Xserve RAID Shows Promise

By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2003-06-23 Print this article Print

Apple's first RAID unit should broaden its focus.

Xserve RAID
Apples first foray into the RAID market yields an interesting storage unit that blends ATA drives with Fibre Channel connectivity. Unfortunately, its currently an Apple-only product (for Xserve and other Apple systems). It would make things pretty interesting if Apple were to build in Windows and Unix support as well.
  • PRO: Inexpensive; redundant power supplies; handy management tools.

  • CON: Supports only Apple systems; requires use of software RAID to make larger RAID sets; has only copper Fibre Channel connectors.

    Nexsan Technologies ATAboy 2
    Apple Computer Inc. has taken its creative engineering to the storage world with the introduction of the Xserve RAID system, which has high potential but a limited audience, at least for now. Designed to complement Apples 1U (1.75-inch) Xserve servers, the Xserve RAID, which began shipping last month, provides powerful storage in a small 3U (5.25-inch) enclosure.

    As it did with the rest of the Xserve line, Apple has tapped economical ATA hard drives to provide Xserve RAIDs storage capabilities. Other vendors take the more common (and more expensive) path of using SCSI and Fibre Channel disks. A fully loaded Xserve RAID unit with 2.52 terabytes of storage capacity, battery backups for the cache and dual 512MB RAID controllers costs $11,649—a bargain compared with most SCSI-based RAID units, which can cost double or triple that amount.

    The Xserve RAID is targeted at applications where Apple has its greatest market strength, such as media production and editing, but it could also do well as a storage device to power file servers and other applications.

    In eWEEK Labs tests, the Xserve RAIDs capabilities were impressive, but its Apple-only focus is disappointing because it could be an attractive storage option in Unix and Windows shops as well.

    IT managers who need a comparable solution for Windows and Unix should check out Nexsan Technologies Inc.s ATAboy 2, which also blends ATA drives with Fibre Channel connectivity.

    We hope that Apple will eventually see the light and support the use of the Xserve RAID unit in Windows and Unix shops.

    The Xserve RAID connects to servers using 2G-bps Fibre Channel. The back of the Xserve RAID unit has two HSSDC2 copper connectors, but we would prefer the option of using either optical or copper connectors.


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