Serial ATA (the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or SATA) is a relatively new standard for connecting hard drives to computer systems. As its name implies, SATA is based on serial signaling technology, unlike current IDE hard drives that use parallel signaling.
The big draw of serial ATA (SATA) technology is the price tag. When you consider that hard drives represent 30-80% of the overall cost of storage systems and that SATA drives are one-third the cost of Fibre Channel disks the economics become compelling. But industry experts say SATA technology is roughly 80% cheaper than Fibre Channel disk, but the dramatic price difference does not necessarily mean that storage systems will be 80% cheaper.
"We're characterizing [SATA] as secondary storage, said Steve Gardner, director of product marketing at LSI Logic Storage Systems. Gardner explained that SATA technology doesn't have the I/O performance of FC drives. "On an IOPs basis a SATA drive will produce about a quarter the IOPs as a Fibre Channel drive. The time to data is slow, but once you get there it transfers quickly," he said.
The bottom line, according to Gardener, is that primary applications with high I/O requirements should live on Fibre Channel disks and secondary storage applications like backup and recovery, fixed content and at a remote site for low cost disaster recovery are the best fit for SATA.
The market hype for SATA is at its peak and the vendor community is striking while the iron is hot. If they aren't supporting SATA drives yet, they soon will be.
In an effort to bring you up to speed on the latest SATA technology developments, SearchStorage.com has put together a product guide to list several of the SATA-based systems that have been announced during the past few months.
SATA mini-product guide:
Company: iQstor Networks
Product: iQStor iQ1200
Description: Storage startup iQstor Networks, Newbury Park, Calif., has set the bar for low-cost Fibre Channel SANs with the debut of its iQ1200, a self-contained serial ATA (SATA) storage array that features embedded software usually found in high-end systems. The cost? Pricing for a 1 TB configuration starts at less than $10,000.
Related article: Sub-$10,000 SANs become a reality
Company: MaXXan Systems
Product: MaXXan Systems SVT100 virtual tape library appliance
Description: MaXXan, San Jose, Calif., on Monday launched two disk-based virtual tape library (VTL) appliances that utilize existing backup servers and software and centralize the management of data. The new SVT100 virtual tape library appliance is a standalone system, and the SVT200 features a blade architecture and requires a MaXXan MXV320T intelligent application switch in order to function. The system's software is based on IPStor software from FalconStor Software Inc., a MaXXan partner.
Related article: Virtual tape offers first step toward disk-based backup
Company: Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST)
Product: 7,200 rpm DeskStar 7K400
Description: Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) has broken the capacity record with one of its disk drives. Today, it announced an ATA and serial ATA (SATA) disk drive, the 7,200 rpm DeskStar 7K400. The new drive hit the 400 GB mark by upping the number of platters to five, Compared with three on the DeskStar 7K250. In other words, Hitachi has not increased its areal density. The drive includes a rotation vibration sensor, or RVS. Environments that pack in a lot of drives in a small space tend to create vibrations, especially at higher rpms. Equipped with RVS, the drive can compensate for environmental vibration, and help keep read-write heads on track. A standard feature on 10,000 and 15,000 rpm drives.
Related article: At 400 GB, Hitachi DeskStar is new heavyweight champ
Company: Hewlett Packard
Product: StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSA) family
Description: HP will add support for low cost Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives to its StorageWorks Modular Smart Array (MSA) family. Products in the MSA family will support both SATA and traditional SCSI disk enclosures and can scale up to 24 TB in a standalone configuration with native Fibre Channel connectivity. The new HP StorageWorks MSA offerings are expected to be available in the second quarter of 2004.
Related article: HP offers low-cost SAN gear
Product: TotalStorage FastT Expansion Unit
Description: Big Blue has jumped on the low-cost Serial ATA disk drive bandwagon for 2004. IBM has begun shipping a new TotalStorage FastT expansion unit that lets companies attach SATA disk drives to its FastT900 and FastT600 midrange storage servers for users looking for cost effective storage options in the age of compliance.
Related article: IBM ships Serial ATA drives for midrange storage servers
Product: ISA 1500
Description: Adaptec launched a trio of new storage arrays in February based on Fibre Channel and iSCSI. The ISA 1500 is an iSCSI ATA external storage array that provides one 1 TB of storage in four Serial ATA (SATA) drives. The FS4500 is a FC-to-SATA external storage RAID box, scalable to 24 TB of storage and the FS4100 is a FC-to-SATA JBOD system.
Related article: Adaptec launches external storage systems
Company: Ario Data Networks
Product: ARIO Data family of SATA controllers
Description: A startup called Ario Data Networks wants to take the lead in helping users transition to systems adopting the Serial ATA (SATA) interface. Ario is already shipping a family of board-level products and has leaked plans for a series of integrated ASICs that will be announced later this year. Ario's current 1.5 G-Bit/sec SATA controller boards provide software emulation of the full SCSI command set, a feature not widely available in today's first-generation SATA chips and boards.
Related article: Ario aims storage controllers at Serial ATA transition
Company: Silicon Graphics
Product: InfiniteStorage TP9300S
Description: Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI), Mountain View, Calif., launched two new disk storage systems late last year, the SGI InfiniteStorage TP9300S and TP9500S. According to SGI, the new SATA models will play a key role in SGI's Integrated Lifecycle Management solution, working with SGI servers and shared file systems to automate data movement in a multi-tiered storage architecture. The TP9300S can support up to 112 drives and over 16TB of raw capacity. Each TP9500S array has a maximum capacity of 56TB. Users can combine multiple TP9500S arrays into a single file system up to Terabytes or even petabytes, according to SGI.
Related article: New Serial ATA systems slide into secondary storage role
Company: LSI Logic Storage Systems
Product: 5884 and 2882 SATA storage systems
Description: LSI Logic Storage Systems claims to be one of the first to introduce SATA technology in enterprise class storage systems. LSI's bid for the SATA market came in the form of new storage systems using the Maxtor MaXLine SATA hard drives and LSI's 5884 and 2882 controllers. The new systems are designed for midrange and enterprise application environments needing lower cost storage and are willing to sacrifice some performance without losing the availability, data integrity and features currently achieved with Fibre Channel based storage systems.
Related article: LSI files IPO for storage systems subsidiary
Product: Wahoo-SATA 2Gbit Fibre Channel to SATA RAID controller
Description: Also entering the SATA market, nStor Corp., Carlsbad, Calif., has demonstrated its Wahoo-SATA 2Gbit Fibre Channel to SATA RAID controller, which has the ability to connect up to sixteen SATA disk drives, providing up to 4TB of capacity. The new Wahoo-SATA RAID design is nStor's second generation 2Gbit RAID controller which uses the same RAID features found in nStor's Fibre-Fibre Wahoo controller now available with Serial ATA disk support. The Wahoo-SATA RAID controller family has three different host interfaces (2Gbit Fibre Channel, Ultra320 SCSI, and 1Gbit iSCSI) to satisfy SAN, direct-attached and networked storage requirements. The nStor SATA RAID controllers have the ability to connect up to sixteen Serial ATA disk drives, providing up to 4TB of capacity.
Related article: nStor shells out $10 million telco management company