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AMS1000 Announcement and RoHS

by Hu Yoshida on Apr 3, 2006

On April 3, 2006, HDS announced the Hitachi Global Link Manager (PDF) which enables centralized management for multipath data connections across multiple servers which greatly simplifies alternate storage path management in a complex SAN. HDS also announced the AMS1000 modular disk array (PDF) which extends the AMS product line to 208GB of capacity, increased cache bandwidth, and additional functions such as 32 cache partitions, embedded multiprotocol FC, iSCI and NAS interfaces, non disruptive movement across tiers of storage, asyncronous distance copy, and RoHS compliance. You can get the details of these announcements and analyst perspectives by clicking the product links above.

If you are not familiar with the last item, RoHS compliance, you are not alone, espcially if you live and work outside the EU community. During the course of my pre -announcement briefing of the press, it became apparent that very few people in the storage industry, knew the significance of RoHS compliance which has been announced for all of our TagmaStore line of products, including the AMS1000.

RoHS stands for Restriction of Hazardous Substances, and comes from Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament And the Council of 27 January 2003 on the restriction and us of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (PDF).   This EU Directive bans the sale of any electrical or electronic products that contain more than the agreed levels of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybromonated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) from July 1, 2006.

This is very much needed and has a very short time line for compliance. While storage vendors are impacted, the scope of effort is nothing compared to high volume electronic products like PCs, displays, and consumer products. I would have thought that many more people, out side of Europe, would have been knowledgeable about RoHS.

The lead time for compliance under RoHS, was very short, from 27 January 2003 to 1 July 2006, and would have been a nightmare for vendors who are depended on other suppliers for RoHS compliant parts, especially suppliers who are not in EU countries. However, the hazardous impact of heavy metals and PBDE and PBB has been recognized for some time and many companies had already begun moving away from their use. Since Hitachi manufactures many types of electrical and electronic equipment for global consumption, they had been targeting RoHS Compliance by March 2005 (PDF). Since Hitachi is a vertically integrated storage producer, they were able to provide RoHS compliant storage products with the introduction of TagmaStore in September 2004.

Since my briefings were done in the US, it might be understandable if there was no sense of urgency about a European directive. However, the US and other countries are expected to follow suit very shortly. In fact that may be much sooner than one expects.

Within the last few months China’s Ministry of Information Industry, published its own version of RoHS, entitled "Administrative Measure on  the Control of Polution Caused by Electronic Information Products" on February 28, 2006.  This covers the 6 hazardous substances specified by RoHS and includes another category for "other hazardous substances or elements set by the state". This is set to go into effect March 1, 2007. Since an official translation is not available, I do not know the full extent of this law but it seems to call out IT equipment such as external storage. Perhaps some of our Chinese fluent readers could elaborate.

So if you are an electronics vendor and are not RoHS compliant by July 2006, you will not be able to sell your product in the EU countries, and you will be banned from selling in China by March 2007. That is a pretty sizable market. If you are a customer, you will not be able to buy these products either. If you are considering purchase of new storage or any other new electronic products, you might want to check with the vendors for RoHS compliance.

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Comments (1)

Gary Watson on 22 Apr 2006 at 11:56 am

There is a specific exemption in RoHS for lead solder used in servers and storage arrays, granted until the year 2010. Since you probably didn’t use much of the other prohibited substances, perhaps it wasn’t such an emergency to modify your storage arrays. The relevant part of RoHS is item 7 in the Annex. Of course, the chip vendors are EOLing chips that require lead-based solder simply for economic reasons so perhaps the point is moot. By the way, I love your blog and may have a comment or two on some of your other points.

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