HP Puts New FATA Drives In Gear

HP recently unveiled plans to incorporate new Seagate hard drives into its SANs which combine Fibre Channel and ATA technologies. Dubbed Fibre Attached Technology Adapted, or FATA, the new drives are aimed at dropping the cost of Fibre Channel SANs.

FATA drives use ATA-drive mechanisms, which means they have the performance and capacity characteristics of standard ATA drives.


HP's StorageWorks EVA3000 will contain Seagate drives combining Fibre Channel and ATA technologies.

However, Kyle Fitze, director of marketing for the Online Storage Division of HP, said the new drives have a native Fibre Channel interface which allows them to be used wherever a conventional Fibre Channel drive is now connected.

The result is that end users who might be tempted to mix Fibre Channel and ATA hard drives on a SAN can now base both their primary and their secondary storage on Fibre Channel technologies. "[FATA] drives offer a 50 percent or greater savings at the same capacity compared with Fibre Channel drives," Fitze said. "Plus customers can use their existing storage infrastructure, frames and so on."

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HP expects to be the first OEM to offer FATA hard drives when it begins selling them in July with its EVA storage arrays, Fitze said, after which it could be another six to 12 months before competitors have access to the drives.

A Seagate Technology spokesperson said Seagate prefers to use the term "hybrid" instead of "FATA" to describe the hard drives. The spokesperson also said the company was surprised HP announced the array in advance of Seagate's own announcement.

Rich Baldwin, president and CEO of Nth Generation Computing, a San Diego-based HP solution provider, called the FATA concept phenomenal.

"It's a lower-cost, higher-capacity Fibre Channel drive that plugs into all existing EVA arrays," Baldwin said. "They can go into a separate disk pool from standard Fibre Channel drives because of the different performance and duty cycles."

Baldwin said he anticipates FATA drives to have their greatest use in information life-cycle management projects in which data that is most heavily accessed is often stored on the most expensive, high-performance drives, while less-accessed data is stored on less-expensive drives.

While Fitze said FATA drives will initially be available in capacities of up to 250 Gbytes, Baldwin said he expects that to jump to 500 Gbytes by year's end.