Buffalo Terastations push limits of Atom platform

The number of available PCI controllers constrains the number of USB ports on Buffalo Technology's high-end NAS models

Buffalo Technology is bumping up against the limits of Intel's Atom platform with its forthcoming six- and eight-bay Terastation NAS (network attached storage) devices, on show at Cebit this week.

Both models have a quad-core Atom d510 processor running at 1.66GHz, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a serial port for communicating with a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). But the top-of-the-range eight-bay TS-8VH Terastations lack the two USB 3.0 ports found on the six-bay TS-6VH models.

That's because the d510 doesn't support enough PCI controllers to handle the two extra disks and the two USB 3.0 ports, said Buffalo spokesman Jörg Andreas. [CQ]

The company is showing engineering prototypes of both devices in the invitation-only Planet Reseller area of the Cebit tradeshow in Hanover, Germany, this week. They will go on sale in the second quarter, said Andreas, but he would not give an exact launch date.

The new Terastations will come with a full load of either 1GB or 2GB disks. The six-bay model can operate in RAID modes 0, 1, 5, 6, 10,

50 and 51, while the eight-bay model also operates in modes 60 and 61.

The USB ports can be used either to connect a printer -- the Terastations can also act as printer servers -- or additional storage for backup. The Terastations can make data on Ext3 disks connected in this way accessible to Windows clients.

Both models can boot from an external USB device rather than their internal firmware: A physical switch on the back panel selects whether a bootable external drive will be used or not. That allows developers to experiment with different flavors of Linux on the Terastation, and also makes it easier to update firmware. Previously, Terastation owners needed to use a PC running Windows to run the firmware update application, but now they can download the updater to a USB memory stick from computers running Windows, Linux or Mac OS X, and simply plug it into the back of the NAS, said Andreas.

The six-bay Terastation will cost €1,399 (US$1934) with six 1TB disks, or €2,399 with six 2TB disks. The eight-bay model will cost €1,699 with eight 1TB disks, or €2,799 with eight 2TB disks.

Buffalo also showed its new LinkStation Quad, a four-bay NAS for home users or small offices now available in 4TB and 8TB models. It has a 1.6GHz ARM processor from Marvel, one Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB 2.0 ports, one each on front and back. It offers transfer speeds of up to 72MBps from disks with a capacity of up to 8TB. Its other features are now common in home NAS devices: media streaming to DLNA- or UPnP-certified media players, web access from PCs or mobile devices, support for Logitech's Squeezebox and Apple's Time Machine backup software, built-in printer and ftp servers, and BitTorrent client software.

The LinkStation Quad is now available, costing €489 for the 4TB model, and €799 for the 8TB model.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Topics: cebit, network-attached storage, storage, Buffalo Technology, Personal storage peripherals
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