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Ciprico Huge MediaVault 4110

Fast array can recover data immediately even if one of its drives fails By Charlie White

Ciprico and Huge Systems, now part of the same company, offer the Huge MediaVault 4110 ($4240), a rack-mountable array of disks with a capacity of 1.6TB. Combining the next-generation 4 gigabit (4Gb) Fibre Channel interface with ten garden-variety ATA disk drives packed inside, the array is touted as an ideal storage solution for DV, standard definition video, high definition video and uncompressed film editing/playback. We installed a compatible ATTO Celerity FC-42XS Fibre Channel adapter into our Power Mac G5 dual 2.7GHz machine so lets see what happens when we connect the Huge MediaVault 4110 to it.

Huge MediaVault 4110

This Huge MediaVault 4110 is but one of a variety of MediaVault products that were recently introduced by Ciprico/Huge. The company is offering its arrays in rack-mountable configurations as well as one that mimics the look of the Power Mac G5. Our test unit is of the rack-mountable variety, and is just 1.75 inches high. Its the standard 19 inches wide so that it will fit into common racks and it earns its ?huge name with its depth of 25 inches. The thing is heavy, too, weighing in at 40 pounds.

Inside the unit are nestled ten IDE drives, which are actually well-suited for video work in some aspects, such as their low cost and fewer moving parts which results in cooler running temperatures than SCSI or Fibre Channel drives. The drives are capable of 500MB/sec. speeds internally the Fibre Channel comes into play for input and output, where they are connected to the computer via the latest-generation 4Mb Fibre Channel cable and adapter.

The Huge 4110 Data Vault is targeted at pro-video users who plan to scale up their systems over time and who cant tolerate a loss of data, even for a minute. Allowing this impressive feat is a unique feature of the 4110--its hardware RAID controller inside. It allows you to choose either RAID-0 or RAID-3, which offers redundancy and lets you recover your data immediately if one of the disks should fail. This dedicated hardware controller will give your saved data a higher degree of reliability, stability and safety and will also reconstruct your data on the fly in the event of a drive failure. This proprietary engineering sets the 4110 apart from software-only arrays, which cant be expanded as easily and dont offer this degree of on-the-fly recovery from disk errors.  

(Click for enlargement) Here's a close-up of the Ciprico Huge MediaVault 4110

More good news is that RAID-3 maintains the speed of RAID-0 on this system. However, you'll only get 80% of the data capacity with RAID-3 as you did with RAID-0. For instance, on this drive when configured for RAID-3 there was 1.2 TB of disk space available, but with RAID-0, there was 1.5 TB. The 4110 also offers a RAID-0 ?HD Turbo mode, which uses the highest data rate portions of the disk drive, but drops your data capacity to 80%. Or, you could opt for a RAID-3 HD Turbo which distributes the data across eight of the ten drives, leaving two of the drives in charge of storing redundant information. Like RAID-0 HD Turbo, it uses only the highest data rate portions of the disk drives for maximum throughput until the disk is full, but the downside of RAID-3 HD Turbo is that you only are able to use 40% of the total capacity of the disk. I guess life has its trade-offs, even in high technology such as this.

After installing the Fibre Channel adapter in slot 4 of the Power Mac G5 (it also works with Windows, UNIX and Linux systems), it was easy to plug its Fibre Channel cable into the 4110. I fired up the 4110, and it sounded like a jet engine sound effect emanating from its multiple cooling fans, with five vents on the power side of the rack unit. Because of this vacuum-cleaner-like racket, this is certainly a unit you would want to keep in a room separate from your workspace. 

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Related Keywords:rack-mountable array, Ciprico, Huge Systems, Huge MediaVault 4110, disks, 1.6TB, 4 gigabit, 4Gb Fibre Channel, ATA disk drives, DV, standard definition video, high definition video, uncompressed film editing, ATTO Celerity FC-42XS Fibre Channel adapter, Power Mac G5 dual 2.7GHz

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