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Emulex, Qlogic field 8Gbps Fibre Channel solutions

Posted: 14 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Fibre Channel? 8Gbps solutions? Emulex adapters? QLogic switches?

Both Emulex Corp. and QLogic Corp. has announced prototype chips and cards supporting the 8Gbps version of Fibre Channel expected to roll out in storage networks starting next year. The transition ultimately will drive a doubling of throughput from today's 4Gbps Fibre Channel networks for data centers that increasingly support a mix of technologies.

Emulex announced its LightPulse LPe12000 family of host bus adapters as well as custom mezzanine cards geared for server blades and the IOC 540 embedded I/O controller all supporting 8G Fibre Channel.

QLogic was less specific about its offerings, saying it has begun testing a portfolio of 8G Fibre Channel switches and host bus adapters and is readying samples for major OEMs to qualify. Products include a range of single- and dual-port cards, blade server cards and switches, edge switches and director switches.

Prototype products
Both companies are just beginning to test and sample prototype products. They face a three to six month process of being qualified with systems OEMs before they are expected to ship to end users by June of next year.

"Already, our 8Gbps products have achieved OEM design wins on multiple platforms," said Mike Smith, executive VP of worldwide marketing for Emulex.

"These are our first products using 90nm technology. Getting into the right power and cooling envelop was a challenge because of the extra power leakage at this process node," said Scott McIntyre, a VP of software and customer marketing in an interview with EE Times.

The 8G generation aims to increase performance in networks that increasingly use dual- and quad core servers. They also hope to help users consolidate the number of systems they use into fewer boxes with more bandwidth.

The 4G Fibre Channel generation consisted of products that initially delivered as many as 100,000 I/O operations per second (IOPS) and over time, were optimized to tackle loads of about 140,000 IOPS. The 8G products are expected to handle as many as 200,000 IOPS when they ship, said McIntyre.

New specs
The T11 group that defines Fibre Channel standards is already working on a 16G spec that could be available in prototype products in about three years.

Emulex said its products will support the Fibre Channel Security Protocol which is designed to enable server-to-storage authentication across the network. It also intends to build in support for hardware acceleration of virtualization.

Both Emulex and QLogic are expanding their product portfolios to address the fact data centers increasingly use a mix of network technologies, including technologies such as iSCSI and Infiniband. Moreover, both expressed support for the emerging Fibre Channel over Ethernet standard.

"We see some customers interested in converged networks running multiple protocols over Ethernet and we are driving toward that standard," said McIntyre.

Separately, Emulex announced on Aug. 9 its financial results. Its quarterly revenues rose to $126.3 million, up 5 percent y-o-y. Annual revenues were up 17 percent to $470.2 million.

The company acquired two storage chip designers in 2006 to help drive its growthAarohi Communications and Sierra Logic.

"Our strong growth was driven by the continued growth of our 4Gbps solutions, including mezzanine cards for blade servers and penetration into OEMs that helped us gain market share," said Jim McCluney, president and CEO for Emulex.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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