Top-name storage, server and hard drive vendors, including Compaq Computer Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., on Monday announced a working group to draft a serial-attached SCSI interface, which could be productized by 2003 or 2004.
The new interface will enable users to attach the serial connections currently found in low-end computers into high-end SCSI systems. In enterprises, SCSI connections are used for connecting storage devices either inside or in the same area as the server, but the interfaces are expensive, tedious to configure and difficult to make backwards compatible, said Ian Williams, group manager for server storage products at Compaq.
But it was easier to make common serial ports work with SCSI devices than it would have been to make low-end ATA drives into enterprise-class systems, or to migrate high-end Fibre Channel systems downstream, he said.
"We didnt want a fourth standard. We actually needed something that would glue [the standards] together," Williams said.
The specification will be sent to standards bodies by the middle of next year, he said. Backward compatibility wont be a feature, but the brainstorming is already underway for a second-generation standard that will support dual interface ports for added reliability, and will be faster with speeds up to 6 GB per second. That should be out by 2004 or 2005, he said.
Along with Houston-based Compaq and Hitachi, based in Tokyo, the vendors working on serial-attached SCSI are Adaptec Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., IBM, Maxtor Corp., LSI Logic Corp., Qlogic Corp., Seagate Technology LLC, ServerWorks Inc. and Western Digital Corp.
"I was a bit skeptical of serial SCSI at first, until they were able to solidify the support [of the other vendors]," said Dave Reinsel, an analyst with International Data Corp., in Hutchinson, Minn.
The health of the hard drive industry, which gets most of its revenue from high-end products, could depend on the success of serial SCSI, Reinsel said. But other companies proprietary solutions to the same problem could be detrimental, he said.