Wednesday, September 13, 2006

NEC leverages crossbar for modular storage array

NEC is developing a hard-disk storage array that will be able to scale from the company’s current entry-level product with about 15 drives to its largest system with more than 1,200 and beyond. The new array will ship sometime in 2007. It is based on a proprietary crossbar interconnect that has its heritage in NEC’s telecom products.

A fully configured array could have as many as 3,000 drives and a Terabyte of cache and would likely be designed for Fibre Channel based storage area networks. The NEC plan is part of a broader trend to create more modular and expandable storage arrays.

Earlier this month, IBM tipped word that it will ship a product this fall roughly based on its Ice Cube R&D project that aimed to build a 32Tbyte array out of modular “bricks” consisting of 12 2.5-inch hard drives in a novel interconnect scheme. See my Ice Cube post below.

Separately, a group of computer and storage vendors announced in March they are developing standards for a modular storage chassis that could host a wide range of storage cards with different interfaces. The Storage Bay Bridge Working Group includes Dell, EMC, Intel and LSI Logic among others.

Although NEC was not listed among the founding members of the group, Gamaly said the Japanese giant is making systems based on the SBB specs that both it and EMC Corp. will sell.--rbm

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