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What will 4 Gbps Fibre Channel mean to you?

Do organizations really need 4 Gbps technology, when many of them aren't taking full advantage of 2 Gbps?

Today, 2 Gbps Fibre Channel is the dominant interconnection used in SANs, but Fibre Channel keeps evolving as SAN adoption grows. Four Gbps will emerge by mid-2005, providing IT managers with a faster technology to meet their data center needs. The question is, do organizations really need 4 Gbps technology, when many of them aren't taking full advantage of 2 Gbps?

User needs and data volumes continue to grow, and, as it turns out, 4 Gbps Fibre Channel may not be much more expensive that 2 Gbps. Semiconductor manufacturers say that 4 Gbps parts will equal the cost of 2 Gbps parts in the next quarter, and could be less by the end of the year. SAN infrastructure vendors are riding the same price/performance curve.

The useful life of storage systems now extends beyond three years. Why would a user want to buy last year's technology, especially since 4 Gbps technology is backward compatible with 2 Gbps and 1 Gbps infrastructures? As a result, industry analysts predict that 4 Gbps Fibre Channel will become the industry standard by the end of 2006.

Among the first to adopt this new technology will be those in data-intensive, high performance computing (HPC) markets that need fast access to large amounts of data, such as government research labs, scientists, engineers and entertainment companies. The faster processing speed will enable government research labs to analyze seismology or geological data more rapidly. Energy companies will be able to conduct more iterations of analysis, improving the bidding process and increasing their probability of finding petroleum. On the entertainment side, 4 Gbps technology reduces the production time for animated films such as Finding Nemo or The Polar Express.

Steve Gardner is director of product marketing for Engenio Information Technologies. For more information please visit

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