The Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) recently voted to extend 4Gb Fibre Channel from an “inside the box” storage device interconnect into switched SAN fabrics. And within days of the vote, QLogic announced that several companies — including Agilent Technologies, FalconStor Software, Fujitsu, JNI, and Seagate — have joined QLogic in its commitment to develop 10Gb and 4Gb products for SAN customers.
4Gb products could provide a compelling bridge between current 1-2 Gb storage networks and the 10 Gb solutions of the future. 4Gb products will double current Fibre Channel performance for about the same price as 2Gb Fibre Channel, while maintaining backward-compatibility with existing networks and storage. 10Gb solutions won’t be backward-compatible, so an option that extends current investments while offering faster performance could prove popular.
“We are pleased that the FCIA has once again helped prevent industry fragmentation by providing a clear and concise roadmap for Fibre Channel migration as well as providing invaluable market feedback into the Fibre Channel standards community of engineering professionals,” states Skip Jones of QLogic and FCIA chairman.
“The next generation of Fibre Channel technology will serve the growing need for high-bandwidth applications, such as real-time transactional processing, to a large number of clients in the enterprise, as well as areas such as high-definition video streaming,” says Gordy Lutz, Seagate senior product marketing manager and FCIA board member. “Seagate supports both 4Gb and 10Gb technologies at the fabric level and is working with various companies to ensure interoperability of future storage solutions.”
QLogic claims SAN architects want a cost-effective, backward-compatible migration path while 10Gb Fibre Channel is gradually adopted, and are 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.
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.
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