Emulex has introduced a 765-S hardware accelerator that should ease a bottleneck in virtualised storage area networks (SANs) from partner LSI StoreAge.

SAN virtualisation transforms disparate drive arrays in the SAN into a single logical pool of storage with details of which data is stored on which array hidden from server applications. StoreAge SAN virtualisation is performed out of the data path (out-of-band) so that control messages from the SAN Virtualisation Manager (SVM) software don't interfere with data transfers across the Fibre Channel fabric. This is termed SPAID (split-path acceleration of independent data streams) technology. The SVM software runs in an appliance and needs to connect to fabric switches so that data access, migrations, replications and snapshots are carried out. To do this it talks to fabric agent software running in a data module that links to the switches. The fabric agents are in-band and a potential bottleneck.

Because of its specialised chip design the 765-S, based on Emulex' AV150 intelligent services platform, avoids the bottleneck, said Taufik Ma, marketing VP for intelligent network products at Emulex: "At 700,000 IOPS it is two to three times faster than our nearest competitor." This is understood to be QLogic.

Emulex has implemented a data module in a chip using technology it acquired with its Arohi purchase. The 765-S connects to the SAN as an end-point (N_port) and Ma said: "It can plug into any switch from Brocade, Cisco or QLogic and looks like a bunch of disks to servers and a bunch of servers to the disks."

The 765-S has a low price which could make it popular for SAN replication links where two such devices are needed each end of the link. Ma said: "At a recommended retail price of under $10,000 it's less than half the price of QLogic." Emulex expects the product to be sold by VARS to customers in the top end of the SME market who already have SANS and need to extend and accelerate them.