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Brocade intros FC switch for flash fans with the need for speed

Firm says its umpty-million IOPS Gen 6 switch is the business

Comment Brocade has announced a 32Gbit/s (Gen 6) Fibre Channel switch that doubles connection speed from the current 16Gbit/s level.

Its G620 switch is a 1U chassis with from 24 to 64 ports, the highest port density in the industry according to Brocade. The device delivers 100 million IOPS.

It has four Q-Flex ports supporting 128Gbit/s. These can be split into four separate 32Gbit/s links.

With the 24 to 64 port range Brocade says it offers pay-as-you-grow flexibility.

A FabricVision diagnostic and management facility includes IO Insight to monitor performance looking at device latency and IOPS metrics.

Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems and NetApp are all quoted in Brocade's release as looking forward to using the G620. Broadcom's Emulex unit and QLogic are both providing 32Gbit/s Fibre Channel HBAs, so end-to-end 32gig Fibre Channel connectivity is practicable.


Brocade G620


Many storage area networks (SANs) are still in the process of adopting 16GBit/s over the older 8Gbit/s technology. The onrush of all-flash arrays, with their much higher IOPS and lower latency compared to disk drive arrays is seen as creating a need for faster Fibre Channel links and Gen 6 Fibre Channel should find a ready market as all-flash arrays replace disk and also some hybrid flash/disk arrays for storing performance data.

Brocade says that between 70 and 80 per cent of flash arrays are using Fibre Channel. Tomorrow, it thinks, "next-generation flash storage based on Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) will seamlessly integrate with current and future Gen 6 Fibre Channel networks."

Fibre Channel is much slower than an NVMe PCIe connnection. EMC has just launched its DSSD D5 flash storage system which is an external shared flash storage "array" (EMC jibs at calling it an array) that is effectively DAS as it connects over a PCIe mesh. This is limited to a 2-3m distance over copper and perhaps 20m over upcoming optical cables.


Brocade G620 close-up

There is the potential for external NVMe fabrics, using PCIe or fast Ethernet, to begin substituting for Fibre Channel in latency-sensitive, short distance SAN applications.

Brocade's G620 Switch is available now through Brocade and its channel partners, and will be available through Brocade’s OEM partners in the second quarter of 2016. ®

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