Dell and pals mash parts together, squeeze out first 16Gb FC stack
Speedy shifter offers cheesy-pea mix of everyone's bits
Dell's Compellent unit has worked with Brocade, Emulex and QLogic to offer the first end-to-end 16Gbit/s Fibre Channel storage networking setup, speeding access to SAN data.
This is a good win for Brocade, especially as Dell has its own Force 10 networking competency, but that is for Ethernet, not Fibre Channel (FC). It's also a timely win for QLogic, reinforcing its 16 gig FC credentials. The 16Gbit/s Fibre Channel standard delivers data twice as fast as the current mainstream 8Gbit/s standard and four times faster than the previous 4Gbit/s standard.
Dell's Compellent SC800 array gets a 16Gbit/s Fibre Channel IO module, supported by the latest v6.3 Storage Centre software. It links to a Brocade or QLogic module. Brocade's M6505 16 Gbit/s FC embedded SAN IO module, made available by Dell, connects the SC800 to Dell's M1000e blade enclosures. This module is configurable in 12 or 24 ports and supports 4, 8 or 16 Gbit/s FC speeds.
The QLogic 2600 is a 16Gbit/s FC host bus adapter (HBA) in both mezzanine and sPCIe formats. It will provide 16Gbit/s FC links for Dell 12th Generation PowerEdge rack, tower and blade servers to link to a 16 gig SC800. QLogic says it provides three times the transactions (1.2 Million IOPs) of 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel,
Emulex also has a 16Gbit/s HBA capability, in the form of its LightPulse 1600 series.
Dan McConnell, Dell's director of marketing and product management, said: :16Gbit/s Fibre Channel ... provides the perfect I/O companion for state of the art Intel and AMD-based servers, virtualised data centers and cloud computing environments."
Compellent SC800 16 Gbit/s FC-capable storage arrays will be available worldwide with the release of Storage Center 6.3 software to key customers in early 2013, with general availability in the second 2013 quarter. ®
The 16Gb Fibre Channel Dilemma
Most of the major vendors of FC storage use embedded Tachyon QE8 8Gb FC protocol chips from PMC Sierra in their front-end adapters. But PMC Sierra has stopped the further development of FC protocol chips because of diminishing marginal returns, see http://wikibon.org/wiki/v/FC_and_Ethernet_as_a_Single_Solution_Set .
Therefore the major storage vendors must switch the FC protocol chip source und change the firmware appropriately. I think that Emulex is in the best position as coming FC protocol chip supplier. An example from the past : 3PAR has used the Emulex "Arnold" chip in their 4-port 4Gb FC adapters.
Storage vendors like Dell Compellent which are using "normal" PCI Express FC HBAs have a clear time-to-market advantage for 16 Gb FC, they need only new target mode drivers. All in all we see a slow transition to 16Gb FC resulting from PMC Sierra`s policy.
can hardly call it first if it's still upwards of 6 months away from being available to customers.
in any case it shouldn't be a big deal, 16Gbps is more useful for switch cross connects and stuff, unless your incredibly port constrained on your storage - something Compellent is not. Loading up on 16Gbps ports on the storage isn't going to do a whole lot since the back end isn't going to be able to push all that much (and most workloads will only use a tiny fraction of it).
I'd be curious how may ports are on an adapter - myself I'd rather take say a 2 or 4-port 8Gbps adapter than a 1 or 2-port 16Gbps card. But I suppose it's nice to have options.
Most likely anyone using such a system is going to be running MPIO which means you'll be shifting your bits over multiple FC connections any ways.
...not SC800. The next generation Storage Center controllers are SC8000's.