Accessories, Reviews

Hands-on with the CalDigit T4 RAID

December 1, 2014
The stylish, speedy, and high-capacity CalDigit T4 RAID
The stylish, speedy, and high-capacity CalDigit T4 RAID

The stylish, speedy, and high-capacity CalDigit T4 RAID

Do you have a need for speed? A need for speedy and vast quantities of storage? Then you’ll probably want to take a look at the CalDigit T4 RAID, a fast Thunderbolt 2 RAID array that is designed for those who work with big files on a regular basis.

Pricing

  • 4TB ($899)
  • 8TB ($1,199)
  • 12TB ($1,399)
  • 16TB ($1,699)
  • 20 TB ($1,999)
  • 4TB SSD ($3,299)

Specifications

  • Weight: 7.2 lb. (3.3 Kg) with 4 SSD installed, 12.5 lb. (5.65 Kg) with 4 HDD installed
  • Dimensions: 5.8 x 5.3 x 9.5 inches (148 x 135 x 242 mm)
  • Interface: Two Thunderbolt 2 ports with transfer rates up to 20 GB/s
  • RAID: Supports RAID 0,1,5 and JBOD, auto disk failure detection, hot swappable disks

Design

The T4 is quite small for a 4-disk RAID array. It’s actually smaller than the 4-bay Drobo, which comes equipped only with USB 3.0. Rather than a plastic case as with many 4-disk arrays, the T4 is made of aluminum. The drives can be either SSDs or HDDs and are housed in proprietary drive modules. Don’t let the word proprietary throw you off; CalDigit has priced these so it’s not too much of a hit to your wallet — 1TB ($129), 2TB ($179), 3TB ($229), 4TB ($299), 5TB ($399), and a 1TB SSD ($799). The drive modules can be locked into place with a set of included keys, and there’s a Kensington lock slot on the back.

There are small blue LEDs on the front of the array to let you know that the device is busy, and they’re useful without being distracting. The T4 is extremely quiet, even with a built-in fan to keep all of the drives cool. Power is supplied by an external power brick.

Functionality/Benchmarks

The T4 is a no-brainer to set up. Plug a Thunderbolt cable into  your Mac, then plug the other end into one of the two Thunderbolt 2 ports on the back of the T4. Plus in the AC adapter, then plug the power supply cable into the T4. Turn on the T4 with a press of the front-mounted power button, and it comes right up.

The T4 can be set up as RAID 0, 1,5 or as a JBOD (“just a bunch of disk”) array. For consistency with earlier benchmarks, the device was set up in RAID 0 although it comes set up as RAID 5 out of the box. Benchmarking was done with Intech’s SpeedTools QuickBench 4.0.6 app, and the computer used for testing was a MacBook Pro with Retina display with two Thunderbolt 2 ports.

The test ran for 25 cycles, enough to get a good sample of drive throughput without taking too long. The complete test performs sequential and random read/write tests with file sizes from a tiny 4K up to 100 MB in size. Here are the test results for a RAID 0 stripe set, compared with a CalDigit T3 using a Thunderbolt connection:

  • Sequential Read: 324.063 MB/Sec (313.917 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Sequential Write: 303.615 MB/Sec (279.731 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Random Read: 92.613 MB/Sec (69.402 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Random Write: 74.876 MB/Sec (62.263 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Large Read: 906.819 MB/Sec (538.599 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Large Write: 1045.913 MB/Sec (763.516 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Extended Read: 739.724 MB/Sec (552.096 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)
  • Extended Write: 671.629 MB/Sec (553.392 MB/Sec for CalDigit T3 connected via Thunderbolt)

Yep, the T4 is fast — previous testing proved the T3 to be one of the fastest drive arrays we’ve seen, and the T4’s Thunderbolt 2 connectivity really helped it to blast right by the T3. The small file speeds (the first four test results) are faster than those seen with the T3, but not significantly faster. It’s when you look at large file sizes that the T4 really shines. The large read test, for example, was 68% faster than the T3. The average large write test result was 1045.9 MB/sec, absolutely the fastest RAID array we’ve seen to date.

These results mean that the T4 is designed for those who do a lot of video and/or photographic work. Of course, creative professionals are the usual target market for RAID arrays, but they’ll find the T4 to be quite reasonably priced compared to other devices on the market. Using a CalDigit T4 with something like a Mac Pro or MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 2 will be a wonderful solution for fast mass storage.

 

Apple Pay

Holiday shopping with Eddy Cue and Apple Pay

November 18, 2014
Eddy Cue and KTLA's Rich DeMuro get breakfast at Panera Bread in Santa Monica, CA

For your viewing pleasure, it’s Apple VP of internet software and services Eddy Cue, going shopping with KTLA’s Rich DeMuro. It’s a nice little video that really answers a lot of questions for those who are confused about Apple Pay.

Accessories, Reviews

Grovemade’s Maple iPhone case: Rockin’ the hardwood

April 13, 2014
Grovemade's new Maple Case for iPhone 5/5s provides a completely unique case to each and every customer (photo courtesy of Grovemade).
Grovemade's new Maple Case for iPhone 5/5s provides a completely unique case to each and every customer (photo courtesy of Grovemade).

Grovemade’s new Maple Case for iPhone 5/5s provides a completely unique case to each and every customer (photo courtesy of Grovemade).

Tired of boring iPhone cases? Want something really different? Grovemade has released the $99 Maple Case for iPhone 5/5s, and it’s gorgeous and well-made.

Milled on a CNC router, the case is smooth and beautiful, with the touch of hardwood. The inside of the case made of a polycarbonate that fits the iPhone 5/5s like a glove, making it easy to install your smartphone. The bottom 1-1/2 inches of the case slide off to remove the phone, and there are precision drilled holes over the iPhone’s speaker grill. The Lightning and headphone ports each have their own nicely milled holes; there are openings for the camera, volume switches, and mute/orientation lock; and a pass-through button provides access to the power switch.

Any downside? Well, that $99 price tag is a bit hard to swallow, but know that you are getting a literally one of a kind case when you buy one of these. A Maple case with a clear polyurethane finish would be nice as well — the light oil and wax blend finish might not be able to hold up as well as polyurethane would.

Apple, News

Apple buys small hydro plant near Oregon data center

April 13, 2014
One of Apple's two 338,000 square foot data center buildings in Prineville, Oregon. 

Photo by Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian (2013)
One of Apple's two 338,000 square foot data center buildings in Prineville, Oregon.  Photo by Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian (2013)

One of Apple’s two 338,000 square foot data center buildings in Prineville, Oregon.
Photo by Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian (2013)

Apple is getting a reputation for using renewable clean energy at its data centers, and The Oregonian newspaper reported today that the company has acquired a hydroelectric project about 20 miles away from its Prineville, Ore. facility.

The small plant will  generate 3 to 5 megawatts of power, which is enough to power from 2,000 to 3,500 homes, but it’s just a fraction of the total power that Apple will require at the data center.

Construction of the Prineville plant started in October, 2012, with the company planning to build two 338,000 buildings that will house the thousands of servers and associated storage required to handle the millions of customers of the company’s services.