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TransIntls miniG RAID

A powerful FireWire 800 external storage device By Frank Moldstad

miniGFrom the outside, it looks just like a little G5, down to the handles and the brushed aluminum case with a perforated grill. But theres nothing little on the inside of TransIntls external miniG RAID unit it can accommodate up to 2 Terabytes of storage and serve up data at FireWire 800 speeds.

The 600GB miniG I reviewed (MSRP $699) was equipped with two Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB 7200RPM drives striped in a RAID 0 configuration, housed in a 6.3-in. tall by 10.25-in. long case. The drives have a good-sized 16MB buffer. Other miniG configurations are available for those who need more storage and even faster throughput. The FireWire 800 miniG can be configured with up to 2 Terabytes in a four-drive configuration (MSRP $1,975), and up to 2 Terabytes is also available for a miniG with a SATA interface (MSRP $2,015) that supports external transfers in excess of 200MB/second.

As with most things, theres a tradeoff between the price and performance. The 600GB miniG offers ample space and performance for typical audio and video projects, while still being affordable to typical users. Optionally, the miniG chassis can be purchased without drives for those who wish to add their own ATA drives.

I connected the miniG to a PowerMac G5 via FireWire 800, and it was recognized out of the box. Even though the miniG is factory-formatted, TransIntl recommends that you reformat the miniG before using it for best performance with your particular Mac or PC. Supported operating systems are Mac OS 10.2 or higher and Windows 2000/XP.
On the back of the miniG are two FireWire 800 ports, and also a FireWire 400 port for those who are still plodding along at 40MB/second. Many of us are in that category, but Id highly recommend getting a FireWire 800 card to take advantage of the miniGs maximum throughput potential of 80MB/second, especially working with large audio and video files.

For video users, TransIntl says the miniG accommodates up to seven multiple DV video streams, up to four HDV video streams, up to three DVCPRO HD video streams, and is capable of dual 8-bit uncompressed SD, and single 10-bit uncompressed SD.

I did a few speed tests with the miniG, and liked what I found. A 785MB audio file took 15 seconds to transfer from the miniG to the desktop. The miniGs sustained transfer showed its value in a real world test where I loaded the 785MB file in Logic Pro 7. Ordinarily, I use an external FireWire 400 drive for serving data files (yes, I know?). With large files such as this one, the FireWire 400 drive will hang from time to time when data is accessed or when Play is pressed after a period of inactivity. When youre trying to move fast and get things done, this can torpedo the workflow. But using the miniG, I experienced none of these hang-ups. It was always on, ready to serve up anything at a moments notice.

Included with the miniG is a copy of InTechs SpeedTools Suite. This is a collection of seven handy utilities for analyzing disk performance and doing maintenance tasks such as partitioning and defragging. I used one of the SpeedTools utilities, QuickBench, to measure the miniGs Read and Write speeds. Screen grabs of the results are below.

QuickBench test measured random read speed of 70MB/sec. using FireWire 800

QuickBench Extended Test of 20-100MB file transfers
Also included is a copy of the Dantz Retrospect Express backup and recovery application. This is a valuable tool to have. The miniGs RAID 0 configuration is a good choice for maximizing performance while keeping the unit affordable, but for critical data, its important to back up the data regularly. RAID 0 does not offer redundancy, so if one drive fails, the data on all drives in the array is lost. 

The miniG combines performance, portability and good looks at a good price point. The model I reviewed would be particularly suited for audio and video applications, with its high performance Maxtor DiamondMax 10 drives harnessed by the RAID 0 setup. With a FireWire 800 connection, this drive offers serious sustained throughput for the most demanding data streams, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking a robust yet affordable storage solution.

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Related Keywords:TransIntl, miniG, RAID, FireWire 800, DiamondMax 10, 300GB, RAID 0, DV, HDV, DVCPRO


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