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ServerWorks enters storage controller market

Posted: 21 Jan 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:serverworks? sata host controller? serial ata controller? parallel ata? pata?

ServerWorks Corp. has announced its entry to the storage controller market by sampling its new line of serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) host controller that can be used in any computer system including PCI or PCI-X bus technologies.

The line consists of a PCI-X-based four-port SATA controller, a PCI-X-based eight-port SATA controller, and a dual-channel multiplexor, which links either a SATA device or a parallel ATA (PATA) device to two separate host controllers for storage applications that require failover and load balancing abilities.

The controllers are members of the company's SystemI/O product family and feature a core logic technology that manages the flow of data to and from system processors, memory, and peripheral I/O devices.

"Servers are all about I/O bandwidth. ServerWorks initially focused on server platforms, and designed logic that delivers the highest memory and I/O bus bandwidth in the industry. Now we are creating peripherals that can exploit all of that system bandwidth," said David Pulling, EVP of Sales and Marketing at ServerWorks.

The SATA 1.0 specification replaces the 40-conductor flat ribbon cable used to connect disk drives to the motherboards of most PCs with thin and flexible point-to-point cables. The specification also outlines a data transfer rate of up to 150MBps, higher than the 100MBps specified by Parallel ATA.

Multi-device control

The SWC-IB7453 quad host controller can manage up to four SATA devices, while the SWC-IB7451 octal host controller can support eight. System designers can utilize either component to support JBOD ("Just a Bunch Of Drives") or RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) array configurations.

These arrays can be linked directly to the host computer via its local PCI-X bus, or they can be used within SAN and NAS storage nodes, which are then attached to a remote host computer via FibreChannel, iSCSI, or InfiniBand.

The SATA controllers support hot-plug capability and can be attached to the drives they control using either standard Serial ATA cables or via backplane interfaces. The latter mode enables individual disk drives to be individually inserted or removed from a storage rack while the system remains in operation.

Existing drivers, designed for use with standard PATA controllers, can be used on the SATA controllers without modification. Alternately, software drivers for the new controllers can invoke Queued Direct Memory Access, which supports ultra-deep command queues with up to 256 commands per queue for each port, along with individual DMA engines for each port.

Redundant links

Apart from the new host controllers, ServerWorks has also introduced the SWC-IB7452 multiplexor device that provides upstream links to two SATA host controllers and downstream links to a SATA or PATA device.

The upstream links allow the attached drive to be shared by both SATA controllers, facilitating the construction of redundant storage arrays and enabling load-sharing arrangements. The downstream link can be configured to handle either SATA or PATA peripherals, giving system suppliers and end users the ability to mix and match legacy parallel drives and new serial drives.

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