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The companies say the result of the joint development will be a broad line of storage processors that will deliver new levels of performance and integration across what are projected to be the three most widely used storage-system interfaces. The first processors are expected to be delivered in 2004.
The chips will enable equipment makers to utilize common hardware and software components across entire families of Serial ATA, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and Fibre Channel products for high-performance direct-attached storage and storage-area network solutions, Emulex and Intel said. This "building block" approach will enable equipment makers to extend the value of their hardware and software investments over multiple generations of products, the companies claim.
Under the agreement, Emulex will develop the protocol controller hardware, firmware and drivers. Intel will contribute its expertise in storage processor technology development and integrate its high-performance, low-power XScale microarchitecture as the core technology for the new processors. Intel also will manufacture the processors on its 90-nanometer process technology. Emulex will market the resulting Fibre Channel products, and Intel will market the Serial ATA and SAS products.
The jointly developed controllers will utilize Emulex's Service Level Interface (SLI) technology. Emulex says SLI provides driver compatibility across a product line and allows firmware to be upgraded independently of drivers.
Specific details will not be disclosed until the products launch, and the companies said no material licensing revenue is expected from the agreement.
"This agreement enables Emulex to develop superior Fibre Channel solutions while maintaining our SLI architecture leadership," claims Emulex President and COO Kirk Roller. "This multiprotocol serial storage architecture promises leadership benefits for our traditional market segments as well as new opportunities, including blade server, embedded and target storage applications. At the same time, Intel will deliver new Serial ATA and SAS components for the DAS market segment, expanding the value of OEM investments in Emulex APIs."