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Iomega's REV Marks Leap Forward For External Drives

System Load: Critical

Without any data compression, the CPU load for our Pentium 4 with 2.2 GHz under full capacity was about 40%. Merely selecting the low compression level takes up 80% of available processor time from our test system. Nor does this amount change much at maximum compression.

A weakness crops up here in the REV drive: Compared to many streamer solutions, Iomega offers no type of hardware compression for the REV. As a result, the processor load is very high when copying large amounts of data onto the REV (by the way, the load is a bit less when playing back data). In Iomega's defense, we should add that a high-performance USB 2.0 interface eats up a good third of available processor time.

This can become problematic when backing up data onto productive systems that are already under enormous workloads. We can say from experience that the SCSI variant (whose launch is not long coming) does not fall below 30%-40% of the processor load. For example, a Web server that is supposed to keep a heavily frequented forum running, complete with a voluminous database, will presumably be able to handle only a small fraction of incoming queries after beginning a gigabyte-sized backup.

As far as an alternative goes, there is the possibility of a backup server that has "time for backup tasks". Yet the price advantage of the REV compared to other backup solutions then becomes marginal. Iomega has thus made the right decision by positioning the REV as a replacement for many streamer technologies.