Fibre Channel News August- September 1994

HP/IBM/Ancor Speed measurements available

31 August 1994. Fabrice Chantemargue has finished the measurements of the communication times for transferring data from memory to memory between HP/9000 workstations, and between a HP/9000 and an IBM RS/6000, via a 16 port Ancor Fibre Channel Fabric. The paper "Communication benchmarks with HPs and IBMs connected around an Ancor Fibre Channel Fabric" describes both measurements. The measurements have been done with ttcp. The program tsock has shown better results (10.5 MB/s instead of 8 MB/s between the HPs), but it is not yet understood why. Extra research will be done, but any hints are welcome (mail to Chantemargue@cern.ch).

Some similar measurements for communications between IBM workstations only have already been reported. The experimental hardware configuration used consisted of two HP machines are 700 series with a processor running at 100 MHz and an IBM RS/6000 workstation pool, composed of a 590 model with a Power2 processor running at 66 MHz, a 250 model with a PowerPC 601 at 66 MHz and a C10 model with a PowerPC 601 at 80 MHz.

More storage devices coming

30 August 1994. Western Digital and Adaptec told us that they would send us documentation that we can put on the web. Wester Digital will have fibre channel link modules and a line of fibre channel controller devices and host adapters. Adaptecís first offering will concentrate on storage applications, since they have the most experience in this area. The basic feature set of a host adapter will be PCI to Fibre channel at 1GHz bit rate, supporting class 2 and 3 and Arbitrated Loop. Different business units of Adaptec will be offering solutions for both the host and disk side (IC Controllers) of the Fibre channel cable.

International Data Acquisition Conference

30 August 1994. Fibre Channel is here, chips, boards and systems are being announced almost daily. Now the search is on for the "killer application". One demanding application area is in High Energy Physics. You can find out more about this challenging area at the International Data Acquisition Conference which will be held October 26- 28, 1994 at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.

Cards or Modules?

25 August 1994. Two types of standard interface cards exist to convert 8b10b coded parallel data into a serial stream on a fibre: Optical Link Cards (OLC) and Gigabaud Link Modules (GLM). Both types integrate the key functions necessary for installation of a fibre channel media interface on most systems. They provide complete fibre channel FC-0 functionality on easy to install daughter cards. Included are transmit and receive optics, drivers, clock and data recovery, serializer, deserializer and laser safety features. The HSI web page "Optical Link Cards (OLC) and Gigabaud Link Modules (GLM)" gives an overview of the manufacturers that provide these modules that are the key to Fibre Channel.

Connect Fibre Channel to the World

23 August 1994. Fibre Channel is seen as an ideal medium to connect storage devices and to do local networking. For Wide Area Networking, ATM seems to be more suitable as it is well supported by the telecommunications industry. Therefore to have long haul Fibre Channel connections, FCS to ATM converters or gateways are needed. The HSI Web page "Fibre Channel Routers" shows the FCS to ATM routers and also routers to standard LANs that are available.

Connect Fibre Channel to SCSI

23 August 1994. Fibre Channel is seen as an ideal medium to connect storage devices. Several manufacturers have seen that there is a need to connect Fibre Channel to standard SCSI devices and have therefore developed FCS to SCSI converters. The Fibre Channel Association has defined the FCSI-SCSI (FCP) profile which is stable now, so interoperability should not be a problem.

HP talks to IBM

22 August 1994. CERN has received new firmware for the HP9000/700 series Fibre Channel interfaces. With this new software it is possible to send IP data between the HP and IBM workstations. Measurements of data rates between the HP and the IBM workstations will soon be made by Fabrice Chantemargue. "Iíve sent already data between the HP and IBM, so it really works" said Fabrice, who is currently in the processes of making graphs that show the throughput between HPs. "Iíve measured 7.8 MByte per second between the HPís with 64 KByte packets, using a single IP stream" said Fabrice on Monday. The Direct Channel protocol will give higher throughput, but is not yet available on the HP.

How to connect it up?

19 August 1994. Fibre Channel cables come in all kinds of varieties. There are a few things you should know before connecting the cables as there are some problems that you can expect, such as different color coding and non-standard clips. The HSI web article "Fibre Channel Cables" warns you about those pitfalls and tells you also from where to get the cables from.

IBM RS/6000 Fibre Channel speeds up

17 August 1994. Fabrice Chantemargue has done extensive measurements of the data rates possible with the three IBM RS/6000 interfaces that are available at CERN. The article from Fabrice shows the results obtained with TCP/IP and Direct Channel in detail with graphs of message size vs. speed and message size vs. processor occupancy. Similar measurements will be done with the Hewlett Packard interfaces that are connected to the same Ancor fabric.

Lessons in Fibre Channel

15 August 1994. ZoltŠn Meggyesi from KFKI - RMKI / Hungary has written an excellent overview of the Fibre Channel specification. His document is now available on the High Speed Interconnect pages. For people that have already read the FC-PH specification and want to check their knowledge, the Fibre Channel exam is available. Even for people that just want to have a more in-depth knowledge of the FC-PH specification and the Profile specifications this document can be useful.

Quiz: How many types of FCS processor interfaces exist?

15 August 1994. The High Speed Interconnect pages on Fibre Channel Processing pages are filled in. They show that there are interfaces for 6 different bus types. In total 15 different interfaces exist. PCI is ahead in the race with 6 different manufacturers that will produce cards for this new standard bus.

Fibre Channel in the air?

15 August 1994. The Fibre Channel community is setting up an Avionics Profile. This new dialog will communicate avionics requirements from the commercial & military aerospace community, and will ensure inter-operability between Fibre Channel products and services targeted for the aerospace market. McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, E-Systems, Texas Instruments, and Computing Devices International are scheduled to make brief presentations in the area of "Aerospace Perspective and Top Level Needs." at the first meeting.
See the article "Fibre Channel Avionics Profile at Keystone CO ".

Maximum Strategy storage

12 August 1994. Maximum Strategy wrote us that they will have storage servers available with full speed (1 Gbps) FC by Q1-95. The protocol will be SCSI. They will be the second storage manufacturer on the emerging Fibre Channel market.

The Storage Server (Gen 5) will support up to four FC or 32-bit HIPPI (2 64-bit HIPPI) interfaces. It will have a sustained transfer-rate in excess of 120 MB/sec. The capacity range is from 94 to 376 GB in a single stand-alone cabinet, supporting RAID 0, 1, 3, & 5. "We've taken everything we've learned on our four past generations and put it all into the Gen 5" told Blake Homan from Maximum Strategy. See FCS storage for more details on this interesting development.

FCS to SCSI adapters

11 August 1994. A telephone call to Jan Dedek from Ancot, California revealed that they are working on a Fibre Channel to SCSI adapter. Ancot is a specialist in SCSI testers. They are getting a strong foot in the Fibre Channel market by their tester which is in use by Sun and Hewlett Packard. Drive manufacturers are following courses given by Ancot. Soon you will be able to find more info on the High Speed Interconnect pages.

Fibre Channel for the hobbyists?

10 August 1994. Fibre Channel is getting to the hobbyist market: the article "Fibre Channel Speeds Up" in Byte magazine of August 1994 gives an overview of the structure of Fibre Channel. Moreover a very extensive description of the current products and future developments is given. "John Bryan has done exceptional research for this article", said Erik van der Bij, Fibre Channel program manager at CERN, "It even contained information that I knew but was not allowed to tell".

Disk drives

10 August 1994. Seagate is working on disk drives that have 1 Gbit per second Fibre Channel interfaces. "They will use copper as physical layer" told our reliable source. The blindingly fast drives will support Arbitrated Loop, allowing to connect several drives onto one Fibre Channel interface.

Hewlett Packard software

9 August 1994. CERN has received stable firmware for their HP9000/700 Fibre Channel Interfaces. Fabrice Chantemargue is doing measurements and preliminary results from Sverre Jarp gave a transfer speed of 12 MB/s using IP and using multiple streams.

See the article from Fabrice about similar measurements he has done with IBM RS/6000 interfaces.


Erik.van_der_Bij@cern.ch - 2 November 1994