Fibre Channel

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Fibre Channel, or FC, is a gigabit-speed network technology primarily used for storage networking. Fibre Channel is standardized in the T11 Technical Committee of the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)–accredited standards committee. It was used primarily in the supercomputer field, but has become the standard connection type for storage area networks (SAN) in enterprise storage. Despite its name, Fibre Channel signaling can run on both twisted pair copper wire and fiber-optic cables.

Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) is a transport protocol (similar to TCP used in IP networks) which predominantly transports SCSI commands over Fibre Channel networks.



Fibre Channel started in 1988, with ANSI standard approval in 1994, as a way to simplify the HIPPI system then in use for similar roles. HIPPI used a massive 50-pair cable with bulky connectors, and had limited cable lengths. When Fibre Channel started to compete for the mass storage market its primary competitor was IBM's proprietary Serial Storage Architecture (SSA) interface. Eventually the market chose Fibre Channel over SSA, rather than give IBM control over the next generation of mid- to high-end storage technology. Fibre Channel was primarily concerned with simplifying the connections and increasing distances, as opposed to increasing speeds. Later, designers added the goals of connecting SCSI disk storage, providing higher speeds and far greater numbers of connected devices.

It also added support for any number of "upper layer" protocols, including SCSI, ATM, and IP, with SCSI being the predominant usage.

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