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Grant
04-30-2007, 03:08 PM
I'm looking for a 1U rack mount hard drive with firewire connections. As I intend to use this for location audio recordings, I seek the following features:

1. Relatively quiet operation
2. Hot swappability so that drives can be put in padded cases for transport. (Among other reasons).
3. Two drive bays would be cool (possibly with some RAID options), but I could live with only one bay.
4. The Oxford 911 chipset that Digidesign "requires."
5. "Forward compatiblilty" (see below)

I've seen such products from:
A. Glyph (which are seemingly over-priced)
B. Granite Digital (whose noise level is unknown)
C. Macgurus (in whose forums I've seen claims of product offerings dating back to 1994 but I don't see much else here)*

One of my biggest concerns with dropping over $600 into such a system is my concern that it looks like all of these products are relying on ATA100 hard drives. This is my concern regarding "forward compatibility." I want this chassis to last me many years to come, hopefully only occassionally needing hard drive replacements (naturally). But if ATA drives are replaced by SATA before too long, where does that leave me? I've seen light mention of converting such boxes from, say, SCSI to ATA. So what would a future conversion of such a box from ATA to SATA cost in money and (DIY) time? And is macgurus selling such an enclosure or DIY-kit? Any helpful hints?

Thanks,
Grant

* See http://www.macgurus.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19033&highlight=rackmount

TZ
04-30-2007, 03:20 PM
Oxford 924 provides SATA drives with FW connections.

Plan on being able to replace drives.. Even if it means buying some up front, whether ATA or SATA.

What system is this hooked up to?

Rackmount Burly (http://www.macgurus.com/productpages/sata/Burly8RHS.php)

Grant
04-30-2007, 03:56 PM
Sorry if I was unclear: Yes, I definitely plan on periodically replacing the drives themselves. But I'm hoping all the other hardware associated with the system will rarely need replacement, though.

Currently I need this hard drive system to work with my G4 MDD Dual 1.25 GHz (768 GB RAM) and my G4 iBook 1.07 GHz (768 GB RAM). But I intend that the drive will also be paired with a new intel Mac that I'll probably purchase in two or three years.

The linked "Rackmount Burly" looks nice. But it's overkill. I want it to be 1 rackspace and as such want to pay far less than $1000.

Thanks, TZ.

--Grant

TZ
04-30-2007, 04:03 PM
Have you looked at the FW Case Kits (link on the left).

ricks
04-30-2007, 05:30 PM
We are not currently making a 1U anything. Haven't had enough requests for that type of thing to warrant the inventory. (inventory = bane to successful business :D

I probably could come up with something on a custom basis. It would be 4 drive 2U, but a nice rig. Can be Firewire, direct SATA or PM SATA. Color would be all black with our standard hotswap trays in it.

http://homepage.mac.com/rstephens/.Public/RackFront.jpg

Personally I would go SATA of some sort over Firewire. SATA is simpler and simpler = faster and more reliable. SATA uses no bridges. Motherboards talk in IDE, SATA is an IDE drive. Firewire is a complete conversion to something different, and then a conversion back.

We recommend you never use Firewire bridge based RAID. Some Firewire bridge boards have firmware on them, and jumpers to enable it, that can give you RAID0, RAID1 or spanning. In every test we have run the performance is not as good as plain old software RAID run with Disk Utility, in fact a lot worse. And recovering from a problem is much more difficult with that type of RAID. We recommend you use Disk Utility and mount individual drives for best results.

There are host cards for most any Mac that has an expansion slot that will give you great drive performance for pure SATA. Firewire is pretty good though as a slam dunk, across all the platforms, ready to run bus.

We currently make some of the best SATA-FW enclosures anywhere. We can drop the same bridge in any size Rack that you might wish for. Racks are more expensive than standalone chassis, be prepared for a little higher cost. ALl the other components are identical and don't add to the costs.

Rick

Grant
04-30-2007, 08:40 PM
Have you looked at the FW Case Kits (link on the left).

No, I hadn't. If I abandon my rackmount goal, those are very likely what I'll get. Nice units. Thanks, TZ.


I probably could come up with something on a custom basis. It would be 4 drive 2U, but a nice rig. Can be Firewire, direct SATA or PM SATA. Color would be all black with our standard hotswap trays in it.

What would such a thing cost?


Personally I would go SATA of some sort over Firewire. SATA is simpler and simpler = faster and more reliable. SATA uses no bridges. Motherboards talk in IDE, SATA is an IDE drive. Firewire is a complete conversion to something different, and then a conversion back.

I like that thinking. But the main purpose for the rackmounting of this drive is for my location recording business, which is currently based around an iBook with firewire ports.


We recommend you never use Firewire bridge based RAID. Some Firewire bridge boards have firmware on them, and jumpers to enable it, that can give you RAID0, RAID1 or spanning. In every test we have run the performance is not as good as plain old software RAID run with Disk Utility, in fact a lot worse. And recovering from a problem is much more difficult with that type of RAID. We recommend you use Disk Utility and mount individual drives for best results.

That's fine. I can live without RAID. Thanks for the warning.

M.Brane
04-30-2007, 09:38 PM
Well you're sunk on eSATA with the iBook. No expansion card slot.

RAID is not supported on ProTools systems anyway so no loss there.

FW is plenty fast enough for all but the most insane track counts. If the Burly FW cases are not over 1.75" tall you could mount a couple on a rack tray unless Rick has something much cooler (pun intended) up his sleeve.

That's something to consider when mounting drives in a rack. They need cool air to live.

ricks
04-30-2007, 09:55 PM
I'll work up a number ($) with Hotswap trays, 2 x Firewire 800 SATA bridges and cabling. It can connect via included FW800 cable, FW400 to 800 cable or USB2 cable (yuck on USB for data transfer). I will have to check with the warehouse on the rack cost. Last one I built was direct SATA. Here's a picture I found of that one:

http://homepage.mac.com/rstephens/.Pictures/Black4BayRack.jpg

M.Brane
04-30-2007, 09:58 PM
That's a sweet looking unit Rick.

BTW the Oxford 911, 912, and 924 chipsets are qualified for use with Pro Tools systems.

ricks
04-30-2007, 10:13 PM
Thanks for the info. Keeping up with everyhting is half the battle.

I talked with Oxford, looks like a new generation of FW chips is on the way in the relatively near future (when was not part of our conversation). We will start seeing the 93x series, should be a big step forward even from the great performance we get form the 924. I can't wait to test!

R

Grant
05-01-2007, 10:32 AM
BTW the Oxford 911, 912, and 924 chipsets are qualified for use with Pro Tools systems.

I had just read that about the Oxford 924 chipset. Thanks.


RAID is not supported on ProTools systems anyway so no loss there.

I haven't researched this at all but I assumed that a "hardware RAID" would be undetectable to Pro Tools. It would send the data to what it perceives as a single drive, then the hardware would shuffle the data. But again, I'm not heartbroken. I can imagine ways to achieve my goal without a (mirrored) RAID.

Rick, regarding the use of Firewire 800 bridges, those play nice with firewire 400 equipment, I assume. Right?

ricks
05-01-2007, 10:46 AM
Hey Grant,

Using the FW800 to FW400 cables works perfectly. FW was designed fairly well that way. FW400 just has half the data transfer wires of FW800. So far we have never heard an issue related to that from any bridge.

Some hardware RAID is presented to the system as a single drive and not a RAID, so yes, ProTools would be incapable of rejecting or seeing the fact of the RAID. The RAID that a firewire bridge does is not really hardware RAID, it is firmware RAID and the CPU of the computer performs the overhead. Protools doesn't support RAID because the properties of RAID mostly do not improve storage for audio. RAID arrays usually add in latency, which is death to good audio recording. The things that RAID makes faster don't benefit audio much. RAID arrays can only do one thing at a time, does it fast, but only one thing at a time. Usually multiple independent bus drives are more capable than a fast single RAID.

Not having RAID capabilities is not all that big a deal usually. I find that mirroring is not very useful for most any use except for servers where uptime is important. All a mirror protects from is a simple drive failure. Its biggest weakness is the instantness of a mirror - any damage done the main data base is instantly copied to the mirror drive. Mirrors are good when you have layers of protection, like a server, where the mirror will continue allowing access even after a drive failure. The server will have a real backup as well. For most users an application making the backup on a timely basis is more important than uptime via a mirror. Same amount of hardware, lots more protection.

Rick

ricks
05-01-2007, 11:59 AM
Stuck the numbers in the system. The enclosure by itself is fairly expensive, with only the power supply it comes is at $429, that is without any of the parts. With cables, hotswap trays (standard) and bridges, all assembled, $790. Pretty much a killer setup though. Nothing anywhere I have ever seen is better built. Comes with rails and mounting brackets as well if I remember correctly.

Burly Firewire 4 Bay Hotswap Rack (http://www.macgurus.com/cgi-bin/ccp51/cp-app.cgi?pg=prod&ref=MGBurly4RFWHS)


http://homepage.mac.com/rstephens/.Pictures/Black4BayRack.jpg