Momentum is growing behind gigabit technologies at this week's Networld+Interop show, with the industry's giants rolling out their first products.
Following Bay Networks' outlining of its fast networking strategy (see yesterday's story), Cisco and IBM were just two of the giants announcing gigabit routers. But the start-ups were biting at their heels too, notably a tiny company from Washington State, Packet Engines, which beat all-comers on price/performance.
Packet Engines will ship its gigabit routing switch next year, providing a 50Gpbs backplane, upt to 32 1Gbps duplex ports and data rates of 70 million packets per second for $2,500 per port - the price range of low end Gigabit devices from larger vendors. Like most of the upcoming products, it will support wire-speed IP routing, multicast and virtual Lans.
Cisco's much delayed gigabit switch/router will also debut at the show, with volume shipments scheduled for autumn. It is optimised for IP and offers throughput ranging from 5Gbps to 60Gbps. Primary targets will be Internet service providers and corporate Intranets. It replaces the distributed, bus-based routing architecture of Cisco's 7500 high end product with a crossbar switching matrix, which speeds performance and helps reduce network bottlenecks. This is also achieved by giving all the line cards their own processors, and by use of an 'express forwarding' feature, which automatically adapts to network changes without burdening the central processor.
Versions of the switch-router for ATM will follow next year. Cisco sees the main competitor for the new device as Ascend with its GFR switch.
At the Gigabit Ethernet end, IBM announced a partnership with Alteon Networks. The companies have combined their technologies to route traffic across ATM and Gigabit Ethernet using Alteon's Gigabit server adapter, one of the first products to ship in this market, and IBM's MSS ATM route server.
The Alteon product extends the no-hop routing functions of the IBM software outside ATM, so that data can pass from source to destination across ATM and Gigabit Ethernet systems in one movement. This is particularly targeted at users who require ATM's high speed switching but do not have core ATM applications. IBM said it would seek other partnerships to extend the facility to Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Token Ring and FDDI servers.
The Alteon AceNIC will begin volume shipments this month and will work with its Gigabit Ethernet Aceswitch.
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