Sun goes full Fibre, DEC plots Fibre plans

Posted on December 01, 1997

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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


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