June 28, 2017
Wayback Wed: HP makes 3000 fiber-fast
Twenty years ago this month Hewlett-Packard began to make its 3000s fast enough to use fiber connections. HP Fibre Channel was an implementation of the T11 standard, a serial interface to overcome limitations of SCSI and HIPPI interfaces. Although the 3000 wouldn't gain a full Fibre Channel capability until the following year, HP laid the essential groundwork with the first High Speed Connect (HSC) cards for HP 3000s.
It was peripheral technology nearly in parallel with Unix, a strategy the 3000 community was clamoring for during the system's late 1990s renaissance.
New IO cards rolled into the 3000 market in 1997, giving the server a road to bandwidth equality with its cousin the HP 9000. HP told customers Fiber Channel was the future of 3000 peripheral connectivity. HP's first family of Fiber Channel devices were first deployed in a Model 30/FC High Availability Disk Array for 9000s.
The advance for the server gave the 3000 an open door to a technology that's still in heavy use. By some estimates more than 18 million Fibre Channel ports are working across the world. The technology has rocketed from the initial 1Gbit speed to 128Gbit bandwidth. The highest-speed HP 3000s until the ultimate server generation were Series 997s, designed to replace the Emerald-class systems. HP charged more than $400,000 for 997s at the top of the range. It was the only 12-way HP 3000 the vendor ever introduced.
Today the Fibre Channel advantage is available in Linux server settings. One example is the Dell EMC storage solution. Linux is the host environment for the Stromasys Charon HPA emulator.
The technology was also noted for its power to eliminate bent pins. HP said in a Journal article that "serial connectors used for Fibre Channel are a fraction of the size of SCSI parallel connectors and have fewer pins, thereby reducing the likelihood of physical damage. Also, depending on the topology, many more devices can be interconnected on Fibre Channel than on existing channels."
Today, Fibre Channel is a choice for high-performance arrays to expand and hit full performance at both the storage and compute layers. Fibre Channel innovations enhance this connection by adding quality of service (QoS) for flash optimization. Both flash cache and logical-unit-number (LUN) prioritization allows administrators to tailor the data enter environment to fully optimize investment in flash technology.
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