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March 7, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:09pm

PLAINTREE BETS THE COMPANY ON GIGABIT ETHERNET

By CBR Staff Writer

Newton, Massachusetts headquartered Plaintree Systems Inc has completed development of new products to be added to its WaveSwitch family of products, believing it will be one of the first companies to deliver enterprise level Gigabit Ethernet to market. The company took a big gamble two years ago when it decided to focus all its attention on the development of its Gigabit Ethernet switch, predicting that Asynchronous Transfer Mode would fall by the wayside when it came to network computing. It ploughed 25% of its revenues into research and development, and based its strategy around hoping that the world would follow, a strategy senior vice president for marketing and sales Alan Greenfield admitted was extremely risky. Given the lack of profit being seen over the past couple of years, Plaintree faced the prospect of finding itself dead in the water if the new technology wasn’t accepted when it dictated. With hopes firmly pinned on the WaveSwitch 9200 which will bring switching functionality to the desktop, the company is ready to return to the limelight. Plaintree estimates that around 90% of desk top computers are connected to Ethernet technology and says that the new product will remove the problems associated with Asynchronous Transfer Mode installation, reducing costs and administration demands, while increasing speed and performance. Dubbed ATM Killer, WaveSwitch 9200 will be officially launched in May at the InterOp show in Las Vegas, with the first consumer shipments expected in June.

Five times the bandwidth

WaveSwitch 9200 is said to have five times the bandwidth capability of existing Gigabit Ethernet products being able to handle 16Gb of switching throughput per second, compared to existing speeds of around two or three per second. It employs a two-stage non-blocking switching fabric which is contained on up to four separate modules known as Common Matrix Modules. The 9200 is available at three levels, with prices starting at $200 for 10 Megabits per second throughput per port, $700 for 100 Mbps and around $4,000 for Gigabit per second throughput per port. Greenfield says that the 9200 has derived as a result of the need for increasing power capabilities with applications and client- server computing becoming more complex. He added that a few years ago ATM was seen as the answer to rising power problems in network computing, but it has proved expensive and disruptive to install. As a result of it, however, Greenfield believes that the majority of corporate organizations have the hubs that are required for Gigabit Ethernet installation already installed, reducing time and costs still further. Plaintree is a member of the Gigabit Ethernet Alliance which was established in a bid to gain industry recognition and standardization of the technology, which is expected early next year. Plaintree believes it has had a two year head start on development of products such as the 9200, and is hopeful that it will play a part in setting a standard for the future. The company was originally set up in 1988 by a group of former Bell Canada employees with the sole intention of researching switching technology which lead to the first of the WaveSwitch products, WaveSwitch 100 being commercialized in Europe in 1994, turning a $3m revenue into $23m. The company now employs 165 people at offices in Canada, the US and Europe.

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