UBM Tech
UBM Tech

Teardown: Disposable 1-Tbyte NAS drives: How'd that happen?

-May 07, 2013

Here's a tip: Don't start cleaning the area around your external network-attached storage (NAS) drive when it's backing up. Odds are that you're going to smack it. I did, and so a perfectly functioning 1-Tbyte drive, with my whole life stored on it, almost became a perfectly functioning doorstop.

The NAS drive in question is a 1-Tbyte Western Digital My Book World Edition, which I used for backing up multiple computers and for music streaming using a Sonos audio network via the shared router. While the device itself was dead as a doorstop, it was not a problem to recover the data from my other external hard drive and back it up to the shiny new 3-Tbyte drive.

I realized when holding it just how nuts it was that a little over 20 years ago I was excited by a 40-Mbyte hard-drive, and now here I was holding a 1-Tbyte drive that I just replaced with a 3-Tbyte drive for a scant $170. How did that happen? And why do we take it so much for granted? I had to go inside.

However, given the vagaries of home storage and the ease-of-use of cloud services, I did some quick research and chose CrashPlan as a back-up cloud service. Let me know if you've done likewise and what your experience has been.

1. Taking the cover off exposed the plastic light pipe that was the source of that rather cool, Kit-like (Any Knight Rider fans out there?) up-down light movement on the front of the drive. It channeled the light from a bank of six LEDs housed on the main control board. Oddly, I think it was the first time I'd uncovered a light pipe in situ.

2. The main controller board enclosure houses the I/O, power, reset, and control electronics. The control board itself was encased in metal shielding and attached to the hard drive itself via a right-angle edge connector. The entire drive was coupled to the main chassis using four rubber "shock absorbing" holders, which I wish had done a better job of, well, absorbing shock.

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3. The LSI TruePHY ET1011C2-C Gigabit Ethernet transceiver debuted in 2008. It’s built on 0.13-μm technology and is fully compliant with IEEE 802.3, 802.3u, and 802.3ab standards. Its main claim to fame is its use of an oversampling architecture to improve equalization.

4. The Oxford Semiconductor OXE810DSE (now the PLX810, since PLX Tech acquired Oxford) is a Gigabit Ethernet to dual SATA controller. It is the main interface IC, with 802.11 support via Mini PCI. It has since been discontinued and replaced by the NAS 7821. Brian Dipert spent some time on the PLX chip in his teardown of an older WD NAS drive back in 2010. The board connects to the drive board beneath via a right-angle Amphenol connector. Also shown is 1 Gbyte of DDR2 memory (Hynix HY5PS1G1631C).

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