New Class of Hybrid Fibre Channel Disk Drives Receive FCIA's Approval

7/28/2004 - The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) announced that it is endorsing a new class of hybrid disk drives conceived by HP, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate Technology. These hybrid drives combine a Fibre Channel interface with a low-cost-per-gigabyte, high-capacity disk drive mechanism to enable a new class of storage devices costing significantly less per gigabyte than mission-critical Fibre Channel drives.

Built specifically for Fibre Channel systems, these hybrid drives, when combined with high-performance Fibre Channel drives inside the same enclosure, allow customers the flexibility to segment data between lower cost-per-gigabyte, high-capacity drives and high-performance drives within a single storage system. Examples of applications range from reference data (e.g. archived e-mail) to mission-critical data (e.g. financial transactions). By combining higher capacity, lower cost disk drive mechanisms with a Fibre Channel interface, this industry-first disk drive addresses the growing need for businesses to cost-effectively store less critical or infrequently accessed information in a more economical fashion.

“The FCIA applauds HP, Hitachi and Seagate for applying field-proven, reliable FC interface technology to disk drives that are used for bulk storage applications. This new class of disk drives will lower cost while maintaining all the advantages of FC interface technology. HP is demonstrating thought leadership by quickly addressing an emerging market need,” said Werner Glinka, Chairman of the Fibre Channel Industry Association Marketing Working Group.

In April, HP announced it would be the first systems vendor to offer a 250-gigabyte low cost Fibre Channel drive which the company called a Fibre Attached Technology Adapted disk drive. HP will offer the drives within its HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family of disk storage arrays. HP expects to begin shipping products in July 2004. Other OEMs are expected to provide low cost-per-gigabyte Fibre Channel hybrid drive solutions later this year, early 2005.

“Standards-based innovations from HP help customers keep pace with the dynamic nature of their business,” said Bob Schultz, senior vice president and general manager, Network Storage Solutions, HP. “The ability to mix and match high-performance Fibre Channel drives with our low-cost hybrid drives in the same disk array – without the need to purchase additional hardware or software – provides an opportunity to simplify technology management and preserve technology investments. This innovation helps maximize customer choice while improving their ability to adapt to change.”

"As a leading supplier of Fibre Channel hard drives, our customers are evaluating methods of integrating near-line storage applications into their traditionally high-performance, high-availability systems," said Fumio Kugiya, general manager, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. "Customers that have made significant Fibre Channel investments over the years may be interested in the new hybrid drives as a cost-effective way to extend the life of their systems. We are pleased to be working with HP to provide customers with the flexibility they need to match the right drive with the right application."

“As the pioneer and leader in Fibre Channel technology, Seagate is once again showing its commitment to the Fibre Channel interface as well as serving the needs of storage users by providing high-capacity, low $/GB enterprise hard drives such as Seagate's new NL35 Series,” said Jeff Loebbaka, vice president of global marketing, Seagate Technology. “System builders can now create new cost-effective nearline enterprise storage systems that can be used with existing FC SANs with no extra hardware or changes to storage management software.”

“Emulex believes the advancement of low-cost, high-capacity Fibre Channel drives is good news for both the storage industry and storage end-users,” said Mike Smith, executive vice president of worldwide marketing, Emulex Corporation. “The availability of Fibre Attached Technology Adapted drives helps providers deliver solutions that match drive types to their intended application. This supports a number of initiatives we see in the market, including information lifecycle management, tiered-storage, and the use of Fibre Channel SANs in small-to-medium businesses.”

“This announcement gives the Fibre Channel user attractive new options, and ensures that Fibre Channel will be a key SAN protocol even as other protocols exert downward pricing pressures,” said Dr Brian Staff, Vice President of Marketing, Finisar Network Tools.

“The FCIA's endorsement of the extension of Fibre Channel into a new class of low-cost storage devices illustrates the organization's continued commitment to and support of innovative technologies developed by its member companies to further the industry as a whole. This technology is the ideal solution for Fibre Channel users,” said Steve Bucher, CEO, I-TECH Corp.

“PMC-Sierra's installed base of Fibre Channel PBC Port ByPass Controllers and CTS Loop Switches work seamlessly with all Fibre Channel HDDs, providing system level hardware compatibility between these two critical system components,” said Mark Stibitz, vice president and general manager of PMC-Sierra's Enterprise Storage Division. “PMC-Sierra supports the Fibre Attached Technology Adapted disk drive concept and is committed to providing storage equipment vendors with proven, low-cost tiered storage solutions.”

“The Fibre Channel Attached Technology Drives announcement gives users the opportunity to balance between quality and cost in order to best meet their storage needs while maintaining their current investments in existing Fibre Channel and SAN Technology. This gives customers enterprise-class capability of Fibre Channel at lower price points, potentially opening up Fibre Cannel SANs to new markets,” states Sherri Robinson, director of markets, ATTO Technology, Inc.

“OEM, channel and end-user customers of QLogic are moving quickly to adopt an emerging class of simple, low-cost Fibre Channel switch and HBA products,” said Frank Berry, vice president of marketing, QLogic Corporation. “By leveraging low-cost SATA technology, Fibre Attached Technology Adapted drives are sure to become an integral part of simple, low cost SANs of the future.”

“We believe these drives greatly enhance the competitiveness of Fibre Channel technology,” said Steve Looby, product manager, SAN adapters, LSI Logic. “The new offering of Fibre Attached Technology Adapted drives gives users a new option to deploy inexpensive, high density drives for certain data center applications like near line storage. The ability to seamlessly retrofit existing product lines provides Fibre Channel vendors with the ability to quickly meet the demands of new markets and provides users with flexibility and investment protection.”

About FCIA
The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) is a nonprofit international organization of manufacturers, systems integrators, developers, systems vendors, industry professionals and end users. With more than 80 member companies and FCIA affiliates in the United States and Japan, FCIA is committed to delivering a broad base of Fibre Channel infrastructure to support a wide array of industry applications within the mass storage and IT-based arenas. FCIA working groups focus on specific aspects of the technology, targeting both vertical and horizontal markets including storage, video, networking and SAN management. For more information on FCIA, please visit our web site:, contact us: or call 1-415-561-6270

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