3Com pushes Gigabit Ethernet over copper

Seeking to bolster its lineup of end-to-end Gigabit Ethernet over copper solutions, 3Com rolled out two new members of its SuperStack 3 Switch 4900 family on Monday.

The new Super Stack 3 Switch 4924 doubles the port density from 12 copper Gigabit ports, available in 3Com's earlier products, to 24; it also boosts the capability of each port from 100/1000 to 10/100/1000BaseT auto-sensing. Like existing products in the 4900 family, the 4924 provides non-blocking, wire-speed switching.

Meanwhile, the new Super Stack 3 Switch 4950 was designed to satisfy customers who wanted to use both existing fiber and Category 5 cabling for local Gigabit connections to their servers, according to the company.

"Customers had existing fiber running in their buildings for aggregating edge switches, but the new servers were coming with 10/100/1000BaseT Gigabit network interface cards," explained Nick Hallwood, director of 3Com's enterprise business.

Accordingly, the 4950 aims to improve port density and media flexibility by offering 12 10/100/1000 ports, six 1000Base-SX ports, and six GBIC (Gigabit interface convertor) slots to support copper and fiber.

3Com also announced a firmware upgrade for the 4900 switch family that delivers Layer 3 routing capabilities, which will be available in both new switches and as a free download for existing 3Com switch owners.

Moreover, 3Com announced the availability of new dual-port Gigabit modules that will increase the port density of the modular 4005 switch from 12 to 24 ports; a 1000BaseT GBIC for the high-end core aggregation 4007 switch; and three new network interface cards (NICs) -- two for servers and one for desktops.

The server NICs support either 1000Base-SX or 10/100/1000BaseT and come with advanced server features, such as load balancing, resilient links, and multiple VLAN support. According to Hallwood, the 10/100/1000BaseT desktop NIC is designed for users who need Gigabit capabilities at their desktop workstations, such as biotechnical research firms and hospitals, where large amounts of data (such as X-rays) must be transported from place to place within the facility.

3Com's play is designed to appeal to companies trying to get the most value out of their networks, according to Hallwood.

"If you go back 12 months, CIOs were signing off on anything that had an 'e' in it, without thinking about the return on investment," Hallwood said. "[Now,] people think more about what their network infrastructure is delivering. And they're increasingly concentrating on the applications they're running and how they can support them more effectively. For example, the ability to get Gigabit connections from your server to the core of your network at high speeds is important - not because you need consistently high speed, but because you need high burst throughput."

Hallwood added that, in the future, 3Com will work on its switches' bandwidth control, security (including intrusion detection and filtering), and wireless features.

The 4924 will be available in October at US$9,995, and the 4950, to be released in November, will cost $13,995. The 4005 dual-port module will be priced at $1,995; the 4007 GBIC will cost $395; and the NICs are priced at $169 for the server model and $149 for the desktop model.

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