1 Emulex HBA Product Evaluation Evaluation report prepared under contract with Emulex Corporation Introduction Emulex Corporation commissioned Demartek to evaluate its 8 Gbps Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) and compare them with recent 8 Gbps HBA offerings from Brocade. The evaluation includes the following topics: Customer Availability Model Variety Operating Environment Support Multipathing Support Installation Experience HBA Management HBA Performance Reliability and Support Brocade Switch Feature Support This report includes actual steps taken to install and use the HBAs and the respective management software. This report also includes a basic performance evaluation of the respective HBAs. The HBAs tested in this report are the Brocade 825 and the Emulex LPe12002 and LPe Evaluation Summary As with our previous evaluation, we found that the Emulex LightPulse HBA product family is more feature rich and provides a wider breadth of support for server hardware, operating systems, path management and storage hardware than the Brocade HBA. The current Emulex HBA product family is qualified and supported by all the major server, operating system and storage vendors. The current Brocade HBA products are much more limited with respect to industry support. Overall, the installation process for both the HBA and the management software was easier with the Emulex HBAs. The Emulex management software appears to be geared for efficient deployment and use in large environments, more so than the Brocade software. The Emulex HBA performance was generally better than the Brocade HBA performance, especially for write operations, response time and overall CPU effectiveness. In our opinion, the latest generation of 8 Gbps Emulex HBA products are mature, robust, and well suited for large to small enterprise Fibre Channel deployments.
2 Page 2 of 18 1 Customer Availability A common consideration regarding HBAs is their availability to customers. Customers can obtain HBAs through a variety of sales channels and HBAs are often bundled with SAN storage and servers from either the server vendor or the storage vendor. The Emulex HBAs are widely available through many retail channels and are available through all the major server and storage vendors as part of a bundled SAN solution. The Brocade 815 and 825 HBAs are currently available through retail channels only. Customer Availability Emulex HBAs Brocade HBAs Retail Channels Yes Yes Server Vendors Yes No Storage Vendors Yes No 2 Model Variety Servers that use Fibre Channel HBAs have a variety of bus types. These bus types include PCI, PCI- X 1.0, PCI-X 2.0, PCI-Express 1.0a, PCI-Express 2.0, and older bus types such as cpci and SBus. In addition to the form factor required for tower and rack servers, blade servers often have their own special form factor, requiring a somewhat specialized HBA. Emulex offers many HBAs in a wide variety of bus-types and form factors as shown in the table below. Brocade s HBAs run only on PCI-Express 1.0 or 2.0. The newest 8 Gbps Fibre Channel HBAs from both Emulex and Brocade support 8, 4 and 2 Gbps. These new 8 Gbps HBAs run as x8 on PCI-Express 1.0 or x4 on PCI-Express 2.0 slots. The 8 Gbps HBAs all require a PCI-Express bus. Model Variety Emulex HBAs Brocade HBAs SBus (25 MHz) Yes No cpci (66 MHz) Yes No PCI (66 MHz) Yes No PCI-X 1.0 (133 MHz) Yes No PCI-X 2.0 (266 MHz) Yes No PCI-Express 1.0a (2.5 GT/s) Yes Yes PCI-Express 2.0 (5.0 GT/s) Yes Yes Blade server: Dell Yes No Blade server: Fujitsu Yes No Blade server: HP Yes No Blade server: IBM Yes No Blade server: Sun Yes No 3 Operating Environment Support Fibre Channel HBAs are deployed in a number of operating environments and for many, a solution that is widely certified is required. HBA operating environment support includes the drivers required for that operating environment and the management software application
3 Page 3 of 18 including graphical user interface (GUI) and command-line (CLI) versions. The following tables compare the operating environment support for the two brands of HBAs. Since our last review, Brocade has added support for some platforms that it didn t previously support. Driver Support Emulex HBAs Brocade HBAs HP-UX Yes No Linux RHEL 4 Yes Yes Linux RHEL 5 Yes Yes Linux SLES 9 Yes Yes Linux SLES 10 Yes Yes NetWare Yes No Solaris SPARC Yes Yes Solaris x86 Yes Yes Solaris SFS ( Leadville ) Yes No Windows Server 2003 Yes Yes Windows Server 2008 Yes Yes Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V Yes No Windows XP Pro No Yes - Mgmt. only Windows Vista Yes Yes - Mgmt. only VMware ESX Server 3.0.x Yes No VMware ESX Server 3.5 Yes Yes 4 Multipathing Support Multipathing is deployed in many Fibre Channel storage environments in order to provide more than one path between the server and the storage. This allows for failover in the event of a failure along one path and can provide for load balancing across multiple paths. HBAs are a part of the complete multipathing solution and are typically certified to work with various multipathing solutions from operating system vendors, file system vendors, storage vendors and others. Some multipathing solutions, such as Microsoft MPIO, are certified for various HBAs, including the Brocade and Emulex HBAs, but require additional technology in the storage device to complete the multipathing solution. The Emulex HBAs are certified to work with all the major multipathing solutions in the market today from server, storage and file system vendors. We did not find any major complete server-tostorage multipathing solution that has certified the Brocade HBAs as of this date.
4 Page 4 of 18 5 Installation Experience Emulex and Brocade both use a single installation package that installs the drivers and management software. The Emulex HBA management software is known as HBAnyware. The Brocade HBA management software is known as Host Connectivity Manager (HCM). In the installation test cases performed in our labs, the installation of the Emulex and Brocade HBA drivers and HBA management software was accomplished in under two minutes for each host server and no reboots were required, however the Brocade HBA management software installation required more interaction with the administrator. In our opinion, administrators in a large environment with many servers and HBAs will find that the Emulex approach is simpler and easier. Emulex HBAnyware and Brocade HCM can be installed on hosts without HBAs. This allows the management software to be installed before installing HBAs or allows for remote management of the HBAs from a system that will not have HBAs installed in it. In addition, Emulex allows the HBA drivers to also be pre-loaded. The Emulex technique of preloading of the entire HBA software stack allows system images to be taken in preparation for batch deployment to a large number of servers. This provides a consistent process and scales well to large environments. Emulex Installation Steps Brocade
5 Page 5 of 18 The first test installations were performed on a server running Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x64 Edition. Although Brocade supplies separate x86 and x64 editions of the installation package, the x86 version is installed even if the x64 version is selected. The first time HBAnyware was started, it could view the HBAs on the current host only. A management mode selection has three settings that restrict or expand the management scope. These are: Strictly local - only manages Emulex adapters on this host Local management plus - manages Emulex adapters on this host and allows management of this adapter from remote hosts Full management - manages Emulex adapters on this host and others that allow it, and allows management of this adapter from remote hosts If the full management mode is selected, HBAnyware discovers and manages all the Emulex adapters in the fabric that are visible to the host. The Brocade HCM automatically discovers the Brocade HBAs in the local host. It can be set to discover and manage Brocade HBAs in other hosts, but can only manage adapters in one host at a time. Emulex Initial HBA Discovery Brocade Initial HBA Discovery Emulex HBAnyware provides a Host View and a Fabric View, showing all Emulex HBAs visible in the SAN fabric. The Fabric View shows the host name associated with each HBA. A single click can switch between Host View and Fabric View as shown below.
6 Page 6 of 18 Host View Emulex HBAnyware Fabric View Brocade HCM can be installed on a host that does not have Brocade HBAs installed, and it can manage remote hosts by adding the remote hosts as described previously. Installation Experience Emulex HBA & Software Brocade HBA & Software Combined driver and management software installation Yes Yes Total number of steps to install 4 8 Total number of steps to discover HBAs 1 1x number of Hosts In-band discovery Yes Yes Host view of HBAs Yes No Fabric view of HBAs Yes Yes
7 Page 7 of 18 6 HBA Management Both brands of HBA management software provide online, searchable help within the software. When the Brocade HCM online help is on the screen, the user cannot toggle back and forth between the help screen and the main HCM interface. The user must close the help screen before attempting to work in the main HCM screen. When the Emulex HBAnyware online help is on the screen, the user can toggle back and forth between the help screen and the main HBAnyware screen as needed. When clicking on an HBA on the left side of the menu structure, each product shows several tabs with various capabilities for daily or periodic management of HBA functions and parameters. Each product takes a different approach to many of the day-to-day HBA administrative tasks. Detail HBA Functions and Parameters Emulex HBAnyware Brocade HCM HBAnyware has twenty-three settings that can be changed under the Driver Parameters tab including queue depth, coalesce response count, and many others. HBAnyware provides a handy description of the feature and the range of allowable values, which is a benefit to administrators who might need a reminder for the many parameters that can be adjusted. In addition to the batch mode firmware updates, Emulex also provides a batch mode distribution of HBA parameter settings by distributing a parameter file for the HBAs to any or all of the servers with compatible Emulex HBAs that are visible in the fabric. This file remains on the server and in the event of a change of HBA, the parameter settings remain, so that the HBA automatically uses them and the administrator does not have to individually reset the HBA parameter settings. This is especially useful in large environments where the detailed settings need to be consistent across a large number of servers and HBAs. Brocade s HCM allowed thirteen HBA port parameters to be changed within two groupings: basic and advanced. These parameters can be changed for one HBA port at a time. The explanation of the parameters is available in the online help. HBAnyware allows firmware updates to occur together for all similar HBA models in any or all hosts. The firmware is selected, and then HBAnyware provides a list of those HBAs anywhere in
8 Page 8 of 18 the visible fabric that can use that firmware. The screenshots below show the start and finish of this process, including an event log. This process can be initiated from the local host or remote hosts. Emulex HBA Firmware Update Process No reboots were required for Emulex HBA firmware updates. We found the event log to be quite useful, and would find it to be very valuable in managing large environments. There is no direct firmware update for the Brocade adapters tested. The documentation states that these new Brocade adapters (models 415, 425, 815 and 825) use a hardware-based stack. The firmware is bundled as part of the driver and will automatically be updated once the driver is updated. Both brands of HBAs have a beacon function which is accessible from the management software. Both products provide a good set of diagnostics that can be run on the adapters, as shown below. Both have basic loopback tests and ping tests and log the number of tests and the test results. The Emulex HBAs include a power-on self-test (POST). The Brocade HBAs include protocol tests including FC ping and FC traceroute.
9 Page 9 of 18 Emulex HBAnyware HBA Diagnostics Brocade HCM Server virtualization has created the need for virtual Fibre Channel ports that can be associated with virtual hosts. The concept of N-Port ID Virtualization (NPIV) has been established by the Fibre Channel technical community to address this need. The Brocade and Emulex adapters support NPIV. The Brocade HCM online help indicates that VMware is the only operating system that supports NPIV. However, the Brocade Fibre Channel HBA Administrator s Guide states that NPIV is also supported on Linux and Windows. Emulex supports NPIV for VMware ESX (and ESXi), Microsoft Hyper-V and System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), Solaris 10 and Xen. In VMware ESX Server environments HBAnyware can view the VPorts, but defaults control of creation and deletion of VPorts to VMware s Virtual Center application. Emulex also offers VMPilot, a management application that works with Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to provide an integrated SAN solution for Hyper-V. The Emulex adapter supports LUN masking through the HBA. We could find no equivalent function in the Brocade adapter. The Fibre Channel specifications allow for Class 2 and Class 3 service. The basic difference between them is that Class 2 sends delivery acknowledgement frames ( guaranteed delivery ) and Class 3 does not ( best effort ). The Brocade switch used to test the adapters revealed that the Emulex adapter supports Class 2 and 3, and that the Brocade adapter only supports Class 3.
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11 Page 11 of 18 HBA Management Emulex HBA & Software Brocade HBA & Software Firmware update without server reboot Yes Yes Batch mode selection of all HBAs for firmware update Yes No Batch mode selection of all HBAs for driver parameter update Yes No Description and value range of HBA driver parameters Yes No HBA beaconing Yes Yes Online, HBA POST Yes No HBA driver/firmware diagnostic dump Yes No LUN masking through the HBA Yes No Management Software (GUI) Support Emulex HBAs Brocade HBAs Linux RHEL 4 Yes Yes Linux RHEL 5 Yes Yes Linux SLES 9 Yes Yes Linux SLES 10 Yes Yes Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 Yes No Solaris 8 Yes No Solaris 9 Yes No Solaris 10 Yes Yes Windows 2000 Server Yes Yes Windows 2003 Server Yes Yes Windows 2008 Server Yes Yes Windows Vista (Business, Ultimate, Enterprise) Yes Yes Windows XP Professional No Yes Management Software (CLI) Support Emulex HBAs Brocade HBAs Linux RHEL 4 Yes Yes Linux RHEL 5 Yes Yes Linux SLES 9 Yes Yes Linux SLES 10 Yes Yes Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 Yes No Solaris 8 Yes No Solaris 9 Yes No Solaris 10 Yes Yes Windows 2000 Server Yes No Windows 2003 Server Yes Yes Windows 2008 Server Yes Yes NPIV Support Emulex HBAs Brocade HBAs Linux (Xen) Yes No* Microsoft Hyper-V Yes No* Solaris 10 Yes No VMware ESX Yes Yes * The software and documentation do not agree for this item.
12 Page 12 of 18 7 HBA Performance Vendors make various performance claims, so we ran some basic performance tests with the Brocade and Emulex HBAs. A series of IOmeter tests were run spanning a wide range of block sizes and queue depths for reads and writes. The performance test configuration included one server with a dual-port (both ports active) 8 Gbps HBA connected to a Brocade Gbps Fibre Channel Switch. Also connected to the switch was an IBM DS3400 storage subsystem with four active 4 Gbps FC ports. The storage subsystem was configured with GB SAS 15K RPM disk drives. The tests were constructed so that each 8 Gbps HBA port accessed two 4 Gbps FC ports on the storage subsystem, one LUN on each storage port. The tests were also constructed to access the storage subsystem cache as much as possible and the physical disk drives as little as possible, in order to highlight the HBA performance. Because there are few, if any disk storage subsystems with 8 Gbps ports at the time these tests were conducted, this type of configuration, using 8 Gbps HBA ports and 4 Gbps storage ports, is likely to be a common scenario. In many cases, the read performance for both HBAs was very close. At the smaller block sizes, they were nearly identical. At the mid-range block sizes, the Brocade HBA was slightly faster, depending on queue depth. For the larger block sizes (128K and greater) the Emulex HBA was noticeably faster. For write performance, the Emulex HBA was noticeably faster than the Brocade HBA for all block sizes and queue depths up through 64K block size. Above 64K block size, the HBA write performance of the two brands was nearly identical. The response time of the Emulex HBA was generally less (better) than the Brocade HBA, especially for writes. The read response times were very close, with the Emulex HBA generally having a slightly better response time. The CPU effectiveness, a measure of CPU utilization for the work performed, was generally better for the Emulex HBA. A few selected graphs are shown below.
13 Page 13 of ,000 IOPS, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, Reads, 4K bytes 100,000 80,000 IOPS 60,000 40,000 20, Queue Depth Brocade RndRead IOPS Emulex RndRead IOPS Brocade SeqRead IOPS Emulex SeqRead IOPS 25,000 IOPS, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, Reads, 64K bytes 20,000 IOPS 15,000 10,000 5, Brocade RndRead IOPS Emulex RndRead IOPS Queue Depth Brocade SeqRead IOPS Emulex SeqRead IOPS In many cases, the read performance for both HBAs was very close. At the smaller block sizes, they were nearly identical. At the mid-range block sizes, the Brocade HBA was slightly faster, depending on queue depth. For the larger block sizes (128K and greater) the Emulex HBA was noticeably faster. Two selected block sizes are shown here.
14 Page 14 of 18 IOPS, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, Writes, 4K bytes IOPS 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2, Queue Depth Brocade RndWrite IOPS Emulex RndWrite IOPS Brocade SeqWrite IOPS Emulex SeqWrite IOPS IOPS, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, Writes, 64K bytes IOPS 3,500 3,000 2,500 2,000 1,500 1, Queue Depth Brocade RndWrite IOPS Emulex RndWrite IOPS Brocade SeqWrite IOPS Emulex SeqWrite IOPS For write performance, the Emulex HBA was noticeably faster than the Brocade HBA for all block sizes and queue depths up through 64K block size. Above 64K block size, the HBA write performance of the two brands was nearly identical. Two selected block sizes are shown here.
15 Page 15 of 18 Milleseconds Response Time, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, 4K bytes Brocade RndRead Resp Time Emulex RndRead Resp Time Brocade RndWrite Resp Time Emulex RndWrite Resp Time Queue Depth Brocade SeqRead Resp Time Emulex SeqRead Resp Time Brocade SeqWrite Resp Time Emulex SeqWrite Resp Time Milleseconds Response Time, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, 64K bytes Queue Depth Brocade RndRead Resp Time Emulex RndRead Resp Time Brocade RndWrite Resp Time Emulex RndWrite Resp Time Brocade SeqRead Resp Time Emulex SeqRead Resp Time Brocade SeqWrite Resp Time Emulex SeqWrite Resp Time The response time of the Emulex HBA was generally less (better) than the Brocade HBA, especially for writes. The read response times were very close, with the Emulex HBA generally having a slightly better response time. Response time is a measure of the time it takes to get a response from an I/O request. Two selected block sizes are shown here.
16 Page 16 of 18 7,000 CPU Effectiveness, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, 4K bytes Queue depth=8 CPU Effectiveness 6,000 5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 Brocade RndRead Emulex RndRead Brocade SeqRead Emulex SeqRead Brocade RndWrite Emulex RndWrite Brocade SeqWrite Emulex SeqWrite CPU Effectiveness 4,000 3,500 3,000 2,500 2,000 1,500 1, CPU Effectiveness, 8 Gbps, dual port HBA, 64K bytes Queue depth=8 Brocade RndRead Emulex RndRead Brocade SeqRead Emulex SeqRead Brocade RndWrite Emulex RndWrite Brocade SeqWrite Emulex SeqWrite The CPU effectiveness, a measure of CPU utilization for the work performed, was generally better for the Emulex HBA. Two selected block sizes are shown here.
17 Page 17 of 18 8 Reliability and Support Emulex has a proven HBA customer support center with a great deal of expertise and history. Brocade is fairly new in providing HBA customer support, as their traditional market has been for other types of products. Both Emulex and Brocade manufacture their own HBAs and offer a three-year warranty. Previous models of the Brocade HBA were manufactured by an OEM manufacturer. In its January 24, 2008 quarterly financial report, Emulex claimed an installed base of more than five million host server ports from its HBA product family. Emulex currently claims more than ten million hours of field mean time between failures (MTBF) for its HBA family, based on field reliability data. Emulex HBAs have been qualified, sold and supported by every major server and storage vendor. On June 26, 2008, Brocade announced that its new HBAs were available through its channel partners. We could find no public Brocade statements regarding qualification or support of its current HBAs by any major server or storage vendor. Also, we found no public Brocade claims of deployed port count or MTBF for its current HBAs. 9 Brocade Switch Feature Support The Emulex HBAs and the new Brocade HBAs claim to support the Brocade Fabric Device Management Interface (FDMI). The Emulex and Brocade HBAs tested here support the host-to-fabric FC-SP authentication. The online help for the Brocade HBA indicates a port-trunking feature where two HBA ports can be trunked together to form a single logical port. However, neither the online help nor any of the Brocade manuals describe how to create such a port. This feature works with, and requires, a compatible Brocade switch in the fabric.
18 Page 18 of 18 Appendix A Evaluation Environment The installation tests were conducted at the Demartek facilities, using four Dell PowerEdge 2900 servers. Two were running Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise x86 Edition and two were running Windows Server 2008 Enterprise x64 Edition. Each server has dual-processor, quad-core Intel Xeon E5345 processors. The servers running Windows Server 2003 had 8GB RAM. The servers running Windows Server 2008 had 32GB RAM. A total of four 8 Gbps HBAs from each company were tested, one in each of the four servers. Each HBA was installed into the PCI-Express 1.0 x8 slot of the server. The servers and storage used were connected to a Brocade port, 8 Gbps Fibre Channel switch. The Emulex HBAs were two each of models LPe12002 (dual-port) and LPe12000 (single-port). Emulex HBAnyware version 4.0a32 was used for these tests. The Brocade HBAs were four of the model 825 (dual-port). Brocade HCM version was used for these tests. Emulex, HBAnyware, LightPulse and AutoPilot Installer are registered trademarks of Emulex Corporation. Brocade, SilkWorm, and the Brocade B-Wing logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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