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FC Fires Up 4-Gig Fiesta

When QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) professed its intentions to bet on 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel products a couple months ago, it may have seemed like a long shot. But after a Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) vote approving 4GFC for SANs, the company may be able to cash in on its gamble after all (see QLogic Starts 4-Gig Quest).

In a surprising move, the FCIA (along with its sister organization in Japan) voted late last week in favor of extending 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel from just providing back-end storage system connectivity to also being a switched SAN fabric technology (see FCIA Approves 4-Gbit/s FC for SANs).

"Were ecstatic!" says QLogic VP of marketing Frank Berry. "We’re thrilled that the industry is getting behind this. It will certainly help us maintain our leadership." QLogic expects to start shipping 4-Gbit/s FC products for the SAN fabric by the end of this year.

The vote flies in the face of a long-held industry expectation that 10 Gbit/s would be the next stop on the speed scale after the current generation of 2-Gbit/s FC. Most vendors of SAN fabric products have been busy developing the technology that will make it possible for Fibre Channel performance to keep pace with the ongoing migration to 10 Gbit/s on the Ethernet side of the equation.

But about six months ago, as the economy continued to slip and the sprint towards 10 Gbit/s seemed to slow to a crawl, the FCIA Speed Forum Working Group started discussing whether swooshing by 4 Gbit/s on the way to 10 Gbit/s might make sense.

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