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1 Million IOPS: A Small Step For Networks, A Giant Leap For Converged Network Adapters.

Today, Emulex announced that its OneConnect Universal Converged Network Adapters (UCNAs) doubled the performance of best-in-class 8Gb Fibre Channel HBAs and 10Gb Converged Network Adapters in side-by-side testing with competitive products from Broadcom, Brocade and QLogic. One of the standout statistics in the CNA performance test series was the 919,268 IOPS  generated by a single port of the Emulex's OCe10102 card during the FCoE IOPS run. Considering the OCe10102 has just come out of the chute into production, it's my expectation that fine tuning will eventually push the performance over 1,000,000 IOPS.

Every application places different demands on a storage subsystem with reads and writes of different sizes, but IOPS performance is a pretty good indicator of overall performance. For data center consolidation, the benefit of more CNA IOPS is that physical servers can support more VMware and Hyper-V virtual machines. Not long ago, you could expect to get around 160K small-transfer IOPS with a typical 4Gb Fibre Channel HBA. Today, best-in-class performance for an 8Gb Fibre Channel HBA is approximately 500,000 IOPS.  With almost double the performance of the fastest 8Gb Fibre Channel HBAs and 10Gb CNAs, this new generation of CNAs represents a huge leap in performance now available to administrators of IO-intensive applications and virtualized server environments.
The new benchmark for CNA performance is 900,000 IOPS and you can expect other vendors to deliver this class of performance in the future. Additionally, new Xeon servers need faster network connections. According to Intel, Xeon servers enable up to 9x higher performance per server over installed single-core servers. This class of ASIC performance is eventually going to effect the competition between Ethernet and Fibre Channel storage.  Ethernet / FCoE storage outfitted with this class of ASIC used in target mode will compete favorably with 8Gb Fibre Channel storage.

The bottom line is that  out of economic necessity, Enterprise IT is consolidating their data centers. Because you can consolidate more applications on fewer servers, Enterprise IT is deploying powerful new Intel Xeon servers with VMware or Hyper-V server virtualization software. Because more applications on fewer, powerful servers will create more I/O per server, Enterprise IT will have a preference for distinctly faster converged network adapters to make sure data can get in and out of their servers. At the moment, in a crowded market for standards-based CNAs, Emulex stands out with a solution for an Enterprise IT problem that can't be matched.