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Storage Gets A Spotlight At Intel Developer Forum

Sep 27, 2006 (01:09 PM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=193100224


Intel and some of its storage vendor partners are showcasing new storage components and controllers this week at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.

Intel on Wednesday unveiled a new family of storage processors designed with Emulex, Costa Mesa, Calif., that are aimed at building new solutions for small, midsize and enterprise customers.

Intel's IOP34x family of processors integrate data protection capabilities, hardware-based RAID 5 and RAID 6 protection, Intel XScale processor cores, and support for serial-attached SCSI (SAS) and SATA interfaces for use in direct-attached and network-attached storage products, said Hans Geyer, vice president and general manager of Intel's Storage Group.

The IOP34x line is based on intellectual property developed by Intel and Emulex, and it represents the first storage chips to feature dual-core XScale processors, Geyer said. Included in the product family are the IOP341 and IOP342 I/O processors, which can be used in external storage and embedded systems. The IOP341 is based on a single-core XScale, and the IOP342 is based on a dual-core XScale.

Geyer said storage products using the dual-core version can have one core programmed with specific logic such as RAID, and the second can be programmed for high-performance storage processing.

Also new to the line is the IOP348, a RAID controller chip that allows up to eight SAS and SATA ports. "It's a SAS/SATA RAID-on-a-chip," Geyer said.

Intel also unveiled the IOC340, an eight-port SAS/SATA controller for embedding in servers.

Emulex also introduced its versions of some of the chips at IDF, including the IOP 502M I/O processor, which allows RAID controllers to be built with SAS, SATA and Fibre Channel capabilities, said Brian Reed, vice president of business development at Emulex. With the chip, RAID controllers featuring two 4-Gbits-per-second Fibre Channel and four 3-Gbps SAS/SATA interfaces can be built, he said.

In addition, Emulex introduced the IOC 504, a server-based RAID interface chip with four 4-Gbit Fibre Channel interfaces.

Both chips are based on Intel's dual-core XScale processors and include a second core that can be used to increase the performance of certain applications, Reed said.

Intel expects products from storage OEMs to become available over the next nine months, Geyer said.

At IDF, ATTO Technology, Amherst, N.Y., unveiled a new line of SAS/SATA RAID adapters based on Intel's new IOP348 I/O processors. Both the ExpressSAS R348 and R380 are low-profile adapters with an x8 PCIe host interface and support for RAID 0, 1, 4, 5, 10, 50 and JBOD (just a bunch of disks, or non-RAID-protected).

The R380 includes eight external SAS/SATA interfaces, and the R348 includes a choice of four external and four external ports or eight internal ports.

Adaptec, Milpitas, Calif., introduced a new RAID controller based on the Intel IOP348. The controller includes RAID 6 capability, which allows two hard drives in a RAID set to fail without impacting data reads and writes.

Adaptec also demonstrated its Unified Serial Controllers, which allow SAS and SATA hard drives to be connected to the same RAID controller, in conjunction with a pre-release SAS JBOD enclosure from Taiwan-based Xtore. The enclosure, the XJ-SA26-110R-S, supports up to 10 2.5-inch SAS/SATA drives in a 1U form factor.

Also at IDF, Promise Technology, Milpitas, Calif., showcased new storage products based on Intel's new IOP341 processor. Promise showed pre-release versions of its VTrak E310f and E310 enclosures using the new Intel processors for use in direct-attach or SAN environments.

The two enclosures, expected to be released soon, feature a 2U form factor with room for up to 12 hot-swappable SAS and SATA hard drives, protected with RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, 1E and 50. They also can be expanded to up to 60 hard drives using JBOD expansion boxes. The E310f supports two 4-Gbps Fibre Channel host ports per controller, and the E310 supports four dual 3-Gbps SAS ports per controller.