3Com has announced a new switching architecture and a range of products based on the technology, in a challenge to Cisco's dominance of the switch market.
The Flexible Intelligent Routing Engine (FIRE) is a fully programmable layer 3 switching ASIC technology. 3Com claims that kit based on FIRE, including the CoreBuilder 3500 Layer 3 switch the company debuted last week, can provide 10 times the performance at one-tenth of the cost of a traditional backbone router.
The CoreBuilder 3500 supports Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet FDDI and ATM. Pricing for the product start at #5,521 and shipments will begin in November. Through FIRE, it incorporates the network control element of 3Com's TranscendWare software framework.
In addition, 3Com revealed plans for the CoreBuilder 9000 Enterprise Switch family. This is designed to permit users to scale their networks to ATM and Gigabit Ethernet speeds by integrating FIRE, and enable users to scale multiprotocol routing to 56 million packets per second. It is expected to ship in the middle of next year.
"FIRE provides expansion capabilities that enable customers to meet their business requirements into the next millennium without compromising existing network investments," claimed Joe Frost, product marketing manager at 3Com's enterprise systems unit.
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