Storage highlights from IDF

Posted on August 23, 2005

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By Dave Simpson

—A number of storage vendors used this week's Intel Developer Forum (IDF) conference in San Francisco (August 23-25) for product launches, demos, and announcements. Here's a sampling from the first day of the show.

LSI Logic demonstrated its line of MegaRAID Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) host bus adapters (HBAs) and software (MegaRAID Storage Manager). The hardware-based MegaRAID SAS 8408E PCI Express adapter has eight ports and 256MB of cache. The software-based MegaRAID SAS 8208XLP is an entry-level SAS adapter with eight ports and support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. LSI also demonstrated the LSISASx36 36-port SAS expander, which supports 3Gbps SAS as well as Serial ATA (SATA). The company also showed its 8-port SAS3442X PCI-X SAS adapter, as well as 4Gbps LSI7204XP-LC Fibre Channel HBAs.

At the show, Promise Technology introduced its 8-port SuperTrak EX8300, a 3Gbps SATA RAID controller with hardware acceleration and RAID-6 double-parity coding. RAID 6 provides an extra level of data protection over RAID 5. For more information on RAID 6: see Get ready for RAID 6. As evidence of the increased interest in this technology, Intel hosted a booth dedicated to RAID 6 technology as part of the Storage Community Showcase exhibit at IDF.

Promise's SuperTrak EX8300 is based on Intel's IOP331 I/O processor (which is designed for RAID 6) and XScale architecture. Features of the SuperTrak RAID controller include support for the PCI-X host bus interface, Linux drivers, RAID 0/1/5/6/10, online array expansion and RAID level migration. The controllers will be available next month at a suggested list price of $499. The software upgrade for RAID 6 will be available at no charge in the fourth quarter.

Also at IDF, Promise demonstrated a 7.5TB iSCSI RAID array, the VTrak M-Class series, with hardware acceleration; a SAS JBOD array; and the 3Gbps FastTrak SX4300 and SX8300 SATA controllers with hardware-assisted RAID.

Seagate Technology demonstrated its 3Gbps SATA disk drives at the show, which include SATA II features such as native command queuing (NCQ) and port multiplier technology from Silicon Image. Port multipliers provide expansion from one SATA port to as many as 15 SATA devices. Seagate's booth included demos of the 7,200rpm Barracuda SATA drives, Momentus SATA drives (5,400rpm and 7,200rpm) for notebooks, and NL35 "nearline" SATA drives (see Seagate, WD improve SATA drives).

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies announced at IDF that its 500GB Deskstar 7K500 SATA drives recorded a score of 11,002 in Intel's PCMark04 benchmark tests. The Deskstar 7K500 drives, which went into production in April, feature a 3Gbps data-transfer rate, NCQ, and 16MB buffers. The drives were demonstrated in two- and four-drive systems in the Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO) booth at IDF.

Broadcom demonstrated a SAS/SATA RAID-on-Chip (RoC) device with support for the PCI Express host bus interface, as well as the company's XelCore RAID software stack. XelCore can run in either software RAID mode on a host processor or in hardware RAID mode on an embedded RoC processor.

Silicon Image unveiled at IDF the SiI 4723, the latest in the company's line of SteelVine storage processors. The SiI 4723 is a SATA-to-2-port-SATA processor with a data-transfer rate of 3Gbps, hardware-based RAID, and support for up to 1TB. Production shipments are scheduled for the fourth quarter.


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