Fibre Channel

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Related to Fibre Channel: Fibre Channel over Ethernet

Fibre Channel

(storage, networking, communications)
An ANSI standard originally intended for high-speed SANs connecting servers, disc arrays, and backup devices, also later adapted to form the physical layer of Gigabit Ethernet.

Development work on Fibre channel started in 1988 and it was approved by the ANSI standards committee in 1994, running at 100Mb/s. More recent innovations have seen the speed of Fibre Channel SANs increase to 10Gb/s. Several topologies are possible with Fibre Channel, the most popular being a number of devices attached to one (or two, for redundancy) central Fibre Channel switches, creating a reliable infrastructure that allows servers to share storage arrays or tape libraries.

One common use of Fibre Channel SANs is for high availability databaseq clusters where two servers are connected to one highly reliable RAID array. Should one server fail, the other server can mount the array itself and continue operations with minimal downtime and loss of data.

Other advanced features include the ability to have servers and hard drives seperated by hundreds of miles or to rapidly mirror data between servers and hard drives, perhaps in seperate geographic locations.

Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA).
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Fibre Channel

A high-speed transport technology used to build storage area networks (SANs). Although Fibre Channel can be used as a general-purpose network carrying ATM, IP and other protocols, it has been primarily used for transporting SCSI traffic from servers to storage arrays. The Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) serializes SCSI commands into Fibre Channel frames and uses IP for in-band SNMP network management (see SNMP). For more about storage networks, see SAN.

Using singlemode or multimode fibers, Fibre Channel can be configured point-to-point (FC-P2P), as a switched topology (FC-SW) or in an arbitrated loop (FC-AL) with or without a hub, which can connect up to 127 nodes (see below). Transmission rates up to 12.75 Gbps in each direction are supported.

Fibre Channel uses the Gigabit Ethernet physical layer and IBM's 8B/10B encoding method, where each byte is transmitted as 10 bits. Fibre Channel provides both connection-oriented and connectionless services. Following are the class and functional levels. See FCIP, FCoE, IP storage and Director-class switch.

Connection-oriented services
 Class 1    With acknowledgment, full bandwidth
 Class 4    Virtual connections, QoS,
             fractional bandwidth
 Class 6    Uni-directional

 Connectionless services
 Class 2    With acknowledgment
 Class 3    Without acknowledgment

 Node levels
 FC-4  Translation between Fibre Channel and
        command sets that use it: HiPPI, SCSI, IPI,
        SBCCS, IP, IEEE 802.2, audio, video
 FC-3  Common services across multiple ports

 Port levels (FC-PH standard)
 FC-2  Framing and flow control
 FC-1  8B/10B encoding, error detection
 FC-0  Electrical and optical characteristics

Arbitrated Loop
The arbitrated loop is widely used and can connect up to 127 nodes without using a switch. All devices share the bandwidth, and only two can communicate with each other at the same time, with each node repeating the data to its adjacent node. TX means transmit, and RX means receive.

Switch Fabric
A switch fabric is the most flexible topology, enabling all servers and storage devices to communicate with each other. It also provides for a failover architecture in the event a server or storage array ceases to operate.

This is the simplest topology connecting two Fibre Channel devices that communicate at full bandwidth.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Leading industry researchers expect 4 Gbps Fibre Channel technology to emerge as the leading SAN technology for data storage systems within the next two years and high-performance computing customers are expected to be early adopters of the technology.
The SANmark Qualified Program is sponsored, operated, and promoted as an open industry, conformance test suite development program, within the non-profit Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA).
SAS, on the other hand, will perform as a low-cost option for the performance niche occupied by today's SCSI and Fibre Channel drives.
Agilent is a leading supplier of 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel component, board and test solutions.
This versatility provides a level of investment protection for SAN hardware purchases not provided by Fibre Channel SANs.
"IBM and Cisco are building on their long history of successful cooperation to deliver the groundbreaking integration of IP and Fibre Channel storage networks," said Luca Cafiero, senior vice president and general manager of the Switching, Voice, and Storage Technologies Group at Cisco.
Based on deploying a 2 Terabyte SAN with backup using industry average list prices, iSCSI SANs can be less than half the cost of Fibre Channel technology with ongoing management cost savings.
The IP Storage Services Modules serve as the gateway between LIFFE CONNECT Fibre Channel-based traffic in its SANs and the TCP/IP-based traffic outside of its data centres through Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) technology.
Recently, the storage industry witnessed the introduction of the 4Gb/s Fibre Channel storage system.
The Xtensa processors help JNI's X8-based Fibre Channel controllers to achieve a host transfer rate of up to 4 gigabytes per second (GB) and up to 300,000 I/Os per second, a five times speed enhancement and a four times peak I/O performance improvement over their previous generation product.
Storage networking started even before the Fibre Channel standard was adopted in 1994 by ANSI.