Vendors Strut Their SAS

Flurry of activity suggests drive interface is on target for early 2005 release

September 10, 2004

3 Min Read
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Judging from activity at the Intel Developer Forum this week, theres plenty of reason to believe we’ll be seeing serial-attached SCSI (SAS) disk drives in storage systems early next year, often sharing space with SATA drives (see Report: SATA & SAS to Share Systems).

There was a flurry of SAS news during the conference in San Francisco, with SAS subsystems, hard drives, and tester products coming to light.

"The IDF demonstrations this week are intended to show that serial-attached SCSI is ready for prime time,” says Harry Mason, director of industry marketing at LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI) and president of the SCSI Trade Association

board of directors. “We expect production shipments of certain components to begin in fourth quarter, 2004, with volume ramps occurring early in 2005."

Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) made the most ambitious SAS news, demonstrating a storage system based on its SAS ASCI that will be part of its new flexible storage architecture (FSA) family (see Adaptec Announces). Adaptec’s SAS controllers and boards are built on a 4.8-GByte/s ASIC, and they feature eight ports and integrated RAID data protection. Like other storage companies rolling out SAS products, Adaptec expects customers to mix SAS and SATA in the same system for tiered storage.

Adaptec’s SAS timeline matches Mason’s projection. Its OEM customers have its SAS ASIC, and will likely deliver product early next year.Other SAS news at IDF:

  • LSI Logic and hard drive vendor Fujitsu Computer Products of America Inc. showed a configuration consisting of four 2.5-inch SAS hard-disk drives and four 2.5-inch SATA mobile-disk drives inside a four-port LSI SAS controller and 12-port LSI SAS expander.

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX) showed a common backplane combining Cheetah drives with an SAS interface along with Barracuda SATA drives.

  • Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) announced a single-protocol probe for SATA and SAS packet analysis. The probe gives companies developing SATA and SAS systems a way to view full-speed SATA and SAS traffic on an Agilent logic analyzer.

  • I-Tech Corp.

    introduced the Monarch SAS Tester (see I-Tech Intros Monarch SAS Tester). The tester provides low-level testing of legal and illegal serial management protocol (SMP) and serial SCSI protocol (SSP) frames and data patterns, and out-of-band (OOB) and speed negotiation signals to verify whether they conform to the SAS protocol spec.

    It’s no coincidence that SATA plays a role in much of the SAS news. One of the major selling points for SAS is that its connectors are form-factor compatible with SATA, so that SATA drives can plug directly into SAS environments. Using SATA and SAS in the same system fits an increasingly popular strategy of transferring data to different media as it ages. Companies can move data from SAS to cheaper SATA disks as they need to access it less frequently.

    SATA continues to evolve on its own. Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Maxtor Corp. (NYSE: MXO), Seagate, and Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS) were among 40 component and device companies that today announced the formation of the SATA International Organization (SATA-IO). SATA-IO will define and implement SATA storage specs, including the new 3-Gbit/s spec.

    — Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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