Allied Telesyn puts gigabit copper in a small box

Allied Telesyn International Corp. next week will join the ranks of companies pushing stackable copper and fiber Gigabit Ethernet boxes, when it announces two switches in its Rapier product line.

The Rapier G6 is targeted at users who want to add Gigabit Ethernet connections between a wiring closet and network backbone, or to a server farm, using Category-5 copper cabling instead of more costly fiber optics.

For users that require fiber connections - for connecting nodes farther than 330 feet - an all-fiber version of the switch (Rapier 6f) will also be available.

The Rapier G comes with six 1000Base-T ports and two 1000Base-X uplink ports for connecting to a backbone switch or for stacking with other G6s. The Rapier G6f comes with six 1000Base-SX (single-mode fiber) or LX (multimode fiber) and two 1000Base-X uplinks.

Companies such as 3Com Corp., Alcatel SA and Asanté Technologies Inc. have all recently released nonmodular copper- and fiber-based gigabit boxes similar to the Allied Telesyn's new product.

The Rapier G6 falls into two product markets for which analyst have high expectations: Layer 3 switching and Gigabit Ethernet. According to IDC, 1000M bps port shipments will quadruple over the next four years, from an estimated 13.1 million worldwide port shipments this year to 55.2 million ports in 2004. Over the same time span, Layer 3 shipments are expected to triple, jumping from 19.7 million ports to 65.4 million.

These numbers represent major shifts in network deployment, according to the research firm, as more users continue to deploy Fast Ethernet for desktop connections and Gigabit Ethernet for backbone and server connections. The advent of copper-based Gigabit Ethernet, which became widely available only six months ago, should also spur Gigabit Ethernet deployments.

The Rapier G6 will be available later this quarter and will cost US$5,500. The Rapier G6f is available now for $7,500.

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