A Big 10-4 From QLogic

QLogic Corp. plans to introduce 4-gigabit-per-second Fibre Channel
products to ease the transition to the 10 gigabit future.

The company says it will introduce Fibre Channel chips, host bus
adapters (HBAs) and fabric switches supporting both 10 gigabit per
second (10Gb) and 4 gigabit per second (4Gb) speeds.

For applications that stream large amounts of data across a fabric such
as inter switch links, voice and video, QLogic says its 10Gb products
will deliver five times the bandwidth of current 2Gb products. For
customers with growing investments in 1Gb or 2Gb storage networks, 4Gb
products will double current Fibre Channel performance at about the same
price as 2Gb Fibre Channel while maintaining backwards compatibility
with 1Gb and 2Gb servers, networks and storage. QLogic said it will
begin rolling out High Speed Fibre Channel products by the end of 2003.

“SAN architects want a cost-effective, backwards-compatible migration
path while 10Gb Fibre Channel is gradually adopted,” the company says.
“They’re asking for 4Gb storage systems, fabric switches and HBAs that
cost about the same as similar 2Gb products and that are 100% compatible
with installed 1Gb and 2Gb products.”

QLogic is virtually alone among the major vendors in offering 4Gb
products, but company spokesman Steve Sturgeon sees that as a positive.

“4Gb is backward compatible with 2 and 1Gb, and we’ll bring 4Gb to
market at the same price as 2,” Sturgeon says. “Double the performance,
same price, full compatibility – just like the transition from 1 to 2.
It seems like a no brainer for the customer.”

10Gb is not backward compatible with 4Gb, 2Gb or 1Gb on the HBA front,
Sturgeon notes, so “add that to the cost issue and it supports giving
the customer another choice that protects their current investment.”

Besides, he says, “drive companies like Seagate endorse 4Gb and so does
Vixel.”

There appears to be some demand for 4Gb from QLogic’s customers.

“I expect to consolidate my tape drives into an automated tape library
within the next 18 months,” said Ed Roberts, president of the Orange
County Windows NT User Group. “I want 4Gb connections from my library to
my largest servers to reduce backup times, as long as it costs about the
same as 2Gb and plugs-and-plays with my existing SAN.”

Major manufacturers of Fibre Channel components and systems have been
developing products based on both 10Gb and 4Gb Fibre Channel standards
for some time. Storage system, switch and HBA manufacturers are focused
on developing systems with 10Gb Fibre Channel interfaces, while disk
drive and tape drive manufacturers are developing next generation drives
with 4Gb Fibre Channel interfaces.

QLogic is extending the availability of cost-effective 4Gb Fibre Channel
products from peripherals to fabric switches and HBAs.

10Gb and 4Gb product planned by QLogic include: TEC/FTEC single chip
hard disk drive controllers; FAS/FFAS single chip tape controllers; ISP
single chip host bus adapters; GEM single chip management controllers;
SANblade host bus adapters; SANbox fabric switches; and SANsurfer
Management Suite switch and HBA management software.

Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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