Intel gives a boost to copper

In an effort to help enterprises better leverage their installed base of Category 5 copper wiring, Intel on Monday bolstered its NetStructure networking line with the addition of four Gigabit Ethernet switches capable of supporting Gigabit-speed transmissions over copper wires.

The switches use Intel's Gigabit-over-Copper technology, which offers the performance of Gigabit products running on fiber-optic networks while allowing companies to tap into their existing copper-based infrastructure, Intel said.

"Most of the world (has) Category 5 copper installed in their premises. To get the full benefit of Gigabit Ethernet you used to have to change that whole physical infrastructure -- literally you had to go pull the cable," said analyst Sam Alunni, research director at Sterling Research, in Sterling, Massachusetts. "These (switches) allow people to deploy Gigabit Ethernet technology where Category 5 is already installed. For all those who have Category 5 copper installed and (who) don't want to go to the incredible expense of having to pull fiber, this is an option (for putting) Gigabit Ethernet into the infrastructure."

For Layer 2 processing, Intel introduced two entry-level switches in its NetStructure line. The NetStructure 470T Switch has six 100/1000Base-T copper ports and two GBIC ports, and the 470F features eight 1000Base-SX ports. Both switches include quality-of-service capabilities and data-center and workgroup traffic-control features, according to Intel.

For Layer 3 routing in large data centres, the new 480T Routing Switch features 12 100/1000Base-T copper ports and four GBIC ports. The 480T's QOS features include 802.1p prioritization and bandwidth-shaping capabilities, according to the company.

Intel also ramped up its Express 460T Standalone Switches with an uplink module that allows the switches to link to servers or backbones using Gigabit-over-copper technology. This feature also helps ease the migration to Gigabit Ethernet, Intel said.

Available in May, the NetStructure 470T and 470F are priced at $US3,995 and $7,495, respectively. The 480T Routing Switch is available in June, priced starting at $10,995. The Gigabit-over-Copper Module for the Express 460T is available this month, priced at $699.

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