Speed Bumps

2G-bps Fibre Channel technology still faces formidable obstacles.

Despite their blazing speed and backward compatibility, 2G-bps Fibre Channel products are making very little headway in IT departments.

There are several reasons for this. For starters, other technologies are now competing for IT mindshare. During the past year, while 2G-bps Fibre Channel was slowly maturing and gaining vendor support, Cisco Systems Inc. and others introduced products based on other standards, such as iSCSI, that attempt to replace Fibre Channel as the dominant SAN (storage area network) protocol. In addition, with IP networking vendors promising 10G-bps Ethernet in the near future, some IT managers are putting off their upgrades, even though 2G-bps Fibre Channel products are available now.

However, eWeek Labs believes 2G-bps technologies shouldnt be counted out. In tests for this Special Report, 2G-bps Fibre Channel products proved they can be critical storage building blocks for the next few years and will likely be important even if iSCSI or another technology becomes the dominant long-range SAN medium.

For this report, we tested QLogic Corp.s SANbox2 16-port 2G-bps Fibre Channel switch, which is among the first SAN switches to hit this performance milestone.

A key component in our latest test SAN was Hitachi Data Systems Corp.s Thunder 9200 Fibre Channel RAID unit, the first one weve seen that has 2G-bps Fibre Channel RAID controllers.

However, even with the Hitachi RAID unit, testing our 2G-bps Fibre Channel SAN was no easy task. When it came to benchmarking performance, we had to roll our own (incorporating some trade show tactics) because vendors havent yet released products that can truly put 2G-bps Fibre Channel products through their very rapid paces.