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Four-Gig HBAs on Parade

Among the 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel demonstrations at the Storage Networking World trade show in Phoenix next week will be host bus adapters (HBAs) -- largely missing from 4-Gbit/s scenarios up to now.

Faster Fibre Channel looks like it will be a theme at the show, with switches from a range of players set for display (more on that in a minute). But without HBAs, the switches are useless. So the addition of new HBAs from ATTO Technology Inc. and LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI), as well as a combination of new and previously announced models from Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC), could provide inspiration.

Here's a rundown:

  • ATTO will release on April 14 the Celerity FC-44ES, a four-port PCI Express adapter for 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel hosts.
  • Emulex will show both PCI Express and PCI-X versions of its 4-Gbit/s adapter, which was unveiled March 1 (see Emulex Releases PCIe HBAs). A spokesperson says other vendors, including Aristos Logic and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), will be using Emulex HBAs in their own demos.
  • LSI Logic plans to release its first PCI Express HBA for 4-Gbit/s at the show.
  • QLogic hasn't committed to an HBA rollout, but its 4-Gbit/s FC adapter, first shown at the fall SNW (see 4-Gig SAN Demos at SNW) will presumably make a reappearance, possibly in a more market-ready state. QLogic sources could not be reached at press time for comment.

Conformance to PCI Express, the follow-on to today's widespread parallel PCI-X bus, is a significant feature of these new adapters for servers and storage gear. Where all devices on a parallel PCI-X bus share bandwidth, serially architected PCI Express allocates a specific amount of bandwidth per device. That improves its scaleability, quality-of-service potential, and latency -- making it a better choice for storage than PCI-X, analysts say.

Other 4-Gbit/s FC announcements are in the offing, including controllers from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), ATTO, and Engenio Information Technologies Inc. (see Agilent to Demo 4-Gbit/s FC Controller).

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