out of my budget for now. We already have an Apple X-Serve 3.2TB on Fiber channel with the co-production machine (quad G5), so if we really need speed, we use that.

    Sorry for not mentioning a budget before, but less than $2k for 3-5 TB would be nice.

    Of course, an SAS host card (i.e. rocketRAID 2224) at $300, a 4 bay SAS machine (i.e. EnhanceBod E4) for another $400, and 4 x 1TB SAS drives at $300 each sounds about equivalent in price to the Biggest S2S and possibly faster.
  4. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    Yeah, didn't know the budget figures. :) Get a good quality RAID card and some SAS drives and you'll be set.

    I would look at a controller with a write-back cache and at least 512MB of RAM. Your writes will be so much faster versus not having it.

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