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Sharkoon Dock Connects SATA HDDs via Gigabit Ethernet

By - Source: Sharkoon | B 17 comments

This docking station plays host to an HDD or SSD, two USB drives and an SD card while connecting directly to the local network via a Gigabit Ethernet port.

Tuesday Sharkoon revealed the successor to its SATA QuickPort Pro LAN docking station, now packed with a Gigabit Ethernet interface. But like the model before it, Sharkoon's new SATA QuickPort Pro LAN Giga allows users to add a hard drive or SSD, USB drives and an SD card to a local home or business network, only at a faster speed.

According to the specs, the docking station plays host to a 2.5-inch HDD/SSD or a 3.5-inch HDD via a port mounted on the top. On the front Sharkoon has installed two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot supporting SD, SDHC, MMC and MS cards. On the back, Sharkoon has added alternate means to interface with the docking station (other than the Gigabit Ethernet port) including an e-SATA port and a Type-B USB 2.0 port for connecting the station locally to a desktop or laptop.

Sharkoon's new docking station also comes with software that's required to be installed on all networked PCs if the device is connected directly to the local network. "The individual user can add the device to their computer through the Software menu," Sharkoon explains. "If a user accesses the device then it is closed to all remaining network users. If another user needs the device, they can simply send the current user a request for release. If needed, the reset button on the backside allows the USB server to be restarted."

Essentially this means if a user is hogging the hard drive, then other network users can't access the drive unless the first user disconnects -- one local IP address per storage device at a time, please.

In additions to the ports, the Sharkoon SATA QuickPort Pro LAN Giga is equipped with a hard drive ejection button and LEDs indicating power supply and disk activity. The device itself measures 5.23 x 2.79 x 3.74-inches (W x H x L), weighs just over 1.3 pounds and includes an instruction manual with the Tool CD, power supply, patch cable, USB cable and eSATA cable.

Sharkoon's new docking station is arriving in the UK first for 59.90 euros, but it should become available here in the States shortly.

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  • 0 Hide
    kcorp2003 , October 19, 2011 4:08 AM
    This is awesome. My harddrive on my router is okay but its USB so its slow. but this i can use.
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , October 19, 2011 4:29 AM
    Appears to be a proprietary implementation of iSCSI. Pretty brilliant actually.
  • 0 Hide
    nikorr , October 19, 2011 4:36 AM
    I like USB better.
  • 3 Hide
    jryan388 , October 19, 2011 4:36 AM
    Having to install software to mount it kills it for me. I doubt they have linux drivers. Why can't it work like drives attached to a router?
  • 3 Hide
    spectrewind , October 19, 2011 5:07 AM
    jryan388Having to install software to mount it kills it for me. I doubt they have linux drivers. Why can't it work like drives attached to a router?


    Exactly. This sounds similar to D-Link's SHAREPORT product to mount a hard drive via USB port on one of their routers.

    Vendors: Give us a product we can mount as something like "net use x: \\host\share", or no deal.
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , October 19, 2011 5:08 AM
    Quote:
    Having to install software to mount it kills it for me. I doubt they have linux drivers. Why can't it work like drives attached to a router?


    Because it's not running a Linux OS. I bet it doesn't even have a generic CPU, just a couple of specialized chips with connected to an Ethernet interface. It sounds identically to iSCSI, only one target can connect to an initiator (without MUXing involved). Its not a shared volume, its just extends the SATA bus over the network.
  • 0 Hide
    __Miguel_ , October 19, 2011 8:37 AM
    palladin9479Because it's not running a Linux OS. I bet it doesn't even have a generic CPU, just a couple of specialized chips with connected to an Ethernet interface. It sounds identically to iSCSI, only one target can connect to an initiator (without MUXing involved). Its not a shared volume, its just extends the SATA bus over the network.

    Although I'm not sure about it (haven't seen any reviews or spec sheet), this seems more like USBoE (USB over Ethernet), something I've heard about a while back.

    If that's the case, Linux should not be too much of an hassle, given that USBoE actually started there.

    It's interesting, actually: much lesser computing power is needed on the dock side (hence its low price for a LAN-enabled drive holder), you only need a USB hub, a USBSATA bridge and an Ethernet controller, plus something to pass data around the interfaces. The CPU grunt work will be offloaded to the host PC, so your speed will basically be capped by how fast your PC can process Ethernet and USB data packets.

    Quite cool, actually, but I honestly don't know just how interesting that might be... Unless you're REALLY that squeezed for space, you'd probably be better off with a standard USB enclosure. Or a dedicated 1-drive NAS, but those seem to utterly lack the ability to be able to handle even 30MBps constant read/write...

    Now, if only someone created an ultra-small, ultra low-power storage processor capable of giving you full speed SATA (300Mbps max, even if the SATA port was PM-aware, which would mean it could scale from 1 to 5 drives easily) over Gigabit , with an added core for general purpose computing (managing a web server, DLNA, Torrent client, etc.) at an affordable price, now THAT would be a sweet NAS processor.

    Cheers.

    Miguel
  • 2 Hide
    drwho1 , October 19, 2011 12:38 PM
    What's the point on having a network connection if only ONE user in the network can access the drive?

    This is pointless to me.
  • 0 Hide
    brn_gomes , October 19, 2011 5:03 PM
    Have I skipped some important event, or is the UK still using the pound? Do you mean 59.90£ or the conversion of the 59.90€ into pounds?
  • 0 Hide
    __Miguel_ , October 19, 2011 6:50 PM
    brn_gomesHave I skipped some important event, or is the UK still using the pound? Do you mean 59.90£ or the conversion of the 59.90€ into pounds?

    I lolled at that one.

    AFAIK, the UK is in no hurry to join the €uro wagon. Their currency is much stronger (and steadier) than the Euro, so it would be bad for them.

    In any case, either the article messed up (UK instead of EU), or the announcement was indeed with Euro prices. It's not unheard for that to happen, though it's not very common...

    In any case, €59.90 is an ok-ish price, it should translate to $59.90 USD (sadly, that's true), and around £50 or something. If there was indeed a typo and it's £60, then it's way too expensive. You're entering 1-bay NAS territory at those prices, and those are REAL NASes, not make-belief ones like this.

    Miguel
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , October 20, 2011 3:45 AM
    I thought "nothing new" until I saw the Gigabit Ethernet part. Sounds like a cool idea, as long as it's secure.
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , October 23, 2011 12:00 PM
    Quote:
    Although I'm not sure about it (haven't seen any reviews or spec sheet), this seems more like USBoE (USB over Ethernet), something I've heard about a while back.

    If that's the case, Linux should not be too much of an hassle, given that USBoE actually started there.

    It's interesting, actually: much lesser computing power is needed on the dock side (hence its low price for a LAN-enabled drive holder), you only need a USB hub, a USBSATA bridge and an Ethernet controller, plus something to pass data around the interfaces. The CPU grunt work will be offloaded to the host PC, so your speed will basically be capped by how fast your PC can process Ethernet and USB data packets.

    Quite cool, actually, but I honestly don't know just how interesting that might be... Unless you're REALLY that squeezed for space, you'd probably be better off with a standard USB enclosure. Or a dedicated 1-drive NAS, but those seem to utterly lack the ability to be able to handle even 30MBps constant read/write...

    Now, if only someone created an ultra-small, ultra low-power storage processor capable of giving you full speed SATA (300Mbps max, even if the SATA port was PM-aware, which would mean it could scale from 1 to 5 drives easily) over Gigabit , with an added core for general purpose computing (managing a web server, DLNA, Torrent client, etc.) at an affordable price, now THAT would be a sweet NAS processor.

    Cheers.

    Miguel

    "NAS"'s suck in general, their just underpowered Atom CPU's running a small Linux distro from flash memory. Their using Linux Volume manager for the HDD's, its basically fake raid on an extremely weak CPU.

    If you want a true network file server (NAS is just a marketing term for a dedicated network file server) then you should look into something mini-itx from Via or AMD. I've built dozens of small low power home servers for people using a Mini-ITX Via Nano and a mediasonic PRORAID external eSATA enclosure. They work great and give amazing speed. Mine is 80~100MB/s (local RAMDisk to RAID Array), slower when accessing over the network though due to ethernet latency.
  • 0 Hide
    __Miguel_ , October 23, 2011 12:58 PM
    Quote:
    "NAS"'s suck in general, their just underpowered Atom CPU's running a small Linux distro from flash memory. Their using Linux Volume manager for the HDD's, its basically fake raid on an extremely weak CPU.
    Actuall, Atom-based NASes are actually quite good when it comes to network performance. They're the top performers of SmallNetBuilder's NAS Charts (take a look here). I wasn't referring to those, which are too big and expensive to compare with the likes of single-bay NASes the article refers to.

    I was referring to the ARM or MIPS-based 1 or 2-bay NASes. Those do very much suck... Which is why I'd like to see something similar to the RaspberryPi appear on the NAS arena: a dedicated storage processor with enough grunt to move data around at SATA speeds, real Gigabit Ethernet and a general-purpose CPU with just enough power to serve the Linux front-end. Those would be great cheap 1 or 2-bay NASes...

    Quote:
    If you want a true network file server (NAS is just a marketing term for a dedicated network file server) then you should look into something mini-itx from Via or AMD.
    [/QUOTE]
    Quote:

    Preaching to the choir, here. I myself have built a few NASes out of regular hardware, though I usually go for bigger solutions, to handle more HDDs than you can find on normal consumer-grade machines: my current NAS is a WHS box with 4 drives, with an upgrade to 8 imminent.

    VIA isn't much more powerful than Atom, from what I've read, though. Anything less than an E350, undervolted Athlon or Celeron is kind of bad if you want more than two drives and also want to be able to do other stuff with the thing (like webserver, torrent daemon, dnla, etc.).

    Anyway, I digress. In short, 1 and 2-bay NASes are very limited, this one might be better because it will use the host's CPU grunt. However, I'm still on the fence, because it seems a USBoE implementation, which would mean you'd be limited to 35MBps speeds... Not great...

    Has anyone caught a link to a review, perchance?

    Cheers.

    Miguel
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , October 23, 2011 1:41 PM
    Quote:
    Preaching to the choir, here. I myself have built a few NASes out of regular hardware, though I usually go for bigger solutions, to handle more HDDs than you can find on normal consumer-grade machines: my current NAS is a WHS box with 4 drives, with an upgrade to 8 imminent.

    VIA isn't much more powerful than Atom, from what I've read, though. Anything less than an E350, undervolted Athlon or Celeron is kind of bad if you want more than two drives and also want to be able to do other stuff with the thing (like webserver, torrent daemon, dnla, etc.).

    Anyway, I digress. In short, 1 and 2-bay NASes are very limited, this one might be better because it will use the host's CPU grunt. However, I'm still on the fence, because it seems a USBoE implementation, which would mean you'd be limited to 35MBps speeds... Not great...

    Has anyone caught a link to a review, perchance?

    Cheers.

    Miguel


    The Nano's are much stronger then the Atom's, they compete with the e350's. Via got the low power but not too much low power CPU down to an art. Should check out the 1.6Ghz dual core Nano's, their really good.

    The Mediasonic is an external 4 bay enclosure, it's got it's own RAID I/O processor chip, its actual real RAID and doesn't use the host CPU for calculations. That's why I recommend it to people, put drives in, set the mode and connect to your system, real RAID in a box.
  • 0 Hide
    palladin9479 , October 23, 2011 1:51 PM
    Here previous discussion I had with someone about this awhile back.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/269267-32-home-file-server

    Config I recommend him,

    Quote:
    Ok possible boards are,
    Jetway NC74-2007-LF
    This board is 1.6Ghz Nano, supports 64-bit via EMT64
    2 DDR3 slots, supports up to 8GB of memory.
    1Gbit LAN
    2xSATA
    VGA / HDMI / LVDS
    USB / COM / ect..
    1xPCIe 16 slot (8 electrically)
    1xMini-PCIe x1 slot (laptop component)

    One of their newer boards is the Via EPIA M-850
    1.6Ghz Nano, 64-bit CPU (EMT64)
    2xDDR3 slots for max of 8GB
    1GB Ethernet
    2xSATA
    1xPCIe x4

    Note on the jetway boards, they have their own daughter board expansions system. These boards attach ontop the regular jetway board and provide various functions. Everything from 3 x 1Gbit Ethernet port adapter to a 4xSATA II Raid board, even some serial boards for working with high speed serial connections (T1 / OC3). Contact jetway and they can tell you if a particular daughter board is compatible with your mainboard. Jetway also carries AMD and ION equipped boards. Pick what you need.

    For the HDD enclosure I strongly recommend something from MediaSonic. I was extremely happy in the quality and performance of their equipment.

    HFR2-SU3S2 This is a 4 bay Sata II enclosure that does RAID 0/1/5/0+1. It has its own IO processor chip that does the XOR calculations so this is true HW RAID, it doesn't use your CPU to do anything. It supports eSATA and USB 3.0, although I prefer eSATA whenever possible.

    The big plus for using an external device like this is that your data is always available regardless if your server buys the farm. If something really bad happens and the server is non-accessible, you can pull the enclosure and connect it directly to any PC via USB and read your data. Makes it ideal for a RAID-5 setup and storing your system backups on it.

    This should be enough info for you to get hunting, good luck.


    This is a generic low power server that you can run Linux or Windows on (I run Win 2003 EE). External enclosure lets you move the array around should something really bad happen, and provides plenty of expandability. I can not say enough about how incredibly pleased I've been with these arrays.
  • 0 Hide
    __Miguel_ , October 23, 2011 5:45 PM
    Quote:
    The Nano's are much stronger then the Atom's, they compete with the e350's. Via got the low power but not too much low power CPU down to an art. Should check out the 1.6Ghz dual core Nano's, their really good.

    The Mediasonic is an external 4 bay enclosure, it's got it's own RAID I/O processor chip, its actual real RAID and doesn't use the host CPU for calculations. That's why I recommend it to people, put drives in, set the mode and connect to your system, real RAID in a box.

    Hmm, perhaps we're talking about different CPUs altogether... I was referring to the one on this motherboard, which seems to be different from what you are talking about (and the only one available in my country, apparently...).

    In any case, an external enclosure with a dedicated RAID controller does take much of the grunt out of the CPU. Still, darn expensive external enclosure (albeit efficient, from what you say), I'm sticking with my E3200 12-bay case... hehehe

    Hmm, we're getting a bit OT here, let's pick this up over PM if we have anything else to add, OK?

    Cheers.

    Miguel
  • 0 Hide
    __Miguel_ , March 24, 2012 7:40 AM
    vivivavaI'm still on the fence, because it seems a USBoE implementation, which would mean you'd be limited to 35MBps speeds... Not great...

    It's most likely a USBoE implementation. For that price, it's highly unlikely we're talking about anything but USBoE.

    Which is not too bad, remember most entry-level 1-port Gigabit NASes have incredibly slow speeds. 35MBps over USBoE would be quite nice, actually, you'd be limited by the interface only.