Fibre Channel hasn't been exciting since storage area networks were young, hot, and pretty. But the protocol is still around, still has devotees, and just got an upgrade.
A seventh generation of Fibre Channel has been in the works for years, with a theoretical speed of 64Gbit/s. But while the likes of Broadcom had delivered 64G Fibre Channel switches in September 2020, according to our sibling site Blocks and Files, putting the update to work was a tad tricky for lack of a host bus adapter (HBA) that could connect a server or array to a seventh-gen switch.
Until yesterday, when Broadcom delivered the HBA for which a very small section of the world has been waiting, and boasted it can now deliver "a complete portfolio of products that enable an end-to-end 64G data path."
The new Emulex Gen 7 LPe36000-series Host Bus Adapters are touted as delivering handy speed boosts, such as almost halving VM boot time during the "boot storms" that happen when lots of virtual machines spawn at once. Which is just the sort of thing that happens when lots of virtual desktops come into existence in the morning, and as desktop virtualization got quite a boost from a certain pandemic, faster boot times matter.
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Broadcom also claims data warehousing runtimes may improve by 87 per cent, and that the combo of 64G Fibre Channel and PCIe 4.0 will make your PCIe-3.0-packing servers look very lame and slow indeed.
Broadcom is not alone in the 64G Fibre Channel market. Cisco is also dabbling, having released a multi-speed Fibre Channel Switching Module along with other backwards-compatible gen 7 tech.
And now maybe you can, too, if the siren song of much faster recent updates to Ethernet don't appeal or apply. And to those still using Infiniband, we salute you. ®