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Adaptec moves beyond SCSI

Adaptec moves beyond SCSI

After 52 consecutive profitable quarters, Adaptec must be doing something right. Although Sundi Sundaresh, Adaptec's vice president of marketing, worldwide, didn't want to blow his own trumpet too loudly, he did care to explain why the company has had steady growth since 1984.

"It's mainly because our emphasis is based on leveraging our system I/O expertise in volume manufacturing and the intense investment in testing," he said.

"So the general reputation Adaptec has is that we deliver performance products that work - that's probably the single value we provide the reseller integrator base. Also that our financial performance gives us stability and strength, and the promise that we'll be around," he added.

Adaptec had garnered that reputation in SCSI I/O technology. Now Adaptec no longer considers itself solely an SCSI company - it has over the last three years expanded its technology and product base into systems bandwidth solutions.

"We're emphasising all the major technologies to make a server perform faster and better. We now do SCSI, Fibre Channel, FireWire, Fast Ethernet and ATM," Sundaresh told Reseller News.

Adaptec is now working in three areas with this new focus, he said:

Servers - working to improve systems bandwidth with servers by focusing on SCSI, Fibre Channel, RAID technology and networking technology.

High-end desktops and workstations - "where Fibre Channel, SCSI and RAID become critical to improve the performance of storage in desktops."

Visual media - the use of FireWire technology to capture video or images. "Here we use the broadband technology to deliver information via satellite to a PC. We also have CD recordable software and in the future DVD software, that'll help write all this rich information," said Sundaresh. (See sidebars for more on FireWire and Fibre Channel.)"When we announced the fact that Adaptec was getting into the broadband space, there was a lot of interest from the Australian market. I think the need for high bandwidth is recognised here, people are very interested in finding out how they can get satellite data right into their PCs," said Sundaresh.

The Australian/South-East Asian market is in fact the fastest growing region for Adaptec. "We're seeing our business in this region grow from about 32 per cent of our overall global business two years ago to an estimated 40 per cent for this year," he said.

In recognition of this, Adaptec plans to make significant investments in sales and marketing in Australia and Singapore - over the next 12 months it will be expanding its resources in and establishing a sales office in Australia.

Adaptec products are distributed by:

Anabelle Bits

Tel (02) 9384 8000

Fax (02) 9666 5655

Fibre Channel: the lowdown

Fibre Channel was developed for two main reasons:

1. High Bandwidth - Fibre Channel supports speeds of well over 100Mbit/sec.

2. Fibre Channel lends itself to unique applications. As Sundaresh explained: "If you look at a typical Fibre Channel environment you get about 100Mbit/sec in an arbitrated loop configuration and you can hook up to 126 nodes.

"This means you can have banks of hard disk drives, say in a video server environment, with a ton of video disk drives feeding video in."

It can be hooked up over long distances as well - "you can have your storage system in one building and your server in another, that's the beauty of Fibre Channel," Sundaresh said.

OEM expansion

Adaptec's Fibre Channel products currently consist of a chip, 32-bit and 64-bit host adapters, and an external controller (which bridges Fibre Channel to SCSI). As yet, the products have only been offered to OEMs, but will in a few months time be offered for widespread distribution.

Will it replace cable?

"It is a more expensive technology so we don't see it replacing existing infrastructure overnight," Sundaresh said.

"We really see this starting out with new applications that are so demanding that they can't get done any other way. You'll find it starting at the high end, used in more mission critical servers - high-end database applications, storage applications or clustering applications," he said.

FireWire - the hot facts

FireWire is the hot tip on the lips of those in the know for high-speed connectivity. It's the only interface, Sundaresh claims, that truly enables product convergence - it works on both computer and consumer platforms.

It's also the only interface which supports isochronous data - and as such will guarantee the bandwidth for streaming video.

Because FireWire is a high-speed interface - today at 200Mbit/ sec (but expected to double in three months time, and a year later to grow to 800Mbit/sec), it has predominantly been taken up for video applications.

There are currently 63 devices with the FireWire interface, most of which are video peripherals. This should change, Sundaresh said, after the second half of 1998 with peripherals such as scanners, printers, disk drives and CD-ROMS - "just about anything you want on a consumer platform for a typical PC will be there with the FireWire interface.

"Anybody doing anything in the consumer space, be it TV, video, the high-end audio machines, are all looking at FireWire to hook it up to the computer platform and in some cases to hook them up to each other.

"Peer-to-peer networking with FireWire is possible, so technically, you can go from a scanner to a printer directly without the PC getting involved as long as certain protocols are followed. There's some software work that needs to be done but the interface itself supports peer-to-peer networking," said Sundaresh.

Another advantage of FireWire - its cables are hot-swappable, and could even pose as Nintendo cables.

They're that simple.


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