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Interview: Martin Bock, CEO of Medea

Talking about SATA, HD and more By Charlie White

Martin Bock, CEO, Medea Corporation
DMN: What are the storage tools of choice today?

Bock: The user needs to understand his needs when selecting different storage solutions today.  The emergence of the ATA and SATA drive into professional applications has introduced a new strata of storage solutions to the general storage market and a cost effective superior product for high bandwidth market applications.  High RPM disk such as SCSI and Fibre Channel products still have a solid home in high I/O rate applications such as random retrieval of small blocks.   This transaction speed requirement can now be supplemented with lower cost SATA solutions for larger rich media storage.  Tape solutions continue to be a viable archival solution.   

DMN: What role is SATA playing in HD and broadcast production?
Bock: Video applications have 2 basic driving requirements: Continuous Speed and high capacity.  HD content creation is well served by low cost SATA RAID systems.  SATA drives are 66% larger capacity today, and have the bandwidth to compete with SCSI and FC drives.  Most HD applications require that drives are striped to achieve continuous data rates of over 300 MB/sec.  With real-time redundant RAID control, SATA drives can satisfy these high rates with Parity Drive redundancy.   Medea participated in one of the very first SATA RAID broadcast systems specifically designed for 24/7 broadcast  applications.  Over 1000 systems are in Broadcast facilities today.  The challenge in the product offering was the development of a more robust RAID controller which increased the MTBF characteristics of the drive to match that of SCSI and FC drive solutions.  This product is an order of magnitude higher in reliability than "near-line" solutions.

DMN: Is Fibre Channel still a factor in storage ?
Bock: In the video world, Fibre Channel will continue to play an important role as a host interface, but not necessarily as a disk interface.  SATA drive arrays which incorporate a Fibre Channel host interface via an intelligent RAID controller can service the needs for shared SAN environments which is a key benefit of Fibre Channel storage. 

DMN:  Is RAID-0 still king, or is RAID-6 gaining on it? Briefly explain the differences.
Bock: As SATA RAID products progress, parity solutions for drive protection will take over the RAID 0 (RAID NOT) configurations.  RAID 0 when configured as a mirror equates to a RAID 10 product.  This configuration is popular because of speed and 100% redundancy (one redundant drive for each data drive).  Effectively, one could lose all the drives and the data would still be available.  Higher levels of RAID protection such as RAID 6 which uses 2 parity drives across the data drives, and RAID 3.4 which incorporates 3 drives are raising the bar to provide superior drive protection in a more economical configuration.   The winning parity drive solution must deliver both improved reliability and  guaranteed continuous performance for Video storage and Broadcast applications. 

DMN: What are some of the forces that are driving and shaping HD production? 
Bock: The consumer drives the demand and the vendors accommodate.  The theater demonstrates what is possible and the consumer wants it in his home.  Medea's products are just there to facilitate the desire for faster/higher resolution imagery, at a price that is not out of the reach of even the home consumer.   

DMN: What are the various HD formats in use and what types of storage are most well-suited for each?
Bock: SATA drives can accommodate the needs of HDDV as well as the highest resolution uncompressed HD.  The key is the balance of parallel data drives with data protection.  RAID products must supply solutions that continue the down-ward trend in pricing, while adding higher levels of convenience, performance and reliability.
DMN: How are producers deciding which HD format to use/buy?

Bock: Looking back over the last 10 years we have seen what technology can do for an industry.  The changes have enabled better entertainment product, which is produced with less effort and a price that is nearly unbelievable.  Standard low cost computers from Apple, HP and others are capable of high resolution HD support.  SATA storage has responded to provide a storage cost point that is commensurate with these economical hosts.  Producers know they can now afford to add more effects, and improve the quality of their product at a price they can afford.  
DMN: Is the move to HD accelerating now?
Bock: Both from a production standpoint as well as a broadcast standpoint, the answer is yes.  It won't be long before the viewer at home will not be satisfied with anything but HD content.  Obviously, given the choice he will want higher resolution.  For this reason, the content must be developed in HD now, or it will be dated.  The cost to deliver all HD to the consumer at home, however, will be driven by the delivery cost.  This is in the process of maturing, but it is under way.  We see the demand for storage support for HD broadcast rising rapidly today. 

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Related Keywords:Medea CEO Martin Bock, high-density, high-speed storage, SATA, HD production, fibre channel

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