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NAS Reviews

Introduction

Infrant ReadyNAS NV+

At a Glance
Product Infrant ReadyNAS NV+
Summary Update of multi-talented four-drive TeraByte-capacity RAID NAS
Pros • Supports RAID 0,1,5 and "XRAID" automatic RAID system
• Up to four SATA drives
• Gigabit Ethernet with 4K and 8K Jumbo frames supported
• NFS, AFP, Active Directory support
Cons • Still not quiet enough for living room use

At a Glance
Product Infrant ReadyNAS 1100
Summary Update of 1000S with 12" deep chassis
Pros • Supports RAID 0,1,5 and "XRAID" automatic RAID system
• Up to four SATA drives
• Gigabit Ethernet with 4K and 8K Jumbo frames supported
• NFS, AFP, Active Directory support
Cons • No LCD status panel

Infrant continues to evolve its ReadyNAS product line with two new members. The NV+ is a tweak of the NV that we reviewed just about a year ago, while the 1100 is an update of its 1000S, with a redesigned 12" deep chassis (vs. the 1000S' 18"). Both the NV+ and 1100 come bundled with a 5-user license for EMC's Retrospect for Windows and Macintosh client backup software as a sweetener.

All of Infrant's ReadyNASes share a common RAIDiator firmware base, with a feature set that is essentially the same as that described in the NV review. So I'll just point out the differences in the products from their predecessors.

The most visible difference on the NV+ is its LCD panel, which most helpfully displays the NV+' IP address, along with boot and drive status. It's a nice touch, but I didn't find myself using it that often.

Both the NV and NV+ use Infrant's IT3107 Storage processor, have 256 MB of DDR RAM and 64 MB of onboard flash. The 1000S and 1100 use Infrant's IT1004 Storage processor, which Infrant described to me as "not better, just different", have 512 MB of DDR RAM and 64 MB of flash (the 1000S' flash is a Compact Flash card).

ReadyNAS 1100 chassis

Figure 1: ReadyNAS 1100 chassis

In addition to the similarities with the NV+, the 1100 has some differences. It has two 10/100/1000 switched Ethernet ports (for convenience...there is no routing function) and six (!) 1.5" fans instead of the one large one that the NV+ has. But even with that many fans, I was surprised at how quiet the 1100 was, once it settled down after its noisy fan calibration routine.

I should note that the work that Infrant has been doing on the NV+ (and NV) to quiet it down results in a lower noise level for the those products. But, to my ear, the NV+ still would be noticeable in a quiet living-room setting.

The NV+ and 1100 come set to use Infrant's patent-pending Expandable RAID (XRAID) mode, which automatically adjusts RAID level and formatted capacity to match the available drives. If you're old-school, however, there is a procedure involving power cycling and the reset switch that allows you to switch to manual control of RAID level.

More about the 1100

Although it doesn't have redundant power supplies, it does have all its innards (except for the drives and connection backplane) on a module that's easily removable by undoing two screws and lifting two latches. Figure 2 shows an overview of the module and Figure 3 a closer view of the processor board.

ReadyNAS 1100 module
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: ReadyNAS 1100 module

The IT1004 processor is under the heatsink with a 512 MB DDR SODIMM to its right. Over on the left, that looks like a naked USB flash key perched over a Vitesse VSC8210 Single Port 10/100/1000BASE-T PHY (with another next to it for the other Ethernet port). A VIA VT6212 4-port USB 2.0 Host Controller handles the interface for those ports and the Atmel 29LV512 provides 64 KB of flash. I'm not sure what the smaller flash is for, since the main 64 MB of flash is on the USB key.

ReadyNAS 1100 board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: ReadyNAS 1100 board

Hardware documentation for the 1100 is pretty sparse, limited to a single page printed "poster" with no PDF version included on either the supplied CD or downloadable from Infrant's Support page. A few of the hardware niceties are reset buttons on both front and rear panels, Backup button (same function as on the NV and NV+), USB 2.0 port and power switch. The removable drive trays are the same robust design used on the NV and NV+.

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