Integrate Tools

Integrate Tools

RAID controller

For PCs, Parallel ATA remains the most common hard drive I/O connection. However, that’s changing as manufacturers start to roll out models employing Serial ATA (or SATA) connections. SATA-based systems offer higher throughput (up to 150MBs instead of 100MBs), greater scalability, and smaller connectors with thinner cabling (think fewer skinned knuckles when changing drives). Long-time connector card maker Adaptec provides a versatile SATA controller, the four-port 2410SA. Plug this card into a PC to build a full RAID array. More good news: SATA drives cost less than SCSI-connected ones. Adaptec’s built-in data protection and data availability firmware allow quick creation of internal and external storage as well as storage area networks.

Price: $390 Milpitas, Calif. (408) 945-8600; www.adaptec.com

Mobile workstation

Dell developed a laptop for those who want to take a powerful workstation on the road. The Precision Mobile Workstation M60 might be the best argument yet for not even having a standard, under-the-desk workstation. Features include the just released 128MB nVidia Quadro FX Go700 graphics accelerator, a 15.4in. UltraSharp wide-aspect display, and Intel’s latest Pentium M mobile processor, which supports Centrino wireless technology. The M60, one of the first laptops to offer optional 7200RPM hard drives, includes an integrated Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000) controller and a hot-swappable media bay. Meanwhile, the tough new Tri-Metal case helps keep weight down.

Price: Starts at $2,599 Round Rock, Texas (800) 999-3355; www.dell.com

Multiple ports

FireWire is great since it enables simple plug-in connections for camcorders and external hard drives. But if you’ve got too many FireWire plugs chasing after too few ports, ADC’s IEEE 1394a Patch Panel may be the answer. The panel offers 24 ports, with direct-through FireWire connectors on both the front and back of the 1RU device. The panel doesn’t support the newer FireWire 1394b standard, but product manager Jeff Peters said ADC wanted to judge the popularity of this product, and will consider a 1394b version if there’s interest.

Price: $640 Eden Prairie, Minn.; (800) 366-3891; www.adc.com

Accelerator card

At Siggraph, nVidia launched its flagship Quadro FX 3000 card, but the lower-priced Quadro FX 500 shares much of the 3000’s high-speed graphics architecture. Pegged by the company as the “first fully programmable entry-level workstation solution,” the FX 500 offers an astounding 128-bit floating-point pipeline and 32-bit-per-pixel color depth, all of which means access to many more colors within a wider dynamic range. According to nVidia, even when loaded down with full-scene anti-aliasing chores, the card runs up to 60fps for all but the most compute-intensive graphics. Check out the connections too, with both analog and digital (DVI-I) video connectors provided.

Price: $449 Santa Clara, Calif. (408) 486-2000; www.nvidia.com

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