Archrival Emulex is said to be sampling its own FCoE adapter card based on a new ASIC. In a February 18 release, it announced the product which is expected to be in production in the second half of the year. The adapter card is said to be similar to the one from QLogic, except that the Emulex board also supports the iSCSI standard for running storage over Ethernet.
"That raises complexity of the chip design and could create a difference in cost and power dissipation," said Wheeler.
Among other competitors, Intel has taken a software approach to FCoE, releasing open source code for running FCoE on its processors under Linux.
The x86 giant is expected to debut a new 10 Gbit Ethernet controller as part of the rollout of its Nehalem processors for servers on Monday (March 30). The chip is expected to provide support for running as much as 80 percent of the FCoE tasks—including direct data placement and cyclical redundancy checks—on the controller.
Separately, Broadcom and Brocade both signaled their intensions last year to build FCoE products. However, neither company has announced them yet.
The shift to FCoE will likely come in stages. The IEEE is still hammering out specifications needed for a fully lossless version of Ethernet needed to carry Fibre Channel traffic throughout the data center.
Initial products use a pre-standard implementation of techniques such as per-priority pause to handle congestion and packet loss. That is expected to be adequate for handling traffic between a local switch and a rack of servers supporting FCoE, the expected first step in data center deployments.
"I am very optimistic because we are not waiting for data centers to convert to 10G Ethernet, we are just looking for connections to new top-of-the-rack switches and leveraging existing 8G Fibre Channel," said Lakshman of QLogic.
Cisco Systems is bullish on FCoE as a technology that could drive use of 10G Ethernet. The company has made FCoE one of the linchpins of its recent move into data center servers.