Broadcom Extends Serial ATA to RAID Controllers

Broadcom bets on affordable Serial ATA-based RAID.

Broadcom Corp. looks to help smaller customers improve the reliability and performance of storage servers by providing Serial ATA-based RAID processing capabilities at more affordable prices.

Broadcoms RAID controllers should help lower overall storage costs by making it easier for less sophisticated IT shops to perform such tasks as online capacity expansion and by enabling them to put more drives into their existing space, officials said.

Broadcom next week will make available its new RAIDCore BC4452-H and RAIDCore BC4852-H RAID controllers, which feature a Broadcom Serial ATA chip. The release is Broadcoms first using technology gained in its acquisition of RAIDCore Inc. in February. The four-port BC4452-H is priced at $289, while the eight-port BC4852 costs approximately $365, said Broadcom officials in Irvine, Calif.

New features of the host-based RAID controllers include bolstered mean time between failures of up to 3.5 million hours. The hardware can perform staggered drive spin-up, which should help servers avoid hiccups that could prematurely lead a RAID system into extended rebuild mode by misidentifying a drive being dropped, officials said.

In addition, Broadcom extended platform support for the RAID controllers to Linux. Earlier versions supported only Windows.

Online RAID-level migration and online capacity expansion, as well as array creation and deletion without reboot features, in the new RAIDCore BC4000 Series controllers can boost capacity and take some of the bite out of building and running a RAID system for less experienced customers on the lower end, industry analysts said.

"I think more and more people are realizing in order for them to run profitable businesses, they have to find ways to drive their storage costs down, and that is what RAID is doing," said Tony Asaro, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, in Milford, Mass. "[The RAIDCore BC4000 Series controller] opens up the market to a lot of other people now that may have not looked at using RAID before."

By having most of the processing occur through the CPU on the host, the RAID controllers should help customers take advantage of putting many more drives into a space.

Asaro said Broadcom must continue to tune its RAID controllers performance and provide more interface connectivity options, such as Serial Attached SCSI, to satisfy eventual customer demand.


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