The Drobo family of products are generally respected among professionals and tech nerds, but the one complaint was that the dynamic storage arrays were too slow. Drobo listened, and now they're answering back with the Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini, two devices designed to handle the most demanding of file transfers.
For the uninitiated, Drobo is a storage controller that isn't unlike a RAID array or home server. But unlike those devices, Drobo doesn't just mirror one drive onto another drive; rather it finds the most efficient ways to mirror data between drives, constantly rearranging and optimising its data backup, but always ensuring that your files are redundant.
The Drobo 5D isn't radically different from previous-generation devices, as it can still accept up to five 3.5-inch drives, and allows you to swap them out on the fly. Although there are a few noticeable additions. First there's USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connectivity, which means that it has the throughput for blazing transfer times. Secondly, Drobo says they've updated the internal guts of the storage controller, so that those new connections aren't lost on hardware that is bottlenecking itself. And finally, an SSD has been added to speed up data access and read times. Drobo says that there will be a 3x-6x performance boost over older models.
The Drobo Mini is an all-new product, designed for the travelling creative professional. The Mini accepts up to 4 2.5-inch drives, and like the Drobo 5D, has Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connections. The portable array has been ruggedised to survive the bumps and knocks generally associated with travel, and also has an SSD for a speed boost. Expect to see the Drobo 5D and Mini in coming months for $US800 and $US600, respectively (and no, that doesn't include actual storage). [Drobo]