March 30, 2012

Sonnet drives to speed up backup

Sonnet has launched two new professional media readers that can be combined with its compact new portable RAID arrays to for high-speed backups.

The Qio E3 card reader (pictured above - centre) can take up to three SxS cards at once, while the Qio CF4 takes up to four Compact Flash cards. Each reader costs £420 and has two 6Gbps eSATA ports for connection to back-up drives.

Sonnet currently has four ruggedised, portable drives, and has just added the Thunderbolt-equipped Fusion F2TBR, which takes two solid state drives (totalling up to 1TB) capable of high-speed transfers (up to 640MBps read and 430MBps write). It joins the 1.5TB Fusion F2 (with eSATA ports), 2TB F2QR (eSATA, dual FireWire 800, plus USB 2.0) and the similarly connected 6TB F3, but all of them have maximum speeds of no more than 200MBps.

It also has two new Fusion desktop RAID 5 storage arrays with Thunderbolt connections. The four-drive E400TBR5 has read/write speeds of up to 400/340MBps, while the eight-drive E800TBR5 offers speeds of 800/730MBps.

Sonnet card readers, including Qio F3, 
with Fusion F2 portable RAID (top) 
+ Thunderbolt-equipped Echo Express expansion unit (left)

The high-speed Thunderbolt port is standard on current MacBook and iMac computers, but these don’t have the ability to fit PCIe cards, so Sonnet has also announced new Thunderbolt Echo Express expansion units that will take either a single half-length (about $450) or dual full-length ($800) PCI Express 2.0 card, for video capture, fibre channel, digital audio, RAID control or multi-screen video. Up to six peripherals, including more expansion units, can be daisy chained on a single Thunderbolt port (which can cope with a total throughput of up to 10Gbps on each of its two channels).

Also new is the Xmac mini Server, a 1U rack mount PCIe 2.0 expansion system with Thunderbolt ports. It also has Gigabit Ethernet and can take two PCIe cards (one half-length and one full-length), so it could take an AJA Kona card to create a compact capture station or a fibre channel card to become a metadata controller for SAN systems. It should ship in April for about $1,400. 

By David Fox

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