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Technology / AI and automation


Box Hill Systems Corp is pushing the third incarnation of its Fiber Box product, which it claims is the first pure Fiber Channel embedded RAID storage system, with Fiber Channel interfaces on both the host CPU and on the disk drives. Adding intelligence to the drives is designed to cut use of CPU time and queries between the drives and the CPU and results in particularly fast read times. Throughput is boosted further through the use of a PCI host adapter – from Adaptec Inc – to link the storage unit to Central Processing Units on a network. It claims replacing the SCSI connection in this way gives the box a throughput of 97Mb/ sec or 194Mb/sec using a dual loop connection. The faster throughput makes the box suitable for applications such as video editing, where digitised footage is held on a disk array and connected to a network, enabling multiple users to work on large chunks of film. Box Hill has embedded a set of software drivers to implement Seagate Technology Inc’s XOR RAID capabilities, via a chip embedded on all Fiber Channel disk drives. This enables key RAID functions to be performed on the drives themselves without the need for an external RAID controller, or having to use up time on the host system. Based in New York, Box Hill System Corp was founded in 1987 by a group of engineering students at Columbia University, and went on to specialize in providing backup storage to Wall Street companies using Unix systems. Now it’s moving into the Windows NT marketplace, and concentrating on key vertical markets such as finance, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications. The company went public on the New York stock exchange just over two months ago. Box Hill chief executive officer Philip Black says the offering was nine times oversubscribed with shares peaking at around $20, although the price has now fallen to just under $11 – due to bad timing and the recent stock market instability, says Black. The company currently has revenues of $70m, and predicts between 40% and 50% year on year growth. Box Hill estimates a typical Fiber Box system with 72Gb storage costs from around $35,000, or between $0.55 and $0.60 per Mb. It’s available now for Windows NT; with a set of drivers for Sun Solaris and Silicon Graphics Inc Irix Unix flavors due out early next year.

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