Broadcom Intros First 4-Gig Fibre Channel Interconnects

Broadcom has introduced what it says are the first complete interconnect solutions for the emerging 4 Gigabit per second (4-Gig) Fibre Channel standard.

The three new products, the Broadcom BCM8421, BCM8422, and BCM8426, provide interconnect technology for Fibre Channel hard drive storage systems and retiming/repeating solutions for transmitting data throughout storage area networks (SANs) using the FC protocol.

“Broadcom has hub products with multiple port counts as well as retiming products to address the entire storage network,” says Broadcom spokesman Scott Harlin. “This is a new market that we have a complete solution for and have samples available today for customers. Next-gen FC switches and back-end hard drive storage arrays can now be deployed with higher performance than existing 1 Gbps or 2 Gbps FC solutions, and at comparable costs.”

In less than a year, 4-Gig Fibre Channel has gone from a solitary effort by QLogic to a widely embraced bridge between current 1-2 Gbps systems and the 10 Gbps systems of the future. Unlike 10-Gig, 4-Gig is backward-compatible with 1-2 Gbps FC, while also costing about the same as 1-2 Gbps systems.

According to Broadcom, the 4-Gig SANs of the near future will require faster Fibre Channel transmission speed and improved interconnection bandwidth to reduce and eliminate bottlenecks. The company says its new storage devices greatly improve transmission performance within the SAN, allowing the transition from 1-2 Gbps to 4.25 Gbps.

Broadcom demonstrated the new products at last week’s Optical Fiber Conference 2004.

The BCM8426, targeted at mid- to high-end storage arrays, is a 12-port Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop Hub device that can be configured to connect to Fibre Channel hard disk drives in an Intelligent Bunch of Disks (iBOD) configuration. Designed specifically for low-latency performance, each port on the device can retime or repeat to support the various configurations of back-end arbitrated loops.

Targeted at mid-range storage arrays, the BCM8422 is a 4-port Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop Hub device that can also be configured as a dual bi-directional retimer/repeater.

For high-speed optical or copper links that reside within Fibre Channel switches and storage arrays, the BCM8421 single-channel, bi-directional retimer/repeater chip was developed for channel impairments that storage system designers have to address in large and complicated network devices, Broadcom says, adding that with its EyeOpener technology, jitter performance can be guaranteed on very difficult optical and copper interconnects, exceeding the Fibre Channel Intra and Inter Cabinet Signaling Specifications.

The products feature Broadcom’s Active Signal Integrity diagnostics for detecting and recovering from signal impairments at both the physical and link layers of the transmitted Fibre Channel data, greatly improving reliability, availability, and serviceability to the storage network.

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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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