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FC-ALFibre Channel-Arbitrated Loop
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Within the FC-AL protocol, a fair arbitration mechanism is used allowing devices to gain control of the shared bandwidth.
The modular scalability of FC-AL is key to long-term growth and manageability.
The JBODs and controllers are connected to an external FC-AL hub or are daisy-chained using a three-port hub built into each JBOD and controller.
This approach challenges the common misconception that the FC-AL protocol is limited for use only in a shared bandwidth "loop" topology or that Fabric protocol is required for a switched topology.
This controller supports SCSI-FCP, FC-IP, and FC-VI in point-to-point, FC-AL, and switched fabric topologies.
Consequently, each retimer in a system should be counted as one of the 126 devices in the clock skew budget, which potentially reduces the number of FC-AL devices available in a loop.
The product is SAN-ready and fabric-aware, leveraging cable-less dual FC-AL for transfer rates up to 200MB/sec (on the dual loop), but nStor's special value add, aside from the miniscule footprint per GB, is the hot-swappable loop resiliency circuit cards that handle FC retiming and clock recovery on both transmit and receive signals [ldots] all this while serving as an active hub for cabinet daisy-chaining.
Fibre Channel storage is not well suited for most business applications, since FC-AL arrays usually require the host to perform RAID 5.