More 10-Gig Ethernet SANs Planned

Users want 10-Gbit/s Ethernet SANs. Suppliers say first quarter of 2006 will be a turning point

March 26, 2005

3 Min Read
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Suppliers say the ship's in sight for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet SAN gear. And at least two maintain it will clear the horizon by the first half of 2006.

Here's a rundown:

  • Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) targets the first quarter of 2006 as the starting date for widespread IP SAN adoption. That's when servers based on their new line of multifunction Ethernet-compatible controllers will start to appear. The Gigabit-Ethernet controllers were announced early in March (see Broadcom Intros Ethernet Controller). By making it easy for servers to link to iSCSI SANs, they will fuel widespread IP SAN adoption, Broadcom says. Six to nine months later, the vendor says there will be a burst of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet SAN activity -- though spokespeople aren't saying yet when Broadcom will offer a 10-Gbit/s version of its wares.

  • EqualLogic Inc. plans the rollout of a 10-Gbit/s IP SAN array by the second half of 2006. That date coincides with a point when the volume of data in most organizations will outgrow Gigabit-Ethernet transports, says marketing VP John Joseph. Specifically, as users move from having about 5 to over 50 Tbytes of data, they'll need pipes faster than 1 Gbit/s to move storage traffic over 3 to 4 percent of those pipes. Joseph says EqualLogic will be ready with iSCSI arrays to meet demand. "A lot of people are planning on [10-Gbit/s Ethernet SANs]," he says.

  • Intransa Inc. plans to demonstrate a prototype 10-Gbit/s Ethernet SAN array at the Storage Networking World tradeshow next month, and a spokeswoman says it will be followed by a product "this year."

Is this just more hype? After all, these aren't the first 10-Gbit/s Ethernet SAN plans to surface. iVivity Inc. recently unveiled a chipset for 10-Gbit/s appliances, including SAN gear (see iVivity to Show Off 10-GigE MAC). And Neterion Inc. and a few others have announced 10-Gbit/s adapters for use in faster SANs (see 10-GigE Hits Express Lane).

So far, though, timelines have been sketchy for both IP SANs in general and 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ones in particular.

Broadcom's director of storage products Shriraj Gaglani is confident that will change. "IP SANs have been talked about and hyped for many years, but are still a fringe technology," he says. "The first quarter of 2006 will radically change that."He claims Broadcom's new chips will give servers a way to address iSCSI storage devices from the motherboard, in turn, giving the industry an incentive to use the interface and inspiring use of faster transports. Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) has used Broadcom's chips for new NICs with TCP/IP offload engines for Ethernet connectivity with iSCSI (see HP Hitches Servers to Storage).

Incidentally, the latest poll of Byte and Switch readers indicates 10-Gbit/s Ethernet could be a preferred SAN transport, but its future depends on availability and pricing of equipment.

If all 10-Gbit/s SAN transport technologies were priced the same, 59 percent of the 100-plus poll respondents would opt for Ethernet, 30 percent for Fibre Channel, 7 percent for InfiniBand, and the rest don't know or have other preferences.

When asked how much the progress of Ethernet in SANs depends on 10-Gbit/s and higher speeds, 18 percent of respondents indicated Ethernet SANs would be as "done in SANs" without it. But another 54 percent said that while a lot depends on 10-Gbit/s equipment, Ethernet SANs will operate at lower rates, too.

What do you think? To take the poll, click hereMary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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