Can SAS Make It as an Interconnect?

Arthur Cole

There's an interesting article on Infostor this week questioning the validity of SAS-based SANS -- not that the technology isn't viable or does not have some appreciable benefits, but whether anyone is really interested in yet another storage fabric.

Author Kevin Komiega points out that SAS is both a disk interface and an interconnect, a double role that does simplify network topologies a bit. But this is the era of converged storage networking; enterprises are prepping themselves for a new generation of network adapters that bring iSCSI and Fibre Channel under one roof. So why add even more complexity to the network?

Members of the SCSI Trade Association (STA) are quick to point out that SAS-as-interconnect is not the technology's main focus. But they do point out that SAS could be useful as a short-hop solution, say within a blade chassis or server cluster. And a company called Rancho Technology is working on expanders and other technologies that could be used to connect targets and initiators in the hopes of providing a solution for front-end storage subsystems.

Any kind of SAS-based storage network system would probably need to show some real advantage over existing protocols to make a dent at this late stage of the game. There's no question that the technology can be delivered -- it's only a matter of whether it provides any real value.

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Apr 29, 2009 8:26 AM Jim U'Ren Jim U'Ren  says:

I enjoyed the InfoStor article on SAN-based SANs as it was timely to our releasing one of our FastStream RAID Storage Controllers in a SAS to SAS/SATA format( for exactly the reasons discussed.

We feel that shared storage is an important tool in our market (Video/Digital film) and the expense of a Fibre Channel SAN can be prohibitive for small studios. Our Fibre Channel to SAS RAID Storage Controller has been successful in 3-4 seat SAN environments but several of our customers have no slot space in their workstation/server for a PCIe based Host Adapter.

They do, however, have on-board SAS in newer Servers from companies like HP. We can run MiniSAS connections from on-board SAS to the FastStream to allow up to 4 workstations to share storage, if a SAS switch came out to market (or specific fan out cables), that would allow more users to access storage. On the storage side we can attach up to 8- 16 bay SAS and/or SATA JBOD enclosures (total of 128 drives) to create a RAID5/6 protected shared storage solution with high performance and low latency that has a price point much lower than other shared storage solutions on the market. The value add of using JBOD storage in addition to the ability to connect tape drives for archiving make our solution pretty compelling.


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