Device Adds Storage in Small Spaces

1U StorBlade is best suited for spot fixes in rack configurations.

JMR Electronics Inc.s new StorBlade appliances provide incredibly compact storage for IT managers with space limitations.

Standing 1U (1.75 inches) high, the StorBlade in a SCSI configuration with 146GB hard drives can provide as much as 584GB of storage capacity and offers a wide variety of connectivity options.

In eWEEK Labs tests, the StorBlade, which was released last month, showed notable flexibility. Ease of installation and configuration also make the StorBlade a good choice for SANs (storage area networks) in need of a quick capacity boost. Using the included Fibre Channel ports, additional StorBlades can be daisy-chained to provide more capacity on demand.

Nevertheless, because it can hold only four disks, we recommend the StorBlade only for adding spot storage in congested racks. Performance-intensive applications run better on more spindles.

The StorBlade lists for $2,599 without drives. It can be configured with either Fibre Channel hard drives or SCSI drives for sites on a budget. (Hard drives can be had for as little as $200 for SCSI or older Fibre Channel drives or as much as $1,500 for newer options.)

For higher capacity per drive, SCSI is the best hard drive choice; for better scalability, Fibre Channel is better because it can string a lot of drives together.

By comparison, Adaptec Inc.s DuraStor 7320SS subsystem is twice as big, with a 2U (3.5-inch) form factor, but it holds 12 drives—three times the capacity of the StorBlade. The DuraStor 7320SS does not support Fibre Channel drives (its a SCSI-only system), but it does have a Fibre Channel interface to link to SANs.

The StorBlade can be used with Windows 2000/NT, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Linux servers.

We tested the basic Fibre Channel JBOD (just a bunch of disks) unit with four bays and four 2G-bps Fibre Channel ports. As tested, this configuration would cost $2,599. In JBOD form, the StorBlade was easy to set up and configure in tests.

Using Intel Corp.s Iometer benchmark, which measures file transfer performance, we could push data throughput to 191MB per second in sequential read tests with a 512KB request size. Going to a sequential write test dropped performance to 132MB per second.

Randomized read and write tests dropped the StorBlades performance further, to 120MB per second and 106MB per second, respectively.

The StorBlade features twin power supplies for redundancy along with twin blowers for cooling, a design thats becoming standard on these appliances.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be contacted at