LSI Corporation unleashed their newest generation of RAID controller cards, the first in their lineup to feature 6Gb/s Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) technology. The MegaRAID 9200 series cards support a mix of SATA, SAS and solid-state drives (SSDs). For the first time, LSI's SafeStore Encryption Services provides support for self-encrypting drives (SEDs). The MegaRAID 9200 series features PCIe with four and eight port options, offering a mix of external and internal connections.
With transfer rates of up to 2.88 GB/s in sequential reads and 1.87 GB/s in sequential writes, LSI is aiming these new controllers at I/O intensive data center applications such as email and database servers as well as other high-end applications like streaming video and Online transaction processing (OLTP).
Included in the MegaRAID 9200 series are the DE models that feature compatibility with Seagate's self-encrypting drives. The LSI controllers serve as the key manager for the self-encrypting drives, ensuring that the data on the drive is unusable when removed from the machine. The encryption is done at a hardware level, so the process is nearly automatic, saving administrators much of the effort of sourcing and configuring encryption at the operating system level. Furthermore, the encryption is transparent to the user with little performance degradation. Benjamin S. Woo, Vice President, Enterprise Storage Systems for IDC, notes that: "Self encrypted drives can be a strong selling point for software as a service (SaaS) vendors and other service providers, adding to the security message they can provide to their customers."
As new technologies arrive on the market, adoption and compatibility with older technology is always an issue. Fortunately, the 6Gb/s SAS standard avoids much of that, offering reverse compatibility with the older 3Gb/s standard, both on the controllers as well as the new drives. This enables system builders to include the newest controllers in their machines today, without changing out any of the other components. Woo agrees, saying, "The backward compatibility with 3Gb/s drives is going to key for resellers not yet ready to go or ready to commit to the new standard." In fact, LSI claims that users will see a performance improvement with the older drives just by swapping in their controller card. While those claims have to be verified, the drive and cable compatibility will certainly ease concerns from customers adopting the new standard.