Fibre Channel 32Gbps Standard Completed

The slowing-moving Fibre Channel storage networking world is set to advance forward in the next year or so.

This is because just ahead of the Gartner Data Centre Conference (9 to 12 December in Las Vegas), the Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) on 3 December revealed that the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) T11 standards committee has completed the Fibre Channel Physical Interface sixth-generation industry standard for specifying 32Gbps Fibre Channel.

High-End Speed

The new standard doubles the data rate of the current 16 Gbps standard. Vendor solutions are expected to enter the market in the 2015-2016 time frame, the association said.

The FCIA will forward the new standard to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for publication in the first quarter of 2014.

Most Fibre Channel systems now in production transmit data between servers and storage arrays at data rates of 1, 4 or 10 Gbps.

Fibre Channel devices, which use point-to-point, switched and loop interfaces, can be as far as 10 kilometers (about 6 miles) apart if optical fibre is used as the physical medium. Optical fibre is not required for shorter distances, however, because Fibre Channel also works using coaxial cable and ordinary telephone twisted pair.

The 2013 milestone on FCIA’s Speed Roadmap for 32G bps Fibre Channel opens the door for continued innovation for data centres requiring a fast, scalable and reliable storage network, since developers and data centre administrators will have multiple times the storage networking speed as before.

New Specs

The Fibre Channel PI-6 standard specification includes the following:

  • a single fibre-optic or electrical copper lane of cabled interconnect for better port density real estate and power reduction than multi-lane interconnect technologies;
  • 64/66b ENDEC transcoding that ensures reliable error-free, packet-loss free data transfers at full 32G bps bandwidth utilisation; and
  • the ability to service port-to-port distances up to 100 meters of intra-data centre connectivity on OM4 laser-optimised multi-mode optical fibre cable. This also includes up to 6 meters of intra-data centre connectivity on electrical copper cable and up to 10,000 meters of long-distance inter-data centre connectivity on laser optimised single-mode optical fibre cable.

“Many requirements that are addressed are based on real end-user experience and input, leading to the development of new features and enhancements,” said FCIA Chairman Skip Jones. “By listening to customer’s needs, the 32 Gbps Fibre Channel has been developed, representing the fastest single-lane serial transmission speed of any copper or optical storage interconnect in history.”

FCIA members include manufacturers, system integrators, developers, vendors, industry professionals and end users.

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Originally published on eWeek.

Chris Preimesberger

Editor of eWEEK and repository of knowledge on storage, amongst other things

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