Vixel announces new switch

Further distancing itself from once competitors Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and QLogic Corp., Vixel Corp. Monday introduced a 20-port back-end Fibre Channel switch designed as a SOC (system on a chip), a blade, or a box and provides switching to disks found in an array.

The new 20-port switch, dubbed InSpeed Model 320 SOC, joins the 312 -- a 12-port switch. Like the 312, the 320 was designed to be integrated into storage arrays as a mechanism to bringing switching capability to a traditional 16-drive JBOD (just a bunch of disks). The 312 and 320 feature 2Gbps FC per port.

Brian Reed, senior director of business development, explains that the switch is designed into an array between the RAID controllers and the drive trays. He says it replaces a hub based on port bypass circuitry that is shared amongst all drives and therefore becomes a bottleneck if a disk fails.

Reeds adds that currently no other vendor has developed a back-end switch and that the company's competition is the array vendors themselves, who use their own technology.

The 312 switch has already been OEMed by Hewlett-Packard Co. and Network Appliance Inc.

The new 320 is in production now says Reed and will be generally available in the US in March. He adds that 7 OEMs, including NEC, are currently evaluating the new 20-port switch.

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