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IBM To Embrace Fibre Channel over Ethernet

IBM plans to offer native Fibre Channel over Ethernet connectivity on all of its rack and tower servers, according to an announcement today by Qlogic, which said its single-chip converged network adapters (CMAs) have been selected to be integrated into the computers. Qlogic said IBM is the first tier-one computer maker to incorporate the company's 8100 Series CNAs into its server portfolio, include BladeCenter and System X servers that use Intel's Xeon 5500 "Nehalem" processors.

QLogic said its 8100 Series CNAs are optimized for blade servers and high-density storage systems and support simultaneous storage and data networking traffic at full 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) line speeds, consume only one third the power of existing CNA chip sets and are the only CNAs on the market to eliminate the need for a heat sink.

The company also introduced a QLogic 10Gb Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) high-speed Pass-thru Module, which it says can provide 14 non-blocking connections between CNAs installed on IBM BladeCenter servers and external 10GbE or 10G CEE switches and devices. "The QLogic 8100 Series CNAs provide the foundation for network convergence and work in concert with the new QLogic 10Gb CEE Pass-thru Module to provide a complete, integrated connectivity solution for IBM BladeCenter systems," the company said in a statement. The module translates internal 10 Gigabit Media Independent Interface (XAUI) connections on up to 14 CNA-enabled servers to external SFP+ optical media ports, suitable for direct attachment to new CEE and FCoE devices as well as to existing 10GbE LANs.

"This provides a way of taking the power of the CNA and exposing it to the outside world," said Craig Alleso, director marketing for the Network Solutions Group at QLogic. "It can discover which blades have CNAs and can connect at 10 GigE speeds to a LAN or to a FCoE switch or top-of-rack type of device or any CEE device. It is a complete integrated connectivity solution. It also has self-testing and diagnostics."

IBM is one of the first major server makers to embrace FCoE, which is viewed as a potential way to unify and consolidate computer networking and storage networking into a single unified networking fabric, reducing the number of cables and other associated equipment needed in data centers. IBM was not immediately available to comment on the Qlogic announcement.

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