Storage array maker Drobo has announced two new direct-attached devices, the Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini, which are aimed primarily at creative professionals (such as photo and video editors) but also home users and small businesses. The 5D is a 5-bay successor to last year's Drobo S, while the Mini is a brand-new portable 4-bay array designed for creative pros who need access to large amounts of local storage in the field.
Like all Drobo arrays, the 5D and Mini are based on the company's BeyondRAID technology, which allows you to mix and match hard drives of different capacities and spin speeds, automatically selecting the appropriate RAID level (1, 5, 6) to balance capacity and data protection. Data is reconfigured on the fly as you hot-swap a failed drive or add a new one, and dual-disk redundancy (RAID 6) is also supported along with thin provisioning (Smart Volumes). Management is via a Dashboard utility that uses a 'traffic-light' metaphor (also echoed by LEDs on the devices) to indicate disk health.
These new 'prosumer' drives inherit several features introduced last year with the enterprise-level 12-bay B1200i: support for SSDs and Data-Aware Tiering, which automatically moves the most frequently accessed data to the faster SSD media. Both products not only accept SSDs in their drive bays, but also include an mSATA slot, allowing you to give a solid-state performance boost to a hard-drive-based array. Battery-backed caches in both products also allow data to be written to permanent storage in the event of a power failure.
The 4-bay Drobo Mini measures 18.7cm wide by 18cm deep by 4.5cm high and weighs 1kg without drives (about 1.5kg with drives); at the back there are two Thunderbolt ports and a USB 3.0 port
In addition to these BeyondRAID enhancements, the Drobo 5D and Mini offer new connectivity options, in the shape of a pair of Thunderbolt ports (to support daisychaining) and a USB 3.0 port.
The underside of the Drobo Mini, showing the mSATA slot
The 5D accepts up to five 3.5in. SATA (I, II, III) drives and one mSATA card, giving a total capacity of up to 16TB. The Mini accommodates up to four 2.5in. SATA (I, II, III) drives in its 'carrierless' bays, and one mSATA card. USB and Thunderbolt cables are supplied, and the Mini comes with a carrying case.
The 5-bay Drobo 5D is expected to cost around £650 (inc. VAT; £542 ex. VAT), while the 4-bay Drobo Mini should come in at £549 (inc. VAT; £457 ex. VAT). Availability is expected in early August.