Emulex Corp. and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. are announcing what are expected to be the industry’s first 4G-bit/sec Fibre Channel products that will let users run applications and back up data faster on their storage-area networks.

Emulex is launching a host bus adapter, the LP11000 HBA, which connects servers to Fibre Channel switches. Brocade is rolling out the midrange Silkworm 4100 Fibre Channel switch that has 16, 24 or 32 ports and is used to connect servers to storage arrays and tape devices.

The products, which acts as an OEM to vendors such as EMC Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp., are expected to cost the same as their 2G-bit/sec. Fibre Channel predecessors. Fibre Channel HBAs range from US$500 to $1,500. An eight-port switch from HP costs $625 per port. Four Gigabit/sec Fibre Channel products are backward compatible with 1- and 2G-bit/sec iterations.

Jay Kidd, CTO for Brocade, says that 4G-bit Fibre Channel is needed by a variety of enterprise-sized businesses.

“The likely scenario is that the new LTO-3 (linear tape open) tape drives will be the first 4 Gig devices that come out,” Kidd says. “It’s quite likely that the first killer app for 4 Gig will be backup, shortening the back-up window.”

Four Gigabit/sec HBAs are expected to ship in the first half of next year. The Brocade Silkworm 4100 is expected to be available next month.



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