Web traffic devices get speed treatment boost: Using XML as a hardware solution puts chip maker ahead, says analyst

Intel's new XML Web acceleration and traffic-control devices are helping to boost transaction speeds and eliminate error messages sent to users, according to an e-commerce company.

Mark Pipin, manager of Web development at Christianbook.com, a unit of Christian Book Distributors, has been testing the new devices from Intel for use in his company's e-commerce efforts.

Intel, usually associated with CPUs and other PC components, said its NetStructure 7210 XML Accelerator would speed transaction processing on e-commerce sites by offloading XML decryption functions often performed by Web servers. This would there-by speed server performance and e-commerce order processing.

The 7280 XML Director, a companion to the accelerator, looks at transaction-specific information carried by the XML tag, such as dollar amount or customer location, and validates that information with an e-commerce server to process an order. Intel said the device distinguishes among different "dialects" of XML, and uses that information to route data to the most appropriate server.

Should the server reject the validation request due to a processing error during high levels of traffic at the site, for example, the Intel device repeats the request to the server instead of sending an error message back to the user's screen.

This, Intel said, is seamless to the user and takes place in about one-fourth of a second.

Intel is "ahead of the curve here", said Richard Villars, an analyst at IDC.

"XML technology has mostly been approached from a software perspective, and Intel is using a hardware solution.

This takes prioritisation [of e-commerce traffic] to the next level.

"This assumes, of course, that XML is a standard. It's not like there's a tonne of XML flying around networks," Villars added.

Intel said the new XML network appliances would begin shipping in July. Pricing for the products was not immediately available.

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