STORAGE VENDORS PUSHING 2G-BPS

December 1, 2000

COMMERCIAL NEWS

San Diego, CALIF. — A number of vendors used the recent Comdex show to announce 2G-bps Fibre Channel devices ranging from host bus adapters to switches to RAID controllers. But it will be months before customers see large-scale systems that deliver the improved transfer rate.

Most of the vendors are still in the process of pushing their products to large OEMs, which will then integrate the 2G-bps components into servers and storage devices.

QLogic Corp. is leveraging its acquisition of switch maker Ancor Communications Inc. to get both a 2G-bps host bus adapter and a switch to market. The Aliso Viejo, Calif., company demonstrated its 16-port, 1.75-inch-high SANbox2 switch and the QLA2300 series of PCI and PCI-X host bus adapters that support up to 400M bps in full-duplex mode.

Both the switch and the host bus adapter, based on QLogic’s ISP2300 FC single-chip controller, auto-negotiate with legacy Gigabit devices.

Some systems integrators say that kind of integration makes sense for corporations that are deploying numerous switches. But smaller companies may want more flexibility and choice over the kind of port connections built into switches.

“You get some minor packaging advantages, but the trade-off is, I’m buying stuff I may not need,” said Lee Elizer, president and CEO of DataThink Inc., a consulting company in Erie, Colo. “I’m always going to need one port connection. The issue is, do I need two, three or four?”

“The object is to synchronize the road map,” said Larry Fortmuller, QLogic’s vice president of marketing. “In the past, companies came out with components in pieces. But this is the reason you saw us acquire Ancor. … Now we are trying to provide end-to-end solutions.”

Fortmuller said this kind of integration is the trend in the storage industry. Instead of scattering various pieces of intelligence throughout a system, it is better to centralize.

“There is nothing sacred about having switches separate,” he said. “Ultimately, switches can be deployed out into other equipment.” Thus far, numerous companies are still delivering the pieces separately.

At the show, Emulex Corp., of Costa Mesa, Calif., introduced its LightPulse 9002 host bus adapter, which also is backward-compatible with Gigabit Fibre Channel systems.

Seagate Technology Inc., of Scotts Valley, Calif., is now shipping a group of disk drives that supports the new Fibre Channel speed.

Chaparral Network Storage Inc. announced its 2G-bps Fibre Channel router, called the Chaparral FS2620, which will be available next month. The Longmont, Colo., company also introduced its A8526 2G-bps Fibre Channel-to-Ultra 160 SCSI RAID Controller.

Mylex Corp., of Fremont, Calif., demonstrated its newest RAID controller, which supports 2G-bps Fibre Channel, Ultra 320 SCSI, Itanium, PCI-X and Infiniband. The device won’t be available until next year, company officials said.

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