Adaptec Releases First Ultra160 SCSI Adapters

Ultra160 drives have been available for several months, but today's announcement from Adaptec Inc. ( that its Ultra160 host adapters are available means Ultra160 has finally arrived.

There's been a lot of talk about Ultra160 SCSI. With the promise of performing twice as fast as Ultra2, and the need for faster I/O for today's desktops and servers, the wait for Ultra160 has been a tease for organizations needing the speed.

"With Microsoft launching Windows 2000, processors going faster, and disk drives moving faster, the requirements for I/O increase," says Peter Aylaian, marketing manager for SCSI products at Adaptec.

Ultra160 SCSI doubles the speed of Ultra2 while using three core new features: double-edge clocking, cyclic redundancy checking (CRC), and domain validation. Double-edge clocking doubles the transfer rate without additional internal clocking, reducing the risk of incompatibility with older devices. CRC allows each data block to contain extra bytes in the form of a mathematical code, which lets the receiving device validate the contents. This ensures complete integrity of transferred data. Finally, domain validation intelligently negotiates the data transfer rate to make sure each device on the SCSI channel communicates at the highest rate possible.

Specifications for Ultra3 compliance are different than for Ultra160: Ultra3 requires any one of the preceding features of Ultra160. Since Ultra160 was introduced, most vendors have balked at Ultra3 since it would be inferior.

Part of Ultra160's appeal is that it is completely backward compatible, allowing users to continue to use older SCSI devices with the Ultra160 devices. They can be used in any combination, with each device performing at maximum speed. The Ultra160 SCSI cards use the same cabling infrastructure as Ultra2 SCSI, eliminating the need for new LVD cables, terminators, or backplanes.

To speed the adoption of Ultra160 SCSI, Adaptec is pricing all of its new cards at or below their Ultra2 counterparts. For instance, the top-line card is priced at $399 each; the previous Ultra2 card costs $499. In addition, the company will pull its Ultra2 and UltraWide product line from the shelf by the end of March. Adaptec will continue to support those who have these SCSI cards for the length of their contract. -- Brian Ploskina

In the Cards:

  • Adaptec's SCSI Card 39160 is the enterprise server-level card with dual-channel 68-pin external and internal connections to devices; a 64-bit PCI interface; and can connect up to 30 devices. Dual-channel connections permit separate arrays on one machine that don't interfere with each other.
  • Adaptec's SCSI Card 29160 is targeted at the mainstream server market with single channel 68-pin external and internal connections; 64-bit PCI interface; and maxes out at 15 devices. The 29160 and all cards below it feature SpeedFlex technology. This allows connection to a multitude of devices that transfer at different rates without slowing down the whole bus and bottlenecking other devices.
  • Adaptec's SCSI Card 29160N (N is for narrow) is for entry-level servers supporting a few users. It features 50-pin external and 68-pin internal connections; a 32-bit PCI interface; SpeedFlex technology; and maxes out at 15 devices.
  • Adaptec's SCSI Card 19160 is for professional Windows desktops and optimized for the single user accessing multiple drives. It features 50-pin external and 68-pin internal connections; a 32-bit PCI interface; SpeedFlex technology; and maxes out at 15 devices.
  • About the Author

    Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.