Thursday, September 15, 2011

iomega px6-300d: first look

The iomega px6-300d is a storage appliance that can be provisioned with up to six SATA drives, both traditional rotating-disk and SSD. It is one of four NAS/SAN appliances in the "px" line from iomega, and is the largest-capacity "desktop" model.
Under the hood, it contains a dual-core Intel Atom processor (running at 1.8GHz) with 2GB RAM, sports a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, three USB ports (1 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0), and runs a customized version of Linux called "EMC LifeLine." The unit can be purchased with various pre-installed drive configurations (6, 12 & 18TB raw capacity); along with the px4 models, iomega has also (finally!) offered a "diskless" configuration.
Retail Box
I purchased a diskless unit ($750 from B&H) for use in my home lab, and independently acquired a matched set of six 2TB Hitachi 7200RPM SATA-III drives (HDS723020BLA642, $110 from NewEgg). This 12TB (raw) setup cost me less than $1500; in contrast, the list price for a pre-populated 12TB unit is $3,299.99.
The unit came in a nice retail box, and was well-padded and packed. In addition to the unit itself, the package contained the external power supply, power cord, CAT5e Ethernet cable, a "Quick Start Guide" and a "Solutions CD."
px6-300d front
px6-300d rear
The front of the unit provides drive access, power button, information display (and a pair of input buttons) and one USB port; the rear of the unit has a pair of 90mm fans, the power connection, reset button, Gigabit Ethernet ports and a pair of USB ports. The rear also sports (what appears to be) a surprising and undocumented x1 PCIe expansion slot.
The Quick Start Guide instructs the owner to install software from the Solutions CD, which will then assist in installing the array; having experience with the ix line, I simply created a DHCP reservation (the MAC address is documented with a sticker on the rear of the unit), connected it to Having purchased a diskless unit, I was curious to see how the system would behave when booted with no drives. True to form, this situation was handled gracefully.
front door open, showing drive trays
drive trays with 2.5", 3.5" drives

trays line up SATA connector
Up to six drives can be installed using supplied hot-swap trays, which support both 3.5" and 2.5" form-factor drives. In addition to the matched drives, I also had a 2.5" SSD available for testing, but the supplied screws didn't fit the drive properly; it was a bit of a struggle to find screws that would not only work with the drive, but also work with the sled: the smaller drives must be attached to the sled from the bottom, so care must be given to make sure the screws do not protrude too far from the bottom of the sled.
The unit I received was pre-installed with an out-of-date firmware (3.1.10; 3.1.14 most current as of this posting), which booted correctly even without any drives installed in the unit. This is a distinct departure from the "ix" line of NAS boxes, which require at least one functioning drive to store the firmware (which also explains why the older lines didn't support a diskless purchase option). The management interface will not allow you to do anything until at least one drive is installed, however, so that was the first order of business.

After installing the first drive, the management interface permitted me to add the unit to my Windows domain, and I also went through the exercise of downloading and updating the firmware. This is a very easy process, so novice users shouldn't be afraid of it.
The unit supports a wide variety of RAID levels, and the user can combine arbitrary combinations of drives into "storage pools" so that the unit can provide different levels of performance based on your needs, so I will be testing the various permutations with increasing spindle counts.
Storage Pool Protection Options
2None, RAID0, RAID1
3None, RAID0, RAID5
4None, RAID0, RAID1/0, RAID5
5None, RAID0, RAID5
6None, RAID0, RAID1/0, RAID5, RAID6
Once you create a storage pool, you can create one or more NAS volume (for CIFS, NFS or other share-types) or iSCSI volumes in it. When creating a file-sharing volume, the unit can recognize space utilization on a file-by-file basis, and will display free/used space as one would expect. A volume used for iSCSI will appear to be 100% allocated as soon as it is created, even if no initiator has ever connected and accessed the LUN. Additionally, multiple shares can be created for a single file-sharing volume, but there's a one-to-one mapping between an iSCSI volume and a target. Security for either file shares or iSCSI is optional; the unit defaults to read/write permissions for everyone.
There are a number of nice features that I'll investigate further, but the first order of business is performance testing. With luck, I'll learn that the device can scale with each added spindle; it will also be interesting to see how much of a performance hit the device will take when using RAID6 instead of RAID5 in the 6-spindle configuration.


  1. I noticed on my ix2 the support.html page is no longer present. What about on the px6? Also - any thoughts on how to get ssh without cracking the box on newer firmware ix2s?

    1. I'd like to know also

    2. You'll want to look for /diagnostics.html on the newer units. I don't know about for that particular ix2, but that's where it is on the "cloud edition" that's on the PX6/4-300D.