connecting and transferring data between computers and peripheral devices. The
SCSI standards define commands, protocols, and electrical and optical interfaces.
SCSI is most commonly used for hard disks and tape drives, but it can connect a
wide range of other devices, including scanners, and optical drives (CD, DVD,
etc.). The SCSI standard contains definitions of command sets of specific
peripheral device types; the presence of "unknown" as one of these types means
that in theory it can be used to interface almost any device, but the standard is
highly pragmatic and addressed toward commercial requirements.
SCSI is based on "SASI", the "Shugart Associates System Interface", introduced
by that company in 1979. The Shugart SASI controller provided an interface
between a hard disk's serial analog interface (called RLL) and a host computer,
which needed to read sectors (blocks) of data. SASI interface boards were 5\u00bc" x
8" in size, usually mounted on top of a hard disk drive. SASI was used in mini-
and microcomputers like the Apple II. SASI defined the interface as using a 50-
pin flat ribbon connector.
Since its standardization in 1986, SCSI has been commonly used in the Amiga,
Apple Macintosh and Sun Microsystems computer lines and PC server systems.
Apple started using IDE for its low-end machines with the Macintosh Quadra 630
in 1994, and added it to its high-end desktops starting with the Power Macintosh
G3 in 1997. Apple dropped on-board SCSI completely (in favor of IDE and
FireWire) with the Blue & White G3 in 1999. Sun has switched its lower end
range to Serial ATA (SATA). SCSI has never been popular in the low-priced IBM
PC world, owing to the lower cost and adequate performance of its ATA hard disk
standard. SCSI drives and even SCSI RAIDs became common in PC workstations
for video or audio production, but the appearance of large cheap SATA drives
means that SATA is rapidly taking over this market.
Currently, SCSI is popular on high-performance workstations andservers.RAIDs on
servers almost always use SCSI hard disks, though a number of manufacturers offer
SATA-based RAID systems as a cheaper option. Desktop computers andnotebooks
more typically use the ATA/IDE or the newer SATA interfaces for hard disks, andUSB
andFireWire connections for external devices.
SCSI is available in a variety of interfaces. The first, still very common, was
parallel SCSI (also called SPI). It uses a parallel electrical bus design. The
traditional SPI design is making a transition to Serial Attached SCSI, which
switches to a serial point-to-point design but retains other aspects of the
technology. iSCSI drops physical implementation entirely, and instead uses
TCP/IP as a transport mechanism. Finally, many other interfaces which do not
rely on complete SCSI standards still implement the SCSI command protocol
SCSI interfaces have traditionally been included on computers from various
manufacturers for Windows, Mac and Linux environments. However, with the
advent of SAS and SATA drives, motherboard manufacturers have moved SCSI
connectors off of the board replacing them with the aforementioned connectivity.
A handful of companies still market their SCSI interface connectivity for PCIe
and PCI-X based motherboards.
unchanged. iSCSI advocates project the iSCSI standard, an embedding of SCSI-3 over TCP/IP, as displacing Fibre Channel in the long run, arguing that Ethernet data rates are currently increasing faster than data rates for Fibre Channel and similar disk-attachment technologies. iSCSI could thus address both the low-end and high-end markets with a single commodity-based technology.
Four recent versions of SCSI, SSA, FC-AL, FireWire, and Serial Attached SCSI
(SAS) break from the traditional parallel SCSI standards and perform data
transfer via serial communications. Although much of the documentation of SCSI
talks about the parallel interface, most contemporary development effort is on
serial SCSI. Serial SCSI has a number of advantages over parallel SCSI\u2014faster
data rates, hot swapping, and improved fault isolation. The primary reason for
the shift to serial interfaces is the clock skew issue of high speed parallel
interfaces, which makes the faster variants of parallel SCSI susceptible to
problems caused by cabling and termination. Serial SCSI devices are more
In addition to many different hardware implementations, the SCSI standards also
include a complex set of command protocol definitions. The SCSI command
architecture was originally defined for parallel SCSI buses but has been carried
forward with minimal change for use with iSCSI and serial SCSI. Other
technologies which use the SCSI command set include the ATA Packet Interface,
USB Mass Storage class and FireWire SBP-2.
In SCSI terminology, communication takes place between an initiator and a
target. The initiator sends a command to the target which then responds. SCSI
commands are sent in a Command Descriptor Block (CDB). The CDB consists of
a one byte operation code followed by five or more bytes containing command-
At the end of the command sequence the target returns a Status Code byte which
is usually 00h for success, 02h for an error (called a Check Condition), or 08h for
busy. When the target returns a Check Condition in response to a command, the
initiator usually then issues a SCSI Request Sense command in order to obtain a
Key Code Qualifier (KCQ) from the target. The Check Condition and Request
Sense sequence involves a special SCSI protocol called a Contingent Allegiance
There are 4 categories of SCSI commands: N (non-data), W (writing data from initiator to target), R (reading data), and B (bidirectional). There are about 60 different SCSI commands in total, with the most common being:
specialised test defined in a diagnostic page.
E)Start/Stop unit: Spins disks up and down, load/unload media.
F)Read capacity: Returns storage capacity.
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