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Why SAS Was Hot (but not burning) at FMS

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Blog post by: Rick Kutcipal, President, SCSI Trade Association; Marketing Manager, Data Center Storage Group, Broadcom Limited; Oct 20, 2017

In case you missed Flash Memory Summit (FMS), you not only missed the unfortunate exhibit hall fire, you missed the panel discussion on Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). SAS has been a topic of panels and sessions from the very early days of FMS, covering multiple generations of SAS and innovations of the industry’s most reliable and flexible technology for storage architectures. This year was no exception since SAS still is a hot topic that evolves with the ever-changing needs of the data center. I had the pleasure of hosting the panel that included long-time storage experts Dennis Martin of Demartek, STA board member Jeremiah Tussey of Microsemi and industry analyst Don Jeanette of TRENDFOCUS.

From left: Moderator Rick Kutcipal, panelists Dennis Martin, Jeremiah Tussey, Don Jeanette


I kicked things off by providing an update on 24G SAS technology, and the ecosystem that is maturing now that the SAS-4 specification is functionally complete. I shared the fact that 24G SAS Host Bus Adapters (HBAs), expanders and end devices are well in the development phase. This development signals that the entire ecosystem is strongly committed to SAS for the most reliable storage available and as a storage infrastructure that changes with the times to enable the most advanced data centers.

Industry analyst Don Jeanette continues to see SAS as a growth market. His data indicated that it isn’t growing quite as fast as other market segments, but as SAS Solid State Disks (SSDs) continue to become more affordable with every NAND generation, SAS becomes deployable in more storage architectures, including scale-out cloud architectures. Don surprised some audience members when he stated that storage networking companies will continue to rely on the proven and robust features of the SAS infrastructure for many years to come. Storage industry veterans understand that the hardened SAS protocol and ecosystem will be around for a long, long time, because of its track record, evolving feature set and flexibility. With a SAS infrastructure, data center managers can use SAS SSDs, SATA SSDs, as well as hard drives. No other storage technology can offer this.

Dennis Martin, who provides real-world, hands-on research and analysis, showed current applications that need the performance and low latency of SAS SSD storage. Emerging video standards, real-time analytics and artificial intelligence are requiring improved performance and capabilities that come with 24G SAS. Already, there are applications waiting for the next generation of SAS. With MultiLink SAS™ (doubling the data throughput) enabled over 24G SAS, the biggest throughput possible for SSDs is created.

Attendees learning about the latest developments with 24G SAS at STA’s panel discussion


We still don’t know the “official” cause of the FMS exhibit hall fire, but we do know that data storage is a hot market. With SAS as the industry’s most reliable storage infrastructure and promising roadmap, I’m sure we’ll see SAS SSDs, hard drives and a SAS ecosystem in data centers for many years to come.

Hope to see you at next year’s Flash Memory Summit – both in the exhibit hall and at the panel sessions!