Hifn Announces Triple-Function De-Dupe Card

PC-compatible card will accelerate de-duplication - and encrypt and compress

March 11, 2008

3 Min Read
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Hifn has introduced a set of PC-compatible cards it claims will help VTL and de-duplication vendors significantly speed up their wares.

The DR 250 is a 64-bit, full-height PCI-X card; and the DR 255 is PCI-e card made for that bus's four-lane technique. Both have the capabilities to perform either SHA-1 or MD5 hashing (user's choice) for de-duplication; LZS 2.5:1 (average) data compression; and AES 256-bit encryption. According to Hifn, the cards perform their functions at 250-Mbytes/second. Up to four cards can be loaded into a single system, and Hifn provides load-balancing algorithms to balance processing among them.

The catch? Hifn's cards don't do all three functions at once. Instead, while compression and encryption can be done together, hashing -- the process that chops up data streams to identify duplicate portions -- must be done separately.

Hifn says it is preparing a new card for release in the fourth quarter of 2008 that will enable all three functions to be done in one pass, while performing at 1 Gbyte/second.

There are other wee catches. The DR 255 contains a bridge that links PCI-e to PCI-X technologies, which Hifn acknowledges can introduce overhead. These factors make the vendor's performance figures seem highly subject to specific applications.Hifn says the DR 250 and 255 are currently available for an MSRP of $1,195. No OEMs have been disclosed, though Hifn's VP of business development, John Matze, says Hifn is talking to "all the major players." In the past, Hifn has worked with FalconStor, Sepaton, Overland, HP, and EMC, as well as QLogic -- though exactly what those vendors have purchased from Hifn hasn't been specified.

Hifn faces a range of competitors, including Cavium, which claims to have a single chip that incorporates compression, de-duplication algorithms, and encryption. Cavium says its CN55xx to CN57xx programmable processors feature up to 12 cores that allow a system to perform multiple functions at speeds to 5 Gbytes/second. The vendor prices its chips from $49 to about $200, and spokespeople say major VTL and de-duplication vendors have shown "a great interest" in the components.

The proof of the pudding for Hifn, Cavium, and others will depend on the results achieved by OEMs. As Hu Yoshida, CTO of HDS, points out in a recent blog, there are tradeoffs involved in using de-duplication before or after a backup, and encryption needs to be done at the point where it won't obviate the use of de-duplication.

For now, there isn't sufficient information on who's adopted these products to formulate an opinion on their influence. But one thing is clear: Data de-duplication, compression, and encryption all have grown in popularity and demand, and it is likely the industry will see many more component-level products introduced to unify and accelerate these functions.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Cavium Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CAVM)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hifn Inc. (Nasdaq: HIFN)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • Overland Storage Inc. (Nasdaq: OVRL)

  • Sepaton Inc.

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