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Ci Design's iStorage Pro iT8MIS 8 bay Mini SAS JBOD System

Digital and HD video storage array By Kevin McAuliffe

These days, more and more HD work is being taken away from the big post production facilities, and being done out of people's home office's (I would know, as that is what I am doing). The only thing that gets to be tricky is picking the right equipment to do the job that you need to do. As a tech writer, I am lucky to have companies approach me to look at their products, and after looking at a competitor's product, I was approached by Ci Design to look at their iStorage Pro Mini SAS JBOD hard drive array. Since I'm always on the lookout for the best product for what I need to get done, I jumped at the chance. Here's how it turned out.

What you get
The first thing that I want to mention before we roll into this section is that this unit is supported for Mac, Windows and Linux. Also, the first thing I noticed when the unit arrived is that the box is very (very) sturdy, so you don't have to worry about it getting damaged in delivery. The drives are also packed separately on the side of the array, so you don't need to worry about them taking a jolt inside the unit if the box is dropped. What you get inside the box is:

1x 8 bay Tower Storage enclosure
1x A/C Power Cable
1x Accessories Box
1x User Guide
8x removable disk drive modules

Now something else to keep in mind is that I'm looking at the 4TB setup. The unit in a 4, 6, 8 or 16TB configuration.  Now, what is not included is RAID Controller Card, MiniSAS cables (of which you need two) or hard drives. Ci Design has qualified Controller Cards from Areca, ATTO and Highpoint, so make sure you check their website for the specific model number you need. Also, as far as hard drives go, having them not included can be a good thing, as you can configure the system exactly how you like.

I am setting this up and testing it on an older G5 Quad Core with 4GB RAM, so if you have a newer Mac Pro tower, you will have no problems. The longest part of the entire process was installing the Controller Card into the G5, as the hard drives themselves took about five minutes to put in. In total, you're looking at about fifteen minutes to be ready to power everything up. Now, the next part of the process is you need to install the RAID controller card, but you will get all the drivers from the company you purchased it from. I'm using an ExpressSAS R380 controller card from ATTO (MSRP of $1095), and once you have the card installed and the computer turned on, you can go to your System Profiler to make sure the computer sees the card before you start the installation process.

Then you install the ATTO Configuration Tool, flash the card and you will be all set to go.

The drive array is set-up as Raid 5, so my media is protected against a single drive failure. This process will take you about ten minutes, and then you will be ready to edit!

Putting it through its paces
In situations like this, I don't start small and work my way from there. I just jump right in and give the unit everything I have available to me. In this case it was Uncompressed 10-bit 1080i HD footage (go big, or go home, right?). The iStorage Pro iT8MIS took it like a pro. No dropped frames, and no problems on digitizing, and no problems on playback. At that point I started putting all kinds of media on the drive ranging from HDV back up to 10-bit Uncompressed 1080i HD, and the unit worked perfectly. In the couple of weeks that I have had it, I have had no problems, and I have to say, I was very, very happy with what I saw. That being said, there was one issue I had with the iStorage Pro iT8MIS, and that was that according to the literature on the unit, one of the key features was a "Low Noise" cooling fan. Unfortunately, I found it to be a little loud for my liking, but, I do understand that these units need to keep the drives cool for my media's sake, and since I edit with headphones on, it wasn't a problem for me, and wouldn't stop me from purchasing one.

Value for your dollar
Now, first, you need to keep in mind that when purchasing a disk array like this one, you will always have to purchase the Raid Controller separately, and since you have a choice of which one you want to use (although I am always partial to ATTO), the price will always vary, so I'm not going to take that into consideration when looking at the unit. Also, the drives you will need to purchase separately as well, so the price, again, will vary. I thought that a unit like this would price somewhere in the range of about $1500 US, but needless to say, I was a little bit off. The MSRP of the unit is a very reasonable $695 US, which for the unit itself is a very good deal. Another minor gripe is that there are other companies out there that supply a RAID Controller Card with their units, as for newcomers, it can be a little tricky picking what is just right for what you need to do.

- Uncompressed 10-bit HD for under $3000 for an 8 TB system (approx)
- Good, sturdy packaging for delivery
- Unit worked exactly as expected with no issues

- Fan was a little loud for my liking
- I have to send it back! (LOL)

Final Say: Performance and price make it worth checking out if you are looking to expand your storage

In the end, the unit worked perfectly, and I had no problems doing any HD work with it, so if you are working in HD, and want a good option for a drive enclosure, definitely check out the iT8MIS from iStoragePro. You won't be disappointed.

Ci Design's iStorage Pro iT8MIS 8 bay Mini SAS JBOD System


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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:Ci Design ,SAS JBOD , storage, RAID, digital video storage system, HD storage system

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