Demand for Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) hard disk drives will nearly double next year, with 21 million 3Gbit/sec SAS drives shipping in 2008, according to Gartner analysts.

The Gartner Dataquest report said users are turning to the new technology as its performance levels skyrocket. 12 million of the drives are expected to sell this year, and Gartner predicts that the 3Gbit/sec speed limit will grow to 6Gbit/sec, by the end of 2008.

By the end of this year, the report predicts that 3Gbit/sec SAS will displace Ultra320 SCSI as the hard disk drive interface in standard high-volume servers and multiuser storage applications.

Interestingly, the Gartner study showed that 16 million drives based on older Ultra320 I/O technology shipped in 2006, nearly triple the 4.15 million shipments of SAS drives. Shipments of Ultra320-based drives will decline sharply to 9.6 million units this year, the report predicts.

Marty Czekalski, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based SCSI Trade Association, said SAS hard disk drives will likely burrow deep into IT environments this year as IT managers look for increasingly complex scalability, energy savings and sustained drive performance for their growing stable of blade servers. For example, he said the new storage technology supports the IT trend of building clusters of computing resources featuring a shared storage pool, as well as networked and tiered storage environments.

The Gartner report also found 7.6 million Fiber Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) devices shipped during 2006, and 1.14 million Parallel Advanced Technology Attachment units were delivered last year.