Agilent Debuts 4 Gb/s Loop Switch IC for Fibre Channel Disk Storage

4/2/2004 - Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) introduced a highly integrated 4 Gb/s loop switch IC that will replace older port bypass circuits and use intelligent port management features to reduce system costs and downtime. Implementing Agilent's Fibre Channel arbitrated loop (FC-AL) switch helps storage array manufacturers meet today's most critical storage-area network (SAN) requirements: performance, reliability, availability and serviceability. These requirements are necessary to keep up with today's update-intensive online transaction database applications used in the airline, insurance and financial industries.

The Agilent HDMP-0540 loop switch is designed to connect disk drives in a JBOD (just a bunch of disks) configuration using FC-AL topology. It is part of the industry's broadest solution set for 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel, including fiber-optic transceivers, physical layer ICs, board-level solutions and test equipment. Agilent is also making a 2 Gb/s loop switch available with similar features. These loop switch ICs provide 22 ports of connectivity and can be cascaded to control the FC-AL maximum of 126 disk drives per loop.

"The robust port diagnostic and management features of our loop switch ICs reduce the time needed to resolve storage array problems and lower the cost of storage ownership," said Erik Ottem, marketing director of Agilent's Input/Output Solutions Division. "These new devices fit in the same storage subsystem applications as our new 4 Gb Tachyon DX4+ Fibre Channel controller, providing ease of integration for our storage networking customers with the best of storage performance and management."

The HDMP-0540, from Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group, takes FC-AL connections from the host and connects them through a crossbar switching core to connect multiple storage devices to multiple initiators or hosts. The single-chip device features significantly lower power consumption versus multiple discrete PBCs, thus reducing overall system design, implementation and maintenance costs. The Agilent loop switch also reduces costs by eliminating the need for an external processor to achieve Fibre Channel disk drive connectivity. It provides a generic two-wire interface for configuration and port management, and its port diagnostic features allow storage systems to monitor and debug ports independently. The loop switch complies with FC-AL and FC-AL2 (second-generation) standards and has field upgradeable EEPROM capabilities for system configuration modifications.

The loop switch has 22 full-duplex ports, each configurable to be host, device or cascade capable, and each port includes an integrated serializer/deserializer (SerDes). It supports 1.0625 Gb/s, 2.125 Gb/s and 4.25 Gb/s FC-AL and FC-AL2 operation, is capable of multiple cascading links per switch for complex configurations, and provides automatic load balancing using cascaded ports for maximum system performance. The loop switch incorporates data retiming to ensure jitter compliance for consistent performance, and provides comprehensive quality of service information from each port for fault isolation and high availability and easy serviceability.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
Samples of the 4 Gb/s HDMP-0540 loop switch are planned to be available for selected customers in June 2004. Production volumes will be available by the third quarter of 2004. The 2 Gb/s HDMP-0520 loop switch is expected to be available through Agilent's direct sales channel and worldwide distribution partners in June 2004. Pricing is available upon request.

Agilent 4 Gb Fibre Channel Solutions
Agilent is a leading supplier of 4 Gb Fibre Channel component, board and test solutions. No other vendor offers protocol, physical layer, and fiber-optic components combined with leading-edge signal and protocol testing. More than half of all storage-networked arrays use Agilent components. For more information, visit

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 28,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2003. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

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