Emulex Gives Away Free Performance Boost

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In a pretty good publicity move, Emulex is giving its HBA customers a free 40% performance boost.

The firmware upgrade for the company’s large installed base of LightPulse Fibre Channel connectivity solutions improves performance by as much as 40%, according to the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based company.

Emulex LightPulse HBAs

Emulex LightPulse HBAs

Emulex says its HBAs and embedded I/O controllers feature a unique firmware-based architecture that makes it possible for customers to preserve their investment by downloading new features and capabilities to previously installed hardware. The Emulex LP9802 and LP10000 HBA product families utilize the new high-performance firmware, which is available for all supported operating system environments, including Windows, Linux, and Solaris.

“It’s a feature of their architecture that they can do that, and do it at little cost, and it offers marketing benefits,” says Gartner analyst James Opfer.

Emulex says its service level interface (SLI) architecture provides isolation between the software drivers and the firmware using a consistent model that allows multiple product generations to benefit.

The new firmware is currently in OEM qualification, with general availability expected in the second quarter for Thor- and Pegasus-based HBAs and I/O controllers.

Joe Teolis, Emulex’s senior director of product marketing, points out that Emulex was the HBA performance leader even before the new firmware upgrade. For the LP10000, for example, the upgrade increases sequential reads at 2KB from 51,000 IOPS (Input/Output operations per second) to more than 70,000 IOPS.

The upgrade also improves the overall efficiency of mechanisms for data movement through the controller, according to Teolis.

The performance increase is associated with the most response-time sensitive workloads that are typical of database activity generated by applications such as Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle database. This work typically involves On-Line Transactional Processing, or OLTP, which is characterized by small data block transmissions of 2KB to 8KB. Servers hosting these types of database applications tend to be very high performance-intensive, so improving I/O performance can be key to application performance, Teolis says.

Teolis boasts that “such increases are only obtainable from other HBA providers through a next-generation hardware purchase … Only Emulex is able to deliver this value to customers, and to deliver it in a non-disruptive way.”

Emulex’s centralized HBA management suite, HBAnyware, allows firmware for any Emulex HBA in the SAN to be upgraded from a single console.

Emulex partner Intel says the upgrade is part of the two companies’ collaborative efforts on next-generation storage processors that will be the first to integrate Serial ATA (SATA), Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), and Fibre Channel interfaces within a single architecture.

Once OEM qualification is complete, customers will be able to download the upgrade from the Emulex Support Web site. Customers of OEMs will need to go to the OEM Specific support page, accessible through the Firmware/Driver Screen on the Emulex support site.

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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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