Intel Enters Copper Gigabit Switch Fray

FRAMINGHAM (04/18/2000) - Looking to provide users with a less expensive way to build high-speed networks, Intel Corp. this week will make its first foray into the copper Gigabit Ethernet switch market.

Copper gigabit devices are growing in popularity because they can be up to 50 percent less expensive than traditional fiber-based devices, as Intel's new NetStructure switches are. The company's new 470F fiber switch will cost about $7,495, and its copper-based 470T twin will sell for $3,995. That price differential may become a key motivator for users buying switches for e-commerce sites or network-intensive applications, observers say.

New competition

Intel's three new Layers 2 and 3 copper-based switches will compete effectively against offerings from Cisco, 3Com, Cabletron and Hewlett-Packard in terms of their capabilities, according to Greg Collins, an analyst with Dell'Oro Group, a market research firm in Portola Valley, California. Collins says the backbone switches will round out Intel's existing NetStructure switch offerings, which already include higher-level traffic management and caching devices.

Intel's new hardware includes:

The NetStructure 470T and 470F switches, which are aimed at workgroup users.

The copper-based 470T supports six 100/1000Base-T copper ports and two gigabit uplink ports; the fiber-based 470F has eight gigabit ports. Both switches have quality-of-service (QoS) features and are expected to ship May 23.

The NetStructure 480T routing switch, which is targeted at data centers. The 480T is a Layer 3 switch with 12 100/1000Base-T copper ports and four gigabit uplink ports. QoS features include 802.1p prioritization and bandwidth control.

Users can opt for a software upgrade that adds support for Layer 3 features such as multicast routing to optimize video streaming on networks. The 480T can be purchased with one or two power supplies and costs $10,995 and $12,295, respectively. The switch is due to ship in June. The Layer 3 upgrade costs $5,995 and will be available in June.

The Express 460T standalone switch, which is a backbone device aimed at giving existing Fast Ethernet users a migration path to gigabit speeds. The new 460T module has autosensing support for 100Base-TX or 1000Base-T networks.

The new module supports all features of the Express 460T stand-alone switch, including 802.1Q virtual LANs, link aggregation and 802.1p prioritization. The 460T module is priced at $699 and will be available April 24.


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