A Fibre Channel switch, also called a Fibre Channel switch or SAN switch, is a high-speed network transmission relay device. It uses optical fiber cables as the transmission medium compared with common switches. The advantages of optical fiber transmission are fast speed and strong anti-interference ability. There are two types of Fibre Channel switches: One is the Fibre Channel switch used to connect storage devices. The other is an Ethernet switch. The ports on the switch are optical fiber interfaces. The appearance of the ports is the same as that of ordinary electrical interfaces, but the types of ports are different.
Fibre Channel switches are classified into the following types:
1. Entry-level switches
The use of entry-level switches is focused on small workgroups with 8 to 16 ports and is suitable for low-cost applications that require little scaling and management. They are often used in place of hubs and can provide higher bandwidth and more reliable connections than hubs. Entry-level switches are not typically purchased separately, but are often purchased together with other levels of switches to form a complete storage solution. An entry-level switch provides a limited level of port cascading capability. Users may encounter some manageability issues if they use such low-end devices alone.
2. Working group Fibre Channel switches
Fibre Channel switches provide the ability to cascade many switches into a large-scale Fabric. By connecting one or more ports on two switches, all ports connected to the switch can see a unique image of the network, and any node in the Fabric can communicate with other nodes.
By cascading switches, it is essentially possible to build a large, virtual, distributed switch that can span very large distances. A Fabric made up of multiple switches looks like a Fabric made up of single switches, and ports on all switches can view and access all other ports on the Fabric as if they were accessing a local switch. A unified name server and administrative service allows viewing and modifying information about the entire Fabric through a single interface.
An important factor in creating a distributed Fabric is obtaining bandwidth for connections between switches. The effective rate between any two ports is affected by the effective bandwidth of the connection between the switches, and it may be necessary to use connections between multiple switches to maintain the necessary bandwidth. Workgroup Fibre Channel switches are numerous and more versatile.
Users can use workgroup switches in a variety of ways, but the area of most use is small SAN. Such switches can be connected together by interconnections between switches to provide a larger number of ports. Interconnections between switches can be created on any port on a Fibre Channel switch. However, if you plan to use products from multiple vendors, make sure your equipment is interoperable.
What are the main types of Fibre Channel switches?
3. Core Fibre Channel switches
Core-level switches (also known as guides) are typically located at the center of a large SAN, connecting several edge switches to form a SAN network with hundreds of ports. A core switch can also be used as a stand-alone switch or an edge switch, but its enhanced functionality and internal architecture make it work better in a core storage environment. Other features of the core switch include support for protocols other than fibre (such as InfiniBand), 2Gbps fibre channel support, and advanced fibre services (such as security, trunk, and frame filtering).
Core-level Fibre Channel switches typically provide many ports, from 64 to 128 to more. It uses very wide internal connections to route data frames with maximum bandwidth. The purpose of using these switches is to establish a larger network coverage and provide greater bandwidth, and they are designed to route frame signals between multiple ports as quickly as possible with the shortest delay.
In addition, core FIBRE Channel switches use hot-swappable circuit boards based on blades. By inserting switch boards into cabinets, you can add new functions, perform online maintenance, and perform online expansion in stages on demand. Many core-level switches do not support quorum rings or other direct-link devices and are only concerned with core switching capabilities.
Since usability is the most important thing in the whole environment, people are willing to pay more for redundancy. A high redundancy switch is redundant in all parts, completely eliminating single points of failure, and guaranteeing a very long uptime. The cost of redundancy is typically spent on high-availability backplanes, power supplies, redundant circuitry, and software to maintain availability. This type of switch has many logic circuits built in to handle hardware failures within the switch.
In addition to redundancy, core fc switches support uninterrupted software upgrades, eliminating the need for system maintenance during upgrades. Alternate paths are a level of redundancy on a network that can be configured with a resilient dual Fabric that is completely free of single points of failure and can avoid the serious consequences of a network caused by software or hardware errors, fires, natural disasters, or operational errors.
Core switches provide the highest reliability and port density. In data centers with a lot of fibre channel infrastructure, such products are almost invulnerable, centralized storage switches. Therefore, for most high availability networks, a two-channel network built with core FIBRE Channel switches should be selected.