QLogic flexes the Bullet, an ASIC for network convergence

The battle for network convergence heated up last week as QLogic announced that HP has selected the QLogic 'Bullet' FCoE Switching ASIC to power its Virtual Connect FlexFabric switch module for the company's new BladeSystem platforms.

Specifically, the Virtual Connect FlexFabric 10Gb/24-port switch module uses the Bullet ASIC to pool and abstract SAN and LAN connections between blade servers and virtual machines and storage. It converges Ethernet, Fibre Channel and iSCSI onto a common fabric and allocates bandwidth across eight connections per each dual-port FlexFabric adapter, allowing businesses to consolidate network access at the server edge by as much as 95%.

This new FCoE switching technology provides protocol-agnostic data mobility, enabling customers to map Virtual Ports to Virtual Machines across any protocol in the data center.

The Bullet, a Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switching ASIC, allows ports — dubbed "flex ports" by QLogic -- on the HP Virtual Connect FlexFabric module to be dynamically allocated to 10Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel or iSCSI -- a feature that outshines competitive FCoE switching technology, whose products must be manually configured to the desired protocol and which do not allow for the dynamic adjustment needed in today's converged network infrastructures. The Bullet is based on a scalable, non-blocking, standards-based architecture that can allow server, network or storage administrators to add, move and change network connections in minutes rather than the hours required of manually configured switches and adapters.

The Bullet was designed in-house at QLogic and can be used as the basis for developing a number of FCoE switching options for OEMs, including blade switches, edge switches, I/O modules and top-of-rack switches. We would expect QLogic to introduce follow-on FCoE switching solutions in the coming quarters.

Cloud service providers will benefit from flex ports because they have highly variable workloads and depending on peak activity from each client, may need to run one workload on Fibre Channel while allocating some additional ports to iSCSI or 10G Ethernet. This gives them the flexibility where they don't have to hard wire everything in the data center.

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