Fiber Channel

What is Fiber Channel (FC)

Fiber channel (FC) is a networking protocol, typically used in Storage Area Networks (SAN Storage). Fiber channel is used to transfer data at high speeds to a resource pool of servers with low latency. Fiber Channel Protocol (FCP) is the replacement to Small Computer System Interface (SCSI), which prior to 1997 used to dominate the storage connectivity scene. Modern advancements to SCSI include Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), used in the majority of storage area network backends and disk drives today. Visit TechTarget to learn more about the basics of SAN storage and choosing between Fiber Channel vs iSCSI.

History of Fiber Channel

Fiber Channel really started to take-off around the 2000 dot-com boom, when organizations were increasingly looking for higher speed access to shared data in SAN storage systems. As Fiber Channel is a lossless protocol, it doesn't introduce any latency through cables, routing and switching and it can travel vast distances up-to 10km on a single-mode fiber and typically 100-150m on multi-mode fiber.

  • 1Gbps FC - 1997
  • 2Gbps FC - 2001
  • 4Gbps FC - 2004
  • 8Gbps FC - 2005
  • 10Gbps FC - 2008
  • 16Gbps FC - 2011
  • 32Gbps FC - 2016
  • 64Gbps FC - 2019
  • 128Gbps FC - 2016
  • 256Gbps FC - 2019

Fiber Channel vs iSCSI

Around 2009 Internet Small Computer Systems Interface (iSCSI) started to take-off as an alternative to Fiber Channel. iSCSI is an Internet Protocol (IP) based networking technology for data storage. Carrying SCSI commands over the TCP/IP stack, rather than Fiber Channel. A long heated debate has ensued ever since regarding the pros and cons of each interface. Ultimately FC claims to be superior in performance and low latency, because of its lossless nature, whilst iSCSI claims to be superior for it's simplicity and familiarity that most IT engineers have with IP based networking. Read more on the Fiber Channel vs iSCSI debate over at the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA).

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