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McData Signs On for 4-Gig SANs

Plans to deliver 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel in 2005, with 10-Gig support set for mid-2004

McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) has outlined a general roadmap to deliver 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel support by 2005 -- becoming the first major storage switch vendor to throw its weight behind the next-generation SAN fabric technology.

"As a major proponent of industry standards, McData... intends to support 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel fabrics in 2005, as it matures," said Mike Gustafson, McData's senior VP of worldwide marketing, in a statement.

Today, most Fibre Channel equipment supports 2-Gbit/s operation (which is backward-compatible with older 1-Gbit/s equipment). But there has been some question -- and some lively back-room debate -- about whether the industry should adopt 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel as the next speed plateau for SANs, or if everyone should just move to 10 Gig. The 4-Gig FC specification was originally designed to connect high-speed drives within storage arrays.

The backers of 4-Gig, among which QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) has been the most active lobbyist, scored a victory in June when the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) approved the spec as a SAN fabric interconnect. (See FC Fires Up 4-Gig Fiesta, 4-Gig Fireworks, QLogic Starts 4-Gig Quest, and Fibre Channel SANs: 4G or Not 4G?.)

McData's announcement that it intends to support 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel will put additional pressure on Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) to jump on board.

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