Fiber Channel was the server industry standard method for high speed, high reliability connections between servers and storage devices. It was replaced with SAS, and devices can now be found at bargain basement prices.
Fiber Channel Hard Drives can pump almost 1GiB per second, and are dirt cheap on eBay ($14 for 300GB). This makes it cheap and easy to create a extremely fast RAID setup.
However, connecting a Fiber Channel device to a desktop computer can be a challenge, but it's not impossible and it probably shouldn't be too costly.
Cheap Fiber Channel PCI Cards
While the best Fiber Channel PCI cards can go for $200, unless you've got a server rack, it's not what you need. Just grab a $20 entry level card and you'll be fine.
- $20 - Agilent QLogic QFBR 5913L - An entry level Fiber Channel PCI card with one port. Good enough for the casual user. Check eBay for it.
Fiber Channel Cables
Fiber channel cables are dirt cheap. The best way to get some is to check your local electronics recycling area; if they get a lot of server racks, there will be fiber in the bins.
Otherwise, you can get a short one for $10 here.
Fiber Channel Hard Drives
Despite their extremely high performance (1GB per second), Fiber Channel Hard drives from servers are dirt cheap on eBay, simply because there is very low demand and oversupply. 300GB costs only $14.
One major downside is that while desktop drives use only 7 watts, Fiber Channel Drives can use 15-20 watts apiece. Thus, while these hard drives are great for high performance server applications, it's not for everyone.
We recommend using it as a very fast RAID backup system (4-8 drives) that stays turned off until you need it. That way, it isn't sucking up power until it has to be used.
The best way to use Fiber Channel Hard Disks is as a RAID setup with multiple disk drives. Since they are used, they may be a bit more prone to failure (and no warranty), but you can pool the risk by using tons of different types all at once.
The first step is to check if your Fiber Channel card actually works and detects the drive.
Fiber Channel Topologies
Direct connect requires the connection to be crossed over to match tx to tx and rx to rx on both ends. But no need to modify your cables: the card will do this automatically.
Alternatively, you can put the drive on a switch, or daisy chain.
- The Link is offline!
- Make sure your FC cable is connected correctly and that your cables are actually good. Like an ethernet cable, if the connection is offline when it is plugged in, the cable itself is bad.
- The tape drive is not responding to any commands! (returns no output)
- Make sure that there is a tape inside the drive before you run any commands. Apparently on Fibre Channel connections it doesn't like to work without a tape.