Fibre Channel connections gain popularity for speed and flexibility

Fibre Channel connections gain popularity for speed and flexibility

The fast and flexible Fibre Channel interface is gaining momentum among users who want speedier, more fluid connections to more devices than SCSI can provide.

Industry experts predict that 64 percent of the projected $25 billion market for external RAID systems will use Fibre Channel.

Sun Microsystems Inc. now features Fibre Channel interfaces in its StorEdge A5100/A5200 series, and Data General Corp. is moving its entire Clariion RAID series to Fibre Channel.

Other leading RAID manufacturers, such as Andataco/nStor Inc., Cambex Corp. and Ciprico Inc. are following suit with at least one newly introduced product series featuring the Fibre Channel interface.

The Fibre Channel-Arbitrated Loop interface can provide data transfer rates up to 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps duplex. It also can implement the use of fiber-optic and copper cables for distances of up to 100 meters.

Meanwhile, the ubiquitous SCSI interface has gotten faster and more flexible, too. Budget-conscious users can still link legacy network servers to a new RAID system using 20-Mbps Fast Wide SCSI-2 or 40-Mbps Ultra Wide SCSI interfaces.

The 40-Mbps Ultra2 low voltage differential SCSI and 80-Mbps Wide Ultra2 LVD SCSI interfaces also are available in many RAID arrays for users who want to stay with tried-and-true SCSI technology.

Right now many RAID vendors are splitting the difference, with products that support multiple interfaces, including Fibre Channel and various levels of SCSI, for users who aren't ready for a wholesale move to Fibre Channel.

'J.B. Miles

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