Electronic Design

4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters Accelerate SAN Access

As storage systems have grown in number, so has the need to get data into and out of them faster. RAID, JBOD, and other storage-area network (SAN) boxes now store jillions of bytes that must be accessed over the Internet or via local-area networks (LANs) inside organizations needing fast access to databases.

The primary pipeline to these systems is Fibre Channel (FC), a fast fiber-optic interface. Over the years, its speed has increased from an initial rate of 100 Mbits/s to 1 Gbit/s, 2 Gbits/s, and 4 Gbits/s today. Unlike Ethernet, whose speeds have increased in increments of 10, FC's progress has been slower.

While the FC fiber-optical hardware has been available, it has taken time for manufacturers of the hard drives and switches to build in the matching speed. At last, all the manufacturers have come into sync with everything available at the same time. So, the 4-Gbit/s version of FC is finally ready for deployment. LSI Logic's 4-Gbit/s host bus adapters (HBAs) are available to implement those new, faster systems.

These HBAs are now in full production. They're based on LSI Logic's LSFC949X Fibre Channel controller IC, which the company sells separately to other HBA manufacturers. The LS17104 XP-LC is the singlechannel unit, and the LS17204 XP-LC is the dual-channel unit (see the figure). The basic data speed is 4 Gbits/s with 800 Mbits/s in full duplex operation. They also can perform more than 160,000 I/O operations per second.

Both feature a 64-bit, 133-MHz PCI-X bus. They plug right into existing storage servers as well as the storage units. The optical interface is multimode small form-factor transceivers. Both units are backward-compatible with 1-Gbit/s and Gbit/s systems, and they will automatically select 1-, 2-, or 4-Gbit/s operation.

The auto-detect feature senses switch or loop connections. Both HBAs provide concurrent Internet Protocol or Small Computer System Interface Protocol operation. FC-tape support is built in as well. The HBAs also support the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) T10 Committee's new end-to-end error detection ( cyclical redundancy check) for improved data integrity when reading and writing to disks. Both units passed the interoperability and protocol compliance testing at a recent plugfest sponsored by the FCIA and the University of New Hampshire.

The HBAs support LSI Logic's My Storage adapter management software, which provides HBA monitoring, load balancing, and protection. The software also lets IT managers control and configure any LSI Logic HBA in their storage system. This version of the software helps speed up SAN installation and simplify HBA management as well.

MyStorage also eliminates the problem of upgrading software drivers when a new operating system (OS) is installed or an OS upgrade is made. In three mouse clicks, managers can update all the adapters in their network from one server.

All of these products are available now.

LSI Logic Corp.
www.lsilogic.com

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