Emulex Unveils First 4-Gig Storage Switch

Emulex has joined the 4-Gig Fibre Channel party with a splash, unveiling its 4-gigabit per second (Gbps) InSpeed SOC 422 Fibre Channel embedded storage

The first 4-Gig embedded storage switching solution, according to Emulex, the InSpeed SOC (Switch-On-a-Chip) 422 provides 22 ports of connectivity in a highly-integrated device that can be used to implement a wide variety of embedded storage applications, including SBODs (Switched Bunch of Disks), Root Switches, and Fully Switched Architectures.

Emulex says it has delivered sample silicon to its key OEM partners and expects to begin production shipments within a year. Intel, Fujitsu, Marvell, Seagate, and Xyratex were among those lauding the new offering, and the company says eight OEMs are currently evaluating or integrating the SOC 422.

Emulex says its InSpeed embedded storage switching technology, acquired from Vixel, enhances reliability, serviceability, and performance by bringing switched connectivity inside the storage system. The speed and port count of the embedded storage switch technology have been increased with the introduction of the third generation of InSpeed technology.

The InSpeed SOC 422 features a non-blocking, dynamically switching, crossbar switch core, allowing connection of any port to any port and redundancy for
increasing storage system performance and RAS characteristics. The SOC 422 also supports in-band communications, eliminating the need for an external processor for SCSI Enclosure Services (SES) and lowering OEM implementation costs by more than 50% over previous generations, according to the company.

Emulex says the SOC 422 is the first in a line of products from the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based firm designed to support the emerging 4-Gig (4G) standard, which is “expected to emerge as the dominant SAN technology for next-generation disk and tape storage systems within the next year.”

4G Fibre Channel started out as a solitary effort by Emulex competitor QLogic, but with backwards compatibility and the same price as current 1-2 Gbps systems, the technology has taken on an air of inevitability, especially with 10-Gig systems expected to initially cost five times as much as current 1- and 2-Gig systems. 10G Fibre Channel systems will also lack the backwards compatibility of 4G systems.

Still, Emulex put in a plug for 10-Gig, noting that it was the first HBA provider to demonstrate 10 Gbps Fibre Channel, in demonstrations with Cisco
and McDATA.

10-Gig “is expected to provide enterprise data centers with unmatched levels in performance,” with deployments beginning in the 2005-2006 timeframe, Emulex says.

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