Data center bridging

Data center bridging (DCB) is a set of enhancements to the Ethernet local area network communication protocol for use in data center environments, in particular for use with clustering and storage area networks.


Ethernet is the primary network protocol in data centers for computer-to-computer communications. However, Ethernet is designed to be a best-effort network that may experience packet loss when the network or devices are busy.

In IP networks, transport reliability under the end-to-end principle is the responsibility of the transport protocols, such as the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). One area of evolution for Ethernet is to add extensions to the existing protocol suite to provide reliability without requiring the complexity of TCP. With the move to 10 Gbit/s and faster transmission rates, there is also a desire for finer granularity in control of bandwidth allocation and to ensure it is used more effectively. These enhancements are particularly important to make Ethernet a more viable transport for storage and server cluster traffic. A primary motivation is the sensitivity of Fibre Channel over Ethernet to frame loss. The higher level goal is to use a single set of Ethernet physical devices or adapters for computers to talk to a Storage Area Network, Local Area network and InfiniBand fabric.[1]


DCB aims, for selected traffic, to eliminate loss due to queue overflow (sometimes called lossless Ethernet) and to be able to allocate bandwidth on links. Essentially, DCB enables, to some extent, the treatment of different priorities as if they were different pipes. To meet these goals new standards are being (or have been) developed that either extend the existing set of Ethernet protocols or emulate the connectivity offered by Ethernet protocols. They are being (or have been) developed respectively by two separate standards bodies:

Enabling DCB broadly on arbitrary networks with irregular topologies and without special routing may cause deadlocks, large buffering delays, unfairness and head of line blocking. It was suggested to use DCB to eliminate TCP slow start using approach of TCP-Bolt.[2]


Different terms have been used to market products based on data center bridging standards:

IEEE task group[]

The following have been adopted as IEEE standards:

Other groups[]

These new protocols required new hardware and software in both the network and the network interface controller. Products were being developed by companies such as Avaya, Brocade, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Emulex, HP, Huawei, IBM, and Qlogic.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Silvano Gai, Data Center Networks and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) (Nuova Systems, 2008)
  2. ^ Stephens, B.; Cox, A. L.; Singla, A.; Carter, J.; Dixon, C.; Felter, W. (2014-04-01). Practical DCB for improved data center networks. IEEE INFOCOM 2014 - IEEE Conference on Computer Communications. pp. 1824–1832. CiteSeerX doi:10.1109/INFOCOM.2014.6848121. ISBN 978-1-4799-3360-0.
  3. ^ "Data Center Ethernet". Trademark serial number 77287410. US Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved July 18, 2013.
  4. ^ Radia Perlman; et al. (July 2011). "Routing Bridges (RBridges): Base Protocol Specification". RFC 6325. IETF. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ "cee-authors". Yahoo Groups archive. January 2008 – January 2009. Retrieved October 6, 2011.