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Dell is launching the first of a new line of 6Gbit/s serial-attached SCSI (SAS) storage controllers and enclosures that its executes tout as fully tested and ready to meet the needs of customers.

"So many others in the industry will announce products, talk about technology, release bleeding edge technology before customers are ready to use them," says Howard Shoobe, senior manager for storage products.

Shoobe says the new products not only deliver twice the performance of 3GB/s, together with new features including redundant path with automatic I/O load balancing, deployment flexibility and improved scalability, but they’re also already integrated and tested.

According to Dell, the advent of 6Gb/s SAS technology represents an evolutionary advancement in storage IO that offers ‘unprecedented performance levels and improved signaling and management for supporting larger disk attach’. The 6Gbs SAS 2.0 specification doubles the current 3Gbs SAS data transfer rate, but is also designed for backward compatibility with 3Gb/s SAS and 3Gb/s SATA hard drives. At the end of October LSI partnered with SuperMicro and Seagate Technology to demonstrate that end-to-end 6Gb/s SAS solutions are real and available now.

"What’s important is the pieces are available, the components are available and ready to be integrated into a system," said LSI’s Tom Kodet.

Dell’s lineup includes PowerEdge RAID controllers (PERC H200, H700 and H800) and two PowerVault enclosures (MD1200 and MD1220). Supporting both 2.5 and 3.5-inch drives, the MD1200 is a 2U, 12-drive 3.5-inch enclosure that uses the H800 controller and expands to support 8 enclosures, or 96 drives, and is targeted at mainstream and capacity-intensive applications like backup to disk and email. The MD1220 is a 2U, 24-drive (2.5-inch) enclosure is intended for I/O performance-intensive applications such as large databases and web serving.

The high-end PERC H800 controller features Redundant Path with Automatic I/O Load Balancing, supporting both 2.5 and 3.5-inch enclosures behind the same RAID card, increased drive count supported in large RAID volumes (up to 192 drives), and increased data security with the support of SED (Self Encrypting Drives). The H700 offers PCIe 2.0 support, 35 percent increase in IOPs (up from 35,000 to 50,000 IOPs) and a 512MB BBU cache option, while the H200 adds RAID-10, support for up to 16 drives, and support for internal tape drives.

These products are the building blocks for the next generation of storage solutions, says Shoobe, the first in a series of "complete solutions." It’s all about offering choice to customers, enabling them to mix a variety of storage technologies and size formats in a single box, he says.

"There’s a lot of discussion about SAN and iSCSI. Dell believes that this is the wave of the future." He sees 6Gbit/s SAS as a unique way to solve customer problems for those that want to use direct attached storage or aren’t quite ready to use NAS.

It’s also a good opportunity for Dell’s channel, says Shoobe. "Our channel partners are able to use our solutions to meet customers’ needs in a wide variety of ways."

The products are fully pretested, so partners don’t have to worry about what’s working together and what’s not, he adds.