Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL)

A Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) is a high-speed Fibre Channel (FC) topology that can connect up to 126 ports on one controller using a one-way loop or hub design.

A Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) is a high-speed Fibre Channel (FC) topology in which FC ports use arbitration to establish a point-to-point circuit and prevent multiple ports from sending frames at the same time. 

In a Fibre Channel topology, devices are connected in a one-way ring. When ports in a loop topology have information to transmit, they must send out an arbitration signal to decide which port can use the channel. The port in control of the channel then sends an "open" signal to the destination port and transmits its data. Since all the ports in a loop are connected, every port will see and pass along the data -- but ignore the data unless it is addressed to that particular port. 

FC-AL can connect up to 126 ports on one controller. It is rarely used today to directly connect servers to storage systems, but it is still used internally in many Fibre Channel switches.

 

This was first published in April 2014

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