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Brocade Bulks Up 4-Gig Gear

In an attempt to extend its lead in 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel switches, Brocade today launched a 64-port switch, a blade for its directors, and a SAN router. (See Brocade Touts Switch, Blade.)

Brocade's new kit includes:

  • The Silkworm 4900, a 64-port switch that supports director features such as hot code load and hot-swappable power supplies and cooling, but does not have a redundant controller processor.
  • The SilkWorm 7500 Switch and the SilkWorm FR4-18i Blade with Fibre Channel over Internet Protocol (FCIP) to connect SANs across distances. The 7500 is a standalone switch with 16 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel and two iSCSI ports. The FR4-18i plugs into Silkworm 4800 256-port directors. Brocade isn't the first to put FCIP and Fibre Channel on the same switch -- Cisco has done it since 2003 -- but Brocade's the first to have 4-Gbit/s in a FCIP router.

Brocade is also the first switch vendor with a 64-port edge switch, and the Silkworm 4900 has twice as many ports as any other major vendor's 4-Gbit/s switches. McData's 4-Gbit/s Sphereon switch does not go beyond 32 ports, and Cisco's only 4-Gbit/s switch is a 20-port device through an OEM deal with QLogic.(See Cisco 4-Gbit Director MIA.)

Many users might find both a 64-port switch and even 4-Gbit/s connectivity overkill. Just two years ago, Brocade's largest director was 64-ports. And a lot of users remain happy with 2 Gbit/s.

According to Mario Blandini, Brocade's technical product manager, as director port counts expand, there is a growing gap between directors and 32-port switches.

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