INTEL IS PUSHING its Atom processor heavily into every conceivable market and the company is doing a big push towards the small business storage market space with its Bandon platform. Some of these NAS devices can do more than just back up your data which should prove to be a neat bonus to smaller companies.
Qnap, Synology and Thecus were all onsite to help back Intel’s message and Qnap was even showing off two-bay NAS devices that are Atom powered. The most basic models will have to make do with Intel’s older mobile Atom N270, but the Bandon platform relies on the newer D410 or D510 Atom models. Qnap had no less than five different models based on the Bandon platform on display, with Synology showing off a couple of models and Thecus showing off a single model. Many of the NAS devices on show used the dual core Atom D510.
The Bandon platform relies on the older Intel ICH9R which has been paired up with the Atom D410 or D510 to offer RAID support, something that the NM10 chipset lacks support for. The downside is that the ICH9R uses just over twice the power of the NM10, but at 4.3W it’s hard to call the ICH9R a power hungry chipset. The upside is of course RAID support, but there are also the benefits of integrated Gigabit Ethernet and more USB 2.0 ports.
The most basic version of the Bandon platform relies on the single core Atom D410 processor and it’s limited to four SATA devices and a pair of PCI Express expansion slots. The higher-end solution uses the dual core Atom D510 and can support an additional two eSATA or alternatively, four additional SATA drives via a port multiplier. There’s also support for an additional four PCI Express lanes for a total of six.
The interesting thing is that these x86 based NAS devices have support for running third party applications on them, so they can function as a lot more than just a NAS for a small business. There are of course limitations as to what you can run on a NAS, but Qnap for example allows you to run WordPress and MySQL on some of its NAS products, which could be handy for a small intranet website, for example. Thecus has a mail server module and another one that allows you to record video from IP cameras directly onto the NAS.
The downside of moving away from ARM based NAS devices to more powerful x86 based solutions is that the price also increases. Some of these new models will set you back in the region of $600 to $700 and the high-end models with six or seven drive bays come in at well over $1,000. This is still cheaper than investing in a server in many cases, although a server generally offers a more powerful CPU. But if storage is the main concern, then these NAS devices could prove to be a viable alternative.S|A
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