Multiplexer chip makes SATA drives viable option for SAS storage systems - Embedded.com

Multiplexer chip makes SATA drives viable option for SAS storage systems

Fremont, Calif.—SiliconStor Inc. has developed its fourth-generation active-active multiplexer (AAMUX) chip, the SS1320, which is designed to enable storage system manufacturers to build a serial ATA (SATA) interposer board that connects high-capacity SATA drives with enterprise-class features to SAS (serial attached SCSI) and Fibre Channel-to-SATA storage systems.

Based on SiliconStor's AAMUX technology, the SS1320 brings true active-active multiplexing to the SATA drive, with both ports simultaneously available, much like dual-ported Fibre Channel or SAS drives.

“SiliconStor's technology makes this possible by enhancing SATA drives with essential enterprise-class features,” said Joel Warford, vice president of marketing, citing easy interposer design and layout; reduced implementation cost with integrated voltage regulator; improved reliability for SAS storage systems; and robust interoperability with SAS expanders, SAS controllers, and latest SATA native command queuing hard disk drives.

Unlike the active-passive multiplexer in which two paths to the hard drive are active one at a time, SiliconStor's AAMUX technology allows both paths to remain active simultaneously. Because failover is no longer required, SiliconStor's technology enables SATA drives to perform at the level of reliability and availability required in enterprise storage applications such as active archiving, disk-based backup and regulatory compliance.

The primary target for SiliconStor's SS1320 are OEM vendors either retrofitting existing Fibre Channel storage systems or engineering new SAS backplane systems. In addition, SiliconStor is looking to expand their reach to include SOHO and consumer/home enthusiast storage markets, Warford said.

SiliconStor, which is a member of the Fibre Channel Industry Association www.fibrechannel.org pioneered the SATA interposer product category in 2004 with its first AAMUX product, the SS1100.

A year ago, it launched its third-generation product, the SS1300 that is now shipping in full production. For more, read: Multiplexer brings dual-ported interface to SATA drives www.eeproductcenter.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=172900127.

The fourth generation SS1320 builds on SiliconStor's SS1300, with a comprehensive suite of new manageability and system resiliency features including improved drive detection times, diagnostic controls, drive power control, resource fencing, and non-volatile read-write memory, according to Warford.

SATA spin-up delays are minimized with improved drive detection times, Warford said. The latest chip also implements advanced in-band diagnostic controls for PHY error counter and asynchronous host notification, as well as drive power control to manage drive spin-up and/or error recovery. Resource fencing gives the SS1320 the ability to deny or enable multiple host access to a SATA disk. It also includes non-volatile read-write memory for error and configuration logging.

Like the prior-generation device, the SS1320 improves system flexibility and reliability with enhanced signal conditioning and retiming, in addition to granular tuning of transmit amplitude, receive sensitivity and pre-emphasis settings at each port.

The SS1320 is now available for OEM qualification, with pricing less than $4.50 in volume. It is available in a package that is pin-compatible with the current generation SS1300 product so that it can be easily dropped in to existing OEM-built SATA interposer cards for JBODs, RAID storage arrays and backplane-based servers.

SiliconStor Inc., 1-510-490-7750, www.siliconstor.com.

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