HalStor Introduces Triple Protocol, Single Chip, FC to SATA/SAS Gateway/Controller Design

Framingham, MA. - HalStor, Inc., a pioneer in configurable I/O and storage solutions, introduces triple protocol, dual processor, single chip, Fibre Channel (FC) to Serial ATA/Serial Attached SCSI (SATA/SAS ) gateway/controller design. The flexibility of this design enables maximizing performance and functional flexibility for storage systems and servers utilizing FC Storage Area Networks and using both SAS and SATA disk drives.

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

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

The HalStor FC to SATA/SAS design features:

  • Maximum Performance

    Direct access to RX and TX buffers assures minimum latency and maximum bandwidth (impossible with current multi-chip solutions). In-line, hardware supported, data and headers conversions remove unnecessary buffers and extra stages.

  • Intelligence

    Dedicated dual embedded port processors (one per port) perform complex control and error recovery functions. They cover much larger state sets than hardware only and remove load from the host processors. Dedicated inter-processor communication facilities allow efficient exchange of messages between the processors unattainable in other external multi-chip solutions.

  • 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.

  • Dual ports

    The current design has one FC port and one shared SATA/SAS port. The FC port is configured as a SCSI Target, while the SATA/SAS port is configured as an Initiator. Other topologies are possible.

  • Full FC/SAS/SATA PHY and link layer logic.

  • Multi-buffer architecture optimized for very high performance

  • 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.

HalStor Controller Development Platform

HalStor's Triple FC to SATA/SAS Gateway/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.