Standards Group Zeros in on Serial-Attached SCSI Devices

Corporate data access speeds may soon get a boost from a standards body working on teaming SCSI devices with serial connections.

Corporate data access speeds may soon get a boost from a standards body working on teaming SCSI devices with serial connections.

The Serial Attached SCSI Working Group late last month ceased being a proprietary vendors group and last week completed the mandated seven-day waiting period for objections to becoming part of T10, said John Lohmeyer, group chairman and a principal engineer at LSI Logic Corp., in Milpitas, Calif.

T10 is SCSIs official standards body, reporting to the International Committee for Information Technology Standards and to ANSI.

With SAS, Lohmeyer said, SCSI can use dedicated, point-to-point connections, instead of the multipoint connections of parallel interfaces. That stops storage devices, servers and networking gear from getting busy signals when read/writes happen. SCSI is still popular, despite the ubiquity of Fibre Channel and the major vendor push of selling customers on networked storage instead of direct-attached storage, he said.

"Most of the industry is kind of thinking of parallel in terms of the end of the line, [but for SAS] we brought in a rather complete proposal," Lohmeyer said. "Its probably 80 percent, 90 percent done," and "our goal is to forward it out of T10 [and to INCITS] in November."

After a monthlong letter ballot over the Web, the proposal will likely reach INCITS by March and be followed by several months of public review, after which, it will go to ANSI. If there are no significant objections, ANSI could finish its job, and SAS could be official in 12 months, said Lohmeyer, who has worked on many such standards since 1981.

Something the SAS group needs to do, though, is communicate more with end users, according to some of those users.

"Id like to take a look at it further," said Philip Brown, senior data center manager at Focal Communications Corp., in Arlington Heights, Ill. "I think that people should still work on [SCSI]; its a proven technology."

Brown runs about 15 terabytes of data on systems from Hitachi Ltd., Compaq Computer Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. However, with some of the SCSI parts, "weve had contention. Its alarms that are captured by the systems administrators. Theyre seeing resets," he said.

The borrowing of much of Fibre Channels frames technology should help expedite SAS approval and, eventually, should help users such as Brown deal with those annoyances, Lohmeyer said.

The technology itself will likely end up in host bus adapters and switches/expanders, he said.