Sun goes full Fibre, DEC plots Fibre plans

Posted on December 01, 1997

Sun goes full Fibre, DEC plots Fibre plans

Fibre Channel pioneer Sun Microsystems recently began shipments of full-speed (100MBps per loop) Fibre Channel arrays, including dual-ported FC-AL drives. Meanwhile, relative newcomer Digital Equipment laid out its plans for delivering Fibre Channel subsystems in the next quarter.

Sun`s "second-generation" Enterprise Network Array A5000--code-named "Photon"--will eventually replace its quarter-speed SPARCstorage Array, the first Fibre Channel subsystem. In a dual-loop configuration, Sun claims 184MBps sustained throughput, 15,000 I/Os per second, and support for 176 drives in a single path or 88 drives in a dual-path configuration. Capacity ranges from 45GB ($35,000) to 20TB. A 509GB configuration lists for $272,700. The A5000 is initially available only for Sun`s installed base of Sbus-based systems.

Sun also introduced an FC-AL hub ($4,100 to $6,500), which is reportedly based on technology from Vixel, as well as a Fibre Channel host adapter ($2,700).

Sun claims to have shipped more than two petabytes of Fibre Channel storage.

Archrival Digital is taking a more cautious approach to implementing Fibre Channel. "Less than 5% of our customers really want Fibre Channel now, but there is a large number of customers--about 30% to 40%--who are demanding a Fibre Channel growth path," says Dave Coombs, vice president of storage sales and marketing at Digital.

Users will be able to upgrade from Digital`s UltraSCSI arrays to Fibre Channel via board swaps. The Fibre Channel controllers will support up to 72 drives and will be available to end-users and Digital`s OEMs. Limited OEM versions are available now; production versions compatible with Windows NT are scheduled for the next quarter.

Digital also announced a PCI to FC-AL adapter, a Fibre Channel hub with up to 127 ports, and support for Fibre Channel switches.-- DS