Data Robotics has announced that a new version of their Drobo S storage device, which replaces the previous generation’s USB 2.0 port with a higher-speed (and backward-compatible) USB 3.0 port, is now shipping. The Drobo S offers five storage bays, each of which can hold any standard 3.5-inch SATA or SATA II drive; the device automatically combines the disks into a larger volume while setting aside redundant storage space to protect against drive failure. Users can freely swap or upgrade drives at any time. The price for the Drobo S, which also includes FireWire 800 and eSATA ports, remains unchanged at $799.
Steve Jobs reportedly stated recently that Apple has no immediate plans to ship Macs with built-in USB 3.0 ports or driver software to support existing third-party cards. However, at least two manufacturers—CalDigit and LaCie—sell Mac-compatible PCI Express USB 3.0 adapters for the Mac Pro and ExpressCard/34 adapters for those few MacBook Pro models with ExpressCard/34 slots. According to Data Robotics, the new Drobo S has been tested successfully with both manufacturers’ cards and Mac OS X drivers.
Data Robotics hasn’t said if or when USB 3.0 will appear on any of its other devices. At present, two other Drobo models still have USB 2.0 ports—the second-generation four-bay Drobo (which also has a FireWire 800 port) and the eight-bay DroboPro (which includes FireWire 800 and iSCSI ports). The latter, which was introduced more recently, seems a natural candidate for USB 3.0.
In other news, Data Robotics has also announced that its Drobo Sync software is now shipping for the DroboPro FS (an eight-bay device with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports). The software, which is available at no cost via Drobo Dashboard, lets a DroboPro FS automatically back up its data to a second DroboPro FS on the same local network or a VPN.