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Agilent Boasts 4-Gig First

A 4-gig FC controller announcement is triggering word of others. Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) has unveiled its second 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel controller, the Tachyon QX4, which uses PCI-Express, the next iteration of host system buses from Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).

And its claims to be first on the market are encouraging speculation that competitors Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) are readying their own product announcements.

Agilent's integrated circuit's got four 4-Gbit/s ports in one chip, and it's being demo'd at a conference this week working in sync with Agilent's other 4-Gbit/s FC controller, the DX4+, which runs with the PCI-X 1.0 bus (see Agilent Shows 4-Gig Controllers). The DX4+ is currently being sampled by prospective OEMs, Agilent says. The QX4 will ship to OEM prospects by the end of the year.

Agilent says the two chips are meant to work in a range of 4-Gbit/s devices, with the QX4 suited to RAID controllers and other arrays, and the DX4+ for use in server HBAs as well as arrays. While Agilent can't set a time limit on when OEMs may be ready with products based on its chips, spokespeople say release dates can follow component sampling by 6 to 18 months, depending on developers.

That timeline is in sync with general expectations for the emergence of 4-Gbit/s products (see Report Looks Beyond 4-Gig). But it's Agilent's claim to be the world's first supplier of 4-Gbit/s FC PCI-Express controllers -- and the industry's only supplier of 4-Gbit/s FC controllers in general that sticks in the craw of at least one competitor.

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