Need some help writing a SCSI driver?
21 October 1997. The Interface
Solutions Group has made a FIBRE
CHANNEL SCSI-3 TARGET DEVELOPER KIT for the QLogic ISP2100 SCSI Interface
From LynxOS to NT with a lightweight protocol
October 1997. At CERN we are using
Fibre Channel in a prototype Data Acquistion system. The particle physics
data that is coming from particle detectors, reaches at a certain stage
VME processor boards with PMC slots. From that stage, the data has to be
moved over a large Fibre Channel fabric to workstations that might run
Windows NT. In this application performance is very important and therefore
no TCP/IP can be used.
Systran provides with their PCI
interfaces for Windows NT a lightweight protocol called FXLP. Ralf Spiwoks
from CERN has succesfully implemented this protocol also on the Systran
Fibre Channel PMC interface that we use on the VME processor boards
that run LynxOS. Performance measurements will be made soon.
New PCI and PMC interfaces
9 October 1997. The company DY 4
has brought out a ruggedised PMC Fibre Channel adapter. The company Performance
Technologies sells now a PCI Fibre Channel adapter meant for storage
applications. Drivers are available for Solaris and Windows NT. Unfortunately
for both of the devices no information is available on the web sites of
the companies. You might have a look at the PCI/PMC
Fibre Channel interfaces web page if other PCI or PMC adapters are
meeting your needs.
Silkworm results on the web
19 August 1997. The results of the measurments that Ralf Spiwoks
made with a Brocade Communications Silkworm switch and PMC and PCI Fibre
Channel cards from Interphase and Systran are available. Have a look at
the postscript document entitled "Evaluation
of a Fibre Channel Switch in the Environment of the ATLAS DAQ Prototype"
to see how modern Fibre Channel fabrics and interfaces perform.
CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, buys Brocade Silkworm
24 July 1997. Brocade Communications
had provided CERN free-of-charge an 8-port
for testing. The test results were very positive and the ATLAS
experiment at CERN decided therefore to buy the fabric for the DAQ/Event
Filter Prototype -1 Project. A report with the test results will be
published soon on the web.
You might know that the
World Wide Web has been invented at CERN. Funnily enough we had found
out about the Brocade switch via the very same World Wide Web.
Pages up to date again
24 July 1997. Quite a few minor updates have been made to the CERN
Fibre Channel web pages. Links to product descriptions at other companies
that did not work are updated and also some extra disk storage and interface
products have been added. From the products listings you might have noticed
that Fibre Channel is in a really good shape. More switches
and hubs are available than ever, FC-AL
attached disk storage is available from about every disk vendor and
disk integrator and also interfaces are available
for about any flavour of bus.
Raceway to Fibre Channel
24 July 1997. Fibre Channel to VME
interfaces did already exist from Ancor and Systran. In practive, VME,
even in its 64-bit version is limited to speeds between 50 and 70 MByte/sec,
so it is not a perfect match. The Raceway extension to VME is circumventing
this by using a special protocol over the P2 connector of VME. The company
Myriad Logic therefore has made
a Fibre Channel interface
supports both VME64 and Raceway.
Arcxel: another switch company coming
14 July 1997. The company Arcxel
Technologies, Inc. announced
it will launch a new generation of high-performance Fibre Channel Fabric
products. The company also said that intensive field testing of new products
are now underway and production plans are being finalized. With Arcxel,
in total four manufacturers are producing Fibre
Serial Solutions solves system related issues
11 July 1997. Serial
Solutions is a multi-company effort to resolve systems design issues
related to the use of SCSI protocols over serial links, like FibreChannel
and FireWire. For the most part, these issues span multiple standards and
are not being addressed at this scope in any other open group. The intention
of this group is to roll the results out to the appropriate standards bodies,
such as ANSI X3T10's SCSI-3, and not to create a parallel, de facto standards
group in itself.
This group was originally formed under the name "Serial Concerns" to
resolve systems design issues. They found that many of the issues could
already be solved with a diffuse, but existing set of standards provisions.
In other cases, the standards organizations have been very responsive in
addressing these issues. So the group changed its name to "Serial Solutions".
The current objective is to continue resolving systems design issues, but
to present the results in terms of Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) and
how-to descriptions. There still appears to be no other good place for
collecting big-picture, holistic descriptions that span multiple protocols,
levels and systems.
Adaptec's PCI cards and chips
11 July 1997. Adaptec has both 32-bit
PCI and 64-bit PCI Fibre Channel boards that can be used both for peripheral
attachment and clustering interconnection. Adaptec also sells seperately
Single-chip PCI-to-Fibre Channel Controller.
64-bit PCI and I2O compatible
11 July 1997. Symbios brought
out a Fibre Channel board that can do 64-bit PCI transfers. Furthermore,
the SYM40940 I2O ready Fibre
Channel Host Adapter is compatible to the I2O specification,
the Intelligent I/O Specification. The SYM40940 supports options
for copper and optical Fibre Channel interfaces. Single unit prices would
be $850, according to the press release.
Symbios also sells the SYMF920
PCI/Fibre Channel Protocol Controller chip that is used on the board
Cheap hub from Emulex
6 July 1997. Emulex Network Systems has a new product: a
5-Port Fibre Channel Mini Hub. The LightPulse Fibre Hub allows for
full-speed Fibre Channel throughput (1.062 Gbps) at less than $260 per
port. Hubs are needed to interconnect Arbitrated Loop to ease wiring of
systems. Also if power loss or other problems occur on a physical node,
the loop would be broken if no hub is present. There exist other
manufacturers that produce Fibre Channel hubs.
Switch from Brocade unblocks Fibre Channel
2 July 1997. Brocade Communications
has kindly offered a SilkWorm
Fibre Channel fabric for evaluation here at CERN. One day after installation
we have now communication going on between two PCI cards from Interphase
with home-made software running under LynxOS on PowerPC based VME boards.
In the coming week we will do performance measurements. We expect to receive
next week two PMC cards from the company Systran which we'll connect up
to the switch as well. The first impressions of the new switch are positive:
we like much the switch statistics and configuration possibilities via
Ethernet. Once we have some performance results available, we'll keep you
informed via those web pages.
Fibre Channel FAQ
12 May 1997. The Fibre Channel
Loop Community has made a nice Frequently
Asked Questions page. Among others, the page contains information about
the markets for Fibre Channel and technical explanations, but also explains
why the word Fibre in Fibre Channel is spelled with 're'.
Video editing with Fibre Channel
15 April 1997. The Transoft Technology Corporation (Transoft) develops
and markets ground-breaking products, systems and technologies that accelerate
access to digital data. For the digital video, multimedia graphics, audio
and prepress industries, Transoft has developed high-speed networks and
servers. The StudioBOSS FC networks can transmit data at 100 megabytes
per second, and are designed for on-line non-linear digital video editing
for motion picture, television studio production, post-production. As part
of their problem solving system they have a Fibre
Channel hub, PCI and GIO interfaces, storage devices and software.
How to optimise your Fibre Channel speed.
27 January 1997. At CERN, the European
Laboratory for Particle Physics we have quite some Fibre Channel equipment
around. We have one of the first 266 Mbps switches from Ancor, which still
runs thanks to the upgradable software and a new 8-port 1 Gbps switch.
On the interface side we have recently acquired interfaces from Emulex,
Systran and Interphase. The cards from Emulex are used in IBM RS/6000 workstations,
using TCP/IP driver software from Emulex. The interfaces from Systran and
Interphase are mostly used in the VME environment, using the PCI Mezzanine
Card (PMC) form factor. For those we write our own software to ensure the
lowest possible latencies together with maximum througput because that
is what we need in our data acquisition systems. Ralf Spiwoks has written
software for the Systran and Interphase cards under the LynxOS operating
system running on a PowerPC VME platform, connecting the interfaces to
the PMC bus. He has optimised all the different parameters that are possible
with the Tachyon and has written an extensive report about this. This report
not only shows the different graphs, but also finds an explanation for
the results obtained. The results are sometimes not what you expect. Did
you know for example that it can be better to have a small maximum frame
length set? For a copy of the different reports (in Postscript) from Ralf
take a look at:
CIPRICO RAID Disk Array to Sony Pictures Imageworks
27 January 1997. Fibre Channel seems to have really put its foot
in the ground in the video and broadcast industry. The announcement
from Ciprico that Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony's state-of-the-art
visual effects and digital animation production facility, has received
the world's first production shipments for high-bandwidth Fibre Channel
RAID disk arrays is one of the messages that shows this. Browsing the web
will show you other examples of usage of FC in the film industry. See for
example the making of the movie
Going a long way from home?
16 January 1996. Most optical implementations of Fibre Channel links
run over multi-mode fiber. Dependent on the transmission speed, a distance
up to 500 meter or 2 km can be reached with this type of fiber. In case
transmission over a longer distance is needed, the FLX-1000
Optical Link Extender can be used. This device from Finisar
will transport the data over single-mode fiber, which allows transmission
over a distance of up to 30 km.
Xyratex acquired Peer Protocols and Zadian Technologies
16 January 1997. Peer Protocols and Zadian Technologies have been
acquired by Xyratex. All those companies
provided test tools for, among others, Fibre Channel. Have a look at the
CERN Fibre Channel Testers page to see what
devices you can get to test your products.
Cray Research GigaRing has Fibre Channel I/O port
16 January 1997. The Cray Scalable I/O Architecture includes the
scalable GigaRing channel, a counter-rotating, dual-ring channel that provides
high-bandwidth connections from Cray Research computer systems (system
nodes) to a wide array of I/O nodes, including network, disk, and tape
nodes. One of the nodes they offer is the Fibre
Channel I/O Node (FCN-1), which provides connectivity to disk arrays
or single disk drives with a Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) interface.
Fibre Channel into Digital Signal Processors
16 January 1997. The company Traquair
is a supplier of TIM-40, PC/104, and Fibre Channel systems which combine
and utilize multiple TMS320C40 and TMS320C44 Processors for use in DSP
and Image Processing applications. Traquair provides now an interface
between TMS320C4x Comports, a communication port found in Texas Instruments
Digital Signal Processors, and Fibre Channel. This development shows that
Fibre Channel is even usable in high speed instrumentation systems.
Introducing Box Hill's Fibre Box
16 January 1997. 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.
Another interesting device from Box Hill is the X/ORaid
Module, which implements distributed RAID (as opposed to centralized
RAID). The Fibre Box X/ORaid Module implements distributed hardware RAID
by activating the X/OR RAID Processors that are embedded within each Fibre
Channel disk drive. By embedding the X/OR RAID Processors on the drives
themselves, there is no need for an external RAID controller. Box Hill's
Fibre Box X/ORaid Module directs the X/OR RAID Processors embedded in the
drives to implement RAID Level 1, 0+1, or 5. Elimination of the external
controller considerably increases the simplicity, reliability and performance
of all RAID functions.
Box Hill sells PCI and SBus
adapters for their storage arrays.
15 January 1997. With the Storagepath
SP-8FC Series of Rack Mount and Tower Mass Storage Systems, Storagepath
is the 16-th vendor known to sell FC-AL Mass Storage
CERN - High Speed Interconnect
Erik van der Bij - 7 January
1998 - Disclaimer