Back in March 2010, Intel announced an Atom based platform optimized for storage applications. Using either a D410 or the dual core D510, paired with an Intel 82801IR I/O controller, it was touted by Intel to have been picked up by various NAS vendors such as LaCie, LG, QNAP, Synology and Thecus. We have had the LaCie 5big storage server in our labs for the last few weeks. Aimed at catering to the needs of small and medium businesses for a professional file sharing appliance, the server brings in a wealth of features thanks to the Windows Storage Server 2008 platform on which the NAS runs.

The LaCie 5big storage server runs a dual core Atom D510 at 1.66 GHz with 2 GB of RAM. The Atom processor also handles the RAID management. While the RAID configuration can be changed by the end-user, it ships with the disks in RAID5. Thus, the 5big with 5 1TB hard drives has 3.5 TB of available space for data (after 100 GB is allocated for the OS installation and swap space).

The 5big storage server comes in two capacities, one filled with 1 TB drives and the other filled with 2 TB drives. Dual GbE NICs capable of link aggregation make sure that the performance of the NAS is no slouch. Let us wrap up this section with a brief look at the marketing specs from LaCie:

Unboxing and Setup Impressions
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  • DanNeely - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    On the server management screenshot on page 2, what is the 31MB disk5? Did someone go digging through the junk drawer for the smallest USB drive they could find, or is it something else?
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    That is the USB drive I use to quickly transfer files from one review unit to the other (considering that this setup was isolated from the rest of our network) :)
  • mcnabney - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    $1475 for an available 3.5TB ~ $2.37/GB which is about how much SSDs cost for storage.

    Other options for the same money -

    $100 WHS or Vail
    $100 nice case
    $75 nice PS
    $25 1 GB RAM
    $75 nice mATX MB with lots of SATA ports
    $25 optical drive
    $50 expansion cards for extra SATA ports
    $25 fans and extra cables
    $1000 - Ten 2TB drives
    $1475 total

    So at the very least TRIPLE the storage (if everything is duplicated) and superior access times when using my option.
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    If I personally want 18 TB of storage, I would definitely go with your configuration :) However, the professional storage appliance market is different. People are ready to pay as long as the seller guarantees uptime of the storage. At my workplace (not AnandTech), vendors have turned up at 2 AM on a Sunday night to replace failed drives in our SAN. Of course, to get such response, one needs to purchase some extended maintenance options. However, these options aren't available unless one purchases the original unit from the company.

    That said, LaCie has had a history of catering to the Apple market. So, you know that the likely customers would be graphics design firm which are heavily Apple oriented. (And Apple customers are those who don't mind spending a premium) -- At least, this is my opinion (not what LaCie told me)
  • mcnabney - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    What you are saying makes a lot of sense, but this isn't a big service oriented server vendor like HP or Dell. I checked out LaCie and the box comes with a 1 year parts and service warranty. For an extra $150 you can stretch that out to two years.
    There is no on-site repair option available. If something goes wrong you check the faq online and then call tech support. Support will go through the usual list (is it plugged in, did you turn it on....) before issuing you a RMA number. There is absolutely no guarantee of uptime or anything close to policies designed to keep the data available at all times. I don't know about you, but once that box is populated it is never going back to a service center for 'warranty work'.
    A product like this is going to require someone in the office to be able to setup and troubleshoot a NAS-like product or the IT support vendor that has been used in the past will need to understand it. I just don't see the LaCie brand to do much more than I would expect of NewEgg. For me, I build my own because I support my own. I get the best price and exactly what I want/need. Since we are talking about critical data here I think that only Dell/HP types can really offer one-stop shopping with guaranteed on-site service. Also, don't forget that there is nothing in this box that could even remotely be considered to be server-grade - starting with the footwarmer power supply.
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    I believe LaCie has some sort of on-site maintenance plan too. This is mainly targeted towards people who don't have full time IT staff or lack the technical know-how to build and maintain one themselves.

    LaCie also has a Pro line (12-rack NAS server) which fits the 'server' grade criteria.

    All said, I personally don't think the unit is worth that much money, but there are probably features in Windows Storage Server (available only to OEMs) which some small / medium business owners may be willing to pay for.
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - link

    I found something comparable to it. It costs $25 more and is also made of the same grade of consumer parts.

    It also provides 12TB of storage and includes the footwarmer power supply.

    Also, what is it about these consumer-grade NAS appliances and pokey network speed? I assume it is related to the RAID functionality. Every WHS box I have assembled can saturate gigE with large files and runs at over 60MB/s when backing up (which includes lots of small files).
  • ira176 - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Just change the blue to red....
  • Kaurin - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    If AnandTech did a comparison of this type of commercial solution VS FreeNAS. (Preferably using same hard drives as in the LaCie tested).
  • ganeshts - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Will keep this in mind for a future review.

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