Hewlett-Packard Co. will begin offering low-cost Fibre Channel disks in July that will cost about one-half the price of current Fibre Channel storage, according to HP.

The new drives, which will be manufactured by Seagate Technology LLC and sold as an option for HP’s StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array family of storage arrays, will use many of the same components as inexpensive ATA (advanced technology attachment) drives, but will also include firmware and components that allow them to support the Fibre Channel interface.

“It’s essentially a low-cost disk drive mechanism that is attached by a native Fibre Channel interface,” said Kyle Fitze, HP’s director of marketing for online storage.

Fibre Channel has been widely used to carry data between servers and storage devices in storage area networks (SANs), but its relatively high cost has largely confined it to the data center. HP hopes to broaden the appeal of SANs by selling these lower-cost Fibre Channel drives within its arrays, Fitze said.

HP did not have pricing information on the new drives, but said they would be provided as an option for their StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array 3000 and Enterprise Virtual Array 5000 devices. Customers will be able to mix the new Fibre Channel drives with HP’s existing Fibre Channel disks, HP said.

In addition, HP announced on Monday that it would begin selling a new 128-port StorageWorks B-series SAN director switch, manufactured by Brocade Communications Systems Inc.

HP also announced an update to its IP Storage Router 2122. The new router, called the 2122-2 supports the Internet Small Computer System Interface (iSCSI) and Fibre Channel Internet Protocol (FCIP) protocols.

Both the switch and the router are available immediately. The 2122-2 is priced at US$12,000. Pricing for the SAN director switch was not available.

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