G5 Jam G5J-0

The Power Mac G5 may be aimed at high-end video and graphics professionals, but Apple seems to have forgotten that these folks chomp through storage like they’re at a pie-eating contest. The computer case holds only two internal drives for a maximum of 500GB.

WiebeTech’s G5 Jam squeezes two more drives into the G5 case for a total of four hard drives or up to 1 terabyte of storage. It replaces the internal side panel of the Power Mac G5 with a mirrored metal plate, which holds the drives in the end of the PCI card space. One slot is still available for a full-length PCI card; the other three slots can hold only shorter cards, such as the included graphics card. The new side plate not only holds the drives, it also dissipates heat better than the plastic plate it replaces.

Because Apple did not plan for the extra drives, the Power Mac G5 does not have built-in internal ports or cabling to provide power. WiebeTech includes a power cable that runs from the case’s built-in power port and splits the power three ways.
We saw good performance with the G5 Jam and a single Serial ATA drive – copying and duplicating a file took about the same time on the new internal drive as an external drive attached via FireWire 800. When we added a second drive and striped them together into a RAID 0 array, performance was 40 per cent faster than with a single drive. Performance is even more impressive if you stripe all four drives together. (As of OS X 10.3, you can boot from a RAID array created with Apple’s Disk Utility.)

The price for such added performance is somewhat steep. An external FireWire drive costs around £35 more than the drive mechanism by itself. Adding one or two external FireWire drives is a cheaper way to increase your capacity.
And even though you can boot from an internal array, you may not want to. Striping drives together in a RAID 0 array increases the chance of drive failure. If you invest in an external FireWire drive for the system folder, you decrease the chance of losing it, and you can dedicate the speedy internal array to video capture or for image files.

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