Is SAS a Step Forward for Interface Technology?

For a period of time spanning decades, disk drives and systems were connected via a parallel bus interface. This provided a wealth of advantages to users of these technologies, but also a significant number of limitations. For companies looking for interfacing solutions, ideal options were not readily available.

However, with significant advances having been made in recent years, new interface technologies have become available and have changed the landscape of this domain. The two well-known examples of this are Serial Advanced Technology Attachment(SATA), and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS).

Many a user can take advantage of this new range of solutions to match their exact requirements, whether they are in business or need to use the technology for other reasons. The benefits of Serial Attached SAS are particularly impressive, but for a fuller picture, it is useful to compare the technology with its predecessor.

The earliest interface was Small Computer System Interface (SCSI). Development on this began in the late 1970s and the interface became fully available in the 1980s. It served as a hard-disk interface, and even after numerous revisions and improvements, it still commonly fulfils this function today.

In addition to its role as a hard-disk interface, SCSI is often used to connect a range of other peripheral devices, including printers, scanners and CD drives. There are many advantages to this technology, which has many loyal users, but there are drawbacks too which may mean that it is not the ideal solution for everyone.

One major negative factor that presents itself when it comes to this specific interface is that its parallel cables limit cable length and the speed of data transfer. This can greatly affect efficiency and usability. However, these issues have been addressed with the advent of SATA and SAS.

The first significant advantage of SAS over SCSI is that is it is fully compatible with SATA drives. The ability of SAS to support these devices is a key factor in the usability and applicability of this technology, and devices which offer this dual functionality are becoming increasingly mainstream. As yet, SCSI is not able to be used in this manner.

SATA is an important factor because it uses a high speed serial bus rather than the lower-speed parallel bus of SCSI. SAS applies this technology to provide a new and improved standard of technology, resulting in a quicker and more efficient interface.

The integration of these two complimentary technologies can bring major advantages for users. By implementing an SAS infrastructure, it is claimed that users can save large amounts of money. As it supports SATA, new drives can be added to the existing infrastructure when needed, and the scale of the system can be easily adjusted according to demand for increased capacity.

This differs from other infrastructures that do not have this flexibility in terms of scalability. It can allow users to simply ‘upscale’ when needed, without investing in a whole new system to meet their requirements. This can save not only on cost, but on the time and effort invested in integrating an entirely new system.

Serial Attached SCSI also boasts improved performance in other areas compared to its predecessor. Its drives benefit from point-to-point connection, meaning there is no sharing of bandwidth between multiple devices on a shared bus. This is a contrast with previous technologies, where bandwidth is split between devices.

Compared with SCSI, SAS also can claim an improvement on data transfer speeds. This can range from 3 to 6 GB per second, which is much higher than before. This indicates greater efficiency and can mean significant benefits for users.

When deciding on which interface architecture to implement, a variety of options are available on the market. Serial Attached SCSI is one option that offers many improvements on previous technologies, and can offer better usability, cost-efficiency and effectiveness. These are no small considerations when choosing which infrastructure is best for your particular needs.

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