Taiwanese x86 chip and mini-motherboard maker VIA Technologies has launched a rack-mounted disk array based on its own Mini-ITX motherboards. Disk arrays are getting more and more brains to do thin provisioning, data replication, flash copy, and all kinds of other high-end functions that companies want - and are willing to pay …
I have been doing these for years as DIY. In fact some of my "corporate" IT collegues are bound to shiver with "non-compliance" jitters when reading this article.
In any case this is an area where Via has always been extremely good. For example in 2001 it was doing 2-3 times higher disk access speed than a dual CPU Xeon (Intel OEM motherboard) with price per IOP difference of nearly 20 times. While Intel has improved considerably Via can still beat it in this area due to much lower prices (though Atom has probably evened up things quite a bit). Though even in that case Via has an ace up its sleeve. You can have an encrypted array "free of charge" - CPU support for crypto.
So, what is the price on this box?
Looks pretty nice--can it do RAID?
And don't forget
Mobile ITX, scheduled to be released whenever they can be arsed (late 2009 IIRC).
Smaller than a business card (though 5mm thick), fairly low power consumption, mobile phone tech built in (CDMA on preview models), so you could have a full x86 computer, battery and screen built into your wallet or a slightly larger than normal mobile phone. Or have a shoebox-cluster with a couple of hundred 1GHz nodes and a power supply pumping out about the same as my current desktop at rest.
WHS support = win
Forget the datacentre - that VIA have certified this for Windows Home Server is what gets me salivating. It's all about a big ol' home AV installation, with this at the centre. Mmm, rackmount...
Sorry, but a disk array that doesn't have hot-swappable drives isn't worth bothering with in my opinion.
via boards and hard drives
I use via a lot, but a few features I have found in the past.
This size box is great, but very noisy with the 6 small 40 mm fans on the hard disks. Plane taking off sort of thing. Not for use at home, unless you have a room you can lock it out the way in.
Via boards all seem to have a very low Sata count, two being the typical on ITX boards. They do special NAS boards, but they cost a bomb, and are much less common.
mini-ITX boards in general, the ones with the 40 mm fan on, are horribly noisy. Starts off ok, but gets worse over the months. Some one has got to make a BIG heatsink one could put on the in place of that fan. The ones without fans are obviously quite, but less capable.
my last experience on a 1.5Ghz epia showed it couldnt even handle the full bandwidth of a 20MBit internet connection let alone 2X1Gbit connections at full pelt!
Very nice but
I've dealt with a lot of NAS boxes and to a one they are underpowered qua CPU. They have GigE interfaces and lots of SATA disks but can't top 50 MB/s on sustained reads of large files.
If you want a lot of slow RAID, I suppose that kind of box is fine...
Maybe a 1.5 GHz Via is a fast enough CPU.
Is not getting my data.
Overall crummy chipsets, not 100% compliant with either usb pci, pci express and anything else you need to pay a licence for. They can't even do proper PCI busmastering...
I have a homeserver. Intel 33 motherboard. Disabled all things that it does not need in the bios ( audio,power options etc. )
Bios is configured to automatically boot after power failure.
Installed home server.
I use 6 drive bays (vantec. the ones with the LCD that support hotplug)
Currently 4 are loaded. All SATA-II.
I added an additional Pci-x sata card that gives me 2 extra internals and 1 e-sata (besides mobo 4).
Windows home server lets you 'eject' a drive. Go to the config panel. Tell it which drive to 'disconnect', wait for the message that the data has been migrated, turn key on drive rack and remove tray. Slap a new drive in the tray and slide tray back in chassis.Turn key, at that point WHS detects the new drive and ask if i wan tot join it to the storage pool.
Machine is hooked up to an APC ups with usb software installed. even during long power breaks the thing gracefully shuts down, to restart after power is restored and battery charged.
It's been runnin g24/7 for the last 9 months. not a single reboot. it backs up my other computers at home, acts as main file server.