The centerpiece of the LightPulse PCI Fibre Channel Adapter is a set of three highly integrated custom chips. These chips provide a simple interface to high-level command block fibre channel protocols. By using a built-in protocol engine and an integrated 32-bit RISC protocol accelerator, these chips let the adapter support fibre channel data rates of 266 Megabits per second (Mbps), 531Mbps, and 1.062 Gigabits per second.

The LightPulse PCI Fibre Channel Adapter supports all fibre channel topologies: point-to-point, arbitrated loop, and switched fabric. The external connection for the adapter can be either optical fiber or copper cables; you can easily change from one to the other. The adapter also supports network and storage protocols. You can concurrently run up to four independent data paths and protocols on this adapter.

Overall, the LightPulse PCI Fibre Channel Adapter's design and operation was impressive. This clean-looking board was simple to deploy. I simply installed it into a PCI card slot, connected it to the fibre channel drive array, booted the system, and installed the drivers. More important, this easy-to-use adapter worked well during all my tests and reviews.

But the LightPulse PCI Fibre Channel Adapter has a downside. It doesn't provide any RAID capabilities. You can, however, use the adapter with Window NT's built-in software RAID feature. If you need fibre channel abilities, the price is worth paying, especially if you use the adapter with the Raidtec FibreArray disk subsystem.