Trebia Ups the iSCSI Ante

Trebia Networks is the latest company to deliver Fibre Channel-like performance for an iSCSI chip, claiming a blistering 309,000 I/Os per second and 450 megabytes per second of Ethernet bandwidth for its SNP-1000 product.

"These numbers just smoke anything we've seen," gushes Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "Performance results like these definitely settle the question as to whether Ethernet is an appropriate and viable alternative for block storage network infrastructures."

Silverback Systems got the ball rolling with a 92,000 IOPS benchmark last month.

iSCSI, the new IP storage protocol, defines a mechanism for hosts (initiators) and disks (targets) to exchange block storage data via TCP/IP networks, enabling the use of existing networking infrastructure when building storage area networks. IP storage reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) of storage networks by reducing the need for Fibre Channel-Storage Area Network (FC SAN) expertise.

"FC SANs are predominately deployed in the enterprise data center, but it's rare that any organization would use Fibre Channel to network smaller remote offices or departmental groups," according to Nancy Marrone, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "That is where we see iSCSI taking off -- in the remote office, departments, and small-to-medium businesses. Users do not have to install a new networking technology and incur the additional support costs that go along with FC SANs if they deploy iSCSI in these environments. But for now, in terms of performance and availability, FC will still be the dominant storage networking technology in the data center."

Trebia Says Rates Will Get Even Better

Trebia claims the announced rates come "just midway through Trebia's performance work, with higher numbers anticipated as infrastructure is enhanced to drive more traffic."

"This is just the first of several performance announcements that will set the bar even higher," asserts George Harper, Trebia's director of product marketing.

Trebia said its test configuration consists of industry-standard hardware components from a variety of storage suppliers, including commercially available initiators, targets, and switches. The computers driving I/O are the standard "white label," x86 variety with PCI-X capability. And, to ensure performance accuracy, an I-TECH Satellite-8MP analyzer sits between all the initiators and targets to measure I/Os, thereby eliminating any possibility of false performance results reported by software-based performance tools which might be compromised by I/O caching.

"The result demonstrates that connecting SAN islands with FCIP tunnels powered with Trebia Networks SNP technology maintained 99.5% of the natively achieved performance," according to a company technical paper.

The SNP-1000 controller is a single-chip solution for iSCSI and FCIP protocol mediation with embedded TCP offload. The results were measured by counting the number of command frames entering the SNP-1000's Fibre Channel ports, which are then converted to FCIP/iSCSI and transmitted over IP Ethernet links.

This first series of testing highlights the chip's FCIP tunneling performance for both small and large block I/O flows. Small block I/Os represent the typical workload for many data center applications and place a greater processing burden on the iSCSI and FCIP engine than large block I/Os, the company states.

For standard Ethernet frames, a single SNP-1000 controller was shown to sustain 309,000 I/Os per second, along with 394 MBps at the device's Fibre Channel interface, and cumulatively 452 MBps at the device's two Gb Ethernet interfaces.

"While these numbers might seem incredible, in fact the test scenario does not exercise the SNP-1000 at maximum load," the company reports. "As our testing continues using an enhanced test bed, we expect to disclose even more impressive numbers as the controller's maximum bandwidth and processing resources are fully challenged."

"We're very impressed with the numbers demonstrated by Trebia's SNP-1000," says Bill Burger, McDATA's director of emerging technologies. "These performance levels set the bar for the integration of IP storage capabilities into SAN directors."

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