Halstor Introduces Dual SATA/SAS Controller Design

Framingham, MA. - Halstor, Inc., a pioneer in configurable I/O and storage solutions, introduces a dual SATA/SAS (Serial ATA/Serial Attached SCSI) controller design featuring Halstor's programmable custom chip. The flexibility of the Halstor design enables maximizing performance and functional flexibility for storage systems and servers using both SAS and SATA disk drives. The Halstor design may also be used as a target in storage subsystems or embedded within the disk drive or switch.

This design is based on our proprietary Advanced Serial Controller Architecture (ASCA) which allows unified treatment of various serial communications protocols. This architecture, combined with our dedicated Serial Controller Development System, provides significant reduction in the development effort and allows to deliver high performance, cost-effective connectivity for internal and external storage and storage area networks.

The design addresses the need of storage system and server vendors to deploy high performance, enterprise class systems utilizing this new technology in a timely and cost-effective manner. It is specifically optimized for storage systems that require custom SATA/SAS controllers implementing functions like vendor specific commands, stream replications, data filtering, hardware RAID, virtualization and more. As a result, emphasis was given to provide the highest possible level of programmability and embedded intelligence.

HalStor Dual SATA/SAS Controller Design

The Halstor SAS design delivers best-of-class price-performance and allows customers to meet their expanding storage needs. The design features:

  • Dual SATA/SAS ports.

    Each port can auto select mode independently and can be configured as a SCSI Target or as an Initiator.

  • Embedded processors

  • Full SAS/SATA PHY and link layer logic

  • Multi-buffer architecture optimized for very high performance

  • Efficient silicon utilization

    Sharing the same processor, buffers and most of the dedicated hardware on the shared SATA/SAS port results in 90% reduction in the silicon resources in comparison to separate cores implementation and as such provide a dramatic decrease in the associated cost. Dedicated port processors replace large and complex state machines, registers and counters, further reducing the size of the silicon required.

  • Flexibility

    Additional functions can be implemented in a relatively straightforward fashion. The current design can be integrated with security protocols by allowing direct in-line implementation of encryption/decryption hardware and integrated security related functions in microcode. Functions can be moved between microcode and hardware, resulting in various performance/silicon size implementations.

  • Testability

    The current design implementation on our Serial Controller Development System allows direct connectivity to complementary devices (drives, controllers) from various vendors. Changes - both hardware and microcode - can be implemented very quickly and tested immediately. Specialized test functions and traps can be added in hardware and microcode resulting in a dramatic decrease in development time.

  • Customization for ASICs is possible

The IP of this design is available for licensing, giving the customers the unique opportunity to expedite the design process and tailor it to their needs. HalStor is also offering the consulting and support services, including silicon integration and function customization, allowing customers to utilize our design and protocol experience in their projects.

Triple protocol FC/SATA/SAS design can be implemented upon request.

HalStor's Dual SATA/SAS Controller design is implemented on HalStor's SIMBA Development Platform featuring extended programmability and a set of tools required to develop any fast serial interface or controller. This platform alone provides an unprecedented tool, both extremely powerful and versatile, allowing efficient controller development, debugging, and dramatically reducing the cost and time of development.

Advanced Serial Controller Architecture (ASCA)

Halstor's Advanced Serial Controller Architecture (ASCA) is an encompassing architecture enabling the design of efficient and customizable serial protocol controllers.

ASCA provides a common framework for frame transmission and reception, I/O handling, DMA and buffer handling, treatment of control and data frames, clock domains, and more.

The advantages of utilizing ASCA are enormous. First and foremost, it drastically cuts on the development time by allowing whole blocks implemented in one design to be utilized in other designs. It also allows very efficient multi-protocol controller implementations like this dual SATA/SAS design by sharing the same blocks with various operational parameters, and as such drastically cuts on the size of the silicon required and subsequent manufacturing cost of the dedicated chips.

Additional advantages of a coherent treatment of various protocols are evident in the protocol translators, as our FC to SAS design, where the ASCA approach resulted in a relatively straightforward implementation of a complex problem.