Emerging Tech

Drobo B800i SAN storage device teardown: Proprietary motherboard with Marvell processor

The Data Robotics Drobo B800i iSCSI SAN storage device is easy to work on, but the manufacturer will likely be your only source for the proprietary hardware.

The Data Robotics Drobo B800i is an 8-bay, iSCSI SAN storage device that's designed for small and medium business environments. TechRepublic's Mark Kaelin reviewed the B800i back in June, and I couldn't wait to crack it open.

As of this writing, the B800i costs $3,500 (US) without drives. The unit weighs just over 16 lbs. (without drives) and measures 12.17" (W) x 5.46" (H) x 14.10" (D).

The B800i has eight bays, which support 3.5" SATA I / SATA II drives. It can handle up to 24TB of raw storage, and Drobo's BeyondRAID technology lets you combine drives of different capacities. It has two 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 port for management.

The B800i was a snap to crack open, and working on it was similar to working on a standard desktop or tower computer. But the proprietary internal hardware, such as the motherboard and drive interface board, make Data Robotics the primary source for replacement parts. Provided you can get the hardware, IT pros with previous hardware repair experience should be able to work on this box.

Cracking Open observations

  • Easy-to-open case: After cracking open tablets for the past few weeks, I was glad to dissect something a bit bigger. After removing the external case screws, the B800i's outer cover slid right off.
  • Standard screws: Data Robotics used standard Phillips screws both inside and outside the B800i. You won't need special tools to work on this box.
  • Parts are easy to replace (if you can get them): As previously noted, the many of the components inside the B800i are proprietary, specifically the motherboard and driver interface card. Although repairing the unit shouldn't be a challenge for IT pros with basic hardware repair skills, you'll need to get replacement parts directly from Data Robotics.

Internal hardware

Our Drobo B800i test unit had the following hardware components:

Update 12/19/2011: This post originally appeared in our TR Dojo blog.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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