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February 22, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire-based Madge Networks Ltd has announced new software that it says enables users to achieve the fastest available throughput on any Token Ring adaptor board for packet processing on servers, routers, bridges and analyser applications. The Fastmac Plus software (the next generation of Madge’s Fastmac package) runs within the Texas Instruments Inc Eagle and Super Eagle Token Ring chip sets, and is claimed to achieve three to four times the performance of Texas’s TurboMac software: indeed, the company says that the peak small frame throughput of the product is over 30,000 frames per second when running on a Madge Smart network adaptor board; the company claims that this compares with 12,500 frames per second with the older Fastmac software, and 3,500 frames per second for a board running TurboMac.

Revised interface

Another advantage that the company is claiming is the revised interface between the Token Ring chip set and the host personal computer system implemented by the new software: this is claimed to lower the delay in transferring each frame, as well as the the CPU overhead. This is seen as particularly advantageous for heavily-loaded networks, resulting in a typical throughput increase of up to 90% for small packets (measured using Novell Inc’s Perform3 test) according to the company. Individual users, it says, will enjoy a 10% to 15% increase in file transfer speed under typical network conditions when using a server driver based on Fastmac Plus. The company’s existing Fastmac-based drivers for Novell NetWare servers and Novell routers, together with drivers conforming to Microsoft Corp’s Network Device Interface Specification will be updated to incorporate the new release. The company says that the new drivers will be fully compatible with the existing installed base of Madge’s Token Ring adaptors, the Smart 16/4 Ringnodes, and are to be distributed free of charge as a software upgrade to Madge users via its Bulletin Board service. The first Fastmac driver, an Novell ODI driver for NetWare servers and routers is available immediately for beta testing with the Smart 16/4 EISA Ringnode, while ODI drivers based on the technology are to ship in the second quarter included free with every adaptor board. NDIS drivers based on Fastmac Plus for IBM LAN Server and Microsoft LAN Manager networks have expected availability of the third quarter of the year. The existing Fastmac software has been licensed by vendors including Cabletron Systems Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, Fibermux Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, SynOptics Communications Inc, Wandel & Golterman GmbH, and Wellfleet Communications Corp. Madge says that these licensees have been actively co-operating in the definition of Fastmac Plus, and that it will continue to support all its licensees currently shipping Fastmac. Madge has also cut prices on all adaptor boards and bridge products, and new 30-packs for its Smart 16/4 Ringnodes. Single pack Smart 16/4 AT Ringnodes come down to UKP600 from 655, while the price of the Straight Blue 16/4 AT Adaptor is reduced by UKP40 to UKP415. The Smart Ringbridge (the company’s combined source routing bridge and IPX router) also drops in price, to UKP3,500 from UKP4,500, while the Smart 16/4AT and Micro Channel adaptor-based bridges are down to UKP2,000 from UKP2,600. The new 30-pack comes in three models in the Smart 16/4 Ringnode family, AT, Micro Channel and PC bus. List prices are equivalent to UKP510 per board for the AT and Micro Channel versions, and UKP410 per board for the Personal Computer Ringnode.

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