Sunnyvale, Calif.Applied Micro Circuits Corp. (AMCC) is debuting its next generation of hardware RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) controllers. These have support for the latest SATA 2.5 (Serial ATA) specification.
The PCI-X-platform 3ware 9550SX family is based on AMCC's StorSwitch, a seventh-generation non-blocking switched fabric storage architecture. StorSwitch provides scaleable capacity up to 8-terabytes/controller, using 500-Gbyte drives. Total system capacity is limited only by available PCI-X slots.
StorSwitch also permits 3ware RAID controllers to concurrently communicate to all attached SATA drives through a pool of 32 DMA (direct memory access) channels. The result is claimed to be superior compared to non-scalable hub-based sub-systems that share the bandwidth of a single DMA channel.
According to AMCC, its 3ware 9550SX is 200% faster than the company's previous-generation 9500S model. As such, the 9550SX delivers RAID 5 writes at over 380-Mbytes/s and RAID 5 reads at more than 800-Mbytes/s.
The series also provides 3-Gbit/s wire speeds and NCQ (native command queuing) support. NCQ optimally re-orders commands, reducing hard drive overhead and improving drive endurance.
The series also features capacity expansion and fail-over capabilities through support for Port Selector and Port Multiplication. The 3-Gbit/s capability increases SATA wire speed from 1.5-GHz) to 3-GHz, and is intended to be 100% backward-compatible with existing drivers and cabling.
Port Multiplication support provides a platform to attach multiple drives to a single SATA port for random access applications. For its part, Port Selector support implements active/passive controller redundancy. It and eliminates a single point of failure in storage sub-systems. Both Port Selector and Port Multiplication functions are integrated in chassis designs.
Off-Loading The Host
The company’s hardware RAID architecture features an on-board processor, and an integrated RAID ASIC that offloads RAID controller functions from the host CPU. That dedicates server processing to its core applications, enhancing overall system performance.
These RAID controllers also implement StorSave. It's a combination of reliability enhancements and an optional BBU (battery back-up unit). StorSave ensures data protection and reliability without sacrificing I/O performance. It permits the 9550SX to use and protect both controller cache and disk cache.
The result is strengthened array performance during optimal usage, as well as during degraded RAID 5 operations. The optional 9550SX BBU maximizes reliability with cached write data protection.
Another innovation is called StreamFusion. It's an intelligent cache algorithm that maximizes performance under heavy loads by dynamically detecting the presence of multiple simultaneous write data streams. It allocates controller cache for maximum bandwidth, preventing the controller from becoming a performance bottleneck.
AMCC also offers SATA controllers that feature multi-lane connectivity. These are for high-capacity industrial environments. Multi-lane is a locking cable/connector system that combines four SATA ports into a single locked connection on the controller.
Price And Availability
A 3ware 9550SX-4LP, which is a 4-port kit, and a 9550SX-8LP 8-port kit, both in low-profile form-factors, are available now. They're priced at about $395 and $595, respectively.
AMCC says 12-port and 16-port kits will be available later priced at about $800 and $995. All of these products will carry 3-year warranties and are compatible with Windows 2003, Windows XP, windows 2000, Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux, and FreeBSD operating systems.
Click here to review an engineering datasheet (in Adobe Acrobat .PDF format).
For more details contact Applied Micro Circuits Corp., 6290 Sequence Drive, San Diego, Calif. 92121. Phone: 877-883-9273, or 408-542-8771. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Applied Micro Circuits, 408-542-8771, www.3ware.com