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An HPC center in Germany claims that sending Fibre Channel traffic at 10-Gbit/s over DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing) has actually saved money.

"Using DWDM was much cheaper," says Peter Haas, director of data and network management at the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart (HLRS), which is affiliated with the University of Stuttgart and the University of Hohenheim less than 10 miles away.

Earlier this year, he and his group looked into ways of upgrading the speed of their research network, which shares data from clustered computers with scientific organizations worldwide. The two universities, about 7.5 miles apart, were already linked via a 2.5-Gbit/s private fiber connection. The optical links were generated by equipment from ADVA Optical Networking, which in turn connected with Fibre Channel directors from Cisco.

The group wanted its data to go faster than 2.5 Gbit/s. They considered adding a gateway module to the Cisco switches that would convert 2- and 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel traffic to FCIP (Fibre Channel over Internet Protocol) for use on 10-Gbit/s Ethernet connections. But the cost of the gateways and the multiple, additional 4-Gbit/s links that would be required to achieve the high data rates was more than it would cost to upgrade to a full 10-Gbit/s on DWDM.

This was true, Haas maintains, even though the HLRS had to upgrade from Cisco MDS 9509 switches to 10-Gbit/s-capable MDS 9513 directors, which were still in beta test. Nonetheless, by April the configuration was up and running.

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