Hard Drives Instead of Tapes? 70 TB Backup RAID at the University of Tübingen

Spaghetti, Anyone? Time For Serial ATA

Above, you'll see a rear view of a node with all its plug-in boards. With all the IDE cables, the cabinet looks like it's been stuffed with spaghetti. Of course, Dr. Koch chose to use round cables to make it as easy as possible to connect the drives and to keep airflow as free as it could be.

Still, there's nothing Dr. Koch and Dr. Dilling, the director of the computer center at the University of Tübingen, want more than to see serial ATA drives and multi-channel controllers come to market soon. Working with these compact cables is a piece of cake; plus, you can have an entire meter instead of only 45 cm.

The Systems: Dual Athlon MP 1500+

The Tyan motherboards (S2460) offer a total of four 64-bit PCI slots - three for the 3Ware controllers and one for the active Gigabit Ethernet card. The board supports the Athlon MP with a 266 MHz FSB clock. Dr. Koch decided to install CPUs with a low clock speed (Athlon MP 1500+ at 1.33 GHz) because they're fast enough and don't get too hot. The reason Dr. Koch preferred AMD to Intel, the darling of the server segment, was the fact that the Athlon processor has much shorter pipelines than the Pentium 4. That makes Athlons more efficient at handling the packet switching of the 3Ware controllers and TCP packaging for transmitting data over the network.

To ensure service reliability, all fans in the backup system are exchanged every two and a half years, just in case. To ventilate the 19" racks, a large cooling fan is installed in the upper part of the rack cabinet, in addition to all the smaller fans directly behind the hard drives. The results are impressive: despite having so many fans, the five 19" cabinets are still quiet enough to allow you to work on them without being deafened.