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Transoft Unveils 100MB/second Storage Network for Macs


Transoft Technology Corporation introduced the StudioBOSS FC product line of very fast digital computer networks for high-speed PCI-based Apple Macintosh computer systems. Based on the FibreChannel network standard, StudioBOSS FC networks can transmit data at 100 megabytes per second, and are designed for graphics production, motion picture and television studio production and post-production. Transoft is the first company to present a FibreChannel mass storage network in the entertainment business for Macintosh systems.

The announcement was made by Michael Klein, Chief Executive Officer of Transoft. The FibreChannel standard is receiving significant support from leading-edge production technology companies. At April's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention, Hewlett Packard Company, Tektronix Inc., Avid Technology Inc., and Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Company named FibreChannel as a leading choice for audio and video networking within broadcast and post-production facilities. "Our FibreChannel solution for Macintosh is ideal because it offers peak bandwidth with the lowest-cost-per-node bandwidth," said Klein. "It is perfect for transporting the large blocks of audio/video data needed for professional television applications at 300 KB/frame transfer rates." An open-systems solution, Transoft's FibreChannel can be used by desktop workstations, mass storage subsystems, peripherals and host systems within a campus-sized area. Combining attributes of a channel and a network, FibreChannel offers a single standard interface capable of simultaneously supporting both connections using multiple protocols. It relieves system manufacturers from the burden of supporting the plethora of channels and networks currently addressing niche requirements. Transoft's StudioBOSS FC system includes software, workstation adapters and high-speed RAID storage. The company is developing "fabrics" that will accommodate unlimited number of users and devices.

High speed shared storage enabled

An installed Transoft StudioBOSS FC system features a FibreChannel PCI 100 MB/s full duplex card (200 MB/second total transfer) at each workstation. StudioBOSS FC systems supports either copper fiber (30 meters/98.5 feet between nodes) and various optical fibers (for up to 10 km/10 mile's distance between nodes). The system supports up to 126 nodes, including users and/or devices. StudioBOSS utilizes the Transoft ProRAID-FC, a single hardware-based Fibre Channel RAID-3 device capable of 75 MB/sec. speeds. Up to a terabyte of storage is available through multiple ProRAID-FC devices. Unlike more limited standards such as FDDI, ATM or SSA, the 100 MB/s bandwidth simultaneously supports multiple users accessing double-digit MB/s streams with no network or storage device bottlenecks. Additional storage options include the Transoft ProTower, which holds up to eight FC drives and can either be accessed individually or striped using RAID software.

Future-oriented network development

While initial use of the StudioBOSS FC network is with Macintosh systems, the open-architecture capabilities of FibreChannel present an ideal solution for network-based shared digital video, prepress and CAD/CAM datasets. Moreover, future versions of StudioBOSS FC systems will be cross-platform, available simultaneously to Silicon Graphics and Microsoft Windows NT workstations in addition to Macintosh systems. Transoft StudioBOSS FC PCI cards support the transport of TCP/IP, Ethernet and other network protocol traffic at the same time as SCSI-FCP for storage attached directly to the network fiber. Transoft plans to announce additional network protocol support later this year.

The system is list-priced at $4,995 per seat, which includes StudioBOSS FC file control software, FC driver software, StudioBOSS FC FibreChannel PCI card, 60-foot copper cabling, and a gigabaud link module (GLM). Systems requiring more than two nodes need a StudioBOSS FC nine-port hub, with a list price of $5,995. The Transoft ProRAID-FC 36 GB RAID-3 and ProTower list prices are to be determined.


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