Fibre Channel Trunking (Aggregation): Better Performance, Higher Bandwidth (>1 Tb/s)

We are all knowing LACP on ethernet network but FC and SAN network providing multipathing I/O by using logical and physical paths as single device on operating system and also using path selecting policies for using I/O paths optimized. But if server using 16Gb/s FC HBA, so there is no bandwidth aggregation. Server can generate bandwidth for each port up to maximum speed of port and also path selecting has performance impact of server when large paths are presented to server. Months before, I was thinking about FC port aggregation and did many searches, but I didn’t find anything until now.

FC Port Aggregation (PA) Possibility

It refers to the practice of combining multiple individual FC links into a single logical link to increase overall bandwidth and provide higher performance and resiliency in storage area networks (SANs).

FC is a high-speed networking technology primarily used for connecting storage devices such as disk arrays, tape libraries, and servers in a SAN environment. Each individual FC link operates at a specific speed, such as 2Gbps, 4Gbps, 8Gbps, 16Gbps, or 32Gbps or more, depending on the generation of the technology.

First question and biggest one, is that possible? Answer is yes but seems need to specific hardware.

Also, there are some specific configuration or design consideration on Storage Area Network.

Which Hardware Supporting FC Port Aggregation (Trunking)?

At this time, there is some hardware to implement PA on FC ports:

  • Emulex Gen 7 FC HBA
  • Brocade Gen 6 switches

Here are some notable vendors and their respective switch platforms known for supporting that:

  1. Cisco: Cisco MDS (Multilayer Director Switch) series switches, such as the Cisco MDS 9700 series, provide support for FC port aggregation. These switches offer high-performance and scalable solutions for storage networking.
  2. Brocade (now part of Broadcom): Brocade offers a range of FC switches that support PA. The Brocade Gen 6 (16 Gbps) and Gen 7 (32 Gbps) switches, including models like the Brocade G620 and Brocade X6-4, can be configured for PA.
  3. HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise): HPE offers FC switches that support PA. The HPE B-series SAN switches, such as the HPE StoreFabric SN8500B or HPE StoreFabric SN6650B, can be configured to aggregate FC ports.
  4. Dell EMC: Dell EMC provides FC switches capable of PA. The Dell EMC Connectrix DS-300B, DS-6505, and DS-6610 are examples of switches that can support FC port aggregation.
  5. Hitachi Vantara: Hitachi Vantara offers FC switches that support port aggregation. The Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) G series switches, such as the VSP G400, VSP G600, and VSP G800, are known to support FC port aggregation.
  6. Huawei: Huawei provides FC switches that support PA. The Huawei OceanStor Dorado series switches, including models like the Dorado 6500 and Dorado 6900, can be configured for PA.
FC Port Aggregation

Fibre Channel Port Aggregation Benefits

Benefits are as follows:

  • Balances traffic at a frame level.
  • Aggregates bandwidth.
  • Reduces response time.
  • Enhances performance.
  • Maintains in-order delivery.
  • Minimizes disruptions and eliminates outages when links are added or removed.
  • Eliminates fabric events due to addition or loss of links.
  • Complimentary to multipath software and requires no software changes to the failover system.
  • Enables flexible assignment and grouping of trunks to fit bandwidth needs.
  • Supports Slow Drain Device Quarantine (SDDQ), encryption, and compression in sensitive Inter-Switch Links.

Further Reading

How To Disable HBA Port on Linux(Opens in a new browser tab)

WWN Address in EMC Unity: Best Way to Find

[Script]: Find ESXi HBA WWN via PowerCLI(Opens in a new browser tab)

Fibre Channel Trunking Emulex® Gen 7 HBAs and Brocade® Gen 6 Switches (broadcom.com)

Emulex Gen 7 Fibre Channel HBAs Product Brief (broadcom.com)

Brocade Fabric OS Administration Guide, 9.0.x (broadcom.com)