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LaCie Four-Disk SATA Array

We strap together four d2 external drives and see how fast they'll go By Charlie White

(7/29/05) When we recently reviewed two 250GB LaCie d2 SATA drives ($275 street price for each including PCI card) configured in a disk array, their speed and easy install routine were impressive. After sliding a SATA PCI card into our dual 2.7 GHz Mac G5, it was painless to configure the two 250GB external drives into an array configuration. Taking it a step further, we plugged in another SATA PCI card along with two more 250GB LaCie d2 external drives, then combined all four into a RAID-0 striped array that was just shy of a terabyte. Hey, this is fun!

These LaCie d2 external disk drive enclosures are sleek and beautiful to behold. Theyre in Lacies d2 family of disks, which are available in a variety of configurations and sizes. Whether youre looking for 400 or 800 Mb per second FireWire drives at capacities of up to 2 Terabytes, or these SATA drives that are available in 250GB and 450GB ($450 each) flavors, all of them are festooned with a stylish and rather ominous looking blue light. The best part of this is, when you use multiple drives in this family, they all look great together, especially alongside or atop a Mac G5 (but you can use them and their PCI cards with PCs, too). Sure, you might not much care about how they look, but if you're inviting clients into your personal edit suite, sometimes pleasing appearances can be significant assets.

Once we had these two additional disks plugged in and striped all four together in a RAID-0 striped array, we were eager to run some benchmarks and see how much faster these were than the two-disk array we tested previously. The four 250 GB disks yielded an array with a capacity of 934 GB. We ran numerous xBench tests on this disk array, which turned in an astonishing sequential write speed of 299.46MB/sec. along with a read speed of 215.67MB/second. Now that is some fast throughput. That's more than twice as fast as the 144 MB/sec. write speed and 110MB/sec. read speed we saw when we ran the xBench benchmark on the two-disk LaCie d2 array.  

That was the good part, and now the not-so-good part. First of all, it's not that the drives themselves are noisy, but they cause the Mac G5 to be noisier than it normally is. It seems that all of this lickety-split throughput makes the G5 work harder, and so its fans start cranking up to a higher and noisier level as soon as you turn on that four-disk array. Normally the G5 is a great citizen, but with these disks dragging it down, it seems to run hotter and it's definitely noisier. The other slight downside is that these disks are rather persnickety about how they must be turned on. We wished they would just turn on by themselves, rather than requiring you to push the On switch on all four of them every time you boot up. But no. There is a certain time that you must turn them on, or else their volume won't show up on the Mac desktop. It takes a little getting used to.

Those are small nits to pick, however, considering that you're getting a nearly terabyte-sized array with such tremendous bandwidth. Imagine that almost 300 MB per second. That's fast. Not only is that fast enough for many types of HD video editing and certainly all HDV editing, it also gives you jaw-dropping transfer rates when you want to, say, back up a half-terabyte drive. All that speed and disk space are a wonderful thing. And at $1000 per terabyte, especially at those speeds, it's a tremendous bargain. Highly recommended. 9.1 out of 10 stars.

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Related Keywords:250GB LaCie d2 SATA, PCI card, disk array, speed, benchmarks, install routine, SATA PCI card, dual 2.7 GHz Mac G5, RAID-0 striped array, terabyte

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