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Industry solidifies future storage ideas

Two storage technologies receive approval as standards this week, one for high-end hard drives and another for networked storage systems.

Two storage technologies received approval as standards this week, one for high-end hard drives and another for networked storage systems.

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards said it had approved the SAS, or Serial Attached SCSI (pronounced "skuzzy"), technology for the next generation of high-end hard drives. It also gave the thumbs-up to a faster version of the Fibre Channel standard for storage networks that can transfer data at a speed of 10 gigabits per second.

INCITS is an advisory group for the American National Standards Institute, so its standards also become ANSI standards.

SAS transfers data using a smaller number of faster wire connections compared with the current version of SCSI. It's one of a host of such "serial" technologies in computers that are replacing the older "parallel" design, which runs into speed limits because of difficulties synchronizing electrical signals across a large number of wires.

"In terms of increases in speed and performance, SAS has a longer life than parallel SCSI," John Lohmeyer, chairman of the INCITS committee that developed the SAS standard, said in a statement. "Unlike parallel SCSI, data rates can be pushed higher and higher," he said.

The SAS interface could find its way into servers and storage devices allowing for faster information retrieval.

SAS technology has a rival in Serial ATA, a lower-end but increasingly powerful interface with roots in ordinary desktop computers. The SAS interface can transfer data at 3 gigabits per second, while the current Serial ATA standard allows for 1.5 gigabits per second. Upgrades are planned for both standards.

In addition, the SAS standard can allow a computer to communicate with a Serial ATA storage device.

The Fibre Channel networking standard also got a boost with a new version called 10GFC. Fibre Channel technology is used to connect high-end data storage devices to servers.

Fibre Channel currently sends data at a top speed of 2 gigabits per second. ANSI now has approved a 10gbps standard, INCITS said.