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McData Speeds Out IP Switch

McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) today launched a low-end IP storage switch -- developed by the just-acquired Nishan Systems -- that the company claims is up to five times faster than similar devices from its main rival, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) (see McData Debuts Low-End IP Switch).

Slated to ship in mid-November, McData's Eclipse 1620 provides two 1-Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and supports iSCSI and Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP) (see McData Sticking With iFCP). The product is intended to be used to connect SANs in remote offices for disaster recovery applications, as well as to act as a local iSCSI-to-Fibre Channel gateway to allow as many as 40 servers access to SAN-attached storage.

The Eclipse 1620 is clearly designed to go head-to-head with Cisco's SN 5428 storage router. But the McData switch is able to process storage traffic much more efficiently than the Cisco gear, particularly at smaller block sizes, says Bill Burger, McData's director of emerging technologies.

"We provide three to five times the performance than [Cisco] for the same price," he says.

The difference, Burger says, is that the 1620 provides hardware-based acceleration to convert IP traffic to Fibre Channel using a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) chip.

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