by StorageReview Enterprise Lab

Emulex LightPulse Gen5 16Gb Fibre Channel HBA Review

The Emulex LightPulse LPe16002B is a Gen 5 fibre channel PCIe 3.0 Host Bus Adapter with an emphasis on high IOPS performance, response time, and wattage efficiency. Gen 5 16GFC fibre channel aims to eliminate throughput bottlenecks in an effort to support businesses with a greater need for steady, fast application performance, while also remaining reliable and simple and manage. With a great balance of speed, cost-effectiveness, scalability, compatibility, and environmentally-friendly standards (and support for Gen 5 16GFC/8GFC/4GFC devices), the LPe16002B is a solid addition to Emulex's line of widely-used HBAs, particularly for enterprise environments that have a need for great amounts of virtualization and large, business-critical applications.

The focus of Gen 5 fibre channel HBAs has been migrating from a cost effectiveness-per-gigabyte model to a more performance minded, IOPS-centric approach. In keeping with this philosophy, the LPe16002B aims to provide the best available IOPS performance-per-watt ratio in an effort to reduce data center power consumption without sacrificing speed and throughput, claiming up to 4x better IOPS performance-per-watt over the previous generation. Simplicity of deployment and maintenance is a major theme for the LPe16002B, with its ability to integrate into already-existing SANs and a common driver package across all Emulex HBAs. Feature upgrades can also be achieved without the need for changes in hardware, as Emulex takes pride in their firmware-based approach. The LPe16002B also boasts advanced integrated error-checking systems, helping to guarantee block data integrity over SAN.

The LPe16002B benefits from Emulex's OneCommand Manager software, which offers an easy, effective solution for managing multiple Emulex-branded HBAs in a single network environment. With OneCommand Manager, the administrator is able to manage multiple adapters across a network from one application; on top of this, OneCommand Manager integrates seamlessly into VMware's vCenter Server management console, adding an additional layer of convenience and access. The LPe16002B also features integrated LDAP and AD services, allowing for further convenience in managing roles.

Massive VM support is the last major selling point of the LPe16002B. Utilizing the vEngine CPU Offload feature, the LPe16002B is able to support a greater number of VMs by reducing the worldload on the host server CPU. With support for 255 virtual functions, 1024 MSI-X, and 8192 logins/open exchanges, Emulex also assert that the LPe16002B boasts a 400% increase against its competitors. Overall, the LPe16002'Bs focus on throughput efficiency, stability, low latency, and VM support serve it well in an environment with hefty virtualization needs.

Emulex LightPulse LPe16002B Specifications

  • XE201 converged fabric controller 
  • Performance
    • 16Gb/8Gb/4Gb FC link speed support
    • 2 FC ports at 16Gb (dual-port model)
    • Data rates: 14.025 Gb/s (1600 Mb/s); 8.5 Gb/s (800 Mb/s); 4.25 Gb/s (400 Mb/s)
    • 8-lane PCIe 3.0 bus (backwards-compatible with PCIe 2.0 and 1.0)
  • OS Support: Windows, Linux, Solaris, VMware ESX/ESXi
  • Boot from SAN
  • Environmental
    • Operating Temperature: 0° to 55° C (32° to 131° F)
    • Storage Temperature: -40° to 70° C (-40° to 158° F)
    • Relative Humidity: 5% to 95% non-condensing; 23° C wet bulb
  • Power Supply: 1.8V, 1.2V, 0.9V
  • Volts: +3.3, +12
  • Dimensions: 167.64mm x 68.91mm (6.6 x 2.71 in)
    • Low profile MD2 form factor card
    • Standard bracket (low profile available)

Design and Product Family

The Emulex LightPulse Gen5 16Gb FC series includes the popular dual-port LPe16002B, single-port LPe16000B, as well as the dual-controller quad-port LPe16004. From a performance perspective, the single and dual-port cards both offer the same 1.2 million IOPS capability through a single port (the maximum supported by the XE201 controller). From a bandwidth perspective though, the dual-port card offers twice the peak throughput (32Gb). The quad-port card offers two XE201 controllers, topping at 2.4 million IOPS through the card total with bandwidth peaking at 64Gb.

From a form-factor standpoint, the single and dual-port cards are HHHL and can mount in full and half-height backplanes. The quad-port card though is FHHL and limited to full-height installations only. As with previous generation FC HBAs, the Emulex LightPulse cards use SFP+ transcievers, which are included with each card.

Conclusion

With a common driver package across Emulex HBAs, the Gen5 Emulex are easy to deploy and have a high performance focus. For highly virtualized environments, Emulex offers vEngine CPU Offload, which allows for increased VM density by reducing the workload for the host system CPU. Emulex is also looking at the complete data center TCO equation, boasting a 4x improvement in IOPS/watt over the previous generation cards. 

The Emulex LightPulse Gen5 16Gb FC HBAs include an extensive hardware and OS compatibility list, making them a great fit for the StorageReview enterprise testing environment. These cards are leveraged in our Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 testing platforms, as well as initiator side in VMware ESXi hosts. From a performance standpoint, these cards eliminate any I/O bottleneck in testing, which is required when evaluating the performance of the newest GC-based storage arrays. The ability to use HBAs that offer up to four ports at once is also a nice benefit for host systems that may include other PCIe cards like high-speed storage. 

Bottom Line

When it comes to chosing a high-performance 16Gb FC HBA, the Emulex LPe16002B offers a great mix of compatibility and performance.

Emulex LightPulse LPe16002 Product Page

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