Broadcom HBAs Address Flash Pain Points
Targeted at flash storage array applications, Broadcom’s new Emulex Gen 6 Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters offer up to twice the throughput, in one-fourth the time, at half the latency and with 60% greater IOPS. Flash arrays are transforming datacenters as organizations struggle with growing storage and performance demands, but at the cost of moving the performance bottleneck from the hard drive to the storage network, said the chip company.
“Flash changes everything,” Chris Sorenson, Director of Marketing for the Emulex Components Division, Broadcom, told IT Trends & Analysis. “With spinning disk the network was never the bottleneck. Flash is so fast that it basically makes the network the bottleneck.”
With flash — and Fibre Channel — playing a growing role in the data economy, performance and cost are major concerns. All flash arrays create up to 1000x IOPS than 10-drive HDD array. “This breaks the old Fibre Channel configuration paradigm,” he said.
FC continues to be the number one protocol for enterprise storage, and has a SAN storage and server installed base in excess of $100 billion, and is currently growing at $29 billion per year ($19B server, FC HBA and FC switch; and $10B SAN Storage), said Sorenson. According to Brocade, 96% of the world’s banks, airlines and retailers rely on Fibre Channel.
As solidly entrenched as FC is, flash storage is rapidly displacing disk in the datacenter. Flash arrays are growing at 22% per year, said Sorenson, and it’s easy to understand why, with disks mired at approximately 200 IOPS versus flash’s 100,000 IOPS.
By 2020, all storage used for production applications will be flash-based; traditional disk will primarily be used for bulk and archive storage only, according to enterprise storage’s dominant vendor, EMC. While not quite as bullish, IDC agrees flash is quickly gathering momentum: all-flash array revenue exceeded $2.5 billion for 2015 and will reach $5.5 billion by 2019, which should be 60-70% of all primary storage purchases, said the research company in a recent report.
So FC’s dominant position and the growth of flash create huge opportunities for Broadcom. Almost half of its current business is Gen5 16G, which will grow to 75% by year-end, said Sorenson. “We’re seeing rapid adoption of the 16gig market.”
Last month Broadcom, which was acquired by Singapore-based Avago Technologies last May for $37 billion, was reborn as Broadcom Limited, the new name for the combined entity, which also includes earlier Avago acquisitions LSI and Emulex. It’s still early days for the Gen 6 HBAs, but adoption should accelerate quickly once the storage vendors start adding them to their products, said Sorenson.
“In the very near future we will start seeing storage vendors announcing with both 16 and 32gigs on the array… which further puts pressure on the network.” A little later — say 3-4 years — Gen 7 will make its debut, he added.
The Fiddly Bits
The Emulex LPe32000-series is available in single and dual-port models with 32GFC optics. The Emulex LPe31000-series is 32Gb-ready. It is available in single-port and dual-port models with 16GFC optics. Optics can be upgraded to 32Gb, enabling data centers to scale-up when needed. A quad-port, low-profile Gen 6 16GFC HBA is also being announced. Single and dual-port models are available this month, with the quad-port becoming available next quarter.