A high-speed transport technology used to build storage area networks (SANs). Although Fibre Channel can be used as a general-purpose network carrying ATM, IP and other protocols, it has been primarily used for transporting SCSI traffic from servers to disk arrays. The Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) serializes SCSI commands into Fibre Channel frames and uses IP for in-band SNMP network management (see SNMP). For more about storage networks, see SAN.|
Using singlemode or multimode fibers, Fibre Channel can be configured point-to-point (FC-P2P), as a switched topology (FC-SW) or in an arbitrated loop (FC-AL) with or without a hub, which can connect up to 127 nodes (see below). Transmission rates up to 12.75 Gbps in each direction are supported.
Fibre Channel uses the Gigabit Ethernet physical layer and IBM's 8B/10B encoding method, where each byte is transmitted as 10 bits. Fibre Channel provides both connection-oriented and connectionless services. Following are the class and functional levels. See FCIP, FCoE, IP storage and Director-class switch.
Class 1 With acknowledgment, full bandwidth
Class 4 Virtual connections, QoS,
Class 6 Uni-directional
Class 2 With acknowledgment
Class 3 Without acknowledgment
FC-4 Translation between Fibre Channel and
command sets that use it: HiPPI, SCSI, IPI,
SBCCS, IP, IEEE 802.2, audio, video
FC-3 Common services across multiple ports
Port levels (FC-PH standard)
FC-2 Framing and flow control
FC-1 8B/10B encoding, error detection
FC-0 Electrical and optical characteristics
The arbitrated loop is widely used and can connect up to 127 nodes without using a switch. All devices share the bandwidth, and only two can communicate with each other at the same time, with each node repeating the data to its adjacent node. TX means transmit, and RX means receive.
A switch fabric is the most flexible topology, enabling all servers and storage devices to communicate with each other. It also provides for a failover architecture in the event a server or disk array ceases to operate.
This is the simplest topology connecting two Fibre Channel devices that communicate at full bandwidth.