New RAID Controllers: Serial ATA From 3ware, Ultra320 From Adaptec

3ware, Mountain View, Calif., unveiled four-, eight- and 12-port RAID controllers based on the Serial ATA specifications.

Meanwhile, Adaptec unveiled four RAID controllers featuring Ultra320 SCSI compatibility, including a single-, dual- and two zero-channel cards.

3ware's Escalade 8500 series of Serial ATA RAID controllers uses a switched architecture under which each hard drive is connected to its own cable, said Barbara Murphy, director of product marketing.

In traditional SCSI or parallel ATA cards, multiple drives are connected to the same cable, meaning they share a common bus, thereby limiting performance, said Murphy. Since the Escalade 8500 uses a switched architecture, performance when multiple drives are connected is equal to the sum of all the drives and actually scales with the number of drives, she said.

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The company also offers a flush-mount converter that allows parallel ATA hard drives to be connected to the serial ATA cable, thus letting customers upgrade to serial ATA without tossing out old drives, Murphy said. The only difference is that when parallel ATA drives are connected in such a manner, their performance does not scale like that of serial ATA drives, she said.

About 70 percent to 80 percent of 3ware's sales go through the channel, not including sales to OEMs, said Murphy. About 50 percent are sold to Linux systems builders, she said.

Manufacturer suggested retail price for the four-port controller is $449, compared with $599 for the eight-port version and $849 for the 12-port version.

The Adaptec 2120S single-channel and 2200S dual-channel adapters come with 64 Mbytes of embedded cache, said Carvilla Dossett, RAID product marketing manager for the company. The adapters also feature a new browser-based storage manager GUI, a low-profile form factor with special connector and cable to keep size down and an optional battery module.

A new feature is optimized disk utilization. Dossett said typical RAID cards require that the attached hard drives be of the same size, or else the excess capacity is wasted. With these new controllers, extra space on larger hard drives can be used for other features, she said.

The controllers also allow multiple arrays to be created virtually from a single set of hard drives, she said.

Adaptec this week also cut the cost of its current RAID controllers and kits between 8 percent and 33 percent.