Adaptec, Rivals Team on Serial Attached SCSI Products -

Adaptec, Rivals Team on Serial Attached SCSI Products

The migration to serial-attached storage products -- which use smaller cables than their parallel brethren -- continued Monday when Adaptec spearheaded an initiative with several rivals to deliver the industry's first serial-attached SCSI disk drives.

Milpitas, Calif.'s Adaptec will work with Fujitsu, Hitachi, Maxtor, and Seagate to co-market the disk drives for enterprises. Financial terms were not disclosed.

What the development initiative will do is allow original equipment manufacturers and system integrators to design and test prototype Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) products. This will also ensure compatibility of the SAS interface with both SAS and Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives to give OEMs, resellers, and IT organizations more flexible disk drives.

Adaptec's Serial Attached SCSI interface will enable customers to plug SAS or SATA drives into one backplane. OEMs and IT managers may then configure drive arrays using either drive technology, or both. Adaptec's SAS drives will feature data transfer rates of 3 gigabits per second with a roadmap to 12 gigabits per second for such applications as mainline storage, video editing, and streaming video and audio in direct-attached, networked-attached, and networked storage environments.

As a further improvement over parallel technologies, the drives will employ long, thin cables and small connectors to simplify cable routing and to improve chassis airflow and cooling. Adaptec's SAS chips and controllers will feature the company's RAID technology to protect customer data.

Serial In, Parallel Out According to Analysts

Industry experts believe serial architectures are better equipped to meet computing demands for performance than parallel SCSI architectures.

Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group (ESG), discussed with the benefits firms are expecting from serial technologies.

"ESG thinks that serial ATA is catching on for two reasons -- the first is, of course, cost. SATA is a great low cost alternative for secondary storage solutions (some organizations may feel comfortable with SATA being their primary disk, but we haven't seen much of that in the enterprise as of yet)," according to Marrone. "The second key reason SATA will be successful is the push to make it interchangeable with SAS. Vendors are working to make serial SCSI drives compatible with serial ATA drives. This level of interchangeability will both reduce production costs for vendors and provide users with a level of flexibility they never had before."

Marrone said if a user can buy a system that can use either disk technology, they can choose when to use higher end SAS vs. SATA depending on business requirements and costs. "That alone will make the technology pretty attractive compared to parallel ATA [and traditional SCSI]."

Adaptec's Impetus for Playing Friendly with Rivals

The impetus for Adaptec partnering with rivals is simple: to push market demand forward by showing customers that it is willing to work with competitors to make interoperable products unbound by proprietary issues. The move is not unlike multiple storage vendors and rivals creating and supporting the Storage Management Interoperability Specification (SMI-S) to better handle the complications of storage networking.

Mike Chenery, vice president, advanced products engineering at Fujitsu Computer Products of America, discussed his company's desire to work with Adaptec and others in this matter.

"Serial Attached SCSI reduces the footprint of enterprise storage connections to enable dense form factors and smooth the migration to server blades," said Chenery.

Maxtor sees similar value in the teaming of rivals for this venture.

"Serial ATA drives will meet the needs of customers requiring cost-effective capacity for near-line storage of email archives and other reference data, while Serial Attached SCSI drives will deliver the highest levels of performance and reliability for bandwidth-intensive enterprise environments," said Mike Wingert, Maxtor's executive vice president and general manager, Server Products Group.

The firms will embark on such co-marketing activities as prototype demonstrations, speaking engagements at major trade shows, white papers on implementing Serial Attached SCSI solutions, seminars, and Webinars.

This story originally appeared on

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