SAS product roundup

Posted on December 01, 2008

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By the InfoStor staff

Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) is still the new kid on the block in the disk drive/array interface market, but it’s no longer an emerging technology. 3Gbps SAS has hit the mainstream, and vendors and integrators are already gearing up for the next generation of the tech- nology (see “Get ready for next-gen 6Gbps SAS” at infostor.com). 

In Q3 2008, SAS drives accounted for about 45% (2.4 million units) of all 3.5-inch enterprise-class disk drive shipments, according to John Rydning, research director of hard disk drives at IDC. Fibre Channel drives accounted for almost exactly the same percentage, and Ultra320 SCSI drives made up the remaining 10% of drive shipments. And SAS drives accounted for all of the 2.9 million 2.5-inch, enterprise-class drives shipped in the third quarter.

Here’s a recap of some recent SAS-related product releases, leading off with 6Gbps SAS components.

LSI is shipping to OEMs 6Gbps SAS-to- SATA bridge cards and a 16-port SAS processor. The LSISS9252 and LSISS9253 bridge cards allow SAS capabilities to be added to SATA disk drives, and include LSI’s Active- Active Multiplexer (AAMUX) technology, a dual-port SAS interface and a SATA device interface, enabling single-ported SATA drives to connect as if they were dual-ported SAS drives. The cards also support the SAS SSP technology, eliminating SATA commands and signaling from the SAS domain. In addition, two unique SAS addresses per host port help eliminate fail-over issues with the SATA drives.

The 16-port LSISAS2116 processor is a chip for external storage systems that includes a PowerPC processor, x8 PCI Express 2.0 support, and support for 8GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory. The processor enables SAS-to-SAS, Fibre Channel-to-SAS, and iSCSI-to-SAS systems, and supports initiator and target modes.

Separately, LSI announced that six vendors have selected its 6Gbps SAS RAID-On-Chip (ROC) products for incorporation into next-generation systems, including Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, IBM, Intel, NEC, and Sun.

And this month, LSI announced a number of enhancements to its MegaRAID 8700 and 8800 families of 3Gbps SAS/SATA adapters, including:

  • Single controller multi-pathing for increased fault tolerance and reliability;
  • Load balancing for improved performance;
  • A revertible hot spare feature to reduce maintenance;
  • Console redirect, which allows administrators to manage a host (local) system from a client (remote) system;
  • Extensions to RAID 1 for configuration of larger logical volumes; and
  • Support for Microsoft’s VDS.

In addition to a variety of 3Gbps SAS components, PMC-Sierra is shipping 24-port and 36-port 6Gbps SAS expanders in its maxSAS family. Other 6Gbps SAS components from PMC-Sierra include the Tachyon controllers, SRC RAID controllers, and SPS active-active multiplexers.

6Gbps 24-port PM8004 and 36-port PM8005 maxSAS expander embedded switches in- clude features such as SAS-2-compliant multiplexing and zoning; support for 1,024 end devices; self-configuring routing tables; spread spectrum clocking (SSC) support; Adaptable Decision Feedback Equalizer technology to expand cable distances to 10 meters; table-table routing; and a 10/100 Ethernet MAC interface for remote management.

Atto Technology is shipping to OEMs 6Gbps SAS host bus adapters (HBAs), with production shipments slated for the second quarter. The company claims performance of 600MBps per lane in initiator and target modes, based on the IOmeter benchmark. The ExpressSAS adapters support SAS and SATA, and are available in six models in a variety of internal and external connection options, including eight or 16 internal ports, eight or 16 external ports, and a model with four internal ports and four external ports.

Atto is also shipping a variety of 3Gbps SAS adapters in eight- or 16-port versions (internal or external), and a model with four external ports and eight internal ports.

This month, Seagate began shipments of the 2.5-inch Savvio 15K.2 disk drives, which have a rotation rate of 15,000rpm and support for 6Gbps SAS. The company claims a 115% improvement in system-level performance versus 3.5-inch, 15,000rpm drives. Features include a capacity of 73GB or 146GB, and PowerTrim technology for reduced power consumption (up to 70% vs. most 3.5-inch 15,000rpm drives, according to Seagate). In the first quarter of 2009, the drives will be available to OEMs with an AES-based Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) option.

LeCroy’s Sierra M6-4 is a verification system for testing SAS and SATA products, providing capture, display and analysis of SAS/SATA traffic at up to 6Gbps. Features include a native PHY implementation for lock-time and decoding of traffic; and support for protocol analysis, traffic generation, host and device emulation, and error injection. For development and debugging, the Sierra M6-4 includes tools such as host/device emulation and the Infusion error injector.

Also on the test/analysis front, Finisar’s Xgig family of analyzers supports 6Gbps SAS (as well as 1.5Gbps and 3Gbps SAS) and SATA (1.5Gbps and 3Gbps). The latest version supports the company’s 6Gbps 4-wide blade with dual mini-SAS 4x receptacles, allowing bidirectional analysis of single and wide-port (up to 4×) SAS links. The double-width blade occupies two slots in a four-slot Xgig chassis and supports 2GB of RAM per port (for a total of 16GB per blade). Features include DWORD search for finding information within frames, support for SAS-2 multiplexing, a choice of passive passthrough or active signal retiming, and a graphical display to show out-of-band (OOB) sequences.

HBAs, controllers, arrays

Last month, Adaptec began shipping the low-profile Series 1 Unified Serial HBAs, which support up to 128 3Gbps SAS or SATA devices. Two versions are available: the 1405 with four internal ports, and the 1045 with four external ports. The PCIe adapters can be used with Windows, Linux, and FreeBSD platforms. Models 1405 and 1045 are priced at $160 and $190, respectively.

Advanced Industrial Computer (AIC) introduced the XD200 RBOD desktop RAID subsystem, which has three interface options: 4Gbps Fibre Channel, 3Gbps SAS and SATA. The arrays provide 12Gbps of SAS bandwidth to the host or dual Fibre Channel host connections for 8Gbps of bandwidth. AIC is also shipping the G series of “green” SAS/SATA storage server chassis, XJ1100 SAS/SATA JBOD subsystems, SBB 2.0 controllers, and the MAX I/O-based 3U, 16-bay enclosure.

AMCC’s 3ware 9690SA-4I SAS RAID controllers have four internal ports and are designed for 1U, four-bay servers and workstations. Users and integrators can extend the controllers to support up to 128 SAS/SATA devices with SAS expanders. AMCC also sells SAS/ SATA controllers with eight internal ports, eight external ports, and a version with four internal and four external ports.

Arena-MaxTronic’s most recent entries in the SAS space are a SAS-to-SAS array and a SAS-to-FC (Fibre Channel) array—the SS-8801R/8802R and SS-6601R/6602R. The subsystems come in either a 4U, 24-bay version or a 3U, 16-bay configuration, both with support for all RAID levels (including RAID 6). Features include four 4Gbps Fibre Channel or SAS host ports, support for Multi-Path I/O and PathGuard, active-active controllers, SAS expansion for up to 120 drives, and support for Microsoft’s Virtual Disk Service (VDS).

Enhance Technology claims that its 2U UltraStor RS8 SS SAS-to-SAS/SATA RAID subsystem delivers more than 800MBps of throughput. Users and integrators can configure the RS8 with up to eight 15,000rpm SAS drives or SATA drives, with two host SAS channels and one SAS expansion port. Features include a 64-bit RAID engine with up to 2GB of cache, snapshots, n-way mirroring, and support for RAID 6 and virtually all other RAID levels. Subsystem capacity can be expanded via RS16 JS JBOD enclosures for up to 80TB of total capacity.

Infortrend is shipping two iSCSI-to-SAS/SATA subsystems: the dual-controller EonStor (ES) S12E-R1132 and single-controller ES S12E-G1133. The ES S12E-R1132 RAID array has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports. The company claims performance of 720MBps on reads and 300MBps on writes. The entry-level S12E-G1133 has two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Both RAID-5/6 subsystems come in a 2U form factor and support up to 12 SAS and/or SATA drives. One or two multi-lane SAS expansion ports connect to Infortrends’ JBOD enclosures for up to 60TB of capacity with 1TB SATA drives.

The latest addition to Promise Technology’s lineup of SAS/SATA controllers is the 16-port (internal) SuperTrak EX16650 RAID controller. The controller supports virtually all Linux kernel distributions, in addition to Promise’s open source Linux drivers. Other SAS/SATA SuperTrak RAID controllers support a variety of internal/external port configurations, ranging from four internal ports to eight external ports and a combo of four internal and four external ports on the SuperTrak EX8654.

Xyratex has introduced what it claims is the industry’s first 8Gbps Fibre Channel RAID array. Part of the company’s OneStor line of arrays, the SP1212s is a 2U, 12-drive (expandable up to 96 drives) subsystem that supports SAS and SATA drives with a total capacity of up to 12TB. The array supports up to 512 snapshots.

EScon’s DiscPac 8000 storage system includes controllers from LSI, and supports front-end SAS, Fibre Channel, or iSCSI connections on a SAS/SATA backplane. The RAID array can be configured with up to 12TB with SATA drives or 4.8TB with SAS drives. Capacity can be expanded with 3Gbps SAS JBOD units for a total of up to 48 drives. Additional software functionality includes storage partitioning, volume snapshot, and volume copy. The company claims a 900MBps sustained transfer rate from the media. All RAID levels are supported.

Reldata’s 9240i RAID array is a SAS-only disk subsystem with up to 12TB of capacity in a 2U form factor, expandable up to 120TB per RAID controller.

Instead of bundling all software functionality and pricing according to capacity, Reldata offers a pay-as-you-go approach. Optional software includes NAS (with support for CIFS and NFS), non-disruptive block data migration, disaster recovery for Fibre Channel SANs, and support for heterogeneous disk arrays. Integrated software includes block-based local/remote replication and applications to simplify iSCSI SAN management, including Adaptive Storage Wizards for configuration, RELbot task automation software, and the RELvos 2.0 Virtualization Operating System.

Pricing starts at just under $40,000 for a 1Gbps iSCSI array with 12TB of capacity (or about $50,000 for a 10Gbps iSCSI version) and $85,000 for a 48TB configuration. The array is available with either six 1GbE ports (expandable up to 16) or, optionally, up to eight 10GbE ports. External Fibre Channel or SAS interfaces are also supported. Users and integrators can mix-and-match various SAS drives with different capacities and rotation rates (up to 15,000rpm), but the 9240i does not support SATA drives.

On the performance front, Reldata claims more than 70,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) and 820MBps of throughput for the 9240i.


iSCSI array supports SAS


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