NetApp taps QLogic for FCoE

By Dave Simpson

NetApp recently announced native Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) connectivity across its line of FAS and V series storage systems. The company has qualified FCoE gear from QLogic, and will also offer converged network adapters (CNAs) and switches from Brocade (see "Brocade ships FCoE/CEE blade" on this page).

Specifically, NetApp selected QLogic as the exclusive (at least for now) supplier of CNAs for its FAS (models 2050, 3040, 3070, 3100, and 6000) and V series (V6000 and V3100) storage arrays, and also designated QLogic's 8100 Series of CNAs as one of its options for host-level FCoE connectivity.

As such, QLogic can for now claim to be the only end-to-end supplier of FCoE connectivity for NetApp environments.

QLogic's FCoE CNAs, which can replace traditional Ethernet NICs and Fibre Channel HBAs in "converged network" (i.e., Ethernet and Fibre Channel) environments, are single-chip implementations based on the company's Network Plus Architecture and an FCoE offload engine.

The FCoE offload engine is not a differentiator against QLogic's traditional competitors (Emulex and Brocade), but it is a differentiator vs. NICs that are based on a software initiator for FCoE support, such as those from Intel.

According to Satish Lakshmanan, director of product marketing in QLogic's host solutions group, FCoE offload engines offer a number of advantages over approaches based on software initiators. For example, software initiators consume significant amounts of CPU cycles, and can limit the number of virtual machines (VMs) that can be supported.

Against QLogic's traditional competitors, Lakshmanan claims advantages in the areas of power consumption and performance. He cites power consumption specs of about 4.5 watts for the company's ASIC, and 6 to 6.5 watts for the adapter. In addition, QLogic's CNAs do not require heat sinks.

QLogic claims line-rate performance for its CNAs (e.g., 10Gbps for 10GbE).

QLogic also has an FCoE-related OEM deal with IBM. In May, Big Blue announced that it will integrate QLogic's FCoE CNAs into its next generation blade servers, including a "standard" CNA for System x, a mezzanine CNA for BladeCenter, and a 10Gbps pass-thru module for the BladeCenter.

The Dell'Oro market research firm predicts that the market for FCoE CNAs and FCoE motherboard implementations will grow at a 200% CAGR through 2013, reaching more than $400 million in 2013.

According to a QuickVote poll of infostor.com visitors, 10% plan to begin some level of FCoE testing or deployment this year, 12% plan to deploy it in 2010, and 22% expect to implement FCoE in 2011. The remaining 56% currently have no plans for FCoE.

This article was originally published on September 01, 2009