A host bus adapter or HBA is a circuit board or an integrated circuit used in a network to connect the host system or servers to a storage or network device. HBA provides input/output processing that helps reduce the amount of work on the host's microprocessor when processing data. This device improves the overall performance of the host thus improving the efficiency and speed of your network in general.
About Host Bus Adapters
Aside from being the component that connects servers with storage devices, what is a host bus adapter? HBAs are usually defined by their speed, port count, system interface, and the interconnect technology it supports.
Although HBA is used to describe a variety of interconnects, it is mostly associated with storage protocols such as Fibre Channel, Small Computer System Interface, Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, and Serial-Attached SCSI.
Types of Host Bus Adapter
Here are different types of host bus adapters:
Fibre Channel or FC Host Bus Adapters
This type of HBA allows connection and data transfer between devices in a Fibre Channel-based SAN (storage area network). An FC HBA connects a host server to a switch or storage device. It can also connect multiple storage systems and even multiple servers when set up as both application hosts and storage systems. It will serve as the connection point for your SAN.
Some of the distinguishing features of FC HBAs include great performance, reliability, security, power capabilities, and more.
This type of host bus adapter was a popular data transfer technology until SAS replaced it. SCSI helps connect and data transfer between a host or a storage device. Several parallel SCSI devices can be connected to a shared bus.
The SCSI setup has a maximum speed of 320 megabytes per second. This speed was considered fast back in the day, but there are much faster setups nowadays. In fact, this speed is considered too slow to cater to the demands of modern apps and computing systems.
The performance of a SCSI HBA system will degrade as more devices are added to the setup, which is why it is considered outdated technology.
SAS and SATA Host Bus Adapter
As mentioned previously, this type of HBA replaced SCSI host bus adapters. SAS and SATA are created to address the limitations of traditional SCSI. They also have higher data transfer rates which makes them faster and more efficient than parallel SCSI.
SAS HBAs can connect to both single and dual-port storage devices as long as they are compatible with the SATA or SAS interface.
Other Types of Network Adapters
Aside from host bus adapters, there are other network adapters that can also connect your host system to storage and/or network devices such as:
Network Interface Card - This adapter uses ethernet to connect host and network devices.
Internet SCSI Adapter - This adapter provides SAN connectivity over through Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and Ethernet network infrastructure.
Converged Network Adapter - This adapter combines the functions of an FC HBA and a TCP/IP Ethernet NIC to support both local and FC SAN traffic.
Host Channel Adapter - This type of adapter allows low-latency data communication between servers and storage over lossless networks. It is used in high-performance computing, data analytics, cloud data centers, large-scale web, etc.
Remote Direct Memory Access over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) NIC - This type of adapter helps data transfer directly between the application memory of different servers to accelerate performance on lossless Ethernet networks without the use of a CPU. It is used for high-volume transactional applications and storage and content delivery networks.