PCI: You are the weakest link -- goodbye!

Upgrading from PCI-Bus to PCI-X to eliminate networking bandwidth issues.

By nature, a network consists of a number of links -- be it a network of people (a sports team, a rock band or a school class) or any other kind of network (LANs, SANs, etc.)

Usually, a team is only as strong as its weakest member and, likewise, a network is as a rule only as fast as its weakest link. Therefore, when you have networking bandwidth issues, you most likely need to upgrade the weakest link. This is because an increase in data speed (usually enabled by a new protocol) generally demands an update of a number of components, such as adapters, switches and -- over time -- CPUs, as these must cope with the increased flow of data.

In storage networking, true 2G byte Fibre Channel is finally becoming a reality. Despite the fact that 2G byte Fibre Channel products have been available for some time, it is only now that we're seeing end users switching auto-sensing 1/2G byte products to full 2G byte. In doing this, they highlight the weakest link.

For the first time since it emerged in 1993, the PCI bus limits performance and prevents 2G byte Fibre Channel from performing at its full potential as the bandwidth reached with the 66MHz, 64-bit system allowed by the PCI bus is outstripped by the 2G byte traffic that Fibre Channel delivers. So here's your problem: A new era has arrived for data storage and transfer. For the first time since the industry started talking about it, 2G byte Fibre Channel is a reality; the fibres are available and the servers are ready, but the PCI bus simply will not cut it. So how do you get the most out of your system?

Considering that the move to 2G byte is inevitable, and has in fact already begun, anyone incapable of offering true 2G byte solutions is going to be left behind -- rapidly. The solution comes with the new 133 MHz PCI-X Bus and is quickly being marketed and deployed by all major server vendors. So my tip to you is, smash the bottleneck by upgrading to PCI-X. This will allow you to forestall problems generated by the standard PCI bus when you implement 2G byte -- problems that you cannot afford to deal with in the current economic climate. 133Mhz PCI-X adapters are more than capable of dealing with 2G byte data transfer, and will be capable of dealing with the heaviest data transfer demands for some years to come.


About the author: Hendrik Wacker has been director of European marketing for JNI since July 2001. During his 12 years in the networking and storage industries, Hendrik has held key positions with a number of high-profile companies including Ramp Networks (subsequently taken over by Nokia), Adaptec and Cogent. He graduated from the University of Munich in 1989.

This was first published in July 2002

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