LSI SAS 9300-8e Specifications
If you're already familiar with LSI's HBA line-up, then you'll be right at home with the SAS 9300-8e. Looking down at the board, you immediately notice a large heat sink covering the Fusion-MPT-based LSI SAS 3008 I/O controller.
The SAS 3008 offers eight 12 Gb/s ports and interfaces with an eight-lane PCI Express 3.0 link. It's compatible with 3 and 6 Gb/s SATA connections, along with 3, 6, and 12 Gb/s SAS transfers. RAID 0, 1, and 10 are supported natively. Moreover, you can use expanders to attach as many as 1024 SAS or SATA end devices to the SAS 9300-8e. All of that is available in a low-profile form factor intended to live in a server environment.
Perhaps the most notable physical change is the card's four-lane mini-SAS HD external connectors, of which there are two. Of course, like roads in a major city, the powers that be cannot let there just be one name. The SAS 2.1 standard refers to it as mini-SAS HD, Molex uses iPass+ HD, and the SFF committee calls it SFF-8644. Whatever nomenclature you prefer, you get eight total ports of connectivity, totaling 96 Gb/s of throughput.
The new connector introduces a number of benefits. As you see in the chart above from the SCSI Trade Association, both SFF-8643 and SFF-8644 allow for optical cables that extend the maximum length to 100 m. This means direct-attached storage systems can be located in different rooms of a data center, or even different buildings. Those distances open up applications typically addressed by Ethernet and Fibre Channel, but at superior speeds.
Since the connector system is physically smaller than mini-SAS, density doubles. Now you can get 16 ports on a low-profile, half-length PCIe card. LSI's SAS 9300-8e does not take advantage of that potential space savings, but there's already another product on the market that does. You may have noticed a similar connector on Adaptec's 7-series RAID adapters. The company jumped the gun and introduced SFF-8643 (internal) connectors on its newest 6 Gb/s product. The company is able to get 16 ports onto a board that fits into the very smallest servers.
Expect the SAS 9300-8e to show up later this summer, though we don't yet know how much it'll cost.