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PMC samples 6Gbit SAS 2.0 controller

Posted: 18 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:SAS 2.0 standard? systems interconnect? SAS 2.0 controllers?

PMC-Sierra is pushing through the transition to 6Gbps Serial Attached-SCSI (SAS) hard disk interface with the sampling of Tachyon SPC 8x6G SAS controller for the SAS 2.0 standard.

Based on the Tachyon line of Fibre Channel controllers PMC acquired from Agilent Technologies a year ago, the controller can bolster reliability and performance in storage subsystems and networks by doubling the interconnect's data rate, PMC said.

The Tachyon SPC 8x6G is an eight-port controller capable of linking up to 128 drives and delivering up to 250,000 I/O operations per second. It supports AES encryption as well as an end-to-end parity feature from existing Fibre Channel controllers.

The controllers cost $110 in 10,000-unit quantities, at par with PMC's existing 4Gbit Fibre

Channel controllers. The chips are sampling now and ride an 8x PCI Express 2.0 systems interconnect.

PMC hopes it can encourage system makers to adopt its 6Gbit controllers early on as a way of simplifying the storage electronics inside hard disk arrays and server blades. Today many arrays and servers use 3Gbps SAS drives, and PMC believes those systems can consolidate their electronics using fewer SAS 2.0 controllers, given the 2:1 multiplexing capability in the spec.

In addition, new zoning and management features also in SAS 2.0 may encourage server blade makers to adopt the technology before the arrival of the SAS 2.0 drives, said Nigel Alvares, a product marketing manager for PMC.

SAS 2.0 review
The SAS 2.0 spec will go through final review this summer. As many as six chip makers are expected to bring prototype chips to the first plugfest for SAS 2.0 this fall. The plugfest will give developers a chance to test out novel aspects of the spec. They include a spread spectrum clocking technique aimed at easing EMI verification as well as a decision-feedback equalization scheme used to recover data.

Whether PMC can make hay with its time-to-market advantage remains to be seen. The full ecosystem of SAS 2.0 controllers, hard disk drives and associated silicon is not expected to be ready until sometime in 2008, said Harry Mason, director of industry marketing for LSI Logic and president of the SCSI Trade Association (STA) that oversees the SAS standard.

If all goes well, chip makers will be able to make any final modifications to their parts so they are production ready in early 2008. Under that scenario, STA expects systems including drives, cards and arrays using SAS 2.0 to ship in early 2009, Mason said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times




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