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Serial Storage Architecture

(also SSA)

Serial storage architecture definition

Serial storage architecture (SSA) was a high-speed, serial interface that large organizations used for connecting storage devices to computer systems. It was designed for better performance, reliability, and scalability compared to parallel storage interfaces.

See also: storage area network server, storage as a service, storage automation, storage management

How it worked

SSA connected storage devices in a serial manner, one after another. Each device in the loop was connected to the next, forming a continuous circuit. Data was transferred over two pairs of twisted-pair cables, one for each direction. This architecture enabled multiple devices to communicate simultaneously, enhancing data throughput and reducing bottlenecks.

SSA network structure:

  • SSA adapters — interface cards installed in the host computer, facilitating communication with the SSA loop.
  • SSA cables — twisted-pair cables connecting the devices in the loop for high-speed data transfer.
  • SSA disks — storage devices specifically designed for SSA.
  • SSA switches — optional components that enable more complex configurations and improve fault tolerance by creating alternate data paths.

Advantages of serial storage architecture

  1. 1.High performance and scalability. SSA ensured high data transfer rates, while its loop architecture allowed you to add new devices without significant reconfiguration.
  2. 2.Reliability. Built-in redundancy and fault tolerance mechanisms ensured continuous operation even if one device or connection failed.
  3. 3.Distance. SSA supported longer cable lengths compared to parallel interfaces, allowing for more flexibility in physical layout.

Disadvantages of serial storage architecture:

  1. 1.Complexity. The loop architecture was more complex to manage and troubleshoot than the simpler point-to-point connections.
  2. 2.Cost. SSA devices and infrastructure were often more expensive than their parallel counterparts.
  3. 3.Obsolescence. With the advent of more advanced technologies like Fibre Channel and Serial Attached SCSI, SSA has become largely obsolete.