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Review: Thecus N5200 Pro - NAS with an injection of iSCSI

by Steve Kerrison on 8 August 2007, 09:08

Tags: N5200 Pro, Thecus (4978.TWO)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qajgs

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When you've got a good product, one of the wisest things you can do is make it even better. It's a simple fact and one that most companies are - we'd hope - quite aware of.

We see it across the spectrum of technology products. "This hard disk is good, let's slap some more cache in it and make it a bit quicker". "This graphics card is good, let's sell a higher-clocked version".

Sometimes, bumping up the speed a little, or adding a couple more features, edges the product out in front of the competition. Other times, however, the additions create a magic formula that takes a product from "nice" all the way up to "wow".

Thecus has recently applied the "make it better" methodology to its five-disk N5200 NAS device. It's taken the original and sped it up, added some features and come up with a cunning name, the N5200 Pro.

Question is, has Thecus added the extra "wow"? We've got five letters for you, dear readers: i-S-C-S-I.

iWhatNow?

Those of you nerdy enough will be familiar with the Small Computer Serial Interface - SCSI. For those of you who aren't, here's a brief rundown: SCSI rocks your face off. Up to speed? Great.

Perhaps we should delve a little deeper, though, and explain why it rocketh so.

SCSI spans the decades. It was standardised in 1986 and is based upon an interface that was introduced in 1979. That's nearly 30 years of heritage.

And that pedigree has lead to SCSI assuming - and indeed maintaining - position as one of the fastest disk interfaces you can deal with. You know the 10,000rpm WD Raptor? You could get your hands on 15,000rpm SCSI drives long before that surfaced.

We'll skip over the evolutionary process of SCSI somewhat, and head straight for iSCSI. Don't be fooled by its seemingly "me-too" Web 2.0-ish name. It's not going to speed up your iPod, no sir.

What it actually does, is implement SCSI-3 over TCP/IP networking. The aim is to give the features and feel of having a SCSI disk-array inside your server/workstation, when, in reality, the drives are sat on the end of a network cable somewhere.

Now that really is something.