QLogic last week announced the availability of its 8Gbit/sec Fibre Channel switch and its companion 8Gbit/sec host bus adapter (HBA). QLogic's announcement followed one by Emulex last week, which released its LightPulse LPe12000 family of 8Gbit/sec HBAs.
Both vendors' products offer twice the performance of today's 4Gbit/sec Fibre Channel technology, providing greater I/O scalability in support an increase in the number of applications running on virtualized servers.
The companies are touting the new products' ability to consolidate applications onto fewer physical servers and thereby increasing the benefits of server virtualization, such as reduced procurement and management costs, as well as lower power and cooling costs.
Rick Villars, vice president of storage systems for research firm IDC, said because 4Gbit/sec Fibre Channel HBAs, switches, and arrays have been around for four years, "2008 is the logical time to begin the transition to the next generation of 8Gbit/sec FC."
Frank Berry, vice president of marketing for QLogic admitted that while most shops won't be implementing 8Gbit/sec on current their current servers/storage infrastructure, new multi-core, multi-processor and bladed servers will drive 8Gbit/sec Fibre Channel adoption. Virtualization, or the pooling of server and storage resources behind a layer of abstraction, will also require the higher throughput capabilities of 8Gbit/sec technology, Berry said. "With IBM and HP putting two, quad core [chips] in single blade servers, that of course will support a lot of VMs. So now you have to get that I/O out of the blade chassie," he said.
Berry said QLogic's new 8Gbit/sec products tout a number of green features, including the ability to power down when not being used, and the ability to detect the type of PCI bus being used and adjust power consumption to it. For example, a first generation PCI-X bus card has 8 I/O lanes, while a second generation PCI-X bus has 4 lanes, so the HBA is able to "shut down the other four for energy efficiency."
Mike Smith, executive vice president of worldwide marketing for Emulex said his company's customers are also focused on consolidation through virtualization, "as well as leveraging multi-core and bladed servers."
Hewlett-Packard is also reselling QLogic's switches and HBAs. It also includes them as part of its HP StorageWorks 8Gb Simple SAN Connection Kit that has one switch, 4 HBAs, 8Gbit/sec SFP+ optics and cables. The new Simple SAN Connection Kit sells for US$8,199 retail. Neither QLogic nor Emulex included prices for their new products. QLogic said it would charge a "nominal" premium over its 4Gbit/sec HBAs for the new models.
According to QLogic, the top 10 reasons 8Gbit/sec Fibre Channel is needed are:
10. Web 2
9. Microsoft Windows Server 2008
8. PCI-Express Gen 2
7. Green IT
6. Business Continuity
5. Disaster Recovery
4. Microsoft Exchange
3. Oracle 11g
2. Server Consolidation