Seven new processors promise cheaper, faster storage

New Emulex, Intel processors include support for multiple storage protocols in one device

Emulex and Intel will announce Wednesday a family of processors that includes support for multiple storage protocols in one device, which could result in less expensive, more flexible storage devices by the first half of next year.

The companies announced a total of seven processors, three from Emulex and four from Intel, which they worked on together. Some of the chips support Fibre Channel, serial attached SCSI (SAS) and serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) storage protocols on one chip. Typically, it would require at least two or three chips and perhaps as many as five to provide that functionality, said Mike Wall, general manager for storage group marketing at Intel.

Users will benefit because storage vendors will be able to produce more functionality with one chip, which takes up less space, uses less power and produces less heat and costs less than existing chips, Wall said. The chips will be of particular interest to blade server manufacturers because of the limited amount of space they have, he said.

Both companies have shipped production samples to reseller partners, and they said they expect announcements of end-user products in the fourth quarter. The majority of their storage vendor partners will be shipping products in the first half of 2007, Wall said. He would not specify which vendors had the chips or would be announcing products, but clients of the two companies include major vendors such as Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Network Appliance and Sun Microsystems, said Brian Reed, vice president of business development at Emulex.

Emulex said its new IOP 502M I/O Processor includes two ports of 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel and four ports of 3Gbit/sec. SAS/SATA. The Emulex IOC 504 I/O Controller and IOP 504 I/O Processor each include four ports of 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel.

Intel said its new IOP341 I/O Processor has a single core, and its IOP342 I/O Processor has a dual core, which lets the chip run two applications simultaneously. Intel's new IOP348 I/O Processor has eight ports of 3Gbit/sec. SAS/SATA, and the IOC340 I/O Controller has eight ports of 3Gbit/sec. SAS/SATA.

In addition, Emulex's IOP502M and Intel's IOP348 each have a separate processor so they can support RAID as well, the companies said

All the new chips use Emulex's Service Level Interface, which means that applications written for one chip will run on the others, Reed said.

The companies had first announced their intention to work together on the processors in April, 2003. The vendors said when they signed their partnership agreement that they expected to deliver the processors in 2004. The vendors said the chips were delayed by the slow ramp up of SAS technology in the marketplace.

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