Serial ATA (SATA) disk technology has made a major jump recently in the form of "SATA-II" specification drives that run twice as fast as their predecessors—a hypothetical maximum transfer rate of 3 gigabits per second (Gbps). With disk capacities climbing steadily, system builders can now achieve the vaunted heights of terabyte storage (more or less) with just two drives. In this TechBuilder Recipe, I'll take you through the steps of building a compact, self-contained system with a near-terabyte of speedy storage.
Why near-terabyte? Well, as anyone who's been in the business a while knows, hard-drive manufacturers persist in calling every 1,000 bytes a kilobyte, even though a real kilobyte is 1024 bytes. For the sake of an example, imagine a disk maker builds a platter that stores 1 million bytes; the company would no doubt market this product as a 1 MB drive, even though the drive technically falls short of a megabyte by some 24,000 bytes. Back in the real world, this means our "terabyte" configuration actually clocks in at about 930 GB. A whopping 70 GB are lost to marketing!
If you're new to SATA technology, it's enough to know that SATA brings a modest speed boost over SCSI and parallel ATA drives, but with a lot more airflow and ease of installation, due to a drastically reduced cable size. Even better, it's possible to build a competent high-speed system based on SATA-II drives without needing to invest in pricey add-on cards.
Here are the components you'll need for this project, along with specific products I recommend: