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Intel: Storage Needs a Shrink

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) thinks the future of storage is small -- small businesses, that is. By shrinking the size and number of processors required to link its new line of servers to storage gear, it's hoping to make direct-attached storage available to more SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) and consumers.

You read that right: In an odd departure from the party line that storage networking will be all about SANs in the future, Intel is saying that direct-attached storage (DAS) is taking off as never before.

Using improved storage processors announced today, Intel says its servers (as well as servers from OEMs using Intel's server boards) can be easily hooked to all kinds of storage gear, giving end users the means to tack storage arrays directly to their servers. The result will be "storage networking for the masses."

It's a vision embraced by some early developers. "The market data we've seen indicates that, though there is more revenue in NAS, the actual numbers for DAS are not going down," says Jim Schrand, VP of marketing at Wasabi Systems Inc., which has written a version of the Unix-compatible NetBSD operating system for the new processors.

Intel has included new IOP332 Storage I/O Processors in the Xeon-based servers it announced today (see Intel Releases New Servers). The processors have integral RAID5 capabilities and link directly to that part of the server that controls I/O to external storage gear, such as disk arrays (formerly, a separate bridge chip was required).

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