Seagate Fibre Channel Whitepaper

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Fibre Channel White Paper by Seagate

Fibre Channel:
A Vision Blistering transfer rates, the ability to connect limitless devices and vastly increased cabling distance --this description of Fibre Channel is made possible, to a large degree, by Seagate's Fibre Channel disc drive interface.

Seagate engineers have long understood that the future of high-performance mass storage involves diverse products working together as one cohesive unit. This critical term is called interoperability. The future has arrived and Seagate's Fibre Channel interface represents a crucial link for companies that use enterprise networks employing equipment from multiple vendors.

As the first manufacturer to develop disc drive products with the Fibre Channel interface, Seagate is currently in production of its fourth-generation of Fibre Channel Cheetah and Barracuda drives.

The hot-pluggable interface, which has the approval of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), lets users remove a failed disc drive and replace it without shutting down the system. Further, Fibre Channel tolerates any number of device failures with its loop resiliency circuit. Loop resiliency allows any number of devices to be dynamically removed or hot-plugged without disrupting the activity of the other peripherals in the loop.

The interface is ideal for storage, video, graphic and mass data-transfer applications.

Fibre Channel Benefits Include:

  • Transferring data at up to 100 Mbytes per second per loop. There is a maximum of two loops available for each disc drive.
  • Operating over copper and fibre-optic cable at distances of up to 10 kilometers
  • Supporting up to 126 devices on a single loop, which is ideal for large RAID subsystems and disc arrays.


Fibre Channel Connectivity and Speed:
Seagate drives employing the Fibre Channel interface work in a ring fashion or loop, which means that endless loops can be connected to facilitate high-speed communication. Fibre Channel is unique because it transfers network messages and acts as a storage interface. This means users can connect their hard drive storage directly to their corporate networks with no need for a server to act as intermediary. Further, Fibre Channel-Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL) is an extremely fast medium. Its data-transfer speed of up to 100 Mbytes per second is the equivalent of sending an entire text of Huckleberry Finn through the optical cable every 7.2 milliseconds.

Fibre Channel Distancing Benefits:
Fibre Channel add a tremendous amount of distance between devices. Up to 10 kilometers of cable can span between each Fibre Channel device with no loss in data throughput or reliability. Because Fibre Channel supports a high number of devices, it is plausible to create an arbitrated loop of disc drives running from Los Angeles, California to El Paso, Texas, a distance of almost 800 miles.

The Fibre Channel Solution:
FC-AL continues to make inroads into the high-tech community. Professional movie editing, collaborative engineering efforts, video-on-demand, medical imaging and advanced transaction processing all take advantage of the Fibre Channel interface.

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