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May 4, 1994

INTEL AND SYNOPTICS COME DOWN TO THE WIRE ON THE FIRST FAST ETHERNET 100Mbps PRODUCTS

By CBR Staff Writer

Intel Corp has launched the first products conforming to the Fast Ethernet 100Base-X specification. They have been developed as part of a pact announced at the end of last year, and comprise network interface boards (from Intel) and switching hubs (from SynOptics Communications Corp). The new SynOptics LattisSwitch 2800 family is based on the company’s 2Gbps Fast Frame technology, outlined last August, which the company says combines 10Mbps and 100Mbps Ethernet connections in a single switch. In addition, SynOptics has included a new feature dubbed performance microsegmentation, which it says enables segmentation of large networks: it does this by enabling the hubs to support multiple addresses per port, obviating the need for a router, it says. The hubs come in an 18-port mixed 10Mbps/100Mbps unshielded twisted pair version, or a 10-port fibre version which only supports the higher speed, costing ?16,350 and ?14,440 respectively. The unshielded twisted pair model will ship in July, with the fibre model following in December. SynOptics also announced version 5.0 of its Optivity network management software, supporting 10Mbps/100Mbps operation, which is also said to provide virtual local network management, enabling managers to dynamically configure mixed shared-media and switched networks through an object-oriented user interface. The company has also added new design tools for determining the optimum distribution of switches, end-users and network resources, based on simulations of traffic patterns. Version 5.0 will run on all leading MS-DOS and Unix network management systems, says SynOptics. No prices have been set as yet. The new Intel EtherExpress PRO/100 adaptors, in PCI and EISA versions, have a 32-bit bus master architecture and are said to automatically sense the speed of the hub port to which they are attached. They support two-pair unshielded twisted pair CAT5 Data Grade Wiring for 100Mbps operation, and 10Base-T for 10Mbps, and use a single driver for both speeds. All major network operating systems are supported, while the products are said to be Desktop Management Interface ready for Desktop Management-compliant applications. Both the Peripheral Component Interconnect and EISA models will cost $500, and will ship in the third quarter.

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