Broadcom Unveils 'Pay As You Grow' RAID Controllers

Broadcom unveiled a new family of SATA RAID controllers that allow small businesses to start out with a low-cost, entry-level model and then expand their capabilities as needed, said Mark Taylor, director of RAID product marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based company.

The BC4410 four-port controller and BC4810 eight-port controller, like most entry-level RAID controllers, support RAID0, RAID1 and RAID10, Taylor said. However, customers can purchase a low-cost software key when they need to upgrade to RAID5 capability, he added.

"For small businesses, RAID 0, 1 and 10 are good enough in most cases," Taylor said. "But if you later need RAID5, you have to replace the card. Or you have to buy the expensive RAID5 card in the first place. When starting with RAID 0, 1 or 10, a four-port controller gives two ports for primary storage and two for mirrored. So RAID5 becomes a more efficient use of hard drives and offers better data integrity."

Under Broadcom's "pay as you go" RAID controller program, end users pay $129 for the 4410 or $205 for the 4810. Then starting this July, when they will be ready for RAID5, they will just pay $180 for the software key, according to Taylor.

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When combined with the cost of the upgrade, such prices are several hundred dollars less than the cost of buying a RAID5 controller, Taylor said. In addition, since the only change when upgrading to RAID5 is in the software, it isn't necessary to power down the server or migrate data, he said.

Solution providers benefit from the new controllers by not having to stock entry-level and high-end RAID controllers, Taylor said. "And if customers need help, VARs can send a less-costly, lower-level technician to help with the implementation, including offloading the data and installing the new software," he said.

Both controllers are expected to ship in July via distributors Bell Microproducts, San Jose, Calif., and D&H Distributing, Harrisburg, Pa.

Taiwan-based Acer hopes to gain some momentum in the United States with the upcoming introduction of an enhanced virtual tape library appliance.

In the next couple of months, Acer plans to upgrade its G520 virtual tape library, which features two Dual Xeon processors, to include DDR2 memory support for improved performance, said Steven Lin, specialist in product management for the company's enterprise product line. And early next year, the G520 is expected to be compatible with Intel's new Pentium D dual-core processors, Lin said.

The G520 uses FalconStor Software IPstore software to virtualize backup data originally targeted at tape storage devices to Fibre Channel arrays.