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Hitachi Hurries 4ward

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (NYSE: HIT; Paris: PHA) gave 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel a shove toward the loading dock, as it announced today the completion of an arbitrated loop data transfer demonstration between integrated hard drive controllers. Hitachi hopes to start tests of 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel with industry suppliers "immediately."

Hitachi said its design engineers demonstrated Fibre Channel arbitrated loop (FCAL) synchronization at 4 Gbit/s between two fully integrated Hitachi GST hard disk controllers. The demonstration included the ability to initiate and complete Fibre Channel LIP (Loop Initialization Procedure) as well as port and process logins. With the loop established, both commands and data were transferred at 4 Gbit/s, the vendor says (see Hitachi Demos 4-Gig FC).

The announcement is the latest milestone in momentum building behind 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel as the next step from the current 2-Gbit/s speed -- meaning a possible dely in shipment of 10-Gbit/s wares.

History lesson: A year ago, it appeared that 10-Gbit/s would be the next Fibre Channel standard, thanks to components being developed for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet and OC192 Sonet. But an aggressive push led by QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) helped the 4-Gbit/s SAN idea take hold. It has since gained popularity as an interim step because it is cheaper and compatible with current 2-Gbit/s equipment.

Hitachi is looking to start testing with other hardware vendors as soon as possible -- including host bus adapter (HBA) vendors QLogic, Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)and LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI). Three major pieces for 4-gig SANs -- HBAs, switches and disks -- could be in place by the end of the year.

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