Terabyte of storage now <$5000, plug and play

Stephen D. Williams sdw@lig.net
Tue, 21 Aug 2001 02:04:36 -0400

Since I'm playing with digital video (Sony DV compatible Firewire output
camcorder, DV->Mpeg2, DVD authoring, DVD-R) and building a video/image
workstation, I thought I'd examine what's going on with hard drives. 
Since I should now be able to go directly from DV/Firewire to Mpeg2
without dealing with raw files, I'm more likely to use large storage for
Lightwave3D rendered output images.

CompUSA had a few 100GB Maxtor drives, sold immediately.  Maxtor also
sells some of their drives in a Firewire/1394 enclosure, which can be
purchased seperately for $100.

Pricing on the 80GB in the Firewire enclosure, which was in stock there
and at Best Buy, is about $380.  According to Maxtor, you can use up to
63 of these and the Firewire throughput they claim is 50MB/sec. (vs.
40MB/sec. SCSI (SCSI 3 fast/narrow?)).

That means 1 TB of storage can be added to any Firewire PC/laptop/Mac
for less than $5000.  In a stack connected with a single serial cable at
50MB/sec.  Linux appears to support Firewire well for storage also.

Now what does that work out to in TiVo hours?  At approx. 1GB/hr.,
that's 1000 hours or 19 hours of video per week for an entire year.  For
a small investment, you could record a year of cable service and run a
whole cable system in a third world country with a delay.

The full 63 drives, at 80GB, would run $24K and store over 5TB of data,
more than both all content and indexes at Lexis-Nexis 7 years ago. 
Lexis' content includes the text of all laws, filings of nearly all
court cases in the US, Edgar, and nearly every major periodical in
print, including NY Times, all magazines, etc.  (I have no idea how
large their collection is now.)

An obvious flaw of the Firewire/IDE enclosures, which were $100 retail
sans drive, is that they don't handle 2 or more IDE drives.  This makes
them more expensive than necessary for large clusters.

One other cool item is the ATA/100 Promise card being sold by Maxtor
with their large drives.  Conveniently avoids annoying BIOS problems
(many lockup with new large drives) while also allowing 4 extra IDE
devices.  I haven't determined if more than one can be used, but with
just one extra you can create a fileserver with 8 IDE devices.

sdw@lig.net  http://sdw.st
Stephen D. Williams
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax