CERN Fibre Channel News
June-August 1995

Fibre Channel gets concentrated

29 August 1995. Fibre Channel is seen as an ideal medium to connect storage devices and to do local networking. The Arbitrated Loop topology is a cheap way to connect many devices together as no fabric is needed. But a physical loop will be difficult to construct as it requires individual cables or special T-connectors and it can be difficult to rewire. Also if power loss occurs on a physical node, the loop often is broken. A solution to those problems is to use a Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop concentrator. The company Lextel is the first company to introduce such such a concentrator.

No Tape Storage on Fibre Channel

21 July 1995. The Martin Marietta FCS Tape Storage Unit project has been canceled, and it will not be marketed. Therefore currently there are no companies that can provide Tape Storage with Fibre Channel connectivity. Ampex and Sony have told us that they are looking into the possibility of making Fibre Channel interfaces for their drives, but as far as we know, no projects are underway. However, there are nine companies that have announced Disk Storage devices with Fibre Channel attachment.

Gore's Copper Gigabaud Modules go up to 50 meter

18 July 1995. Gore's has developed in cooperation with Vitesse the FCN 7181 Copper Gigabaud Link Module (CuGLM). This module allows serial transmission at 1.0625 Gbit/sec. over differential twin-ax cable, or over Gore's new ultra-balanced full duplex cable. In conjunction with Gore's cable assembly, the CuGLM is a cost effective way to utilize the Fibre Channel Specification for transmission lengths under 50 meters. If you need to go longer distance, take a look at the optical GLM's.

Need a helping hand for your software?

14 July 1995. Fibre Channel products include quite some software, such as SCSI drivers, IP drivers and management software. Writing this software, or optimising it for maximum performance, requires a profound knowledge of the various protocols, bus systems and protocol chips. If you don't have the required skills in house, or need a helping hand, you could either follow a course, or make use of a specialised software service company.

Infinity CommStor is such a company that can offer development and consulting expertise, such as writing driver software or optimising it. They also have a Software Development Kit that is a compliant ANSI standard FC-PH Rev 4.3 implementation for device drivers and embedded firmware. The source code can be used for reference or compiled and linked to enhance your Fibre Channel product solution.

Which companies are involved and what do they sell?

7 July 1995. The CERN High Speed Interconnect web pages are organised per product category. E.g. you can easily find all fabrics or interfaces via the Fibre Channel home page Products chapter. But now on the new Fibre Channel Manufacturers page you can even see which products each manufacturer has, or has announced. On this Manufacturers page you can find that already 29 companies are selling more than 60 different Fibre Channel products, for all of which you can find extra information on the Fibre Channel web pages from CERN!

Connect 2048 users onto Fibre Channel

3 July 1995. Until recently the Fibre Channel switches that you could buy were limited in size to only 16 or 64 ports. Ancor now has made it possible to interconnect several of their switches together so this number can be increased to 2048, while still being 100% non-blocking. Even up to 3072 users can be interconnected when a 33% global non-blocking capacity is sufficient. In the latter case it is still possible to make workgroups of up to 32 ports that have a 100% non-blocking capability within each workgroup. To build such a large fabric out of smaller switches, only a simple upgrade of the firmware in the switches is needed. For more information about the Fibre Switch Expansion Option, contact Ancor Communications, Inc.

Hewlett Packard's Tachyon chip on the web

27 June 1995. The Fibre Channel protocol chip from Hewlett Packard, nicknamed Tachyon, has now it's own web pages. There you can find one-pagers, names of companies designing with the Tachyon, newsletters and even full specifications. If you are interested in designing your own Fibre Channel interface, you really should take a look at the Tachyon and to FC-2 level chips made by other companies.

Fibre Channel in a good shape

8 June 1995. Members of the Fibre Channel Association receive every month a whole pile of clippings of articles that contain Fibre Channel. The latest clippings contained many interesting announcements and even introduced some new companies that work on Fibre Channel. For example Maxim, a company that has specialized in small utility chips that sell in large quantities, such as RS-232 drivers, power converter chips and so, are now selling a complete fibre optic transceiver chipset for 1063 Mbps Fibre Channel applications. This is a whole new field for this company and shows that there is some business to do!

Furthermore the clippings showed that many other companies are going to use Fibre Channel for the attachment for storage. E.g. Compaq, UNISYS and Storage Dimensions are planning to deliver storage servers for the end of the year or the beginning of next year. Quantum as a disk drive manufacturer will, like Seagate, deliver drives that handle directly Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop. Look in the Storage pages to see a full list of the companies that are planning storage devices.

Fibre Channel goes faster

8 June 1995. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved 2.134 and 4.25 Gbit/second speed rates for the Fibre Channel networking spec, which is officially known as X3.230. the nod from ANSI should broaden the reach of Fibre Channel beyond its serial-channel routes into more mainstream enterprise-networking applications, predicted Ed Frymoyer, Fibre Channel Systems Initiative program manager. The new speed rates had been discussed as natural outgrowths of existing 266-Mbit, 531-Mbit and 1.062-Gbit, Frymoyer said. However, higher rates are not approved until cost-effective implementations are proven in the field, which was contingent on the arrival of vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers for optotransceivers, a technology that HP and others have brought in production only in recent months.

SPICE models for FC drivers

6 June 1995. Motorola makes coaxial drivers for Fibre Channel. In an application note, they even give the SPICE model for this driver chip and the loop resiliency circuit. A list of other coaxial and optical drivers for Fibre Channel can be found on CERN's High Speed Interconnect web pages.

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This is one of the CERN High Speed Interconnect pages - 3 November 1995 - Erik van der Bij