2Gbps Fibre Channel coming this year

By Dave Simpson

Even though 1Gbps Fibre Channel is still in the early adoption stages at IT organizations, a number of vendors have already demonstrated 2Gbps (200MBps maximum bandwidth per loop or channel) Fibre Channel products. Examples include Agilent Technologies, Ancot, Emu-lex, Eurologic, Finisar, QLogic, and Seagate Technology. Analysts and vendors predict that 2Gbps Fibre Channel will gain end-user acceptance late this year.

Agilent Technologies is shipping to OEMs its Tachyon XL2 protocol controller chip and will begin shipments of two 2Gbps host bus adapters (HBAs) later this quarter. The Tachyon controller is a single-chip PCI-to-Fibre Channel device for 32/64-bit 33/66MHz PCI systems. Unlike some other controller designs, the XL2 does not require companion SRAM, and unlike RISC-based designs, the controller is based on a state-machine architecture.

Agilent's HHBA-5220 (copper) and HHBA-5221 (fiber optic) HBAs are based on the XL2 controller. All 2Gbps FC products support 1Gbps link speeds and in full-duplex mode deliver transfer rates up to 400MBps. Agilent has demonstrated its controller and adapters with Seagate's 2Gbps Cheetah 36LP disk drives.

Emulex has demonstrated FC HBAs and hubs based on its 2Gbps digital ASICs. The 2Gbps hubs include full re-timing, protocol validation and automatic clock speed matching on each port and management features such as LIP insertion, LIP F8 bypass, automatic port bypass, and character integrity checks. In conjunction with Eurologic (disk subsystems), Seagate (disk drives), and Finisar (GBICs and analyzers), Emulex demonstrated its 2Gbps hubs and LightPulse adapters in a SAN at Fall Comdex.

Qlogic has also demonstrated 2Gbps Fibre Channel chips (ISP2300) and HBAs (QLA2300), both of which are compatible with the 133MHz PCI-X bus interface. The 2300 family supports the SCSI, IP, and VI protocols concurrently. Shipments are expected within two months.

On the Fibre Channel protocol analyzer front, Ancot and Finisar this month began shipping 2Gbps products. Starting at less than $35,000, Ancot's FCAccess 2000 captures 2Gbps speeds in native 10B format at rates exceeding 540MBps and includes up to 2GB of trace memory. Ancot has added to the 2Gbps line a ChannelTrack feature for performance monitoring.

Finisar's GTX-A Fibre Channel protocol analyzer is available in single (GTX-P10: $49,800) and dual (GTX-P20: $89,800) duplex channel configurations. The analyzers include 1GB of trace memory (two seconds of data on a 400MBps network) and Finisar's GTX-TraceView data viewing and analysis software. SCSI protocol decode is standard; IP and FICON/SB2 decodes are optional.

This article was originally published on January 01, 2000