Just 24 hours after Intel announced its entry into the networking processor market, IBM has launched similar plans.
The company today unveiled a series of initiatives and products as part of its drive to become a major technology supplier to the communications industry.
The move also ties in with a $2 billion deal Big Blue announced earlier this week with Cisco, which includes IBM exiting the manufacturer of network router and switch products and its agreement to sell the intellectual property rights to some of its Ethernet products to Cisco. (see Newswire 1 September)
The company said that from now on it is repositioning itself to deliver the basic components to the communications industry and associated services offerings.
Included in today's announcement is a range of programmable communications processors for networking products- such as routers hubs and switches - so they can be enhanced through software rather than costly, time consuming hardware upgrades.
In addition, IBM launched a Communications Research and Development Centre, brining together IBM's worldwide research, chip development and network system design skills to focus on new technologies for components used in communications products.
It also plans to encourage the development of new applications for its processors by working with third party companies to establish software standards.
Included in the new chip family is the IBM Network Processor, a high speed multi protocol processing engine for Gigabit switch routers and other network hardware, and the IBM Processor for Network Resources, a highly integrated processor that provides end user connection to servers and desktop switches.
Christine King, vice president of wired communications for IBM Microelectronics commented: "By offering a more standardised set of chips with the flexibility to alter their function through software, we're making it possible for network providers to upgrade their equipment faster and easier."
IBM said its development of network communications chips will be supported by its advanced manufacturing process technologies, including copper interconnect and silicon germanium, as well as its chip packaging technologies.
Products that use the new chips are expected to start shipping by the end of this year or the beginning of Year 2000 and according to IBM potential customers could include Nortel, Alcatel and Ericison.
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