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Networking

In the past two years, many schools and universities have deployed Fast Ethernet to help relieve the "bottleneck" caused by the growing number of network users and the larger amount of data they transmit. This section looks at some equipment -- hubs, switches, routers and adapters -- that can improve the performance of an existing campus LAN by enabling Fast Ethernet segments.


Compaq recently introduced 14 new networking products, including a "truly intelligent" hub that automatically adjusts itself to the speed of each user's network interface card (NIC). The Netelligent 2724/2824 dual-speed hubs can handle both 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps NICs, allowing schools to migrate to Fast Ethernet at their own pace -- one port or room at a time -- without compromising performance.

The firm also enhanced its line of Netelligent switches, which link hubs together. The Netelligent 5708 dual-speed switch incorporates a crossbar matrix technology to ensure that data arrives at its destination uncorrupted. All Netelligent products ship with version 2.0 of Compaq Netelligent Management Software. This SNMP-based package simplifies the connection, configuration and trouble-shooting of network devices.

"It's complicated enough just to understand and design LANs and WANs, so Compaq is committed to making it easy on our customers to buy them, to install them and to manage them," said Alan Lutz, senior vice president and general manager of Compaq's Communication Products Group.

In addition, Compaq unveiled the "Network in a Box," an all-in-one communication solution for small and medium organizations. The Microcom 808 Integrated Access Device combines the functionality of an eight-port 10Base-T Ethernet hub, an IP router, two Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) interfaces and an ISDN-BRI adapter. This solution enables eight people to gain simultaneous access to the Internet with one ISDN line and a single ISP account.

Netelligent and Microcom products are covered by a three-year limited warranty and backed by Compaq Technical Support Centers worldwide. Compaq Computer Corp., Houston, TX, (800) OK-COMPAQ, www.compaq.com.

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From Intel comes the PRO/100 LAN+ Modem56 PC Card, which integrates a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet adapter and a 56Kbps modem, allowing administrators, teachers or students to access information from remote locations. An installation program configures the notebook, modem and network operating system.

"The powerful combination of a Fast Ethernet adapter and 56K modem in one card provides the high bandwidth needed for both LAN and WAN connections to support today's demanding applications," said Greg Lang, business unit manager in Intel's Network Products Division. The PRO/100 LAN+ Modem56 PC Card sells in packs of one, five or 20 units.

This fall, Intel and Compaq formed an alliance to accelerate networking technologies and standards. The two companies will engage in technology licensing, cooperative engineering and product development, with the results expected to generate more affordable, efficient and interoperable networks.

In related news, Intel recently acquired Dayna Communications, of Salt Lake City, Utah, the maker of NetCenter switches, hubs and routers. These products' ergonomic design permits vertical and horizontal stacking as well as convenient cable management. Intel Corp., Santa Clara, CA, (800) 538-3373, www.intel.com.

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3Com has announced FIRE (Flexible Intelligent Routing Engine), a new switching technology that allows customers to cost-effectively migrate to high-speed, fully-switched networks. FIRE implements the network control element of the firm's TranscendWare framework: software embedded in network devices that controls traffic flow, optimizes network performance, automates administration tasks and enforces network policies.

The first product to leverage the FIRE architecture is the CoreBuilder 3500 Layer 3 switch, which provides non-blocking, wire-speed, multiprotocol routing and switching on all ports. The switch supports Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, FDDI and ATM, as well as routing of IP, IP Multicast, IPX and AppleTalk protocols.

The CoreBuilder 3500 base unit starts at $9,000. A typical configuration consisting of a chassis, 24 ports Fast Ethernet, management module, base switching and IP software with redundant power supplies costs $27,395. 3Com also plans to release the CoreBuilder 9000 Enterprise Switch family, which will scale multiprotocol routing to 56 million packets per second.

"This new architecture capitalizes on 3Com's unmatched experience with Layer 3 switch design, based on our installed base of more than 600,000 Layer 3-enabled switch ports," noted David Tolwinski, vice president and general manager of 3Com's Switching Systems Division. 3Com, Santa Clara, CA, (800) NET-3COM, www.3Com.com.

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Asante Technologies' patented Goldcard Connector lets you stack network devices together via a PCI expansion bus. This credit card-sized part snaps into a slot on top of one device and a second slot on the bottom of another device, eliminating the need for cables and guaranteeing signal clarity as the network expands.

With the Goldcard, the Asante Fast 100 TX Hub and the Asante Fast 100 TX/FX Hub can be stacked up to 15 units high while staying within a single collision domain. The connector also works with Asante's IntraStack, a 10/100 dual-speed Fast Ethernet switch. Up to three IntraStacks can be joined together, including the 14-port base module and a 16-port expansion.

"I'm delighted that Asante is coming out with products that have the Goldcard feature and am surprised that the rest of the industry isn't doing the same," commented Glen Peacock, network manager at Stanford University's Medical Center. "This is exactly where the market should be heading -- to provide truly stackable switches." Asante Technologies, San Jose, CA, (800) 622-9686, www.asante.com.

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Farallon now bundles Timbuktu Express, a fast file transfer application, with its Fast EtherTX-10/100 PCI Plus and Fast EtherTX-10/100 NuBus PCI Card. The software is optimized for Open Transport TCP/IP; when combined with Timbuktu Pro for Windows, it allows any Macintosh to exchange files with Windows PCs, including Windows NT servers.

"We leveraged our nine years of file transfer experience to optimize AppleTalk and IP throughput," said Georganne Venesch, vice president of LAN products at Farallon. "By adding Timbuktu Express to our Ethernet products offering, customers now have everything they need to move data quickly over their network."

Anyone with a registered PC Card (model PN996-TX or PN990-TX) can download Timbuktu Express for free from www.farallon.com; first call (510) 814-5000 for a password. Farallon Communications, Inc., Alameda, CA.

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Telebyte's Model 3784-4 media converter hub allows the mixing of media converters for multimode and singlemode for both standard Ethernet and Fast Ethernet networks. This powered chassis also converts between multimode to singlemode for signals from 10 Mbps to 155 Mbps (ATM).

The modules support distances up to 20 km. LEDs on the front panel indicate the activity level of each of the four slots. Educators should inquire about quantity discounts. Telebyte Technology, Greenlawn, NY, (800) 835-3298, telebyteusa.com.

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This article originally appeared in the 11/01/1997 issue of THE Journal.

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