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Maxtor, EqualLogic forge storage alliance

The disk-drive maker and the storage-device maker join to develop storage products using the serial-attached SCSI interface, designed to link disk drives to computers.

Adding momentum to a new disk-drive interface technology, Maxtor and storage-device maker EqualLogic said Tuesday that they are teaming up to develop storage products using the serial-attached SCSI interface.

The companies also said their joint effort will focus on storage systems using the Internet SCSI protocol (iSCSI), which enables storage devices to be connected using widely available Ethernet networks. SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface.

"iSCSI combined with Serial Attached SCSI will simplify storage management by minimizing the number of unique components in the data center," Peter Hayden, executive vice president of business development for EqualLogic, said in a statement.

Serial-attached SCSI, or SAS, is a relatively new technology for linking disk drives to computers. It has been seen as competing with the serial ATA standard (SATA), another new interface that's based on a lower-end technology. Both SAS and SATA are part of a growing trend to move from parallel methods of data exchange to serial approaches, which send signals down a smaller number of wires and can cut down on the cabling within devices.

Maxtor and EqualLogic said they will cooperate in product planning and development activities for new EqualLogic SAS-based systems. The relationship will include the exchange of prototype Maxtor SAS disk drives and EqualLogic storage systems for the purpose of compatibility testing.

EqualLogic plans to integrate the SAS interface into its line of PeerStorage arrays.

SAS technology allows for the use of SATA drives in the same device, and EqualLogic intends to build a storage array that enables organizations to use either kind of drive, said John Joseph, the company's vice president of marketing. Joseph said such "dual-mode" products should be available in the third quarter of next year.

Joseph suggested an organization could use SAS drives for tasks that involve a high volume of transactions, while SATA drives could be used for tasks such as storing e-mail or Microsoft Word documents.