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Storage processors to sharply boost protocol bandwidth

Posted: 17 Apr 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Athens? Astute Networks? Athens? AN2000? AN2004?

Astute Networks' Athens, the second-generation family of storage processors named, which consists of AN2000 and AN2004, have been significantly enhanced over its Pericles family of storage devices.

Aimed at speeding up network and storage protocols, Athens storage processors are based on a parallel RISC architecture with specialized hardware engines. They can run more than 1.6 million I/O operations per second (IOPS) in less than 14W in Fiber Channel applications, and more than 200,000 IOPS for iSCSI, the company said.

In addition, Athens 2000 processor offers 16Gbps full duplex Fiber Channel bulk throughput and 10Gbps TCP & iSCSI throughput. And the 2004 processor provides full duplex throughput of 8Gbps for Ethernet applications.

The latest devices, which are protocol engines designed to accelerate bandwidth in storage applications, integrate several I/O interfaces. Athens 2000 is a single-chip device with an 8-lane, PCIe host interface, a single 10GbE)port via a XAUI-compliant interface and SerDes, four 1- 2- and 4-Gbps Fiber Channel MACs and SerDes, and four Gigabit Ethernet MACs and SerDes. The Athens 2000 is tailored specifically for NAS, iSCSI and Fiber Channel storage applications.

Athens 2004 is also a highly integrated, single-chip device, which is intended for NAS and iSCSI applications. The 2004 integrates several I/O interfaces, including a 10-GbE XAUI Port and 8 lane PCIe host interface, the Astute added.

Flexible interfaces allow Athens to be incorporated into PCIe add-in cards, and directly onto server motherboards. Full support of the PCIe 1.0a standard ensures compatibility with industry standard host CPUs such as Intel architecture and PowerPC processors. The PCIe interface provides 16Gbps via the 8-lane interface.

Both Athens 2000 and 2004 are C programmable through firmware running on up ten 32-bit, 333MHz RISC processor cores, which have access to up to 512MB of memory. 266MHz DDR SDRAM is used to store state and payload data for protocols that require packets to be put back into a sequenced data stream.

The AN2000 and AN2004 are packaged in an 896-pin Hyper BGA. Parts are in qualification now, and engineering samples will be available in this quarter.

The company has still not released pricing information. A spokesperson said that the timing is just too premature for anything to be released, considering Astute is still working with suppliers to finalize the exact price. Still, Athens' features enable storage OEMs to service multiple markets, including high-end, mid-range and low-end.

- Ismini Scouras

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