by April 11, 2005 0 comments



Current technology used in Fibre Channel SANs is the 2G technology, which allows the maximum throughputs of up to 2 Gbps. However, as demand for bandwidth-intensive applications such as CAD/CAM, real-time computing, data warehousing and video streaming grows this speed will be insufficient and would need to be increased. That’s where 4G comes into the picture, which doubles the maximum throughput to 4
Gbps. 

The new spec for 4G was approved by FCIA (Fibre Channel Industry Association) in 2003 and is widely supported by most connectivity vendors today.

Originally, the spec sought to deal with internal connectivity-connecting disk drives to the server. Later it was decided to extend it for interconnecting the switching Fabric in SANs. This basically includes the Fibre Channel switches, which intelligently manage the interconnectivity amongst various devices and nodes in a SAN.

The 4G technology maintains backward compatibility with both the older specs (1G and 2G). It also supports the loop architecture common to both of them. 

Direct Hit!
Applies to: Network and storage administrators
USP:
4G will emerge as a new spec that will double the speed for faster connectivity 
Links:
www.fibrechannel.org  

Enterprises can incrementally upgrade their systems to 4G. The technology will reduce the number of connections between storage systems and computers besides improving the throughput.

Products
4G products will start coming in towards the end of this year. Cisco has plans to launch the MSD 9000 family products, PMC-Sierra is set to launch switches. Emulex has its HBAs and embedded storage switches already in testing. Broadcom has launched the BCM 8421 repeater for 4G switches and storage arrays. 

Applications
Enterprise with high performance computing needs will find the technology useful. Faster backups and data recovery can be performed. Scientists and engineers who need to access large amounts of data to solve complex problems, with 4G, they will now be able to do so in lesser time. High quality graphics such as animated movies can be produced in lesser time. 4G technology will also offer reliable transmission of digital audio/video applications.

Adoption
At the moment, enterprises are not taking full advantage of existing 1 Gbps and 2 Gbps Fibre-Channel speed. Fibre Channel is expensive to set up for small enterprises and iSCSI is an alternative solution, but iSCSI is not as fast as Fibre Channel. 

It is expected that vendors will offer 4 Gbps-based products at the same price levels as current for 2 Gbps, which will attract implementations. 

The 4G networks will gradually replace 2G in the same manner as 2G replaced 1G.

Fibre-channel
speed roadmap
Standard Standard
approved
Market
availability
Throughput
(Mbps)
Line
rate (Gbaud)
1G
FC
1996 1997 200 1.065
2G
FC
2000 2001 400 2.125
4G
FC
2003 2005 800 4.25
8G
FC
2003 2005 1,600 8.5
16G
FC
(2006)
*
(2008)
*
3200 17
32G
FC
(2009)
*
(2011)
*
6400 34
64G
FC
(2012)
*
Market
demand
12800 68
128G
FC
(2016)
*
Market
demand
25600 136
*
expected time frame

Sushil Oswal

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