Alacritech Accelerates iSCSI

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Alacritech has introduced an iSCSI accelerator that outperforms iSCSI HBAs from Intel and Adaptec .

The San Jose, Calif.-based firm says its SES1001 iSCSI accelerator uses the company’s SLIC Technology, the basis of TOE (TCP/IP offload engine) solutions, and is the only iSCSI HBA to offer seamless hardware acceleration for the Microsoft iSCSI Software Initiator as well as resiliency and systems management functionality.

iSCSI addresses distance limitations imposed by SCSI, but in the process introduces a new performance problem: TCP/IP processing, which “requires server cycles to process the stack, which can significantly degrade overall network performance,” Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner at Data Mobility Group, wrote in a recent report on Alacritech.

To get around the problem, Alacritech has offloaded TCP/IP processing from host software onto silicon. The company’s SLIC Technology architecture offloads TCP/IP and iSCSI protocol processing to a programmable ASIC on an adapter card. SLIC lets Alacritech deliver TOE NIC (or TNIC) cards that support both network (TCP/IP) and storage (iSCSI) traffic.

iSCSI HBAs also improve scalability, according to McAdam. “You don’t have to have an iSCSI HBA card to attach iSCSI storage to a server; a NIC card will work nicely — up to a point,” she wrote. “When the number of iSCSI requests exceeds available server cycles, the server will either need to be upgraded or another server will need to be added to handle the load.”

Since the cost of an additional server can far exceed the cost an iSCSI HBA card, “it may make better to sense to go with the iSCSI HBA from the get-go. Not only will you end up paying less over the long term, you’ll also benefit from proven better performance and resiliency,” McAdam wrote.

Joe Gervais, Alacritech’s director of product marketing, says the company’s iSCSI HBA is the only one to use the Microsoft initiator without replacing it, and is also the only one to offer Ethernet failover across cards.

The results, according to independent testing firm VeriTest, which was commissioned by Alacritech to test its offering against iSCSI HBAs from Intel and Adaptec, are impressive.

Alacritech SES1001 iSCSI Accelerator

Alacritech SES1001 iSCSI Accelerator

The Alacritech SES1001 bested the competition in every category, including dual-link performance, single failure and restore, throughput, and peak transaction rate. Alacritech’s 47,690 IOPS (Input/Output operations per second) trounced the 10,000-15,000 IOPS delivered by Intel and Adaptec.

“It’s like someone playing single-A ball versus someone playing in the major leagues,” boasts Alacritech technical marketing engineer Matt Robinson.

Alacritech was founded by Larry Boucher, who authored the original SCSI specifications and also founded Adaptec.

Alacritech says its iSCSI Accelerator has achieved broad interoperability certification with leading IP storage solution providers, including Cisco Systems, EqualLogic, FalconStor, Intransa, McDATA, and SANRAD. Pricing for the HBAs is $599 for the SES1001T 10/100/1000BASE-T Twisted Pair, and $799
for the SES1001F 1000BASE-SX Fiber Optic.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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