SAS tops IDF announcements

By Dave Simpson

—The Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface was front and center at this week's Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. For example, Adaptec showcased its line of Unified Serial Controllers, which support both Serial ATA (SATA) and SAS drives. The controllers support a variety of RAID configurations, including RAID 6 (double parity RAID) and RAID 5EE, which is optimized for performance. RAID 6 protects against simultaneous failure of two drives and can be important in systems with high-capacity (e.g., SATA) drives or a large number of drives.

Adaptec also provided a "sneak peak" demonstration of an upcoming RAID controller based on Intel's IOP348 storage processor, which supports SAS and SATA as well as RAID 6.

In addition, Adaptec teamed with Xtore to demonstrate its Unified Serial Controllers with an upcoming SAS JBOD enclosure from Xtore—the XJ-SA26-110R-S.

LSI used the IDF conference to demonstrate a SAS system that the company claims delivers SQLIO benchmark results of more than 3.2GBps throughput. (SQLIO is a benchmark tool from Microsoft that simulates SQL Server I/O workloads.) The demo included LSI's SAS host bus adapters (HBAs), MegaRAID adapters, expanders, switches, and subsystems, as well as Intel's Dual-Core Xeon 5100 series processors in a system with a PCI Express bus. Performance specs included 64KB sequential reads of 3.2GBps and 64KB sequential writes of 2.7GBps, as well as 256KB random read performance of 2GBps and 256KB random writes of 2.1GBps.

Atto Technology introduced a line of SAS/SATA RAID adapters using Intel's 800MHz IOP348 I/O processors and XScale technology. The ExpressSAS RAID adapters support SAS and SATA II drives for transfer rates of up to 3Gbps per port.

Atto's low-profile SAS HBAs are available in two models—the ExpressSAS R348 and R380—both of which have fault-tolerant features such as hot-swap drives, hot spares, online capacity expansion, and battery backup. The HBAs support RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, and 60.

Emulex announced at IDF a line of embedded storage processors that support all three serial protocols—SAS, SATA, and Fibre Channel. The IOP 502, IOC 504, and IOP 504 use Intel's IOP34x technology and are the result of a joint development agreement between Emulex and Intel. Emulex claims to have three unannounced OEM design wins for the chips, which are compatible with Emulex's InSpeed and FibreSpy embedded storage switches. The IOP 504 is a Fibre Channel I/O processor and the IOC 504 is a Fibre Channel I/O controller, while the IOP 502M is a single-chip Fibre Channel, SAS, and SATA I/O processor.

On the disk drive front, both Seagate and Fujitsu showcased 2.5-inch, 10,000rpm and 3.5-inch, 15,000rpm SAS drives in the SCSI Trade Association (STA) booth at IDF.

Also at the IDF conference, QLogic demonstrated its 4Gbps SANblade QLE2460 Fibre Channel HBAs, which work with Intel's Dual-Core Xeon 5100 processors. QLogic also demonstrated interoperability between its InfiniPath InfiniBand adapters and Ethernet networks running the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) of Linux.

QLogic claims more than 155,000 I/Os per second, or 780MBps, for the SANblade QLE2460 HBAs in a Xeon-based server.

Wasabi Systems demonstrated the latest version of its BSD-based Storage Builder for IP-SAN software in Newisys' booth at IDF. Newisys ran a demo with its 4- and 12-drive storage appliances, which are based on Intel ATX/EATX motherboards. Wasabi last week released the 2.1 version of Storage Builder for IP-SAN, which includes support for logical drives of more than 2TB, iSCSI Error Recovery Level (ERL) 1 and 2, and VMWare ESX Server 3.0 iSCSI initiators.

For more information on the SAS interface, visit the InfoStor SAS Resource Center

This article was originally published on September 29, 2006