SNW product highlights, Day 4

By Dave Simpson and Kevin Komiega

-- Continuing our coverage of product announcements at this week's Storage Networking World (SNW) show in Dallas . . .

As the conference wound down, Intel stirred things up with some news in the area of solid-state disk (SSD) drives with the announcement that it has begun shipping its highest-performing SSD, the X25-E "Extreme" SATA drive.

The SSD features 50nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory technology and, according to Intel, can increase server, workstation and storage system performance by up to 100× over hard disk drives (HDDs).

Performance specs for the 2.5-inch, 32GB X25-E include 35,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) with 4KB random reads, 3,300 IOPS with 4KB random writes, and a 75-microsecond read latency. Intel claims that the drive's performance, combined with low power requirements of 2.4 watts, delivers up to 14,000 IOPS per watt. The product also achieves up to 250MBps sequential read speeds and up to 170MBps sequential write speeds.

The drives use a 10-channel NAND architecture with native command queuing (NCQ), a proprietary controller, and wear-leveling technology. Intel claims the drives are capable of writing up to 4PB of data over a three-year period, and double that for the upcoming 64GB version.

The X25-E is priced at $695 in quantities of up to 1,000 units. Samples of the 64GB version will be available by year-end, with production expected in the first quarter of 2009.

In a related announcement, Verari Systems introduced its HyDrive, a hybrid blade that combines Intel's X25-E SSD and a 3.5-inch SATA disk drive. The blade can be integrated into Verari's BladeRack 2 X-Series platforms. Verari also supports Intel's X25-M SSDs.

Xyratex debuted 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 subsystem that supports SAS and SATA drives with a total capacity of up to 12TB.

LSI continued its SAS surge at SNW with the addition of 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, eliminating SATA commands and signaling from the SAS domain. In addition, two unique SAS addresses per host port help eliminate failover 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.

Also on the SAS front, Atto Technology announced it will deliver within 30 days a 6Gbps SAS host bus adapter (HBA) that it claims can deliver 600MBps per lane in initiator and target modes. The ExpressSAS adapter supports SAS and SATA, and will be available in six models in a variety of internal and external connection options.

Atto also demonstrated its quad-channel, 8Gbps Celerity HBAs and the 8Gbps FastStream SC 8500 RAID controller, which supports Fibre Channel host connectivity and SAS/SATA drives. The company claims the Celerity adapters deliver 1,600MBps per port through eight PCIe 2.0 lanes.

QLogic made a number of announcements at SNW, including the availability of the SANbox 5800V series of stackable, 8Gbps Fibre Channel switches, which also include 20Gbps Fibre Channel ports for stack interconnection. Each 20Gbps port can handle inter-switch traffic of up to three 8Gbps links. The 5800V Series also features 100Gbps Virtual Lanes technology, which automatically pools multiple stack interconnects to form a single 100Gbps virtual lane. The switches scale from 8 ports to 120 ports.

QLogic also introduced the 6200 series of 10GbE iSCSI-to-8Gbps Fibre Channel storage routers. Features include a PCI-Express expansion bus on each router blade and support for emerging protocols such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Quad Data Rate (QDR) InfiniBand, and 16Gbps Fibre Channel, as well as SAS.

In addition, QLogic announced that its FCoE-based converged network adapter (CNA) cards are compatible with NetApp's storage systems.

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 also showcased its 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.

Also at SNW, the Storage Bridge Bay (SBB) organization announced that its members have shipped more than 100,000 SBB-compliant storage systems. Vendors currently shipping SBB systems include AIC, Ciprico, Dell, EMC, IBM, iStor, LSI, Newisys, and Xyratex. In addition, vendors such as Digi-Data, Dot Hill, Emulex, and QSAN have either publicly demonstrated or announced plans to ship SBB-compliant systems. The SBB specification defines mechanical, electrical, and enclosure management interfaces for a controller slot, or "bridge bay," within storage enclosures.

Hifn introduced hardware-accelerated de-duplication cards for OEMs that can be integrated into standard servers. The series includes the company's Express DR 250 PCI card and Express DR 255 PCI-Express cards and de-duplication accelerator software. Hifn's index processing technique enhances read performance by enabling data to be transferred directly from disk to application without invoking de-duplication. Beta versions for OEMs are available now (for SuSE and RedHat Linux platforms), with production versions expected in the first quarter of 2009. Pricing starts at $1,995, and support for Windows is slated for the first half of 2009.

Related articles:
SNW product highlights, Day 1
SNW product highlights, Day 2
SNW product highlights, Day 3

This article was originally published on October 16, 2008