Brocade Debuts 16 Gbps Fibre Channel

Posted on May 03, 2011 By Sean Michael Kerner


Fibre Channel is one of the leading storage interconnects in use today for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is speed, which is now getting a boost thanks to a new series of 16 Gbps Fibre Channel products from Brocade (NASDAQ: BRCD).

The 16 Gbps Fibre Channel solutions represent the top end of the Fibre Channel specification, doubling the previous 8 Gbps specification.

"Fibre Channel has gone through two technology evolutions," Ken Cheng, vice president of Service Provider Products at Brocade, told "It went from 4 Gbps to 8 Gbps and now it's going up to 16 Gbps, which is a big deal for Fibre Channel customers."

Cheng noted that Fibre Channel customers rely on the stability and predictability of a Fibre Channel SAN and now they benefit from a doubling in speed and performance.

The new 16 Gbps Fibre Channel products from Brocade include the DCX 8510 SAN Backbone. The DCX 8510 can support up to 384, 16 Gbps Fibre Channel ports delivering total chassis bandwidth of 8.2 terabits per second.

Brocade is also introducing the new 1860 Fabric Adapter which supports 16 Gbps Fibre Channel as well as Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) on 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE).

Tying the hardware together is the Brocade Network Advisor 1.1 unified management software which enables administrators to manage a converged networking environment.

"As is typical with Fibre Channel fabric, you need a platform to manage and configure the fabric," Cheng said. "The Brocade Network Advisor has now been updated to support 16 Gbps Fibre Channel."

The path to 16 Gbps Fibre Channel is not a rip and replace exercise for existing 8 Gbps Fibre Channel users. Cheng noted that 16 Gbps is backwards compatible with the older standard. The 1860 Fabric Adapter can be plugged into older chassis to provide the upgrade path for 8 Gbps to 16 Gbps Fibre Channel.

With 16 Gbps, a Fibre Channel SAN can be connected to a 10 GbE LAN, even though the two networks run at different speeds. Cheng explained that in the Fibre Channel world, the initiator is the technology that is Ethernet attached. The initiator will use FCoE running on a 10 GbE network and then the connection will terminate in the DCX Backbone.

"The DCX will understand FCoE on the 10 GbE ports and it will do the translation from Ethernet to Fibre Channel frames and send the data over the 16 Gbps ports," Cheng said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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