By Dave Mitchell
Data centres, HPC and big cloud builders – they all have a voracious appetite for network bandwidth which will soon make the move to 100-Gigabit (100GbE) a necessity. Dell’s Z9100-ON is the first 1U multi-rate 100GbE switch to market and it aims to tempt big businesses with a low price per 100GbE port.
The Z9100-ON uses Broadcom’s Tomahawk ASIC and crams 32 100GbE QSFP28 ports into its 1U chassis. These can be used at their maximum speed for switch-to-switch or server links and Dell also offers a big choice of break-out cables.
The cables allow the switch to support up to 64 50GbE, 128 25GbE or 128 10GbE links. Dell also has a range of QSFP+ transceivers for converting ports to 40GbE speeds.
The ‘ON’ in the model name indicates the switch is a member of Dell’s Open Networking switch family. As with the S6000-ON (web ID:25369), it supports the ONIE (Open Network Install Environment) so, along with Dell’s DNOS, it can run a range of qualified Linux-based OSes.
The Z9100-ON targets core data centre and top-of-rack (ToR) applications and has a backplane capacity of 6.4Tbits/sec. The price we’ve shown includes the DNOS software with all L2/L3 features enabled.
Along with the 32 100GbE ports, it also has a couple of 10GbE SFP+ ports to one side. Dell has thoughtfully provided these to allow you to connect legacy servers or switches without wasting a 100GbE port.
Along with 32 100GbE ports, the Z9100-ON also has a pair of 10GbE ports for legacy equipment
Hardware redundancy is good as the Z9100-ON has dual hot-plug PSUs and five hot-plug fan modules. All are offered with forward or reverse flows allowing the switch to support data centres with hot-aisle or cold-aisle cooling.
The switch’s power supplies and fan modules support hot-aisle or cold-aisle data centres
DNOS 9 features
Dell’s DNOS software provides all traditional switching and routing capabilities and there are no hidden costs. It includes advanced routing features such BGP routing and OSPF as standard and not as expensive optional extras.
The switch supports up to 128 link aggregation groups (LAGs) each comprising up to eight ports. This is great for fast switch-to-switch links and we tested this by easily connecting two Z9100-ON switches together over six aggregated 100GbE links.
The Z9100-ON support’s Dell’s VLTs (virtual link trunks) allowing two switches to be placed in a high availability domain. The new mVLT (multi-VLT) feature now allows LAGs to be used to create multiple redundant connections between logical VLT domains.
VLTs and mVLTs are the building blocks of Dell’s Active Fabric which employs a spine and leaf architecture. It allows businesses to move away from expensive chassis based switches and expand capacity simply by adding new switches as spine or leaf nodes.
QLogic supplied its new FastLinQ QL45212 dual-port 25GbE HBAs which we fitted in two PowerEdge R730 rack servers. Using Windows Server 2012 R2 Teaming, we created 50GbE LACP links for each one and connected them to dedicated Z9100-ON switches joined over a 600Gbps LAG.
From the DNOS CLI, we created a high-speed 600Gbps switch-to-switch LAG
For storage, the first server was equipped with a 1.2TB Fusion-IO MLC SSD and three Samsung SSDs in a RAID0 stripe. On the second server, we had three Samsung SSDs also in a stripe which contained our test folder with three large files totaling 230GB.
To generate a high throughput, we used a Windows script to simultaneously copy the test folder to the other server’s ioDrive and Samsung SSD array. Using the Windows Task Manager, we watched network throughput peak at 36.5Gbps with DNOS reporting switch-to-switch LAG utilisation of only 6 percent.
We ran a further test using the iPerf utility loaded on both servers and running bidirectional network throughput tests. Using four parallel client streams on each iPerf instance, we recorded a stonking cumulative network throughput of over 44Gbps.
Using Windows Teaming, we created 50GbE server links and watched iPerf generate a massive 44Gbps throughput
The Z9100-ON is available now along with the full range of break-out cables and optics. We expect most early adopters will keep 100GbE within the data centre as long-reach QSFP28 transceivers are expensive.
The SR4 850nm optical transceiver has a 100-metre reach and costs a shade over £2,000. The LR4-Lite 1310nm optic supports up to 2kms and costs £10,706 while the full LR4 optic increases the reach to 10kms but drains your wallet to the tune of £14,609.
Switch management features during our tests were limited to the CLI, but support for Dell's Active Fabric Manager (AFM) and OpenManage Network Manager (OMNM) utilities will be implemented soon. AFM provisions switches in a network fabric, while OMNM uses SNMP to provide views of the physical status of switches.
QLogic has also announced immediate availability of its FastLinQ QL45000 series of server adapters. Along with the QL45212 HBAs we used for testing, QLogic offers the single-port QL45211 25GbE and QL45611 100GbE HBAs.
QLogic offers a choice of 25GbE and 100GbE server adapters
The discussions are over as 100GbE is right here, right now. As the industry’s first multi-rate 100GbE 1U switch, Dell’s Z9100-ON sets a high standard for the competition to follow.
Support for a wide range of port speeds allows early adopters to move to 25GbE now and upgrade to 40GbE, 50GbE or 100GbE when the price is right. Dell has delivered on its early promises to reduce the price per 100GbE switch port and support for ONIE allows you to pick and choose the OS you want.
QLogic's 2690 Series Enhanced Gen 5 Fibre Channel Adapters, the 16gig HBAs, have have had new single and dual-port options added.
“Fibre Channel is an inherently secure and reliable data network,” said Vikram Karvat, vice president of products, marketing and planning, QLogic. “The new QLogic Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters build on this foundation, delivering unsurpassed value by enabling enterprise applications to meet peak demand, minimizing downtime, and further simplifying Storage Area Network (SAN) administration. Additionally, as we look forward, the industry is defining Gen 7 Fibre Channel, providing continued investment protection to enterprise data centers for many years to come.”
The new QLogic 2700 Series Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters accelerate enterprise applications, deliver a highly resilient infrastructure and optimize IT staff productivity.
Accelerating Enterprise Applications
The new QLogic Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters deliver up to an 80 percent increase in I/O operations per second (IOPS) for typical database block sizes, reducing query times for large databases, and enabling more rapid business decision making when compared to Gen 5 (16Gb) Fibre Channel.
Delivering up to 2.6 million IOPS and 24,000MB per second of throughput, the new QLogic Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters are ideally suited for environments utilizing next-generation flash-based storage. With a fully offloaded protocol stack, these adapters operate with the lowest CPU utilization of any block storage technology in the industry.
Delivering a Highly Resilient Infrastructure
QLogic StorFusion technology provides forward error correction (FEC), which automatically corrects transmission errors and improves network resiliency.
Unique port isolation technology allows linear performance scaling across ports and increased reliability under adverse conditions.
Gen 6 Fibre Channel performance reduces backup windows allowing organizations to more effectively meet recovery time objectives.
Optimizing IT Staff Productivity
The new QLogic 2700 Series Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters deliver a suite of accelerated deployment and diagnostic features for improved SAN manageability, and end-to-end quality of service (QoS) for enhanced performance and improved service-level agreements (SLAs).
Leveraging software-defined, fabric-assigned port worldwide name (FA-WWN) and boot from SAN configurations, QLogic StorFusion technology can improve server deployment and replacement by up to 75 percent.
Full backward compatibility with two previous generations of Fibre Channel from a software, tools and infrastructure perspective reduces the complexity of deploying, administering and managing the SAN, while supporting an incremental upgrade strategy.
The new QLogic 2700 Series Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters are available immediately, in single, dual and quad-port options. Additionally, the QLogic 2690 Series Enhanced Gen 5 Fibre Channel Adapters, which were announced in October of 2015, have been augmented with new single and dual-port options.
By Jerome M. Wendt
All-flash arrays, cloud computing, cloud storage, and converged and hyper-converged infrastructures may grab many of today’s headlines. But the decades old Fibre Channel protocol is still a foundational technology present in many data centers with it holding steady in the U.S. and even gaining increased traction in countries such as China. In this first installment, QLogic’s Vice President of Products, Marketing and Planning, Vikram Karvat, provides some background as to why fibre channel (FC) remains relevant and how all-flash arrays are one of the forces driving the need for 32Gb FC.
Jerome: Vik, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to share a bit about 32Gb fibre channel. Before we begin, for the benefit of DCIG’s readers, can you share a bit about QLogic and what has been going on over there for the past few years?
Vikram: Thanks, Jerome. Many of your readers are probably familiar with QLogic from the fibre channel side as it has continued to be a preeminent player in that space. However, QLogic has had a few changes in the last few years.
Mostly notably, QLogic acquired Brocade’s Fibre Channel HBA assets about two years ago. As a result of concluding that transaction in early 2014, QLogic was able to move that relationship to a new level in terms of technical cooperation, alignment on road maps and technologies, etc.
The other significant change was that QLogic acquired Broadcom’s Ethernet controller assets. QLogic already had its own portfolio of Ethernet controllers with which it had been relatively successful on the host side, and very, very successful on the storage side; but the Broadcom assets brought a different level of scale to our overall Ethernet portfolio and immediately put QLogic in a very, very strong number two position in Ethernet.
The net net is that today QLogic has the number one position in Fibre Channel and the number two position in the 10Gb Ethernet on the host/server side of the business. This is important because it allows QLogic to look at certain types of technology that would benefit from end-to-end integration. It also has some interesting benefits as QLogic moves forward.
Jerome: Tell me about 32Gb Fibre Channel. What is happening on that front?
Vikram: The next instantiation of the Fibre Channel roadmap is Gen 6 (32Gb) Fibre Channel (FC) which QLogic is releasing today. A lot of people ask me, "Why do you need Gen 6 FC? Do we need more performance?"
There is always some of that. You do need more performance to support today’s latest technologies, such as multi-core processors and multichannel memory on servers, but then you also have the move towards non-volatile storage in servers, as well as in the storage arrays. Further, databases just keep getting bigger and bigger and the response time requirements for accessing these content repositories keeps getting shorter. Gen 6 FC performance advantages play directly into all of these demands from both a bandwidth and an IOPS perspective.
But there's more than just performance advantages with the shift to Gen 6 FC. IT organizations are under tremendous OPEX pressure. They need to maintain service-level agreements (SLAs) but with fewer people so they have to find ways to work more efficiently. Further, they are under pressure to increase scalability and deliver faster provisioning of new storage on demand.
This is where some of the features and functions that QLogic offers with its new Gen 6 FC adapters deliver as much value and, in some cases, maybe even more value than the performance benefits of Gen 6 FC.
Jerome: Isn't QLogic introducing new technology and innovating in a market that is in decline?
Vikram: There has been a general sense in the industry that Fibre Channel is on a steep decline. I would propose to you today that that may not be entirely true. It’s certainly not the growing market that it was a decade ago, but it’s not ending any time soon.
The data points here just serve to underscore that. On the external block-based storage side, a lot of Fibre Channel connectivity has actually gone up in terms of a mix of total ports. Some of that is driven by the still significant need for Fibre Channel in traditional arrays.
Some of this demand is also being driven by all-flash arrays. Almost 80 percent of these are connected via Fibre Channel. Then, if you look at Fibre Channel just in raw terms of how many Fibre Channel ports there are per unit of storage capacity, it’s actually higher on all-flash arrays than it is on traditional storage arrays, just because of the performance levels associated with flash.
The result is that we've actually seen a slight uptick over the last three years in overall mix of Fibre Channel connectivity on external storage controllers. The actual number of port shipments has been holding steady for the last couple of years. We expect the same to hold true for 2016, with just slightly north of two million ports of server side HBA connectivity. Again, this might take some people by surprise because there’s been the general sense that the market has been in decline, but the numbers actually show that from a standard HBA perspective, it’s pretty stable.
In Part II of this interview series, Vikram shares his thoughts about industry initiatives to directly map the NVMe drive over Fibre Channel fabric.
By Adam Armstrong
Today QLogic Inc. is announcing that it is currently shipping its new Gen 6, 32Gb Fibre Channel Adapters, the QLogic 2700 series. According to QLogic its new series of adapters will enable greater virtualization density and improved database performance, combined with increased operational efficiency. QLogic is also announcing that its QLogic 2690 Series Enhanced Gen 5 Fibre Channel Adapters have been augmented with new single and dual-port options.
The doom and gloom types like to say that Fibre Channel is going the way of the dodo. While its true that Fibre Channel isn't making any leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the field, it is holding fairly stable and even growing in emerging markets such as China. QLogic has been testing its Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters with OEMs since October of 2014 and found that these new adaptors accelerate enterprise applications, deliver a highly resilient infrastructure and optimize IT staff productivity.
Benefits and features include:
The QLogic 2700 Series Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters are available today in single, dual, and quad port options.
By Frank Berry
ALISO VIEJO, Calif. – March 1, 2016 – Today, QLogic began production shipments of the industry’s first Gen 6 (32Gb) Fibre Channel Adapters. The new QLogic 2700 Series Adapters enable greater virtualization density and improved database performance, combined with increased operational efficiency. QLogic Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters, which OEMs have been testing since October 2014, not only deliver enhanced performance, but also provide unsurpassed reliability and resiliency.
"Fibre Channel is an inherently secure and reliable data network,” said Vikram Karvat, vice president of products, marketing and planning, QLogic. “The new QLogic Gen 6 Fibre Channel Adapters build on this foundation, delivering unsurpassed value by enabling enterprise applications to meet peak demand, minimizing downtime, and further simplifying Storage Area Network (SAN) administration. Additionally, as we look forward, the industry is defining Gen 7 Fibre Channel, providing continued investment protection to enterprise data centers for many years to come.”