Vixel Enhances SAN Reliability in SOC 320 Chip

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-02-03

Storage component maker Vixel Corp. announced a new version of its InSpeed SOC switch-on-a-chip product last week, promising lower prices and better SAN reliability for customers of midrange storage arrays.

The device is a switched-architecture chip that connects individual drives in parallel inside arrays. The new version has 20 ports, versus 12 in previous models, to accommodate storage vendors products of 16 data ports with two inputs and two outputs, officials said.

It can save users money and rack space because OEMs no longer have to use two of the old version, said Tom Hammond-Doel, technical director of the Bothell, Wash., company.

Also new in the InSpeed SOC 320 are chip trunking and failover features. Chips can interconnect with up to four links each, Hammond-Doel said. New diagnostics and trending features include counters for cyclical redundancy check errors, plus detectors for corrupted and misordered bit traffic, he said.

The chip runs at silicon speed versus the prior versions firmware speed, Hammond-Doel said.

The product will ship by late next month to storage vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Network Appliance Inc., Hammond-Doel said. Both currently use older versions in their entry-level systems and are expected to upgrade, he said.


  • Can go in ASICs, blades, arrays or appliances
  • Will support future enterprise-ready Serial ATA drives
  • Loop initialization primitives enable daisy-chaining
  • Reduce wiring and back-end storage complexity
  • Neither HP nor NAI officials were available for comment.

    "Youd see it in a majority of the Fibre Channel RAID systems in the future. Performancewise, it gives them a little bit, but the big advantage is it gives them error isolation," said analyst Randy Kerns, of Evaluator Group Inc., referring to the new diagnostic and reliability enhancements.

    The only drawback is that users must rely on their storage vendors to design around the chip; its not something that could ever be an aftermarket purchase, said Kerns, in Greenwood Village, Colo.

    For some vendors in the current economy, "Theres probably some better places to spend your money," although no other companies make such chips, Kerns said.

    The SOC 320 would be a good fit for products such as EMC Corp.s Clariion or various LSI Logic Corp. arrays, Kerns said.

    LSIs array is sold by IBM, as the FastT, and by Storage Technology (StorageTek) Corp., as the D series.

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