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Vol. 4 No. 12 February 2006

Speed wars: Fibre Channel vs. Ethernet

The appeal of 10Gb/sec Ethernet over copper is evident, but can it displace Fibre Channel in the data center? BRACE YOURSELF FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF THE PERPETUAL storage networking competition of whose pipe is the fastest. Just as Fibre Channel (FC) pulls significantly ahead in the performance race with 4Gb/sec speed, IP/Ethernet is about to leapfrog FC with 10Gb/sec Ethernet over copper wire. And no sooner will data centers have absorbed 4Gb/sec FC than 8Gb/sec will arrive. Do data center storage managers care about faster pipes? Judging from the current demand for high-speed storage networking links, perhaps not. In a survey conducted last June by the Milford, MA-based Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), 50% of respondents reported using 1Gb/sec FC. "At that time, 2Gb/sec FC was just beginning to be widely deployed and 4Gb/sec FC was about to start up," says Tony Asaro, senior analyst at ESG. Based on that survey, "the market isn't demanding 8Gb/sec or 10Gb/sec," he concludes. "It's not yet even demanding 4Gb/sec FC." But analysts ...

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