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Fibre Channel vs Ethernet Switch: What Are the Differences?


Ethernet switches allow a large variety of devices to communicate with one another using Ethernet packets. Ethernet network can accommodate devices such as PCs, tablets and IoT devices. While FC switches are used only for connecting servers to storage arrays, not for general-purpose network communications, nor do FC devices require an IP address.


Fibre Channel switches operate lossless without dropping a single frame, and all the data frames are transmitted in order.This is because FC switches will stop sending frames lest they are dropped when congesting to other devices. Ethernet switches may be at the risk of dropping frames, which starts when congested and only relies on upper layers, TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) for example, to make sure everything keeps working.

Transmission Speed

The maximum data rate of Fibre Channel switch has evolved up to 256GFC, with 8GFC, 16GFC, 32GFC, 64GFC, and 128GFC versions available, according to the Fibre Channel Speedmap illustrated by Fibre Channel Industry Association. Ethernet switch transmission speeds range from Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet to 100/400GbE.

A majority of Fibre Channel networks these days are 8Gbps or 16Gbps, while most Ethernet configurations are typically 1Gbps/10Gbps for home networks and 25G/40Gbps/100Gbps for data center networks. Generally speaking, 8GFC networks run close to the effective rate of 10GbE, so the difference is nearly negligible. And 16GFC is pretty much faster than 10GbE or performance is sometimes at least a tie. In a word, the practical transmission speed of each will be decided by the specific working environment.



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