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Broadcom Revs Up Cisco Live With Fastest CNA-Based FCoE

LAS VEGAS: Promising 80% better performance over its nearest competitor and up to 1.7 million input/output operations per second (IOPs), Broadcom Corporation kicked off Cisco Live with a new Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) solution on what it calls the world’s fastest Converged Network Adapter (CNA). The developer of semiconductor solutions for wired and wireless communications says its latest silicon is EMC-certified, OEM-qualified, fully interoperable, and unites data and storage networks on a common 10 Gigabit Ethernet fabric. Both Cisco (Broadcom NetXtreme II 10 GbE PCIe Adapter for UCS C-Series) and Dell (Broadcom 57712-k Converged Network Card (NDC) for PowerEdge Blade) will be exhibiting products based on the new solution.

According to Broadcom, a new report from Demartek, an analyst organization specializing in the testing and analysis of network and storage solutions, validates its performance claims. After comparing the performance of the top CNA vendors--Broadcom, Emulex, Intel and Qlogic--"Broadcom dominated the benchmark analysis by demonstrating superior overall performance for both FCoE and iSCSI," states the report.

While the performance benefits are huge, they are secondary to enterprises' primary concern--that the solution will be rock-solid, says Broadcom. It says the FCoE market is just getting started, and that large shops using both Fibre Channel and iSCSI will want to do testing to make sure there are no disruptions.

When iSCSI started taking off, it was not only a lower-cost alternative to Fibre Channel but also ran on the same Ethernet/IP infrastructure that organizations were already supporting, noted Howard Marks recently. FCoE is a way to maintain the investment in Fibre Channel knowledge, equipment and management while taking advantage of the Ethernet juggernaut. Organizations paying thousands of dollars per switch to turn on the FCoE functions in their top-of-rack switches are going to want the CNA that's supported by SANscreen, Storage Essentials or Command Central. Storage guys manage HBAs, while network guys usually start management at the switch port.

Broadcom's new performance claims are interesting, says analyst Kimball Brown of LightCounting. "FCoE will take a few years before it becomes a major force, but you have to have the performance to get the design win at the HPs, IBMs, and Dells, and Broadcom appears to have it."

He adds that 10GbE's strong growth is being driven by virtualization. "The vNIC technology allows the 10Gb port to be split into as many as eight virtual NICs that are each tied to a given virtual machine running on the server. Once you get five to 10 VMs running on a server, the aggregate bandwidth needs of the VMs drive past 1GbE, driving the need for 10GbE."