IBM joins communications chip race

IBM yesterday announced the launch of a package of initiatives and products aimed at securing the technology giant a leading role as a supplier to the burgeoning communications industry.

At the heart of IBM's three-pronged bid is a new family of programmable communications processors, targeted squarely at core networking devices such as routers, switches and hubs. The highlight of the new product family is the Network Processor, a high-speed multi-protocol processing engine for gigabit switch routers and other network hardware, and the highly-integrated Processor for Network Resources that provides client connection to servers and desktop switches, IBM said.

To ensure further advances in network communications technology, IBM is also establishing the Communications Research and Development Centre, which will include scientists and engineers from IBM's research and development centers in Switzerland, Israel and the US, the company said in a statement.

In addition, IBM also committed to encouraging the development of new applications for communications processors by working with third party companies to establish software standards.

The move follows a similar announcement by chip giant Intel yesterday, and comes only two days after IBM announced a surprise multi-billion dollar service and support agreement with networking vendor Cisco Systems.

In a related announcement, IBM and C-Port Corp. also announced a strategic partnership under which the two companies, among other joint efforts, aim to jointly define standard APIs (application programming interfaces) for making it faster and easier to add new functions to networking systems through software.

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