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Fiber Channel Storage Interface for Video-on-Demand Servers

Chen, Shenze; Thapar, Manu

HPL-95-125

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Abstract: The emerging "information super-highway" and accelerating improvements in computer and mass storage technologies will soon make multimedia services, such as video-on-demand (VOD), a reality. Since a media server will be required to move a large amount of data over distribution networks, its I/O subsystem design is critical to its success. The current most popular I/O interface SCSI has many problems in an I/O intensive environment, because of its limited bandwidth, unfair channel arbitration protocol, etc. In this paper, we explore a new technology, Fibre Channel, as a storage interface for video servers. Specifically, we study Fibre Channel loop topology that attaches multiple disk drives to a server host. In order to compare the performance of the new Fibre Channel interface with parallel SCSI, we built a video server simulator that simulates the behavior of both interfaces. The results show that with the same number of disks and the same system configurations, one Fibre Channel loop can achieve 50% higher performance (measured by the number of concurrent streams supported by the server) than four fast/wide SCSI channels. Our results show that Fibre Channel is attractive as a video/media server I/O interface. We also analyze the buffer size requirements and I/O transfer size for various configurations.

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