Xyratex Branches Out

Adds controllers to its products and plans switches late this year

April 14, 2005

2 Min Read
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PHOENIX -- Storage Networking World -- Xyratex Ltd. (Nasdaq: XRTX) has unveiled its first homegrown controller and plans to move into switching technology by the end of this year.

At the Storage Networking World conference here today, Xyratex announced the Model 4835, billed as a nearline mass storage system for OEMs of midrange disk backup devices and other storage gear.

"The 4835 has the first Xyratex-made controller," says Jerry Hoetger, senior product manager. Up to now, the company has OEM'd controllers from the likes of Chapparal Network Storage, now Dot Hill Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: HILL), and Infortrend Technology Inc.

The move to its own controller is part of Xyratex's effort to diversify its capabilities and meet customer demand for "one throat to choke," Hoetger says. While Xyratex continues to OEM controllers from third parties, the vendor now has enclosures that don't require customers or resellers to address more than one supplier.

The new controller also gives Xyratex a potential way out of relying on a competitor, a situation that came about through Dot Hill's purchase of Chapparal last year (see Dot Hill Acquires Chapparal). And it could help it compete more effectively against Adaptec Inc. (Nasdaq: ADPT) and Engenio Information Technologies Inc. as well, in an increasingly competitive OEM market for midrange gear.The 4835 is a 4U system with 14 Tbytes of storage. It supports up to 48 300-Gbyte SATA drives. Each enclosure has one or two of the new RAID controllers, which Xyratex developed with storage processors from Aristos Logic. The systems operate with 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel now but will support 4-Gbit/s later this year or early next, spokespeople say.

Xyratex is also working on its own switch ASICs, in part to serve the upgrade requirements of OEM customer Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP). A switch chipset, slated for release midyear, will be designed for PCI-Express cards in NAS filers and blade servers.

Xyratex's longstanding ambitions to blend server and storage technologies also are evident in its support of Advanced Switching Interconnect (ASI) technology (see Xyratex Addresses ASI). It has built the switch ASICs from crossbar switch patents acquired before it went public. In its annual SEC filing late last year, the company not only stated its intent to move into new kinds of storage interconnects but to develop "basic technology building blocks which will address the needs of networked storage systems, system area networking, grid computing and high-performance computing market segments."

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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