CERNFibre Channel News

BoxHill: new Fibre Channel RAID arrays

25 November 1996. Box Hill Systems Corporation's new Fibre Box blasts through storage bottlenecks with data transfer rates 10 times faster than SCSI. This hot-swappable, dual Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) storage system with RAID fault-tolerance, offers capacities of up to 72 GB per enclosure, using eight 9 GB Fibre Channel drives. Storage for up to 1,125 GB is obtainable by 'daisy-chaining' enclosures, for a total of up to 125 drives per each dual FC-AL system. For more information, please read BoxHill's press release.

Fibre Channel Now!

25 November 1996. In March 1997 the conference Fibre Channel Now will be held. Fibre Channel Now is the storage and network fibre channel conference of 1997, evolving from the successful RABCON Conferences sponsored by the RAID Advisory Board. For the past three years, the industry's interface activities have focused on competition among the various next generation interface alternatives for network and storage systems. Fibre Channel, ATM, IEEE 1394, Serial System Architecture, UltraSCSI, Universal Serial Bus (USB) have all been promoted as the next generation interface for networks or storage or both. Fibre Channel, with high performance, robustness, topological flexibility, and simplicity is emerging both as the dominant next generation interface for storage applications, and as an important part of future high-performance networks. Fibre Channel Now! will bring you up to date on Fibre Channel, the technology, the implementations, and the applications. From an introductory tutorial to a look into the future, Fibre Channel Now! will help you keep abreast of what's going on with this exciting new interface area. For more information take a look at the web pages of the conference.

Fibre Channel Broadcast demonstration in Europe

6 September 1996. During the upcoming International Broadcast Conference in Amsterdam the Fibre Channel Association's Video SWIG will conduct a seminar entitled:


The seminar will be held on Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15 9 a.m. to noon (9-10:30 user applications, and 10:30 -noon tutorial and products), in RAI Centre, Room T, basement Hall 11. Admission is free.

Presentations will be made by Hewlett-Packard, Tektronix, Silicon Graphics, Panasonic, Prisa Networks, Storage Concepts, Ciprico, AVID, UNISYS, Brocade Communications and Megadrive.

We encourage you and your European colleagues to attend and learn more about today's gigabit interface offering: faster than realtime video networking; hours of high-speed video storage; and an open standard with multi-vendor support. The panel moderator will be Brad Dick of BROADCAST ENGINEERING. If you need any additional information, please contact Diana Silva ( or Marc Friedmann (

Test Fibre Channel

6 September 1996. Xyratex is one of the six companies that provide test equipment for Fibre Channel.

Hewlett Packard's Enterprise Switch on the web

2 September 1996. You may find information about the HP Enterprise Switch Model 266 Fibre Channel Fabric on the web. To find information about other switches, take a look at "Fibre Channel Fabrics"

Vixel hubs

2 September 1996. Hubs are a common item for ethernet to increase the number of ports to a given connection point. Quickly those devices are becoming as common for Fibre Channel connectivity. Hubs are used to connect Fibre Channel equipment in the Arbitrated Loop mode (FC-AL). The hubs make that a loop will work even if equipment in the ring is powered off or broken. They can also provide connectivity between devices working with the electrical version of Fibre Channel and devices working with fibre-optics. With the advent of Vixel Corporation's HUB1063, there are now five different companies able to provide hubs.

Seagate's families

28 August 1996. Seagate has now three families of disk drives with Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop attachments. They go under the names Barracuda, Baracuda 4LP and Elite.

Yet another disk on the loop

16 August 1996. Raidtec Corporation, develops and designs Fibre & SCSI RAID Controllers and Subsystems. Their newest member is the Raidtec FibreArray, which features a Dual FC-AL Backplane, 7 Drive bays, 3 N+1 power supplies with all drives, power supplies & fans "Hot Replaceable". This new product makes that there are 15 companies providing storage attached via Fibre Channel!

Want to build your own FC attached disk drive?

16 August 1996. QLogic is a leading supplier of integrated circuits and adapter cards used to connect peripheral devices to computer systems, and of SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) target chips and disk controller chips used in peripherals. QLogic is selling Fibre Channel controller chips to be used on disk drives. They also provide a PCI to FC interface chip made for drive attachment using FC Class 3 transfers. To complete the picture, they also sell a PCI to FC-AL Host Adapter Card.

Need interfacing to Silicon Graphics?

15 August 1996. In the movie industry Silicon Graphics is well known for it's performance. As Fibre Channel is also penetrating very heavily in the movie and video business (see for example "Vendors Demonstrate Real-Time Video Over Fibre Channel at NAB" and "Independence Day special effects credit Ancor Fibre Channel Network"), it is logical that also interfaces for the high speed buses of Silicon Graphics machines are made. The company Prisa Networks provides such adapters for the GIO and HIO buses found in SGI machines. Ancor can provide interfaces to SGI with their EISA and VME interfaces.

Help from Intel for development

15 August 1996. Intel's i960 Microprocessor PCI I/O Software Development Kit is a low-cost, fully scaleable development kit. The PCI-SDK features interchangeable Intel i960 processor modules, interchangeable I/O interface target modules, and a standard software development platform with PLX Technology's PCI 9060 ( a PCI to 80960 bus bridge chip). The kit also includes a complete set of software development tools and related documentation to enable improved development time. Intel can sell this kit with a Fibre Channel I/O Module connecting to the PCI-SDK. It features support for Gigabit link rates (1.0625 Gbaud), all Fibre Channel topologies: Arbitrated Loop, Switched and Point-to-Point; and all classes of service: Class 1, 2, 3, and Intermix. In addition the module supports TCP/IP and SCSI mapping to Fibre Channel. The Fibre Channel I/O module greatly reduces the development time of Fibre Channel software applications by providing a software target. If you need more help developing software, you might find something interesting at the Fibre Channel Software Services web page.

New type of FC components

15 August 1996. Fibre Channel has different options for the driving of the Fibre and for the type of media used. The most common types are the duplex SC connector for the fibre-optic implementations and the DB-9 connector for the electrical implementation. Converters between the optical and the electrical implementations exist from both Gore and Fujikura. As probably more manufacturers will provide this type of devices, another FC component page called "Electrical/Optical cable converters (DB-9/SC)" is set up at CERN's Fibre Channel web pages.

Fibre Channel on CD

14 August 1996. The Fibre Channel Association has brought out a CD-ROM containing The Fibre Channel Product & Services Directory and a Fibre Channel Interactive Tutorial. You may obtain copies of this CD-ROM via the Fibre Channel Association. Of course the CERN FC web pages will contain more up-to-date information and direct links to the manufacturers' product descriptions.

CD informed CERN about new products

14 August 1996. The CD-ROM of the FCA contained information about products the CERN FC web pages did not have any information on. Those new products have been added. Here is a list of the new products added:

New PCI adapters

13 August 1996. Advanced Storage Concepts, a company well known for its SCSI host adapters, is working on an adapter for Fibre Channel. The ASC-FC1062 is a high speed Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) adapter that runs the SCSI protocol on top of the physical Fibre Channel layer. The serial data rate is an astounding 1.0625 GHz which translates to about 100 MBytes per second. The initial PC platform is 32-bit PCI but a 64-bit PCI version will follow.

CERN FC web pages updated

12 August 1996. The CERN FC web pages have been updated. Old links to manufacturer's pages that did not work, old telephone numbers and so have been corrected. As far as new devices goes, Infinity CommStor informed us that they are designing a FCS to SCSI bridge. Adaptec told us they have taken over all Western Digital's Fibre Channel products. They also gave us more details about their PCI adapter for Fibre Channel.

Fibre Channel in Avionics Applications

5 June 1996. Fibre Channel is seen as serious and robust enough to use in avionics applications as McDonnel Douglas at this time has specified the use of Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) for a 1 Gbit/s link between a Digital Map Set (DMS) and an Advanced Memory Unit (AMU) on the F/A-18 E/F.

For this application, McDonnell Douglas requests information on the availability of adapter node Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) transceiver components which meet industrial grade temperature specifications: -40 to +85 degrees C. Desired candidate transceiver components are intended to include a 1 Gbit/s copper interface, GLM compliant encoding set, Fibre Channel FC-2 layer protocol adapter node chip set featuring class 1 thru 3 and FC-AL functionality, as well as supporting micro-controller and firm ware. We are further refining specific cables and connectors for the copper interface. It is also highly desired to obtain RTL level VHDL code of the adapter node chip to ensure interoperability between our suppliers and assist in board level design verification.

Vitesse reduces transceiver power consumption

15 May 1996. Requiring a single +3.3V supply, the VSC7125 IC from Vitesse reduces power consumption to 650 mW from the 2.5 W required by previous generation of FC transceiver chip sets. At a 1.0625 Gbps baud rate (100 MB/sec data rate) the device provides the highest performance and lowest power transceiver solution. The reduced power consumption is really a requirement for use of Fibre Channel in PCI Mezzanine Cards (PMC) as the total consumption may not be more than 7.5 Watt. See the FC-0/FC-1 Chips pages to see what other manufacturers sell transceiver chips.

Want to build your own FC chip?

8 May 1996. If you want to build your own Fibre Channel chip, you could use LSI Logic's Fibre Channel core. It provides an ANSI-compliant, low-cost, high speed interconnect standard targeted for mass storage devices and workstation clustering. Along with other standard cores from LSI Logic, the Fibre Channel core enables a completely new or tightly integrated approach to a single-chip adapter or disk controller solution. If you're looking for ready made chips, take a look at the FC-0/FC-1 Chips and FC-2 Chips pages.

Gadzoox Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop Active Hub

6 May 1996. Gadzoox introduced it's Fibre Channel Active Hub for Arbitrated Loop, called BitStrip. The Gadzoox BitStrip combines the resiliency, economy and user-friendliness of a central wiring hub with the performance advantages of 1.0625 gigabit per second Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop networking. Hub connection ensures resiliency, allowing users to disconnect nodes, add nodes, or power-off nodes without causing the FC-AL network to fail. The Bitstrip automatically detects and bypasses nonfunctional nodes and prevents non-Fibre Channel devices from connecting to the operating Fibre Channel loop. For more information and active hubs from other manufacturers, take a look at CERN's Fibre Channel Concentrators page.

Symbios OEM RAID Controller

30 April 1996. With a transfer rate of one gigabit per second, this Series 3 Fibre Channel RAID Controller screams at five times the speed of SCSI. The first Fibre Channel controller specifically designed for OEMs, it uses a Fibre Channel host interface and single-ended Fast-20 SCSI drive channels. It supports point-to-point, switched or arbitrated loop fibre topologies. It features one Fibre Channel host interface, one Fast-20 differential SCSI connection and five 16-bit, single-ended FAST-20 SCSI-2 drive channels. Even an on-board Ethernet interface is foreseen. For other storage products using Fibre Channel, take a look at the Fibre Channel Storage page.

Fibre Channel Loop Community (FCLC) on Web

20 March 1996. The Fibre Channel Loop Community (FCLC) encourages the utilization of the FC-AL topology. Activities complement the work of the Fibre Channel Association (FCA) and are designed to promote the adoption and proliferation of products and services based on FC-AL. The FCLC provides a support structure for communications companies, component manufacturers, computer service providers, consultants, peripheral manufacturers, software developers, and system integrators, with primary focus on the usage of FC-AL for storage attachment.
The Fibre Channel Loop Community is on the web. Among others, you may find on the FCLC pages information about the Community itself, and technical papers on Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop and comparisons with other technologies.

FCLC Design Compatibility Symposium (Plug Fest)

20 March 1996. The Fibre Channel Loop Community is planning a series of symposiums for product designers, programmers and test equipment designers where Fibre Channel product interconnection, compatibility and interoperability can be evaluated and analyzed.

The first symposium (Plug Fest), hosted by Xyratex, is scheduled for April 30th through May 2nd at the Westin South Coast Plaza Hotel in Costa Mesa, California. It is intended to be an informal atmosphere where system platforms and Fibre Channel testers and host adapters will be provided for use in testing the participating products. This is an engineering event, not open to the general public or press. All participants will be asked to sign an agreement that individual test results will not be made public. Participation is by invitation with the understanding that those who attend will be involved in Fibre Channel product development, which in itself is a form of disclosure. However, no one will be asked to provide details or specifications of their product. The purpose of the symposium is to provide the industry with Fibre Channel tools and technology. Limited assistance with Fibre Channel interface design will be available to participants.

For more information, please contact Susan Gaylord, Xyratex, Phone: 714/476-1016, FAX: 714/476-1916, E-mail:

FCLC Member companies now have over two thirds of disk drive market share

20 March 1996. The growing momentum of the Fibre Channel-Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) serial interface standard continues as the enterprise storage disk drive division of Western Digital and the disk drive division of Fujitsu Limited join the Fibre Channel Loop Community (FCLC) in support of the standard. According to market research firm Dataquest [Dataquest Alert: Disk Drive Industry Status, December 8, 1995], membership of these two disk drive companies in the FCLC extends overall market share of FCLC-member disk drive companies to over two thirds of the entire disk drive industry. No other industry association representing serial interfaces approaches the market share of those supporting FC-AL. [Source: FCLC Press Release]

Digital picks Fibre Channel as StorageWorks serial SCSI standard

Sees Parallel SCSI as Frontrunner for Near Future

MAYNARD, Mass., March 8, 1996 -- Digital Equipment Corporation's Storage Business Unit has chosen Fibre Channel as the standard serial SCSI technology for the StorageWorks family. As requirements for long-distance connectivity and enhanced performance increase, Fibre Channel will provide a superior long-term solution for users. Read the press release for a full description of DEC's plans with Fibre Channel.

Fibre Channel oscillates

28 February 1996. When designing hardware, it's always the small unexpected things that get you. For example, who thought it would take so much time to get clock oscillators clock frequencies of 26.5625, 53.125 or 106.25 MHz. Indeed these frequencies are only used for Fibre Channel, so when you order them from the standard crystal oscillator vendors the lead times can be very long. Fortunately there are several vendors that sell specialized oscillators that have selectable FCS frequencies or that have chip that generate 106.25 MHz when connected to a standard 17 MHz crystal. As a service to our fellow interface designers. a list of those components can be found on CERN's Fibre Channel Crystal Oscillators page.

All Fibre Channel companies on the web (almost)

21 February 1996. When cleaning up the Fibre Channel products by manufacturer page, it appeared that almost all companies that sell Fibre Channel products, have their own web sites with a description of the products. This is very good, as for those products the companies themselves can update the status and descriptions of their Fibre Channel devices.

Books on Fibre Channel

19 February 1996. For a developer it's not easy to get a complete overview of the Fibre Channel standards. The specifications are dispersed over many documents (FC-PH, FC-AL, SCSI-FCP, profiles, GLM specs etc.) and are often not easy to obtain. Therefore it is good to know that books exist that put together all this information, including sufficient detail to use it as the reference document when you design your hardware and software. One of those books is The Fibre Channel Bench Reference from ENDL publications. This 200-page wire-bounded book even contains data from the timing of the GLM modules for hardware developers up to the IP headers for IP over Fibre Channel for programmers. In the middle of this range are the 8b10b coding tables, frame headers and protocol diagrams. For more information send a mail to You may look at the FCA server for other Fibre Channel books and reports.

Yet another storage company: Meltek

31 January 1996. With the FIBRE-ARRAY Meltek has true Fibre Channel solutions for PCI Bus and Sun S-Bus. These fully incorporate the FC-AL (Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop) specifications. They include Controller board, Cables, Device Driver and 8 Drive RAID enclosure.

Ciprico tenth storage company

12 January 1996. Ciprico designs and markets high bandwidth RAID disk array products, supporting industry standard interfaces such as Fibre Channel, UltraSCSI, and SCSI-2. With Ciprico this is the tenth company that we know of that markets Fibre Channel attached storage devices. You may find the other companies on CERN's Fibre Channel Storage page.

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Erik van der Bij - 25 November 1996 - Disclaimer