Cisco has announced the biggest storage area network (SAN) director ever, its MDS 9513 with up to 528 ports. The company has also added 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel capability across its MDS range and announced 10Gbit/s technology as well.

The MDS 9513 offers full bandwidth redundancy, to help ensure system throughput in the event of a crossbar failure. It also has support for non-disruptive software upgrades, modular software with stateful process restart, cross-module inter-switch links (ISLs) scaling to 16 ports each, and full redundancy of all critical hardware components.

Currently the biggest directors from Brocade and McData top out at 256 ports. The 9513 first came into view back in January where it was correctly spec'd out as a 528-port, 4Gbit/s product.

Cisco has also released new 12-, 24- and 48-port line cards that can be used in its existing MDS director and switch products, increasing their port counts. The MDS 9509 and MDS 9506 directors now scale up to 336 and 192 1/2/4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports, respectively. Previously the 9509 supported up to 224 ports. The new cards auto-sense Fibre Channel bandwidth at 1, 2 or 4Gbit/s level.

The 4-port, 10Gbit/s line card is destined to link switches and/or directors together. There can be up to 44 10Gbit/s ports per 9513. Peter Haas, a director of high-performance network and data management at the University of Stuttgart, said: "During our tests of the Cisco MDS 9513 director, we ... found the 10-Gbps capability to be very helpful for interconnecting our multiple campus SANs."

McData has already announced a 10Gbit/s ISL. Brocade does not support 10Gbit/s technology.

Existing Cisco MDS customers can upgrade to the 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel capability.

There is a new version of SAN-OS, v3.0, for Cisco's MDS range. This adds better port bandwidth management and improved FICON functionality for linking to mainframes.

Customers can build bigger SANs with the 9513, with more than twice as many ports supported as before.

Cisco expects its various partners, such as EMC, Hitachi Data Systems, HP, IBM, Network Appliance, and Xiotech, to certify the 9513. Products should be available in May. Pricing was not announced.