I have been searching Google up and down just to find some benchmark values for the Drobo and they have been sparse to non existent. Those numbers that exist are either the unverified numbers from Data Robotics 30-40MB/s or those non scientific stopwatch tests without mentioning further setup specs. Altogether this is pretty disappointing.
I already own a Drobo 2nd gen connected via Firewire 800 and today (05/31/2010) I have ordered a Drobo FS which I thoroughly will put through its paces. I will post all specs for my setup as well as the benchmark I am using so that everyone can compare his/her results.
While the BeyondRAID technology always was one of the main points to get a Drobo, the performance was far from stellar. The Drobo FS promises to have improvements for this issue. I get around 11-14 MB/s from my Drobo 2nd gen via FW 800 and I seriously hope that the numbers from Data Robotics for the Drobo FS hold true.
Update: If you can enable jumbo frames you get a better performance. Unfortunately Apple failed with the latest iMac Core i7 and Core i5 (late 2009) in not having jumbo frame support!
Update 2 (01/27/2011): As I stated in the beginning of the article I didn’t want to do non scientific stopwatch tests, because these wouldn’t be comparable. But here are some actual stopwatch results. My Drobo FS is now at 68% capacity (1.77 TB, 3x 1 TB disks), I’m running Drobo FS firmware 1.1.1 [7.12.3468] and my OS X version is 10.6.6. I’ve copied a 4.07 GB disk image to my Drobo FS, it takes 150 seconds to complete that’s an average transfer rate of 27.78 MB/s in write speed. If I copy this file from my Drobo FS to my iMac it completes in 103 seconds giving me an average read speed of 40.46 MB/sec.
For those of you who just want the results, here is a chart with the results.
Read on for more details:
The release of the latest iMac line has also spawned a lot of discussions about the necessity of multi-core processors namely quad-core systems. Synthetic benchmarks show the improvements in processor technology but more often than not this does not translate into real world advantages. At least that is what most comments sum it up to. But multi-core especially quad-core systems make sense not just for video and 3D-applications. There is good reason to opt for quad-core instead of dual-core systems.
Many applications are not designed to thread their tasks enough to really saturate the resources that modern multi-core systems offer. So software developers are encouraged to make use of technologies like Grand Central which takes a lot of work out of the multi-core software design process.
The second argument, we are at a point in time where multi-core systems have become a standard. So it makes much more sense for developers to take their time to re-engineer their software to make use of this extra power. The advantage is not always that things go faster but also that applications become more responsive while working on tasks in the background. This change will accelerate rapidly now that multi-core support in development tools and operating systems is broadly available.