SAN and NAS Adapter Card Types

SAN and NAS Adapter Cards

SAN and NAS Adapter Cards

In this SAN and NAS Storage training tutorial short post, I’ll summarise the different types of adapters we use in our hosts and storage systems for SAN and NAS storage traffic.

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Network Interface Card

A NIC is a Network Interface Card. It’s a traditional Ethernet network card and can be used for NAS protocols and iSCSI.

TCP Offload Engine

A TOE card is a TCP Offload Engine card. It’s an enhanced Ethernet NIC which is used to offload the storage TCP/IP processing from a server’s CPU. It can improve performance for NAS protocols and iSCSI.

Dual-port Ethernet Card with RJ-45 ports

Dual-port Ethernet NIC with RJ-45 ports

Host Bus Adapter

An HBA is a Host Bus Adapter, it’s the Fibre Channel equivalent of an Ethernet NIC. The ports have a WWPN rather than an Ethernet MAC address as used on the other adapter types.

Dual-port Fibre Channel HBA

Dual-port Fibre Channel HBA

iSCSI HBA

An iSCSI HBA is an Ethernet TOE card optimized for iSCSI.

Converged Network Adapter

A CNA is a Converged Network Adapter. It’s a 10Gb Ethernet card which supports FCoE. The physical port is virtualized into a virtual NIC with a MAC address for normal data traffic, and a virtual HBA with a WWPN for the storage traffic. It’s an Ethernet card so we can also run NAS protocols and iSCSI over a CNA.

Dual-port CNA with RJ-45 ports

Dual-port CNA with RJ-45 ports

Universal Target Adapter

A UTA is a Universal Target Adapter which is a NetApp proprietary card. The first generation UTA cards were 10Gb Ethernet cards with FCoE support, so they were NetApp’s name for a CNA. The second generation UTA ports can run as either 10Gb Ethernet CNA, or as native Fibre Channel, depending on the physical transceiver you insert in the port.

Additional Resources on Wikipedia

Network Interface Cards

TCP Offload Engine

Host Bus Adapter

Converged Network Adapter

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