SAN JOSE, Calif. The move to merged data center networks takes a step forward Monday (March 30) as QLogic Corp. formally announces new chips and cards designed for the Fibre Channel over Ethernet standard. Hard on its heels, rivals Emulex and Intel Corp. are expected to start shipping competing products soon.
The Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) standard aims to merge storage and networking traffic, reducing the number of adapter cards, chips and additional wiring needed in the data center. A range of vendors backed the technology last year, but the new crop of products represents the first for many companies to use ASICs designed for FCoE.
"The products they brought out last year were really proofs of technology to let customers get a feel for how everything was going to work," said Bob Wheeler, analyst with The Linley Group (Mountain View (Calif.). "It's not clear they were used in any major production environments, but they got people looking at the technology."
The new products should shift the dynamics. Market watcher Dell'Oro Group predicts FCoE shipments will rise from a tiny 2,000 units last year to two million in 2013.
The new 8100 series dual-port FCoE cards from QLogic are the first to use its new ASIC. The cards deliver up to 250,000 I/O operations/second and provide throughput at the full 10 Gbit/s line rate.
The cards can dynamically sense whether they are riding a 5 GHz or 2.5 GHz PCI Express bus, adjusting to the appropriate number of links as needed. They consume an average of 11 W.
QLogic will sell standard and custom cards using the chip. It also will sell the ASIC, generally to storage system vendors who want to build it into their system boards.
The ASIC includes an upgrade of QLogic's fifth-generation Fibre Channel controller core as well as a new internally developed 10G Ethernet controller core. The chip provides full FCoE offload.
"We do not run any of the protocol on the host CPU, and there is no third-party IP in the chip-it's all internally designed," said Satish Lakshman, a director of product marketing at QLogic.
The cards and chips are sampling now with full production starting before June. Cards initially will cost $1,400 per port and up depending on configuration.