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Nathaniel CooperJul 31, 2019 1:21:06 PM1 min read

Fibre Channel vs. 10GbE Fiber


We live in a cruel and confusing world. One of the biggest confusions in our universe is the difference between Fibre Channel and 10G Fiber.

I would love to go back and find the person who decided to name the Fibre Channel Protocol and tell them "No, no! That's confusing!"

Why is this so confusing? 

Well part of it is the name. The Fibre Channel Protocol used a physical cable type for the name. That would be like calling Ethernet....Copper Ethernet, even though Fiber Ethernet can exist.

To make it even more confusing, back around 2003-2004 there were some companies that were trying to create Fibre Channel over Ethernet, in essence using Ethernet cables to apply the Fibre Channel Protocol. You can think of that as if someone tried to create USB over Ethernet...why would you do that?!

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What's the difference between Fibre Channel and 10G Fiber?

One thing to keep in mind, Fiber is a physical connection. It can be used for 10G Ethernet, 8G or 16G Fibre Channel.

Now the components, the switches and the storage are different. You can't plug a 10G Ethernet NIC into Fibre Channel Storage, it wont connect. Its like thunderbolt and mini display port. Same connection but very different uses.

Let' stick with the theme of making things more confusing. 10G Ethernet can be over standard copper RJ45 , the network cable you see all the time, or 10G Ethernet can be over LC connected fiber connections. How does this apply to you?

Alot of video teams have Fibre Channel from back in the day with XSAN and other older systems. Those fiber cables can still be used in modern environments. You can stick with a SAN, not many people are using them anymore, its not very common. However, most people are going 10G Ethernet, some over copper and other over fiber connections.

So what can you use? You can use the same cables however you will need to switch out the HBA or PCIe card in your workstation or the Thunderbolt to Fibre Channel adapter if you are on a newer Mac. In the 10G world, we call that a Network Interface Card (NIC). You also need to make sure that the switches and storage are different.


Nathaniel Cooper

As Chief Operating Officer of ProMAX Systems, Nathaniel Cooper, runs ProMAX Systems day to day operations. Cooper has been working with Storage, Backup and Media Management for video and creative professionals since 2001. Cooper has lead the design and deployment of some of the largest media systems in the world including a range of customers from NFL, MLB & NBA teams, US Military operations, and many of the worlds largest PR agencies and consumer brands. Cooper has spent the last 9 years as part of the ProMAX team and specializes in translating complex technical issues and options into easily understandable concepts.