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Adaptec Shipping iSCSI

After a few fits and starts, Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) is finally shipping its first iSCSI adapter -- at roughly half the cost of Fibre Channel host bus adapters and one-fourth the performance.

Adaptec's ASA-7211 iSCSI Gigabit Ethernet adapter, which uses an onboard TCP/IP offload engine ASIC, provides 138-Mbyte/s full duplex throughput (110-Mbyte/s writes and 80-Mbyte/s reads), according to the company. At full load, the card's CPU utilization is a maximum of 20 percent with a 1GHz processor [ed. note: no Ferrari, but it's no Yugo either].

The copper (RJ-45) version of the ASA-7211 carries a list price of $660, and the fiber version is $715. The company estimates street prices for the cards will be in the mid-$500 range.

Clearly, the Adaptec iSCSI adapter -- reflecting the positioning of many IP SAN products now coming to market -- is aimed at a lower-end tier than Fibre Channel HBAs, which can offer upwards of 500-Mbyte/s throughput and 5 percent or lower CPU utilization.

"What we're going after is the market that wants a SAN but for whatever reason didn't want to buy a Fibre Channel," says Glenn Clowney, director of iSCSI products at Adaptec. "Not everyone wants to pay $2,000 for a toaster that can get you toast in 2 seconds." [Ed. note: It seems Sharper Image sold just such a toaster in the mid-90s.]

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