CeBIT 2008: NAS and SAS Products from Promise

On the one hand Promise is showing a few new products at CeBIT. On the other, it is also trying to educate its audience. The company claims even large retailers don’t know enough about the possibilities of SAS (Serial Attached SCSI).

New SAS controllers from Promise: The SuperTrak EX8600 line offers two multi lane SAS ports and requires a PCI Express x8 slot.

To remedy this situation, Promise is handing out a compact informational brochure. Although there is a certain element of self-motivated interests at work here, we must say that it represents an excellent introduction into the field. It covers SAS-connectors for internal and external use, connectivity options including backplanes and expanders, enclosures and battery backup units (BBUs), Performance, and RAID functionality. Possible candidates for this type of duty are the new SAS-models SuperTrak EX8650, EX8654 and EX8658. The EX8650 offers two internal Mini-SAS connectors that can each handle four drives. The 8654 comes with one internal and one external connector, while the 8658 finally sports two external multi-lane connections. Thanks to their use of expanders, each of these models can manage up to 256 models. They use a dedicated I/ processor with up to 512 MB of cache memory.

Doesn’t leave many wishes unfulfilled: S2300N NAS box with a P2P client, print server, DLNA compatibility, iTunes server, UPS support, and a user-friendly confuguration interface.

The SmartStor NS2300N NAS box, which can house up to two S-ATA drives, is another interesting product. The box communicates using a Gigabit Ethernet interface. A USB 2.0 port lets users expand the storage capacity even further by attaching an external hard drive. Alternatively, the NAS-box can double as a print server. The internal hard drives can be configured as a RAID 0 or RAID 1 array. However, JBOD ("Just a Bunch of Disks"), i.e. combining several drives into one larger logical drive, is not supported by Promise.

A One-Touch-Button allows the user to start a pre-defined backup task. Promise also thought to include some feature for power users, as the unit includes an iTunes compatible server, a DLNA server, an eDonkey download client, and a user-friendly web-based management interface called SmartNavi. Beyond that, the device also supports uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and can automatically shut itself down when the UPS battery is low.

Promise quotes a power consumption of 39W when the device is equipped with two 250 GB hard drives. While that’s not bad, it’s also not especially frugal. We were also a bit put off by the fell of the prototype shown at CeBIT, which used seemingly cheap hard plastic.

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