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Brocade launches FCoE switch and adapters

End-to-end Ethernet storage networking in sight

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Brocade has announced a top-of-rack Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switch, together with Converged Network Adapters for servers to use when connecting to the switch.

Brocade is the volume leader in shipping Fibre Channel Storage Area Network (SAN) switches and directors that link servers to SAN storage disk drive arrays across a Fibre Channel (FC) fabric. It has developed its product strategy to embrace SAN storage connectivity using Ethernet instead of Fibre Channel.

The first of the three steps needed is the provision of FCoE links between servers and an FCoE-capable Ethernet switch.

The second is the provision of a new Ethernet standard, Data Centre Ethernet (DCE), which is lossless and has low latency, meaning much faster and more reliable delivery of data packets.

Third is the provision of native FCoE interfaces on storage arrays. An interim step is needed by Fibre Channel director suppliers, which is to migrate the director to becoming an FCoE-capable product. Brocade is working on this with its DCX switch.

Brocade is announcing its first step today with its 8000 FCOE switch, 1010 and 1020 CNAs and a DCFM management product. Incidentally, Brocade prefers the term Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) instead of DCE, but for all practical purposes the acronyms are interchangeable.

Competitors Emulex and QLogic, working with Cisco on a DCE strategy, have already announced their own CNAs plus some unidentified OEM design wins from the tier 1 server vendors, understood to be Dell, HP and IBM, and, of course, Cisco.

New Brocade products

The 8000 has 24 10Gbit/E ports, CEE ports Brocade stresses, with eight 8Gbit/s FC ports and is designed to be installed in the top of a server rack. Servers link to it with a CNA, sending both Ethernet LAN, FCOe and even iSCSI data messages through the CNA to the 8000. It splits off the FCoE messages and sends them out through its FC ports to an FC switch or director and on to SAN storage. Ethernet LAN messages and iSCSI go out across the data centre's Ethernet network to their targets.

Brocade is anticipating an interim 40Gbit/s Ethernet standard before the coming 100Gbit/s Ethernet and says four of the Ethernet ports can be aggregated to provide a 40Gbit/s trunk.

The 1010 is a single 10Gbit/E port CNA with the 1020 being a dual-port version. Both use a single chip ASIC, broadly doing the same job as the single chip ASICs in the Emulex and QLogic CNAs. With the 1010 and 1020 there can be 64 individual data queues per port - great for virtualised servers - with a port sustaining around 500,000 IOPS.

Brocade says both its CNAs and the 8000 switch are very power-efficient.

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