Ethernet Alliance tests Data Center Bridging

The Ethernet Alliance last month held a series of interoperability tests for IEEE 802.1 Data Center Bridging (DCB), with vendors ranging from Cisco to Intel.

The Ethernet Alliance is a group that promotes the use of Ethernet in many forms. As part of its mission, it runs these interoperability tests for Ethernet equipment in areas that are newly emerging.

I mentioned Data Center Bridging earlier this year. There is an IEEE Task Group looking at enhancing 802.1 bridging specifications to accommodate traffic that is very sensitive to latency or data loss. The enhancements center around 802.1Q and are expected to be finalized this year or next.

The Ethernet Alliance said this was the first time multiple vendors had tested products based on the draft standards. The interoperability tests were held at the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab and involved Cisco, Dell, Finisar, Fulcrum Microsystems, Intel, NetApp, QLogic and Spirent Communications. They ran traffic using the DCB draft standards over 10GBase-SR and 10GBase-LR optical interfaces.

In the first phase, the vendors tested specific DCB features: Priority-based Flow Control (802.1Qbb), Enhanced Transmission Selection (802.1Qaz), and DCB Capability Exchange Protocol (802.1Qaz). In the second phase, they built a large network using DCB and looked at higher-layer protocols such as Fibre Channel over Ethernet and iSCSI.

The alliance promised that more interoperability tests would come. Later this year, another plugfest will test the interoperability of more DCB features, and the group says it will open it up to wider participation.

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