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Speed vs. cost in 2007

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Storage vendors plan a bull run with 8-Gbit/s Fibre Channel gear in 2007, hoping to satisfy some customers' demands for higher bandwidth.

QLogic and Emulex appear to have set two of the more aggressive 8-Gbit/s switch strategies with both vendors committing to at least end of 2007 shipments. Such a timetable would put the speedy gear in the hands of OEMs such as IBM, HP, Dell and Sun Microsystems in 2008. Company executives told Byte and Switch that tasks such as video serving and virtualization have triggered more interest in the 8-Gbit/s hardware.

"Video is on the top of the list - those guys can never get enough performance, there's no such thing as too much bandwidth," Frank Berry, QLogic's VP of marketing, said in an interview with the storage rag. "Virtualization creates more I/O, so users want to make sure that the pipe to the network is big enough for multiple virtual machines."

Cisco, like some customers, seems more reticent about the whole 8-Gbit/s push. The company can slot 8-gig line cards into its MDS 9500 Series switches, although it won't reveal when such line cards will ship. The vendor has pegged 2008 as its most likely target to begin a 8-Gbit/s ramp.

One of the major factors slowing a shift from 4Gbit/s hardware could be cost.

"A recent Byte and Switch Insider report, for example, questioned whether current standard copper-based twisted-pair cabling can handle the higher transmission rate over more than 25 meters," the magazine said. "The move to 8 Gbit/s may therefore require more expensive cabling, which would eliminate one of the biggest drivers of the current transition from 2 Gbit/s to 4 Gbit/s."

You can find that study here. ®

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