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LaCie Ethernet Disk RAID 2TB entry-level NAS box

Nice price, shame about the performance?

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Review Two terabytes of network-attached storage SATA-based RAID storage and an iSCSI desktop disaster recovery platform all within one small compact unit for under £900? Seems unlikely, yet LaCie, with a little help from its friends, appears to have pulled it off. Or has it..?

The imaginatively titled Ethernet Disk RAID is the first released result from LaCie's new storage partnership with Intel - a bold decision to move away from own-manufactured products to an OEM line built by a white-box builder. This premier product is intended to be a pro NAS box for a small- to medium-sized business, a marketplace in which Intel is already successful having launched the Intel Entry Storage System SS4000-E in March 2006.

lacie ethernet disk raid front

In fact, this is the very same product, just rebadged by LaCie and accompanied by four 500GB Hitachi SATA II drives making the maximum 2TB of storage supported as a single space. Intel doesn't supply its SS4000-E with hard drives - they're left to the end-user or system builder to acquire and fit.

The XScale 400MHz processor is reasonable for the system's operational needs. This is bundled with an non-upgradeable 256MB of DDR SDRAM for memory and an OS based around a Linux 2.6 kernel co-developed by FalconStor - a company with a good history in storage. We were puzzled to see the disk connections were the 1.5Gbps SATA I when 500GB drives only ship in the 3Gbps SATA II variety. This means the drives will step down in performance and run at a compatible SATA I throughput, not a problem as such, but a surprising discovery nonetheless.

The Ethernet Disk RAID arrives as just an open chassis, with four open bays for the hard drives. The drives are included in the pacakge. Starting from drive installation and running through a few configuration wizards on its web-based administrator console, the product was up and running within 15 minutes. An impressive time to achieve a near-complete setup, although the full synchronisation of the RAID array drives is performed once the system is active and optional.

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