Tag: port multiplier

Areca ARC-8050 8-Bay Thunderbolt to 6Gb/s SAS RAID Storage Review

 

 

In my last post I reviewed external thunderbolt storage devices for our Imac capture station, none of which worked correctly. I came across this Areca 8 bay box on the OWC website. This looked more “promising” than the Pegasus R6 :) sorry Promise Tech…had to do it. Costs around $1500/free shipping. Price is very close to the Pegasus R6 when you take into account 8 bays vs 6 bays. Its empty which is how I would prefer it anyway. Lets me use my existing drives. Here are some quick specs from Areca’s website:

  • The ARC-8050 incorporated on-board high performance dual core 800Mhz ROC storage processor and with 1GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM memory on-board to deliver true high performance hardware RAID.
  • Bootable
  • RAID level 0, 1, 1E, 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, 60, Single Disk or JBOD (just a bunch of disks aka passthru)

Check out their website, they have it all spelled out. Some of the other manufacturers don’t have real detailed spec sheets showing whether they are bootable, JBOD capable, etc. Areca’s was pretty clear. The drive trays have mounting holes for 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives. Seems like a nice piece of hardware.

There were a couple of hiccups to get it going, which ended up being a default being set incorrectly. But from the first time it started up, there was a noticeable difference in operation and a feeling of reliability. The Pegasus box was just the opposite.

 

Passthru created
Passthru created

 

We’ve had it running for about two months and haven’t had any issues. In the first bay we placed a 90 GB 6G SSD OCZ Vertex 3 to run the OS (running around 400 MB/sec read & write). The next bay has a HST 4 TB Time Machine SATA drive. Next bay is empty (may use for hot spare or add another drive to the RAID 5 array). Then we have 5  2TB Hitachi SATA HD’s in a RAID 5 setup (these will be used for working still and video files, running around 415 MB / sec read & write).

 

Arc-8050 Thunderbolt rear view
Arc-8050 Thunderbolt rear view
Areca ARC-8050 Packaging
Areca ARC-8050 Packaging

 

I still don’t trust the RAID 5 as a single solution for storage and backup. You still need at least two other copies of all data you don’t want to lose, one of which off site at all times.

Here is the iMac machine specs we are using:

 

iMac 27 inch, Late 2012
iMac 27 inch, Late 2012

 

Our first attempt at RAID 5 with factory defaults and using their Quick Function > Quick Create option was not successful. The ARC – 8050 would start to initialize for an hour or so then freeze at exactly 5.6%. The box would freeze and crash the iMac. Fun. Now this product just started shipping so they will get cut some slack. The problem was also resolved quickly. See below.

 

Areca Raid Storage Manager
Areca Raid Storage Manager

 

Long story short, after emailing Areca’s tech support over then next couple of days and running some more tests we found a fix. Under System Configurations > Disk Write Cache Mode needs to be set to Disabled, not set to SAS and SATA (which is the default). After changing that it initialized properly the first time and haven’t had any problems since.

 

Disk Write Cache Mode
Disk Write Cache Mode

 

If you are looking for a fast external thunderbolt enclosure with all of the bells and whistles…this appears to be the ticket…for now at least.

Jordan

June 2013


Areca Moment – High Performance External Storage Options Review for iMac & Macbook Pro – USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, RAID, eSATA

Areca ARC 8050 front panel

Areca ARC 8050 front panel

 

A few months back, we put a new 27″ iMac (late 2012) 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 model into service at the studio. Duties would include tethered capture with Phase One digital backs & Canon DSLR’s as well as various post production tasks – Photoshop, Video Editing, Lightroom, etc.

The computer came with a 3 TB internal SATA hard drive. My hope was that with the addition of USB 3.0 ports and Thunderbolt we would have plenty of reasonably priced options to choose from for some additional storage needs. Well, that was easier said/thunk than done.

Pretty simple if you want to grab one or two external 3 or 4 TB USB 3.0 hard drives from Western Digital, G-Tech, Seagate, Hitachi, etc.  The problem comes when you realize you don’t want to use up all of your USB 3.0 ports on a few drives and or you want to get a serious performance boost. Nice to have at least one port free for connecting flash card readers, monitor calibrators, tethered capture, wacom tablet, etc. There are of course the Thunderbolt ports, but even thought they’ve been around for over 2 years, there is still a pretty weak selection to choose from. And most are still quite expensive compared to a similar drive in a USB 3 package.

Speaking of a lack of ports on the new iMac, it’s real pretty and all but I would have rather it been an inch or two thicker and have a few more ports. Actually it needs to be thick enough to have room so you have 2 owner accessible hard drive bays. Maybe one 3.5″ and one 2.5″, at least 2 or 3 more USB 3.0 ports and 1 eSATA port. I know it looks thin and cool, but the reality is it’s going to be parked against a wall 90% of the time and by the time you plug in 4 or 5 things back there it looks messy. Sure it looks awesome in the product photos with no cables :)

 

Business End

Business End

 

I know some of you are thinking, why didn’t you just go buy a Mac Pro? A few reasons. Though they just announced a new one, it hasn’t had a refresh in a long long time. And as of late 2012 there was no Mac Pro with USB 3.0 ports and they are more expensive. For this machine whose primary purpose is an image capture station…a fully loaded Mac Pro seemed like overkill. Plus, on a big shoot its much easier to bring the iMac along. I will comment on the new Mac Pro announced today in the future.

Ideally at a minimum, this machine would have a separate reasonably fast volume for each of the following: OS, scratch, working files (stills and movies), Time Machine and a swapper backup drive bay. The following are a few options tested.

 

 MacGurus Burly 4 Bay Hot Swap Firewire 800 enclosure 

Existing MacGurus Burly 4 bay FW800

Existing MacGurus Burly 4 bay FW800

 

I’ve had this Burly enclosure collecting dust for the last couple years, worked fine when the only option was FW800. Never had any problems with it other than the fact that it was slow ~ 80 MB/sec read & write. I checked out MacGurus website and spoke to them on the phone. They recommended to swap out the FW800 bridge for a “MGBurly UPM Upgrade kit  Burly USB 3.0 and eSATA upgrade kit = Lycom USB3/eSATA port multiplier to up to 5 drives for $115″

 

MacGurus Burly Box rear

MacGurus Burly Box rear

 

This would allow a single USB 3.0 cable to connect to 4 drives and probably achieve around 250 – 300 MB/sec read write speeds for all drives combined. Not too bad, especially considering the cost. I asked them if there were any issues…they said no :)  I ordered it, installed it. Seemed to work ok, but over the next couple of weeks we were having issues with multiple drives randomly ejecting, dismounting, etc. I have since contacted MacGurus and explained my problem, they replied and said it appeared to be a common issue (hmmm…not what I was told when I bought it). He said there was a fix using an app called Keep Drive Spinning. Having to run an app to keep my drives from ejecting makes me want to vomit. Even if it works and is simple. No thanks. MacGurus should probably put that disclaimer on their website product page. Thank you time vampire #1, next…

 

Promise Technology Pegasus R6 – RAID Storage with Thunderbolt

Promise Tech Pegasus R6

Promise Tech Pegasus R6

 

Enter the Pegasus R6 w/ Thunderbolt. Its a 6 Bay enclosure with (6) 1 TB SATA drives installed. If I remember correctly these are what Apple waved around when they announced Thunderbolt, showing you what would be offered. I should of just bit the bullet from the get go and went this route, so I thought. I noticed newegg.com had some factory refurbished / reconditioned units with warranty which would save a few hundred dollars. Normally I would stay away from refurbs, but I thought in this case I would make an exception. I don’t have the best luck buying new, so why not try refurbs? Maybe the factory has taken a better look and ensured this one works correctly before sending it out again? ;)

Showed up and looked nice. As always I read the instructions, check firmware, current software, updates, etc. I could write a short story about what it was doing but don’t want to take all day. In short, it seemed possessed. Throwing multiple error lights, telling me it was overheating, etc.  Spent hours trying to make it right…gave up and sent it back.

Another one shows up a week later. This time totally different issues. The box itself seemed OK, but 2 of the 6 drives they shipped with it were reported as bad by the Pegasus display and utility. FWIW, tried it on two different thunderbolt computers with 10.8.2 and 10.8.3. Wow what a huge waste, to think those units leave the Promise Tech facility after being “fixed/inspected?”  Stinks. Time vampire #2, next up the solution…


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