New Chips Pave Way for Faster Storage -

New Chips Pave Way for Faster Storage

Looking to expand its chipmaking empire, Intel Monday debuted a batch of optical transceivers it says offer twice the speed of current Fibre Channel storage systems at a cost that’s not much more than what is already out in the market.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaking giant said its new Intel TXN31015 and TXN31115 transceivers are designed to handle video and graphics applications as well as new requirements for increased document retention and security, both of which are driving the need for faster storage networks.

The two new 4 Gigabit per second (4-Gig) optical transceivers are aimed at host bus adapters (HBAs) , switches , and Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) storage.

Intel said both products conform to multi-source agreements (MSA) — standards that define electrical, physical, and other characteristics, and are compatible with existing 2-Gig and 1-Gig systems.

The TXN31015 is based on the compact Small Form Factor (SFF) MSA, and is targeted at HBAs and RAID applications in storage area networks (SANs) . The TXN31115 is based on the Small Form Factor Pluggable (SFP) MSA and is designed for 4-Gig Fibre Channel switches. Both transceivers are designed to operate on the 850nm multimode optical fiber found in 90 percent of enterprise networks.

Sampling today with partners, the two transceivers should be shipping to the public in the second half of 2004, according to Intel. Both units are priced at $47 in sample quantities of 1,000, and should eventually cost about as much as current hardware running anywhere between 1 and 2 Gbps when bought in bulk.

Intel currently has a product line of networking chips running at 10 Gbps, as well as a selection of optical transceivers. The new units support the 4-Gig Fibre Channel specification, which is quickly becoming a favorite of storage vendors looking to avoid bottlenecks in storage area networks systems running at least 2 Gbps but not as much as 10 Gbps.

"The new transceivers complement our broad line of 10 Gbps transceivers, offering storage system vendors a range of optical options for all levels of storage systems," Bob Zona, marketing director of Intel's Optical Products Division said in a statement.

In related news, Intel added two new transceivers to its optical transceiver family for entry-level 1-Gig and 2-Gig Fibre Channel and Ethernet storage systems. The new 2/1 Gbps Intel TXN31011 SFF and TXN31111 SFP transceivers operate at 2 and 1 Gbps Fibre Channel and at 1 Gbps Ethernet rates. They are designed for Fibre Channel HBAs and switches and Ethernet network interface cards (NICs). Both are available now and are priced at $35 in quantities of 1,000.

Vitesse Delivers 4-Gig Chip

Vitesse Semiconductor made its own 4-Gig announcement this week, claiming "the industry's only fully integrated solution for managed 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel storage systems and storage networks."

The VSC7196 is a 22-port, accelerated JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) Integrated Controller (IC). The Camarillo, Calif.-based company says the chip "provides many of the performance and flexibility benefits attributed to fully switched IC implementations without the burden of added complexity," while maintaining cost parity with traditional PBC (Port Bypass Circuit) and EM (Enclosure Management) device technology.

With highly efficient interconnects and robust enclosure management capabilities, Vitesse says systems using the architecture can be developed at a cost savings of up to 50% over other offerings.

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