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The race to build a better CD-Rom server continues.

One of the races in the CD industry is the race to build a better server. Users want newer servers that are better and faster; machines that can serve more users more efficiently. Here are a few new announcements that crossed our desks recently.

Procom Servers Have 8x Drives

Procom Technology, Inc. has unveiled two new CD-ROM servers with eight-speed drives. The servers, part of Procom's CD Tower-Rax product line of rack-enclosed CD-ROM servers, contain up to 56 caddy- or tray-based CD-ROM drives, allowing an organization to make accessible up to 36.4 GB (gigabytes) of CD-ROM-based data over a network.

With these new 8x drives, the servers deliver a sustained data transfer rate of 1,200 KB/sec. (kilobytes per second) and an average seek time of 115 ms (milliseconds), according to Procom.

"We are the only company currently offering an eight-speed CD-ROM tower," said Page Tagizad, Procom product manager.

Procom custom-builds its CD Tower-Rex servers, offering its customers a variety of options:

* 47- or 77-inch rack enclosures

* One to eight racks of seven drives each

* 100 or 166 MHz Pentium CPUs

* 4-128 MB of SIMMs (single in-line memory modules)

* Eight different preinstalled CD-ROM management software packages

The units come with a smart board that maps each seven-drive rack to one SCSI ID for conserving available IDs, two SCSI host adapters, a VGA monitor, keyboard, mouse, hard drive, and network interface card. A front door secures the drives and protects them from dust. Customers may also include additional power supplies, hot-swappable drives, and SCSI host adapters.

In addition, Procom now offers an entire line of CD arrays and servers with eight-speed drives, including ones with seven-, 14-, and 21-drive enclosures.

Procom backs these new products with a one-year warranty and toll-free technical support.

Available immediately through resellers, the caddy-based CD Tower-Rex sells for a street price of $56,928 and the tray-based CD Tower-Rex sells for $56,008 when fully loaded with 56 eight-speed CD-ROM drives.

Source: Procom, Irvine, CA, 800/800-8600, ext. 414; http://www.procom.com.

Ten X Adds Features, Holds Prices

Ten X Technology has enhanced the performance and capabilities of its network CD family, called TenXpert, without raising prices. The TenXpert-1, an entry-level server with a 1 GB hard disk cache, now supports 42 CDs, up from an original 14. The midrange server, TenXpert-4, expands its hard disk cache from 1 to 2 GB, increases CD support from 42 to 168 discs, and adds support for writing CDs over the network to a CD-Recordable (CD-R) drive. At the high end, the TenXpert-8 increases its hard disk cache from 2 to 4 GB, handles 250 CDs, and supports NSM jukeboxes, including the Mercury 31, with its internal CD-R drive.

The TenXpert network CD-ROM server was designed to quickly and easily integrate CD-ROMs into an Ethernet network environment. Clients running DOS, Win 3.1, Win 95, Win NT, OS/2, Novell's client utilities, and UNIX's NFS can simultaneously read from and write to a CD over the network.

As a dedicated network CD-ROM server, the TenXpert functions without adding any software to existing servers or clients. Installation is accomplished without network downtime, and the TenXpert does not rely upon the primary file server's resources, the company says.

With the TenXpert, CDs housed in towers, minichangers, and jukeboxes are made to appear as ordinary directories or volumes. Access is the same as any other network directory or volume. Any changes to the data structure (adding or removing CDs for example) is automatically handled by the TenXpert. Manually mounting and unmounting CDs is not necessary.

Network clients may browse CD directories from the dedicated disk cache faster than they could from the CD itself. In addition, data that is most often, and most recently, accessed resides in the cache. This unique disk cache often allows the TenXpert to disseminate CD data as quickly as a standard magnetic-disk file server, Ten X claims.

TenXpert servers have a list price beginning at $2,995.

Source: Ten X Technology, Inc., Austin, TX, 800/922-9050, or 512/918-9182; http://www.tenx.com.

OAI's 16-Drive Server Hot Swaps

Optical Access International, Inc. (OAI) has announced the immediate availability of the CD/Maxtet 1600, a CD-ROM server system. The CD/Maxtet 1600 is an industry first: It's the first CD-ROM server to provide both 16 CD drives and full hot swap support utilizing OAI's SafeSwap technology. With SafeSwap, a CD-ROM server can achieve maximum reliability because CD-ROM drives can be replaced while the server remains online. This industry-first SafeSwap feature provides a fault-tolerant solution, delivering the highest level of CD server performance, OAI claims.

The CD/Maxtet 1600 server supports a wide variety of local and wide area networks. Users on DOS, Windows, Windows NT, UNIX, OS/2, and Macintosh desktops can directly access the CD-ROM server on networks from Novell, Microsoft, IBM, Banyan, and Apple.

Each CD/Maxtet 1600 has 16 CD drives and two "intelligent" RISC-based sCSI processors, the SCSIplex (patent pending), which allows eight CD drives to utilize only one SCSI address providing for maximum storage expansion. This eight-to-one SCSI ID capability is a feature that is pioneered by OAI.

Key features of the CD/Maxtet 1600 include:

* 16 CD-ROM drives in a single cabinet

* Hot swapable, fault-tolerant CD-ROM drives

* Superior online capacity because of

8:1 SCSI ID utilization

* Over 10 GB of online information and data

OAI's SCSIplex, a RISC-based SCSI-II processor, solves the problems associated with connecting large numbers of SCSI drives together. Physical limitations concerning the number of units, signal degradation, and other problems are all eliminated, OAI says.

One SCSIplex enables eight SCSI devices under a single SCSI ID. This provides 56 SCSI devices per SCSI bus.

SafeSwap technology is a capability for hot swapping CD-ROM drives in CD server and tower systems. Hot swapping of defective drives is an important feature in CD-ROM servers because the server can be kept online and network integrity maintained. SafeSwap technology is delivered exclusively with OAI's SCSIplex.

SafeSwap is built into the SCSIplex's firmware that controls bus traffic during a hot swap. It reduces the risk of a server lock-up during swapping procedures. Without the true hot swap capability that SafeSwap provides, swapping a CD-ROM drive can cause server crashes or tie-ups, requiring a reboot. Before SafeSwap, there was no way to safely exchange a CD-ROM drive. Now CD-ROM drives can be easily replaced, eliminating server downtime and adding fault-tolerance, according to OAI.

Each CD/Maxtet 1600 is configured, diagnosed, and managed from an easy-to-use control panel. The control panel provides immediate feedback through its backlit alphanumeric display and key pad and is used to identify which drives are active, to set the SCSI address, to initiate the hot-swapping of drives, and to regulate the active termination of the unit. The control panel simplifies administration of the server--the system does not need to be taken apart for CD-ROM drive installation and maintenance.

A CD/Maxtet 1600 CD-ROM server with 4x drives is priced at $8,495, while a CD/Maxtet 1600 with 8x drives is priced at $10,895.

Source: Optical Access International, Woburn, MA, 617/937-3910; http:// www.oai.com.
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Date:Sep 1, 1996
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