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Fiber Channel

Published on Apr 02, 2024


Fiber Channel is the solution for IT professionals who need reliable, cost-effective information storage and delivery at blazing speeds. With development starting in 1988, ANSI (American National Standards Institution) standard approval in 1994, and massive deployment beginning in 1998, Fibre Channel is still growing strong.

Fibre Channel is the mature, safe solution for high-speed communications and is the foundation for over 90% of all SAN (Storage Area Network) installations throughout the world. Today's data explosion presents unprecedented challenges incorporating data warehousing, imaging, integrated audio/video, networked storage, real-time computing, collaborative projects and CAD/CAE.

Fibre Channel is simply the easiest, safest and most reliable solution for information storage and retrieval. Corporate information is a key competitive factor, and Fibre Channel enhances IT departments' ability to access and protect it more efficiently. In fact, multiple terabytes of Fibre Channel interfaced storage are installed every day! Fibre Channel works equally well for storage, networks, video, data acquisition, and many other applications. Fibre Channel is ideal for reliable, high-speed transport of digital audio/video. Aerospace developers are using Fibre Channel for ultra-reliable, real-time networking.

Fibre Channel is a fast, reliable data transport system that scales to meet the requirements of any enterprise. Today, installations range from small post-production systems on Fibre Channel loop to very large systems linking thousands of users, servers, and storage systems into a switched, Fibre Channel network. Fibre Channel supports the connection of 126 devices on a single network

Introduction of Fiber Channel

The following types of ports are defined by Fibre Channel:

node ports

N_port is a port on the node (e.g. host or storage device) used with both FC-P2P or FC-SW topologies. Also known as Node port .

NL_port is a port on the node used with an FC-AL topology. Also known as Node Loop port .

F_port is a port on the switch that connects to a node point-to-point (i.e. connects to an N_port). Also known as Fabric port . An F_port is not loop capable.

FL_port is a port on the switch that connects to a FC-AL loop (i.e. to NL_ports). Also known as Fabric Loop port .

E_port is the connection between two fibre channel switches. Also known as an Expansion port . When E_ports between two switches form a link, that link is referred to as an inter-switch link ( ISL ).

EX_port is the connection between a fibre channel router and a fibre channel switch. On the side of the switch it looks like a normal E_port, but on the side of the router it is a EX_port.

TE_port a Cisco addition to Fibre Channel, now adopted as a standard. It is an extended ISL or EISL . The TE_port provides not only standard E_port functions but allows for routing of multiple VSANs (Virtual SANs). This is accomplished by modifying the standard Fibre Channel frame (vsan tagging) upon ingress/egress of the VSAN environment. Also known as Trunking E_port .

VE_Port an INCITS T11 addition, FCIP interconnected E-Port/ISL, i.e. fabrics will merge.

VEX_Port a INCITS T11 addition, is a FCIP interconnected EX-Port, routing needed via lsan zoning to connect initiator to a target

Ways to transfer data :

There are basically two different ways to transfer data between computers and peripheral devices.

• Channels

• Networks

• Channels

An approach based on channels provides a direct or switched (point -to- point) connection between communicating devices. Usually this method is implemented as parallel transmission and is designed to be hardware intensive. This method stress on high performance and the hardware is optimized to meet the need, the protocol used is very simple and it minimizes the software involvement in data transfer operations. This method provides in-sequence data delivery and highly reliable data transmission. But with this method we can only transfer data up to very small distance, like from several centimeters to few meters

A SCSI is a good example of a fast and effective channel. It is ideally suited for high speed point-to-point transfer of large data blocks in parallel way over short distances.

• Networks

This method is based on connecting distributed elements like workstations, file servers and peripherals using serial protocol. Networks are software intensive and it is slower than a channel. Transmission of data is not reliable as on channels. Networks are usually used for long distance communication, because they are unstructured, they can support large no of devices of different types.

They provide file based data transfer using a wide variety of protocols. Networks are used for transferring data with error free delivery.

Ethernet based IP network is an example of network. This method is typically used for transferring small data files over relatively longer distances

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