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Xyratex launches 8 Gbps RAID controller

Xyratex rolls out the storage industry's first 8 Gbps Fibre Channel RAID controller with disk spin-down and new cooling management features.

Xyratex's OneStor F6500E 8 Gbps Fibre Channel RAID controller supports SAS and SATA II 3.5-inch drives and SAS 2.5-inch drives. It has dual Fibre Channel ports and an expansion bus to connect other SAS enclosures and supports single- and dual-node configurations.

While 8 Gbps Fibre Channel switches and host bus adapters (HBA) have been available for months, major storage vendors haven't rolled out native 8 Gbps arrays, yet. EMC and IBM have systems that will handle 8 Gbps through I/O module upgrades, probably in 2009.

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"There aren't many 8 Gbps Fibre Channel integrations out there, certainly nothing from any of the big boys," said Mark Peters, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group. This is the forefront of the technology. Some of the HBA providers are beginning to integrate 8 Gbps, and we'll see more and more integration products in the coming years."

Paul Vogt, Xyratex's senior director of product management, said the use of high-definition media in the video editing and medical imaging markets, sophisticated number-crunching applications, transactional databases, off-site disaster recovery sites and the need to reduce system backup windows drive the need for 8 Gbit storage.

The Xyratex OneStor system is built around three rack-mount base enclosures, a 4U 24-bay unit, a 2U 24-bay unit and the new 2U 12-bay model. Four modules are plug-and-play ready for use with any enclosure. The modules include an SAS I/O module, a RAID module, a SAS I/O expansion module that can sit behind a RAID module and expand the array up to 96 drives, and an application module. Vogt said the new RAID controller works with every enclosure and module.

"You can't knock choice," Peters said about Xyratex's modular design, "and you'll never have enough of it. "Xyratex must supply a range of products to the market because they're not aiming at one particular niche, they're aiming at OEMs, which, in turn, are supplying a range of products and services for a variety of applications."

The new RAID controller includes the company's StorView policy-based power management and data services software. IT administrators can use the management application to set usage thresholds for reduced power usage. The controller "has the capability to spin down drives when they've been idle and reduce power consumption by up to 40%," Vogt said.

While the controller uses the StorView management system, the enclosure system uses the Genesis Enclosure Management (GEM) platform to control power and data services. . The OneStor enclosures include multiple monitors through the boxes, and GEM can use the monitors' accumulated data to manage the 580W power cooling units so the enclosures are kept cool without wasting energy. GEM's data services management provides service status and persistent event logging. GEM's individual drive control allows administrators to power down and reboot idle drives.

Xyratex's technology advances must first find their way into new OEM storage system solutions, and it will be months before end users are able to use the speedier controllers and flexible module designs.

The company doesn't say which partners will use the system, but it is likely to be sold by smaller vendors because its large OEMs, such as NetApp, Dell and IBM, only use Xyratex JBODs and not its RAID technology.

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