Intel Hardware Aims to Speed E-Commerce Processing

LAS VEGAS (05/10/2000) - Intel Corp.'s new XML Web acceleration and traffic-control devices are helping to boost transaction speeds and eliminate error messages sent to users, according to Mark Pipin, manager of Web development at Christianbook.com, a unit of Christian Book Distributors Inc. in Peabody, Massachusetts. Pipin has been testing the new devices that Intel introduced at Networld/Interop this week.

Santa Clara, California-based 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 thereby 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 International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts. "XML technology has mostly been approached from a software perspective, and Intel is using a hardware solution. This takes prioritization (of e-commerce traffic) to the next level."

"This assumes, of course that XML is a standard. It's not like there's a ton 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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