Two Gigabits, One Vendor
A new technology called 2-Gbit/s Fibre Channel emerged in 2001, promising speeds fast enough to deliver the Holy Grail of storage-area networking – real-time access to offsite data.
Vendors of SAN equipment eagerly lined up to support the new spec. It sounded promising, so Light Reading commissioned the independent lab Network Test Inc. to evaluate 2-Gbit/s fabric switches. Test equipment maker Spirent Communications contributed the testing kit and engineering support.
Coming in first: QLogic Corp.
Coming in last: QLogic Corp.
There's a Logic at work here. No fewer than five switch makers said they’d have equipment ready by year’s end. But when vendors actually had to submit equipment for testing, only one – QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) was willing to go through with it.
Some vendors said they just didn’t have the equipment or the people. One company – Vixel Corp. (Nasdaq: VIXL) – entered the test and then withdrew. The dominant player – Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) – simply said no.
Not a pretty picture, by any means. The most likely explanation is that – as with any new technology – there are still significant bugs to work out in these time-to-market products.
On the positive side, the fact that QLogic submitted its product meant that we were able to go ahead and perform the first ever public test of 2-Gbit/s FC technology. Not simply the first 2-Gbit/s switch test, mind you. Nor just the first 2-Gbit/s fabric test. It was first ever public 2 Gbit/s test, period.
What did we learn? The good news is that QLogic’s SANbox2 switches worked very, very well. The switches really do run at 2-Gbit/s or close to it. Better yet, the boxes posted the lowest latency numbers ever recorded in any test conducted by Network Test. About the only downside was some elevation in latency in our more advanced tests.
Table 1: Table for One
|QLogic Corp. Aliso Viejo, California
|Product and version tested||SANbox2, version 1.1|
|Maximum ports per switch/per cascade||16/3,348|
|Topologies supported||Point-to-point, arbitrated loop, switched fabric, cascade, mesh|
|Traffic classes supported||2, 3|
|Management methods||Telnet, serial, in- and out-of-band SNMP, Java-based Web application|
|Management software support||Linux, Solaris, Windows 9x/Me/NT/2000|
|Redundant features||Power supplies, fans|
|Price as tested||$17,500|
It’s a promising start, at least for QLogic. Now it’s up to the other vendors to show they, too, can deliver working 2-Gbit/s solutions.
Read ahead for details:
Fibre Channel in a Nutshell
First Things First
Size Does Matter
Hold That Line
All for One