What Is Fibre Channel?

Fibre Channel is a set of related physical layer networking standards. Fibre Channel technology handles high-performance disk storage for applications on many corporate networks and supports data backups, clustering and replication.

Fibre Channel vs Fiber Optic Cables

Like Ethernet, its main competitor, Fibre Channel can utilize copper wiring. However, copper limits Fibre Channel to a maximum recommended reach of 30 meters, whereas with more expensive fiber optic cables, it reaches up to 10 kilometers.

The technology was specifically named Fibre Channel rather than Fiber Channel to distinguish it as supporting both fiber and copper cabling.

Fibre Channel Speed and Performance 

The original version of Fibre Channel operated at a maximum data rate of 1 Gbps. Newer versions of the standard increased this rate up to 16 Gbps, with 8 and 10 Gbps versions also in use.

Fibre Channel networks have a historical reputation for being expensive to build, difficult to manage, and inflexible to upgrade due to incompatibilities between vendor products.

Pronunciation: fi'-ber chan-nel

Also Known As: Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop, FC-AL

Alternate Spellings: Fiber Channel

Examples: Many storage area network (SAN) solutions use Fibre Channel technology. Gigabit Ethernet has emerged, however, as a lower cost alternative for storage networks. Gigabit Ethernet can better take advantage of Internet standards for network management like SNMP.