first published a directory of Fibre-channel adapters way back in 1994,
when these products first appeared in the Sun market. They were listed in our
SPARC Product Directory.
The first Fibre-channel connected storage product we listed was the
Although proprietary fiber cable extension products had been available
for SCSI before that time
from companies like Apcon,
the new Fibre-channel provided an industry standard, and faster throughput.
Due to the laws of physics, fiber optic technology enabled higher signalling
rates over longer distances than copper cables and electrical signals.
also provided greater reliability,
because of the reduced amount of internal cabling within the servers and storage
systems, because Fibre-channel was a serial interface, compared to
SCSI which was a parallel
interface and which had a very high cable core and connector count. Also
Fibre-channel included fault tolerant mechanisms for rerouting around failed
cable loops - although it was many years before these were properly supported by
transparent failover software.
When it was first introduced,
Fibre-channel enabled the campus wide consolidation of high throughput storage.
In fact network attached storage using ethernet had existed for many years
before the introduction of Fibre-channel, but its low throughput (based on the
10Mbps rates at the time) made it unsuitable for many applications compared to
directly attached storage which was about 20x faster.
In the mid
1990s Fibre-channel initially gained popularity in the pre-press industry in
which large image files were moved around from workstations to other types of
specialized printing equipment.
The Fibre-channel directory moved over
from our Sun directory, over to STORAGEsearch in 1998, and at one time we had 5
concurrent advertisers promoting FC host bus adapters until the market
There was a lot of consolidation in the FC HBA market in
the early 2000s so many of the companies from the 1990s
no longer exist as
independent companies. As this is a retrospective article - I've included some
historic legacy banner ads from some past FC advertisers.
|The term "Storage Area
Network" didn't start to come into popular vogue till 1999, when we added
a special SAN page to
Nowadays, the original advantages of Fibre-channel have
been blurred as other technologies have adopted similar attributes. We are used
to the concept of networking data at high speed over large distances using many
different types of technologies. At the building or campus network level, IP
technology in the form of iSCSI offers identical performance for most common
tasks like backup. Also the term SAN, which originally referred just to a
Fibre-channel connected network has become defocused by common usage. So we get
IP-SAN which usually refers to
iSCSI, and which
uses Ethernet (not Fibre-channel) as the underlying transport in a local area
In Q2 2004, the main installed base for Fibre-channel runs at
2Gbps. But already several manufacturers have started to demonstrate host bus
adapters, disks and switches which operate at 4Gbps. Some start up companies are
also planning to interoperate with the standard when it reaches 10Gbps. After
the first decade of commercial use Fibre-channel and SAN storage have become one
of the central foundations of storage infrastructure and are here to stay.
also:- SSD news,
Survivor's Guide to Enterprise SSDs
Big is the Fibre-Channel SAN Market?|
In 2004 Fibre-Channel SAN
market revenue (which includes host bus adapters, switches and FC connected
SAN disk and tape storage) was worth about $7 billion, which is
approximately 10% of the total storage market.
| Megabyte had
recently seen the movie City Slickers and was experimenting with a new data
ships 4 millionth Fibre Channel IC |
PALO ALTO, Calif. - November 17, 2004 -
Agilent Technologies Inc. today announced it has shipped more than 4
million Tachyon Fibre Channel controller ICs since production began in 1995.
Tachyon brand has become an industry standard with more than 5.3 million ports
in operation and more than 50% market share among disk array manufacturers,"
said Erik Ottem, marketing director of the Input/Output Solutions Division in
Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group.