Intel Chips Away at RAID

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Sticking with previously announced plans to greatly improve the storage processing capabilities of its Xeon line, Intel unveiled the IOP332 Storage I/O Processor, along with faster DDR2 memory.

Formerly code-named “Dobson,” the storage processor offers customers better RAID storage performance over previous generations, according to the chipmaker, whose partners IBM, Dell and HP all released servers based on the 3.60 GHz Intel E7520 and E7320 chipsets (formerly codenamed “Lindenhurst”).

The IOP332 was part of the news, albeit more subdued than the buzz around the Lindenhurst chips. The processor was designed to cost-effectively increase RAID storage performance to help improve data reliability and reduce downtime, both crucial characteristics in data centers chock full of computing gear.

The company said in a statement that the IOP332 employs DDR2 400 memory and the fastest Intel XScale core at 800 MHz to increase the speed of RAID5 data storage and recovery. An 800 MHz system bus and new PCI Express interconnect is also being used to curb the latency associated with classic PCI-X bridges.

With the arrival of 64-bit computing as a mainstay architecture on the computing scene, thanks to Intel and chip rivals AMD and IBM, the bar has also been raised for storage capabilities, as customers seek to get the biggest bang for their IT buck in server and storage gear.

Such features should be especially attractive to banks and other financial institutions that process millions of transactions per day. Uptime in these businesses is critical, so providing full 64-bit capability, improved storage and connectivity features is a must for Intel.

For example, Intel says the new DDR2 400 memory technology will have a 20 percent increase in memory bandwidth and up to 40 percent reduction in power over DDR 333. The concept of more memory with less power consumption is attractive to customers looking to beef up storage capacity without coughing up extra dollars for more electricity.

But these perks are also key for rack and blade servers, where the goal is to pack lots of computing power into a constrained space while keeping heat under control.

Moreover, the 800 MHz system bus provides 50 percent greater bandwidth between the chipset and the Intel Xeon processor, triggering faster data flow to applications.

The IOP332 Storage I/O Processor is currently priced at $82 for payloads of 1,000 chips.

Emulex and LSI Logic followed up on the Intel announcement by unveiling their own PCI Express products, with Emulex showcasing its PCI Express Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters and LSI Logic releasing its MegaRAID 320-2E and ROMB (RAID on Motherboard) PCI Express products.

Article courtesy of

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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