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SAN Capacities to Soar

Seagate's new 180-Gbyte drives look set to create a boon for 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel vendors

In case you hadn't noticed, Seagate Technology Inc., which went private in November 2000, quietly introduced a new 180-gigabyte hard disk at the same time. That was significant because most hard disks currently being used in SANs are in the 36- to 72-Gbyte range. But what's turned out to be even more important than the whopping capacity of the drive is that it could well create demand for higher-capacity switches to deal with the higher volumes of data.

Jim Rothnie, chief technical officer at EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), expects to see the number of 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports ramp up over the next 18 months, driven by this new demand. (Most Fibre Channel switches currently operate at 1 Gbit/s.) According to Rothnie, Fibre Channel accounts for about 80 percent of the connectivity ports his company ships on non-mainframe storage, with SCSI interfaces taking the 20 percent back seat.

This is all good news for companies like Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Emulex Corp. (Nasdaq: EMLX),

QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC), and others playing in the relatively new 2-Gbit/s FC space.

Several storage vendors have already released SAN products based on the 180-Gbyte drives, including XIOtech Corp., Seek Systems Inc., and EMC.

"We've been shipping systems with the 180-gigabyte drives for four or five months now," Rothnie said. "The strongest trend we see at EMC is in storage consolidation. And there is certainly an economy of scale using the higher-capacity drives."

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