Preparing the Jump to 12 G SAS

Arthur Cole
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Ten-point RFP Checklist for Enterprise Storage Technology Refresh Initiatives

The headlines in enterprise storage circles continue to swirl around solid-state technology and advanced cloud architectures, but some of the most significant developments in the coming year will focus on more mundane technologies.

One of these is the Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface, which is on the verge of a substantial upgrade designed to push legacy storage infrastructure into the fast lane. The Storage Networking Industry Association and the ISCSI Trade Association are planning to release the specs for the 12 Gbps version of the standard later this year, a move that will double throughput without increasing power consumption. At the same time, vendors will be able to assure backward compatibility all the way to 3 Gbps, ensuring that even low-priority data and applications have a means to tap into high-speed infrastructure.

You'll also see a dramatic improvement in network scalability and flexibility with 12 G SAS, according to ISCI Trade Association President Harry Mason. Through new external connectors like the Mini-SAS HD device, enterprises will be able to utilize active copper and optical links of up to 20 and 100 meters respectively, while at the same time preserving SAS as a primary host-level interconnect for inter-rack connectivity. This should enable improved scaling, increased density and simplified cabling.

High-speed SAS will also be a crucial component to hard disk storage platforms, which are still in high demand despite the wave of new SSD solutions. Hitachi recently released the Ultrastar C10K900 that uses a 6 Gbps SAS interface to boost both random and sequential performance by 18 percent while pushing capacity to 4 TB.

Meanwhile, SSDs can reap the benefits of SAS technology as well. Toshiba has teamed up with Super Micro to provide tiered SAS-based storage solutions using both hard disk and solid state media for Super Micro computing platforms. Packages include the MKx001GRZB SSD, the MBE2147RC and MBF2600RC/RE 2.5-inch HDDs and the MKx001TRKB/MKx002TSKB series 3.5-inch HDDs, all of which can be connected via 6 Gbps SAS at the moment.

High-speed storage will undoubtedly be a valuable resource for the enterprise going forward. But as storage architects focus on the new and improved forms of storage media, they would do well to pay equal heed to the storage interface.

After all, the faster storage in the world is of no use if data can't get out the front door.

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