10 Gbit/sec Fibre Channel debuts

During Comdex Fall, Emulex demonstrated the delivery of 10Gbit/sec protocol compliant Fibre Channel data streams over an optical cable.

Emulex’s demonstration was developed in conjunction with member companies from a leading 10Gbit/sec industry consortium, the XFP MSA Group, including Finisar Corporation, Marvell, Quake Technologies and Xilinx.

The demonstration featured a custom designed circuit board that used a Xilinx Virtex-II field programmable gate array (FPGA) to create an industry standard XGMII compliant parallel data interface. Physical layer devices from Marvell and Quake that translated interfaces and converted the parallel data to a 10Gbit/sec serial data stream were also used. In addition, an XFP optical module from Finisar, based on the XFP Multi Source Agreement (MSA), was used to drive a single mode fibre cable.

Ten Gbit/sec, the next generation technology for both Fibre Channel and iSCSI storage area networks (SANs), provides five times the bandwidth of today’s 2Gbit/sec Fibre Channel SANs, and ten times the bandwidth of gigabit Ethernet-based iSCSI. The 10Gbit/sec data rate is the only Fibre Channel speed beyond 2Gbit/sec that is specified to support switched fabrics, which is a critical requirement for SAN deployment.

The deployment of 10Gbit/sec host bus adapters is expected to begin in 2004, and will account for 20% of both iSCSI and Fibre Channel HBAs shipped in 2006, according to Gartner Dataquest. The demand for increased SAN connectivity bandwidth is being driven by a number of factors, including the continued increases in server CPU performance, the limited availability of server bus slots, and increases in disk drive density and performance.

Ten Gbit/sec Fibre Channel can use the same cabling and connectors as those used with today’s 2Gbit/sec Fibre Channel technology, enabling an evolutionary transition to this new, higher data rate. Distances of 82 meters are possible using the multi-mode cables popular in data centres today, and up to 10 kilometres using single mode cables.