Emulex, Intel Introduce New Storage Processors at IDF

The companies' new processors can work hand-in-hand to serve market segments ranging from small and midsize businesses to Fortune 100 enterprises.

SAN FRANCISCO—Chip-making partners Intel and Emulex each introduced new storage processors Sept. 27 at the Intel Developer Forum that can work hand-in-hand to serve market segments ranging from small and midsize businesses to Fortune 100 enterprises.

Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif., unveiled its IOP34x family of microprocessors, which integrate a number of features: advanced data protection, hardware-based RAID 5/6 (redundant array of independent disks), multiple high-performance Intel XScale processor cores.

They also include support for high-speed and SAS (serial-attached SCSI) and SATA (serial ATA) interfaces in processors and controllers for server-direct attached and external storage products, a company spokesperson said.

Emulex, of Costa Mesa, Calif., announced what it called "the industrys first family of embedded storage processor products" that integrate support for all three serial storage protocols—Fibre Channel, SAS and SATA—within a single device.

"[Intels] new family of processors provides the storage industry with unprecedented product and interface design flexibility," said Hans Geyer, vice president and general manager of the Intel Storage Group.

"By building their products on a common architecture, storage OEMs can more easily accommodate a variety of product solutions, increase manufacturing options, address multiple market price-points and simplify component management."

This announcement gives a new meaning to the term "Intel Inside," said principal analyst David Hill of The Mesabi Group in Westwood, Mass.

"Intel has clearly recognized the importance of storage, and that is demonstrated in this release," Hill said.

"Intel has partnered with Emulex to create a common, compatible multi-protocol storage architecture. The three chips announced by Intel as the Intel IOP34x Storage Processor Family and the two chips introduced by Emulex as the Emulex Multi-Protocol Embedded Storage Processor Family can be mixed and matched as appropriate.

"For example, in a large SAN storage array, the use of all five chips is a distinct possibility," Hill said.

As part of this group of storage products, Intels IOP348 brings SAS RAID into the mainstream, Geyer said.

The IOP348 integrates an I/O processor controller, combining RAID and SAS technologies to deliver higher levels of storage performance for internal and external storage products.

The single-core Intel IOP341 I/O processor and two-core Intel IOP342 I/O processor can be used in both external storage and embedded systems that require high performance, Geyer said.

Made possible by a joint development effort with Emulex, product designs based on the Intel IOP34x I/O processors can be easily adapted to use the newly announced Emulex Fibre Channel products, such as the IOP 504 I/O processor and the multi-protocol Fibre Channel/SAS/SATA Emulex IOP 502M I/O processor for an extremely versatile range of interface options.

Likewise, products requiring discrete I/O controllers can benefit from multi-protocol products.

These products share a common software interface, based on Emulexs unique SLI (Service Level Interface) technology, allowing developers to leverage a common software driver architecture for seamless migration across the Emulex IOC 504 and 502M Controllers and the Intel IOP34x storage processor family, Geyer said.

"By working together with Intel, weve brought a new dimension to the benefits of flexibility and stability that result from a common, consistent multi-protocol architecture," said Mike Smith, executive vice president of worldwide marketing at Emulex.

"Storage OEMs can now develop multiple protocol versions of their storage systems based on the same underlying hardware architecture without investing additional development time and resources."

Pricing for the Intel IOP34x storage processors range from $53 to $152. The product is sampling to customers now and will begin entering volume production in the fourth quarter of 2006, Geyer said.

Emulexs new processors—Emulex IOP 502M, Emulex IOC 504 and Emulex IOP 504—are multi-application, multi-protocol and software-compatible, Smith said.

"Multi-protocol technologies let storage companies grow and adapt their systems without excessive cost," Geyer said.

"Intel and Emulex have collaborated on building multi-protocol storage products based on each others strengths to provide OEMs the cost and time-to-market advantage of investing in one piece of hardware and use it for different interface protocols."

From a hardware storage intellectual property perspective, the marriage of Intel and Emulex is made in storage heaven, Hill said.

"Intel obviously brings to the table its immense semiconductor design and manufacturing skills, and Emulex brings its deep dive storage protocol design expertise and experience," he added.

"Each company will market jointly, but they can also market together. The target customer is obviously the OEM system customer, but IT organizations will eventually benefit. All in all, then, Intel and Emulex have delivered the beef, and both OEMs and IT organizations will benefit."


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...