Trebia Readies Storage Network Processor

Posted on October 24, 2001

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BY LISA COLEMAN

Acton, MA-based Trebia Networks is taking 'system-on-silicon' chips one step beyond traditional ASICs and network processors by introducing a storage network processor (SNP) slated for shipping in the first half of next year. The company announced the processor last week.

According to Trebia officials, the SNP will enable network-attached storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN), server, switch, host bus adapter (HBA), and I/O card manufacturers to develop more "feature-rich" products that integrate Fibre Channel and IP networks at higher levels of performance and scalability.

The SNP provides connectivity to heterogeneous storage and interoperability between different protocols. Through deep packet examination, the processor provides block pooling, third-party copy, and other functions to enable applications such as storage virtualization, server-less backup, and content distribution.

"It's not simply a protocol processor or a TCP offload engine," says Brendon Howe, vice president of marketing for Trebia. "It's all of those components packaged together with software tools to allow customers to control or manage packet flows."

Trebia is a one-year-old startup that has received $40 million in funding, according to CEO Bob Conrad, who is a veteran of Analog Devices and Texas Instruments. A fab-less chip company, Trebia is contracting with Taiwanese companies for manufacturing, assembly and testing.

The "brains" of the processor is a programmable protocol engine where fast-path processing for storage applications reside. A software-hardware combination enables customizable packet processing functions. The chip comes with firmware that implements fast-path functions for storage network applications and a method for vendors to modify functionality as needed. On-chip memory stores protocol-specific state information for active data flows across protocol exchanges. The SNP interacts with an external CPU to implement non-fast-path functions, such as error handling.

The SNP can be used in a variety of applications. For example, it could be used on a line card for a NAS server, or in a SAN-NAS combo system where the SNP would provide TCP offload.

For protocol mediation and/or gateway systems, the SNP could provide conversion from IP storage to Fibre Channel. For SANs, the SNP could be used in a line card of a switch where it would perform virtualization processing. For HBAs, the processor could be used for connectivity, including SCSI termination and TCP offload within appliance servers or clustered severs. Storage systems could use the chip on an I/O card for connectivity to a SAN.

For more information: www.trebia.com.


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