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Video Producer Struggles for Fast SATA

Walter Biscardi Jr., owner of Biscardi Creative Media, was fed up. Moving his digital media production company from Fibre Channel to SATA-based arrays for processing video had led to a number of alarming disk failures.

"The drives would eject themselves on the desktop," Biscardi recalls. "We were getting messages that our media had suddently gone offline. When you're working with video, especially broadcast work, you just can't have that happen."

Luckily, Biscardi's team, which uses Apple applications to process digital video for TV, the Web, film, and integrated media for companies such as the Food Network and PBS, had backed up their data regularly on locally attached Mac devices. But the prospect of possibly losing information got Biscardi moving. Two months after adopting SATA, he switched to another supplier, which brought in its own integrated systems based on 1-Tbyte SAS/SATA II drives. Today, the Biscardi team is able to hit write speeds of 488 Mbytes/second and read speeds of 429 Mbytes/second -- measurements taken using a 4-Gbyte file and 1920x1080 10-bit RGB (red, green, blue) frames.

It's worth looking at how Biscardi got there. While it's clear that broadcasting and video producers need specially designed storage systems, the spread of multimedia makes stories like Biscardi's relevant to other users seeking faster arrays.

Biscardi's quest for faster SATA began when his Fibre Channel video array supplier, Medea Corp., was bought by Avid Technology Inc. in January 2006. "I was concerned that Avid would take over Medea's products and we'd be tied to Avid's hardware," Biscardi says. "Avid is known for doing that."

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