Fibre Channel getting faster

Fibre Channel for storage-area networks is getting faster, with Emulex and QLogic airing plans to support the 8Gbps Channel standard.

Fibre Channel has until now operated at 1G, 2G and 4Gbps. The new 8Gbps host bus adapters and switches will likely be used initially to link Fibre Channel segments together, enabling consolidation between storage devices and for applications such as backup and video post-production that require higher performance.

The faster Fibre Channel products will also be used in other implementations, analysts said.

“They will be used to aggregate and allow more servers to attach to a given number of storage ports, to support virtual servers that may have aggregated performance needs and for inter-switch links where 4Gbps Fibre Channel is not cutting it yet today,” said Greg Schulz, senior analyst with StorageIO.

Emulex will introduce PCI Express-based host bus adapters and an embedded I/O controller that offer security, data integrity and virtualization features. The company’s LPe12000 host bus adapters, which reside on server blades, and its Embedded I/O Controller, which is built into storage arrays, are expected to be delivered to original storage manufacturers such as EMC, IBM and HP by the end of September. The company’s 8Gbps products support storage authentication across the SAN using the Fibre Channel Security Protoco and Emulex’s BlockGuard data integrity checking technology.

For its part, QLogic has started testing its 8Gbps SANbox Fibre Channel switches, PCI Express-based SANblade host bus adapters and iSCSI-to-8Gbps Fibre Channel router, and expects to deliver samples to original storage manufacturers by the end of September.

Emulex and QLogic product families are expected to ship to customers by the first half of 2008 at a 10 percent to 20 percent premium over existing 4Gbps products.

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