Intel president and chief operating officer Craig Barrett has aimed at the home market in a bid to position his company as a serious competitor to 3Com, Bay Networks, Cabletron Systems and Cisco Systems.
At an Intel symposium in San Francisco, he also introduced the company?s neutral stance on the network computer (NC) versus PC debate and its ideas about cutting bottlenecks out of networks.
Despite fierce price cuts and Intel?s customary marketing expertise, the company remains behind the big four in product development, resellers and customers, according to analysts. Intel?s main way of exploiting its networking business is through its knowledge of silicon manufacturing, its financial power and its clout with the OEM hardware partners which rely on its chips to build systems.
The company also promoted newer ideas - making networking kit simpler and also selling networks to consumers who have more than one PC at home. That tiny market is set to expand and Dataquest estimates it covers just 15 million US households at present but will grow rapidly.
Barrett presented Intel?s stand on the NC versus PC debate - balanced computing, where the emphasis is not placed on the network, server or client but balanced between the them and its network, all managed by the same tool.
?As chip speeds and bus speeds increase, what do we do about networking capability?? he asked. ?There are bottlenecks and we need to improve that situation.? The balanced computing idea did not impress observers and one analyst said Intel is ?simply sitting on the fence in the [terminal versus NC versus PC] debate?.
Intel revealed that it will launch four initiatives to persuade network resellers to carry its products in 1998: an education programme called K12; an online learning centre for support; a facility which builds networks to custom designs submitted by Vars; and a reseller certification programme.
The chip giant said it plans to bridge the gap between high speed bus connectivity within computers and relatively low speed connectivity between computers over Lans and Wans. But Intel fellow Justin Rattner admitted the idea, called a system area network or SAN, relies on the long-term development of new network interface cards and operating system vendors to support it.
Intel announced but did not launch its line of layer 3 gigabit Ethernet switches, alongside small hubs, 550T and 550F routing switches and an Express 8100 router.
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