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Spinnaker's NAS Hauls Ass

Less than six months after launching its first product, Spinnaker Networks Inc. is gearing up to set an even faster NAS box loose on the market next week -- in fact, the startup claims that its new SpinServer 4100 is now the fastest NAS server in the world (see Spinnaker Shoves Off).

The startup says it has yet to complete the Standard Performance Evaluation Corp. (SPEC) benchmark on the 4100, but it claims the test will show a 50 percent improvement over its existing SpinServer 3300, as well as 40 percent better performance than Network Appliance Inc.'s (Nasdaq: NTAP) fastest NAS server, the FAS960 filer. The company also claims its performance easily beats NAS products from other competitors like BlueArc Corp. and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC).

Last October, Spinnaker published SPEC benchmark results showing that its 3300 turned in 23,363 I/O operations per second (IOPS) (see Spinnaker's Cluster Burns Rubber). Now, the company says a single 4100 can achieve 35,000 IOPS, compared with just over 25,000 IOPS for NetApp's FAS960. NetApp did not return calls by press time.

"On that measure, the SpinServer does extremely well," says Arun Taneja, founder of consulting firm Taneja Group. Then again, he adds, the best technology doesn't always win: "If [having the best] products always meant success, we would have a lot of startups doing well."

While Spinnaker has already upgraded its NAS software several times since the launch of the 3300 in October (from version 1.0 through the current 2.1 version), the company says the 4100s performance boost is due to an upgrade of the Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) processor its system runs on. The SpinServer 3300s run on dual 1.26-GHz Pentium 3 processors, while the 4100s run on dual 2.8-GHz Pentium 4s. Aside from the difference in performance, the two server versions are identical, carrying exactly the same feature sets, including NFS and CIFS support, snapshot, restore, and NDMP, Spinnaker says.

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