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SiliconStor Socks Away $9M

Looks to expand into a market nobody else considers worthwhile

SiliconStor Inc. has parlayed its first-generation SATA multiplexer chip into a $9 million funding round, which it plans to use to expand its battle on the SAS front. The question is, will there be a market to make the foray worthwhile?

SiliconStor will officially announce its first venture funding round tomorrow, led by VSP Capital with participation from APV Technology Partners. The Fremont, Calif.-based startup raised $3 million in seed money in 2002.

Last November, SiliconStor won an OEM deal with SAN array manufacturer Dot Hill Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: HILL) for an active-active multiplexer -- a chip that makes single-port SATA drives look like dual-port drives, doubling bandwidth (see SiliconStor Signs On for SATA ). Active-active multiplexers make both ports available, similar to Fibre Channel drives. Other SATA multiplexers are active-passive, with only one host port connected to the storage drives.

SiliconStor also has a second-generation product sampling with OEMs that supports 3-Gbits/s bandwidth, Native Command Queuing (NCQ), and other new SATA features (see Souping Up SATA). SiliconStor claims 15 design wins for this product.

SiliconStor expects the competition for OEM deals to heat up when it launches its third-generation multiplexer with SAS support. There’s likely to be a battle in the third generation,” SiliconStor marketing VP Joel Warford says of active-active competition.

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