Emulex has announced the first 16-Gbit Fibre Channel (16GFC) host bus adapter for Dell PowerEdge servers and PowerVault storage arrays, designed to support solid-state discs and faster databases.
That announcement included immediate availability of the new Dell LPe16000 (single-channel) and LPe16002 (dual-channel) 16GFC HBAs, the first 16GFC adapters available for Dell PowerEdge servers and for use with Dell PowerVault MD3620f and MD3600f storage arrays, as well as Dell PowerConnect and Dell Force10 switches.
The move will help transition the PowerEdge and PowerVault family to the faster 16-Gbit connectivity tier, currently served by 8GFC technology. The claim is that the new HBAs will provide Dell 16GFC adapters with performance more than five times the IOPS—over a million I/O operations per second (IOPS) on a single port—and twice the data throughput of 8GFC HBAs.
Simply put, the higher throughput will help enable applications that take advantage of it, such as SSD-based storage and optimized databases. In addition, Emulex argued, minimizing switch ports and cables could help offset the cost of
jumping to the 16GFC technology. The new HBAs can be managed using the Emulex OneCommand Manager plug-in for VMware vCenter Server.
“Leveraging Emulex 16GFC technology for the new Dell LPe16000 and LPe16002 adapters enhances our highest performing, most innovative PowerEdge Server generation ever with a streamlined upgrade path and the fastest technology available today,” said Brian Payne, executive director of server solutions, Dell, in a statement.
“By migrating to 16GFC,” he added, “our customers can both maintain their current Fibre Channel investments and enable throughput gains that are needed to realize the potential of technologies that require a faster I/O link speed—to run the fastest databases, solid state disk, cloud, and next-generation Intel processors.”
Rival Brocade has also been a strong proponent of the 16GFC technology, but has only publicly announced a 16GFC host-based adapter for the IBM System x server family. It has, however, successfully launched a line of SAN switches, with all of its major OEM partners making those switches available to the company’s customers. Emulex said that the new HBAs scale better than “competing” 16GFC HBAs, offering 255 virtual functions (VFs), 1024 Message Signal Interrupts Extended (MSI-X) and 8192 concurrent logins and open exchanges.
“This is not a blip, legacy design build-out, or inventory bubble,” John McHugh, Brocade’s chief marketing officer, wrote in a July 19 blog posting. “This is the start of another full generation purchasing cycle for this time-tested, rock solid and perfectly tuned technology. Plenty of analysts are poring over the numbers looking for the ‘trick’ but it is merely not there.”
He added: “The facts are that inventories are at record low levels, the storage applications which demand Fibre Channel networks continue to grow” and Brocade’s products continue to do well.
At one time, Fibre Channel was expected to give way in favor of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)—a trend that, according to some, never took place because the needed investments coincided with 2008’s economic meltdown. So far, both Emulex, Brocade, and other supporters (Amphenol, Broadcom, Cisco, DCS, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, JDSU, LeCroy, NetApp, QLogic and SANBlaze Technology) appear to be pushing FC into the next generation.