A Fibre Channel HBA enables connectivity and data transfer between devices in an FC SAN. An FC HBA can connect a host server to a switch or storage device, connect multiple storage systems, or connect multiple servers when servers are used as both application hosts and storage systems. SAN management software recognizes the HBA as the connection point.
- Manufacturers of FC HBAs generally update their products in line with increases in the data rates of FC network technology. Fibre Channel products first became available in 1997.
- FC HBAs have progressed at rates of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), 2 Gbps, 4 Gbps, 8 Gbps and 16 Gbps (also known as Generation 5 or Gen 5).
- The FC roadmap extends to 32 Gbps (Gen 6) and 128 Gbps, which uses parallel FC to stripe four lanes of 32 Gbps FC and create a single link of 128 Gbps. The initial use case for 128 Gbps FC is expected to be inter-switch link connectivity.
- FC HBA manufacturers generally enhance products with additional features as they update to newer generations of FC technology.
- Improvements over the years have included data integrity to prevent on-the-wire corruption in database environments, and expanded support for virtualization to increase the density of virtual servers.