Fibre Channel News March - May 1995

Finisar is on the web

31 May 1995. Jed Donnelley, Staff Computer Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has told us that Finisar has now it's own web pages. On Finisar's pages, that have excellent graphics, you can find full specifications and pictures of the Fibre Channel transceivers and testers that they sell. If you are looking for information from other companies active in the computer and communication business, you should try Jed's super search engine .

How to learn Fibre Channel

29 May 1995. The Fibre Channel Group, a partnership of emf Associates and Plexippus Consulting, Inc. is giving seminars on Fibre Channel. Offered by a team of industry professionals with expertise in the business, marketing, and development and technological aspects of Fibre Channel, the seminars are intended to provide participants with the information and tools necessary to develop Fibre Channel products, markets and businesses. Also the Fibre Channel Association and the company Ancot are giving courses.

Fibre Channel testing made easy

17 May 1995. There were already 3 manufacturers known to use making Fibre Channel testers. Now there are two newcomers: I-tech and Peer protocols. The testers from both companies come with full support for the SCSI protocol. Not amazing when you know that Fibre Channel is seen as the channel to connect storage devices.

Vitesse has first electrical GLM

17 May 1995. Already many manufacturers are making GigaLink Modules , the Fibre Channel modules doing the serialization and de-serialization of the encoded 10-bit or 20-bit data and transferring this data over optical fibres. Vitesse is the first manufacturer that makes a GLM that can transfer the data over shielded twisted pair copper cable. The module from Vitesse is fully compatible to the GLM specification, so any design using currently an optical GLM can use those electrical modules. The electrical version of Fibre Channel will be used to interconnect devices within an enclosure. For example a Seagate Barracuda disk drives that uses the electrical signaling can be connected to the host via the Vitesse GLM.

HPCN'95 FCS net wrap-up

17 May 1995. The Fibre Channel demonstration network at the High-Performance Computing and Networking show (HPCN Europe '95), has been very successful. Among others, it has shown that the FC standard is very stable. All machines were running version 4.3 of FC. The machines were connected to a fabric made by Ancor, while on the last day a fabric from IBM was used. This change did not need any reconfiguration. Furthermore the Fibre Channel data could be routed to 4 other networks: FDDI, HIPPI, Ethernet and Internet. This routing was done over different workstations configured with the standard UNIX route command. To show that this was working, CERN had installed an IBM RS6000/41T workstation that was connected only to Fibre Channel and the mains. This machine was placed at the booth from Emulex and the Fibre Channel Association and was used to browse the FCA and CERN's HSI web pages. To reach the Internet, a router from FCS to Ethernet (an HP 9000/735) and a router to Internet were used.

In total 1.2 km of multimode fibre optic cables were installed (sponsored by Siemens), connecting 12 machines to Fibre Channel. The biggest machine was an IBM SP2 having two FC interfaces. The smallest machine was an HP notebook connected to a Fibre Channel tester from KFKI. As demonstrations one could see performance measurements on Fibre Channel (CERN), remote graphics (HP and IBM) and of course the routing between FCS and FDDI, HIPPI, Ethernet and Internet.

HPCN'95 demonstration networks

25 April 1995. CERN is organising Fibre Channel and HIPPI networks at the International Conference and Exhibition on High-Performance Computing and Networking (HPCN Europe '95). This exhibition will be held 3 to 5 May 1995 in Milan, Italy.

This year it will be the first time that a large Fibre Channel network will be set up in Europe as part of the HPCN demonstration net. The network will be completely running at Fibre Channel version 4.3, showing that Fibre Channel is in stable waters (4.3 is the version sent to ANSI for approval). Storage attached on Fibre Channel will be shown, as well as graphics demonstrations running over Fibre Channel. The data from Fibre Channel will be routed as well to the external Internet connection, showing the ease of integration between a LAN built up with FCS and the WAN.

All CERN's equipment at 4.3

25 April 1995. Since 24 April, all equipment at CERN is upgraded to run at Fibre Channel version 4.3. The system is stable, although there are some minor problems related to one particular machine. The following system is now connected to the 16-port Ancor fabric running at 266 Mbps:

It shows that it is possible with Fibre Channel to build up a heterogeneous system: CERN's system contains interfaces manufactured by Ancor and IBM, and running in two different brands of workstations. In the past the system has been tested with a Silicon Graphics workstation as well.

More measurements available

25 April 1995. The most up-to-date results of all measurements done by RD11 on CERN's heterogeneous equipment can be found in the document "Fibre Channel Equipment under Test". The document gives a summary of the latency and throughput measurements of the different workstations when it was still running version 3.0. The document is available in two forms: HTML and Postscript (88 KB).

The document "Fibre Channel Performances with IBM Equipment" describes tests performed at IBM-ECSEC in Rome, that measured communication performances at the user level when exchanging data between IBM workstations via an eight-port IBM Fibre Channel fabric. This document contains many graphs of overhead, latency, throughput and processor usage. It also describes how Fibre Channel can be used in a High Energy Physics application. You may read it in HTML or in Postscript (557 KB).

FC Second Generation Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL-2)

3 April 1995. Development of the first generation Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) draft began in 1992. The project was originally titled Low cost Topologies (FC-LT), but the name was changed in 1993 to reflect a decision to concentrate attention upon a single type of topology, namely an arbitrated loop. A first Public Review for the FC-AL draft commenced January 1995. Late in the development of this draft, proposals were received from a number of parties for significant additional function. These requests resulted from applications being discovered for arbitrated loop topologies which were beyond the scope originally envisaged for FC-AL.

Inclusion of these additional functions in the first generation FC-AL draft would have resulted in a substantial delay. Therefore it was decided to first standardize FC-AL and propose a new project for the development of a second generation Arbitrated Loop definition for Fibre Channel. This definition will be fully backwards-compatible with the definition contained in FC-AL, but will also incorporate significant new technologies and function. Included within the recommended scope for this project are:

  1. The definition of additional topologies and performance consideration made possible by the additional physical variants, the multiple Node Port services (hunt groups, multicast etc.) and the fractional bandwidth services being defined by FC-PH-2.
  2. The definition of additional services to allow multiple Node Ports to communicate, such as additional forms of multicast, which are specifically optimized for arbitrated loop topologies.
  3. The definition of additional services which support the concepts of fine-grained or time-synchronized parallel storage and processing applications being based upon arbitrated loop structures.

Note that this scope specifically excludes the definition of both additional physical interface variants and of high level protocols and their mappings. Use will be made of the interface definitions provided by the FC-PH-2 project and its successors, and of existing practice in the area of protocols for fine-grained or time-synchronized operation.

HPCN'95 demonstration networks

10 March 1995. CERN is organising Fibre Channel and HIPPI networks at the International Conference and Exhibition on High-Performance Computing and Networking (HPCN Europe '95). This exhibition will be held 3 to 5 May 1995 in Milan, Italy.

Last year CERN set up the HIPPI demonstration network which connected the booths from Cray Research, Hewlett Packard, DEC, Ultranet, Convex, NSC and IOSC. This year it will be the first time that a large Fibre Channel network will be set up in Europe as part of the HPCN demonstration net.

GENROCO Takes I/O "Through the Looking Glass" with 100MB/sec PCI and SBus FibreChannel Controllers

8 March 1995. The "TURBOfibre[TM]" Gigahertz FibreChannel controllers for PCI and SBus- based computer platforms, including the Digital Alpha AXP, Intel SSD, Apple PowerMac, and Sun SPARCcenter families, will be available from GENROCO TURBOstor starting in March 1995. The new products, which fit in single PCI or SBus module slots, are the first of their kind and can be used as either disk or communications interfaces.

Each controller is a single PCI or SBus module meeting standard form and power specifications. Personality firmware for disk controller or communications interface applications can be dynamically loaded from the host platform.

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