FICON (for Fiber Connectivity) is a high-speed input/output (I/O) interface for mainframe computer connections to storage devices. As part of IBM's S/390 server, FICON channels increase I/O capacity through the combination of a new architecture and faster physical link rates to make them up to eight times as efficient as ESCON (Enterprise System Connection), IBM's previous fiber optic channel standard.
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FICON channel features include:
- A mapping layer based on the ANSI standard Fibre Channel-Physical and Signaling Interface (FC-PH), which specifies the signal, cabling, and transmission speeds
- 100 Mbps bi-directional link rates at distances of up to twenty kilometers, compared to the 3Mbps rate of ESCON channels at distances of up to three kilometers.
- More flexibility in terms of network layout, because of the greater distances
- Compatibility with any installed channel types on any S/390 G5 server
- Bridge feature, which enables support of existing ESCON control units
- Requires only one channel address
- Support for full-duplex data transfers, which enables simultaneous reading and writing of data over a single link
- Multiplexing, which enables small data transfers to be transmitted with larger ones, rather than having to wait until the larger transaction is finished