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Intel tries open source for storage standard

The chipmaker will share the source code for new storage technology in hopes that freely available technology will speed the adoption of new, less expensive storage networks.

Intel will share the source code for new storage technology in hopes that freely available technology will speed the adoption of new, less expensive storage networks.

The chipmaker announced Monday that technology related to the Internet SCSI specification (iSCSI) is now available as open-source software. The iSCSI specification combines the popular SCSI interface with Ethernet technology to allow servers to exchange data from storage devices using IP-based networks. The iSCSI specification would reduce the need for companies to settle on more expensive technologies, such as Fibre Channel, to link storage systems.

Intel's communications standard, created by its Technology Research Lab, is specifically aimed at allowing Ethernet networks to carry data from storage devices. The chipmaker hopes that by offering the standard as open source, developers will adopt it more quickly. As a result, products built around it--such as switches, routers and adapters--would be available sooner, an Intel spokesman said.

At the same time, developing technologies such as the iSCI-based Ethernet technology plays to Intel's goal of expanding to become more than just a desktop chipmaker.

"One of the areas we're getting more heavily into...within networking is network storage," Intel spokesman Manny Vara said. "This is a technology that would help us there. What we're trying to do is create an infrastructure that would allow the industry to create lower-cost network storage."

But there's also something in it for Intel.

"What you'll see down the road is...Intel products that would allow you to support the iSCSI specification," Vara said.

By implementing storage devices using the iSCSI specification, organizations can add storage to any location on an Ethernet network with less complexity and expense, according to Intel. Also, as an extension of an Ethernet network, network administrators can use the same utilities to manage the entire network, including storage server farms.

Also on Monday, networking giant Cisco announced it would let any company use its iSCSI driver software, so long as it conforms to the specification.

Intel's open-source iSCSI software is now available on the Web.

Intel also announced Monday that it is leading a multicompany group to help accelerate the deployment of next-generation standards that will extend Ethernet to include networked storage. This iSCSI Group, a new group within the IP Storage Forum of the Storage Networking Industry Association, will work to accelerate the use of the iSCSI.