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Trans Intl. Swiftdata 200

Internal Serial ATA array kit for G5 systems By Dave Nagel
Summary: Opening up your G5, you'd never believe you could fit an additional four drives inside this tightly packed unit. But Trans International has come up with a solution in the form of the Swiftdata 200, an economical solution that allows you to install up to five drives (total) inside a G5 for immensely fast storage at capacities up to 2 TB.
Recommendation: Strong Buy
Users: Anybody who needs fast, high-capacity storage for video editing, motion graphics, animation, audio editing, etc.
Platform: Mac OS X
Price: $259 for base assembly kit; $339 to $399 for assembly kit with SATA four-port card; disk drives are extra
More information: http://www.transintl.com

As of now, my G5 desktop system contains five internal hard drives, four of which are striped together, for a total of more than 1 TB of storage. How? Have I removed my optical drive to make room? Have I eliminated some fans, risking the long-term health of my valuable computer? Have I created a gateway to another dimension to hold the extra drives? None of the above. I've installed the Swift Data 200 from Trans Intl., a system that creates space for additional internal drives without sacrificing anything else in the process.

Opening up your G5, you'd never believe you could fit an additional four drives inside this tightly packed unit. But Trans Intl. has come up with a solution in the form of the Swiftdata 200, an economical solution that allows you to install up to five drives (total) inside a G5 for immensely fast storage at capacities up to 2 TB.

Features
How does it do this? With a kit that includes everything you need to install up to five drives internally, all without any additional software and without the need to remove any of your G5's components permanently. The kit for $339 (which is the one I'm reviewing today) includes:

? A Firmtek four-port SATA PCI-X card
? A mounting plate
? Three mounting brackets
? Four SATA cables
? A power cable for three drives
? Two hex drivers
? Hardware
? An instructional video in QuickTime format



Additional base configurations include a kit without a SATA card for $259 and a kit with a Sonnet-X 4x4 SATA card for $399.

The drives themselves are not included in the price, which is nice, since it gives you the opportunity to mix and match. But if you do decide to purchase the drives from Tans Intl., the prices are reasonable--in fact, a little less than the vendors from whom I regularly buy my drives. (See Trans Intl.'s Web site for current drive options and pricing.) For this unit, I went ahead and got four Seagate Barracuda 250 GB drives (since Seagate is the only drive manufacturer I trust these days), for a total of five internal drives, counting the 160 GB drive that shipped with my G5. That brought my total actual disk capacity to 1.08 TB. And that's all inside my G5's case! And keep in mind that the maximum capacity of this system can go well beyond 1 TB. As of this writing, 400 GB drives are available, which could put you within drooling distance of 2 TB total internal storage. And, of course, this potential capacity will continue to grow as individual SATA drives grow.


The way it works is this. The first two drives go in the G5's regular internal drive bays. Power for the second drive is provided through the extra power cable connector supplied with the G5. The three additional drives attach to a mounting plate and mounting brackets, and the whole unit gets tucked in front of the large CPU fans, just abaft the G5's front grille. So you wind up with something like this:



At the top right of this image, you see the first two drives in the standard G5 drive bays. Following the red SATA cables (which attach to drives 2, 3, 4 and 5) to the bottom left, you see the three additional drives stowed next to the front CPU fans. Note that the assembly does not touch the fans, and there's enough room between the drives to allow for sufficient air circulation. (Trans Intl. advertises that the stock G5 fans are sufficient enough, and, indeed, I have not experienced any overheating or increased fan noise since installing this unit.)

After you've installed all of these components, you restart and format your drives. I've placed drives 2 through 5 into a striped RAID configuration for maximum performance. You can also initialize them as individual drives or as a redundant RAID. Regardless of how you set it up, the process is the same. It uses Apple's own Disk Utility software; no additional software or drivers are required.

Ease of use
So how difficult is it to get this system up and running? Not at all. To begin, drive No. 2 installs simply by attaching slider screws (supplied in your G5 already) and sliding it into the second drive bay. The power cable for this drive is sitting right there beneath the second drive bay, so you simply attach that to drive No. 2.




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Related Keywords:internal raid array, g5 raid, sata raid, stripe sata drives, swiftdata 200, macintosh internal serial ata drive expansion

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