Broadcom launches first Gen 7 Fibre Channel switches

Broadcom’s first seventh generation 64Gbit/s Fibre Channel switching gear has hit the streets.

Fibre Channel (FC) is a high speed networking technology that links servers and SANs. The latest iteration of the technology runs twice as fast as the current gen 6 standard’s 32Gbit/s, and has 50 per cent lower latency.

Jack Rondoni, SVP and GM of Broadcom’s Brocade Storage Networking division, said in a canned quote: “Brocade Gen 7 harnesses the power of 64Gb/s switching technology and transforms current storage networks with autonomous SAN capabilities, simplifying management, and significantly reducing operational costs.”

NVMe-over-Fabrics (NVME-oF) networking is faster than Fibre Channel but requires changes in an application’s block storage access code as the logical unit number (LUN) constructs used in traditional FC and iSCSI SANs no longer apply.

However, the NVMe-oF protocol needs carrying over a cabling infrastructure; and Ethernet, InfiniBand, Ethernet-based TCP/IP and FC can all do this. This means a FC SAN can using the FC network infrastructure while transitioning to NVMe/FC.

IDC Research VP Eric Burgener amplifies this idea: “The enterprise storage industry is already well down the migration path to NVMe-based storage systems, and by 2021 over 50 per cent of enterprise storage revenues driven by latency-sensitive primary workloads will come from the sale of these types of systems.”

And NVMe/FC is best, he says. “To get the full performance benefits of NVMe in these systems requires NVMe over FC host connections, and more and more enterprises will be installing these types of extremely low latency networks as they deploy the next-generation applications needed in the digital era. NVMe over FC is the most efficient network transport protocol for these high performance networks, already broadly deployed in commercial environments today, and Gen 7 technology will enable the performance at scale these workloads demand.”

Brocade

Broadcom’s new Brocade Gen 7 Fibre Channel product set includes cabling, switches, large director-class hub switches and end-point host bus adapters (HBAs) for the linked servers and SAN arrays. The HBAs are connected via the cabling to the switches and onwards to the directors.

Brocade X7 director

The Gen 7 systems include self-learning, self-optimising and self-healing capabilities to help automate SAN management. 

The product set includes X7 Directors, with up to 384 64Gbit/s line rate ports or up to 512 32Gbit/s line rate ports, and G720 switches. These switches provide 56 64Gbit/s line rate ports in a 1RU design.

Brocade G720 switch

The Brocade X7 Directors and G720 switches are available from Broadcom or through Dell Technologies and Hitachi Vantara. Other OEMs, including Fujitsu, HPE, IBM, Lenovo, NetApp and Pure Storage, will announce availability in the next few quarters. You can check out X7 and G720 datasheets.

Cisco said last September it was readying Gen 7 FC support in the MDS 9700 directors. It has yet to announce availability.

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