Intel debuts Gigabit for Fibre, copper

Intel announced a family of Gigabit Ethernet products at PC Expo this week aimed at giving enterprise users a migration path to accommodate high-bandwidth applications on their networks and servers.

The two PRO/1000 PCI adapter cards and 82543GC LAN controller support Gigabit Ethernet copper (1000 Base-T) and fibre-optic (1000 Base-SX) networks. Observers say the copper-based adapter cards, which function as 10/ 100/1000M bit/sec connectors, will help as companies that have Category 5 legacy wiring transition to high-bandwidth Internet-based applications, such as those used for e-commerce. The fibre adapter lets users run Gigabit Ethernet over fibre.

The firm is touting the ability of the 82543GC LAN controller to handle standard, Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet network connections on a chip, giving net professionals a way to support older and newer networks without changing controllers as they upgrade or segment their networks.

William Hurley, program manager at Boston consultancy The Yankee Group Inc., says the move to provide Gigabit Ethernet connections parallels with a similar push several years ago to provide Fast Ethernet to the desktop. Gigabit Ethernet gives network managers the ability to provide broadband access to end users who need higher-bandwidth, Hurley says.

IT executives who think Gigabit Ethernet to the desktop is too futuristic should look at the proliferation of Fast Ethernet to realise how quickly bandwidth requirements can be raised, says Tim Dunn, a business unit manager for Intel.

According to Infonetics Research of San Jose, 62% of desktop connections are already Fast Ethernet and will rise to 86% by 2002, Dunn says.

Intel's 82543GC Gigabit Ethernet controller includes integrated support for 10/100/ 1000M bit/sec (or 1G bit) network connections. The device also boosts network performance by off-loading network functions, such as calculations verifying the integrity of a data packet and transmission confirmations from a server host processor. Intel says this design can improve the throughput of a network connection and increase the speed of transactions over a network.

The two new Gigabit Ethernet server adapters include the PRO/1000 F Server Adapter and the PRO/1000 T Server Adapter. The PRO/1000 F can accommodate Gigabit Ethernet over fiber-optic cables, while the PRO/1000 T works with Category 5 copper wiring.

Intel says its fibre-optic adapter is well-suited for nets that have long cable requirements or noisy environments. The PRO/1000 T Server Adapter can also automatically sense the current network speed, and will integrate with existing 10M bit/sec Ethernet or 100M bit/ sec Fast Ethernet switches.

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