Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Setting the Stage for Faster FC

Announcements from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. (Nasdaq: VTSS) focus on the emerging market for 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel equipment, as well as the market for 10-Gbit/s gear.

Here's a quick rundown:

  • Agilent has released optical transceivers for 4-Gbit/s applications like HBAs, RAID arrays, and switches. Called the AFBR-59R5L and AFBR-57R5P, the transceivers support multimode fiber and can automatically detect network speeds of 1-, 2-, and 4-Gbit/s, Agilent says. They chips are sampling now, but no pricing has been disclosed.
  • Intel released two optical transceivers aimed for use in HBAs and RAID arrays as well as in 4-Gbit/s switches (see Intel Debuts 4-Gig Transceivers). The TXN31015 and TXN3115 operate on 850-nanometer multimode optical fiber, Intel says. Product shipments are set for the second half of this year.
  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) says it's been working with Intel to ensure that vendor's transceivers will work with Emulex's 4-Gbit/s InSpeed SOC 422 Fibre Channel embedded storage switch, announced in January (see Fibre Channel: HBA Hog Heaven). Customers looking to link disk array shelves with a storage controller, for instance, could use both Emulex's switch and Intel's transceivers.
  • Vitesse unveiled the VSC7196, an integrated circuit (IC) designed for 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel disk arrays (see Vitesse Debuts 4-Gig FC IC). The chip supports up to 22 Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop ports operating at 1.06 Gbit/s, 2.12 Gbit/s, and 4.25 Gbit/s, Vitesse says. It is geared to work with general-purpose JBOD (just a bunch of disk) arrays and supports a range of management features. An internal routing mechanism dubbed Ring Router speeds up performance, Vitesse claims. Samples will be available April 2, 2004.

Bottom line? The component vendors say their news foreshadows widespread adoption of 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel later this year. Further, both see the move to 4-Gbit/s for disk arrays and smaller switches being accompanied by a move to 10-Gbit/s interswitch links (ISLs) in roughly the same timeframe.

Notably, 10-Gbit/s interswitch links already are offered by QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) as part of its SANbox 5200 (see QLogic Gets Stacked and QLogic Stacks SMB Deck).

Vitesse, which also makes 10-Gbit/s ICs, thinks 10-Gbit/s Fibre Channel "front-end SAN" links between switches or directors and end-user hosts will be more widespread by the end of 2004. "Back-end SAN" links at 4-Gbit/s between switches and disk arrays will start showing up in the second half of 2004.

  • 1