Here comes 8Gig Fibre Channel


This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download "Storage magazine: Exploring the solid-state storage advantage."

Download it now to read this article plus other related content.

Price premium
The move to 8Gb/sec FC will entail a price hike, at least initially. "The 8Gb/sec components require new optics. The price won't drop to 4Gb/sec levels until the volumes ramp up," says Scott McIntyre, VP of software and customer marketing at Emulex Corp. Adds Mario Blandini, Brocade's director of product marketing: "There will be a 20% to 30% price premium over 4Gb/sec components initially."

For the extra money, 8Gb/sec components will bring some new capabilities. "These involve how data corruption is handled and how you authenticate the host to the FC fabric," says McIntyre. For example, there'll be more Cyclic Redundancy Checks (usually a mathematical checksum), which detect data alteration during transmission or when stored by comparing the data stream going in and coming out.

One upshot of the transition to 8Gb/sec FC may be improved energy conservation. "You may be able to turn off lanes on the PCI bus and power off lanes in the HBA and ports," says QLogic's Lustig. These green capabilities, however, will come from new firmware and software, not from the 8Gb/sec HBA alone.

Although 8Gb/sec FC doubles FC performance, it still comes up shy of 10Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE). However, FC enterprises can achieve 10GbE speed through Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). With FCoE, the FC protocol and FICON run native on a premium lossless,

Requires Free Membership to View

low-latency and QoS-enabled Ethernet. FC becomes just another network protocol running at 10Gb/sec alongside IP on the 10GbE network.

FCoE also allows convergence at the cabling level through a single Ethernet cable handling both FC and IP. FCoE will appeal to enterprises with FC SANs but with no plans to migrate to iSCSI and Ethernet. "It lets organizations with FC and FICON preserve their FC skills and tools," explains StorageIO Group's Schulz. They can converge their network to a fast 10GbE backbone and reap savings by running and maintaining only one set of cabling for all traffic. (For more, see "FCoE: Coming to a data center near you".)

Because FCoE doesn't use TCP/IP, it isn't routable. In addition, at this point FCoE is considered local technology only. "FC shops that want to follow strategies requiring long distance, such as remote mirroring, should look to FCIP [Fibre Channel over IP] or other protocols," says Schulz.

To use FCoE, organizations will have to deploy a Converged Network Adapter (CNA) that will look to the server as both an FC HBA and an Ethernet NIC. A number of vendors have declared support for FCoE, including switch makers like Brocade and Cisco and component makers like Emulex and QLogic. Despite industry support, "this technology is still in its infancy," adds Schulz. "It will be 2010 before FCoE is ready for use by anyone except early adopters." (See "Fibre Channel over Ethernet roadmap," PDF below.)

Click here for the Fibre Channel
over Ethernet roadmap

This was first published in July 2008

There are Comments. Add yours.

TIP: Want to include a code block in your comment? Use <pre> or <code> tags around the desired text. Ex: <code>insert code</code>

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
Sort by: OldestNewest

Forgot Password?

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an email containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: