Infortrend has launched what it claims is the market's frst serial-attached SCSI (SAS) RAID array. The EonStor ES 512F-R1420 has a 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel link to the outside world and up to 64 drives are supported in 12 bays. It has redundancy features such as dual Fibre Channel and RAID controllers. System throughput is greater than 1GB/s.

“The Infortrend (EonStor) signals the start of SAS technology availability and the continued ramp-up of industry-wide SAS adoption,” said Greg Schulz, a senior analyst at the Evaluator Group. “The introduction of a 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel array with SAS-based disk drives is an indicator that SAS is ready for primetime. Combining the co-existence capabilities of SAS and SATA with the robust RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability) features of SAS make it an ideal disk interface for storage arrays moving forward."

The familiar SCSI landscape with ribbon cables and known distances is changing. Like most other traditional parallel interfaces, SCSI is changing to Serial-attached SCSI (SAS).

SAS enables faster SCSI product link speeds and longer cable lengths and a single controller supporting both SATA and SAS array connections. Both SATA and SAS drives can be used in one array providing a mix of high-performance and high-capacity attributes: SAS supports up to 4032 drives per port. Parallel SCSI allows only up to 15 drives per cable.

With the arrival of 2.5 inch drives this attribute of SAS looks tailor-made for arrays containing large numbers of 2.5 inch drives. Such arrays will have higher I/O rates than equivalent capacity arrays made up from 3.5 inch drives. SAS itself will evolve to faster speeds, from today's 3Gbit/s to 12Gbit/s by 2010. Parallel SCSI won't progress beyond today's Ultra320 320MB/s bandwidth.

Sysadmins can expect SAS kit to arrive in their datacentres in the not-too distant future. It will co-exist with parallel SCSI, complicating their job, but parallel SCSI products will eventually fade away.

Pricing was not provided for the EonStor which is available through Infortrend's channel. Nor was the maximum capacity. Assuming 76GB drives it would be 4.864TB.