RealTime IT News

Adaptec, Partners Team on Serial SCSI Products

The migration to serial-attached storage products -- which use fewer cables than their parallel brethren -- continued Monday when Adaptec spearheaded an initiative with partners to deliver the industry's first serial-attached SCSI disk drives.

Milpitas, Calif.'s Adaptec will work with Fujitsu, Hitachi, Maxtor and Seagate to co-market the disk drives to the enterprise. Financial terms were not disclosed.

What the development initiative will do is allow original equipment manufacturers and system integrators to design and test prototype Serial Attached SCSI products. This will also ensure compatibility of the Serial Attached SCSI interface with both Serial Attached SCSI and Serial ATA disk drives to give OEMs, resellers and IT organizations more flexible disk drives.

Adaptec's Serial Attached SCSI interface will enable customers to plug Serial Attached SCSI or Serial ATA drives into one backplane. OEMs and IT managers may then configure drive arrays with either drive technology, or both. Adaptec's Serial Attached SCSI controllers will feature data transfer rates of 3 gigabits per second with a roadmap to 12 gigabits per second for such applications as mainline storage, video editing, and streaming video and audio in direct-attached, networked-attached and networked storage environments.

As a further improvement over parallel technologies, the drives will employ long, thin cables and small connectors to improve chassis airflow and cooling and simplify cable routing. Adaptec's Serial Attached SCSI chips and controllers will feature the company's RAID technology to protect customer data.

Industry experts believe serial-attached SCSI architectures are better equipped to meet computing demands for performance than parallel SCSI architectures.

Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group (ESG), discussed the benefits firms are expecting from serial technologies.

"ESG thinks that serial ATA is catching on for two reasons - the first is of course cost. SATA is a great low cost alternative for secondary storage solutions (some organizations may feel comfortable with SATA being their primary disk, but we haven't seen much of that in the enterprise as of yet)," Marrone told internetnews.com. "The second key reason SATA will be successful is the push to make it interchangeable with SCSI. Vendors are working to make serial SCSI drives compatible with serial ATA drives. This level of interchangeability will both reduce production costs for vendors and provide users with a level of flexibility they never had before."

Marrone said if a user can buy a system that can use either disk technology, they can choose when to use higher end SCSI vs SATA depending on business requirements and costs. "That alone will make the technology pretty attractive vs. parallel ATA."

The impetus for the play simple: to push market demand forward by showing customers that it is willing to work to make interoperable products unbound by proprietary issues. The move is not unlike multiple storage vendors creating and supporting the Storage Management Interoperability Specification (SMI-S) to better handle the complications of storage networking.

Mike Chenery, vice president, advanced products engineering at Fujitsu Computer Products of America, discussed his company's desire to work with Adaptec and others on this matter.

"Serial Attached SCSI reduces the footprint of enterprise storage connections to enable dense form factors and smooth the migration to server blades," said Chenery.

Maxtor sees similar value for this venture.

"Serial ATA drives will meet the needs of customers requiring cost-effective capacity for near-line storage of email archives and other reference data, while Serial Attached SCSI drives will deliver the highest levels of performance and reliability for bandwidth-intensive enterprise environments," said Mike Wingert, Maxtor's executive vice president and general manager, Server Products Group.

The firms will embark on such co-marketing activities as prototype demonstrations, speaking engagements at major trade shows, white papers on implementing Serial Attached SCSI solutions, seminars and Webinars.