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Silicon Rolls For SAS In Server Blades

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Serial Attached SCSI interconnect will branch out beyond use as a link to hard drives this week with the announcement of two new parts from PMC-Sierra Inc. that aim to make SAS a storage fabric inside server blade systems.

To date, 3-Gbit/second SAS has been a storage interconnect for servers and hard-disk arrays at the middle of the technology spectrum, between the high-end Fibre Channel and the entry-level IDE and Serial ATA alternatives. But a handful of companies, including PMC-Sierra and LSI Logic Corp., have talked about SAS as a storage switching fabric inside systems.

"You can expect all SAS expander companies, including LSI Logic, to support SAS fabrics that can be used to implement [storage networks inside server] blades," said Harry Mason, a director of industry marketing at LSI and president of the SCSI Trade Association, which oversees the SAS spec. "I think you will find some differences in the feature sets, and there could be some functional variations, but we'll be doing plugfests to make sure that they all conform to whatever [ANSI] approves."

PMC worked with Hewlett-Packard Co. to define an access control mechanism for SAS. The new feature aims to stop malicious attacks, such as denial of service, and to isolate storage from computer traffic and provide other levels of VPN-like security. The duo's approach is implemented as a zone control table managed by an embedded controller on an SAS expander/switch that stores policies for up to 128 device groups.

In May, PMC and HP proposed their implementation to the American National Standards Institute. A working group is now pushing the concepts forward under a proposed SAS-2 specification.

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