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IEEE to back extended Ethernet?

Alteon's effort to extend Ethernet to heavy-duty data tasks will be submitted to the standards body as soon as this fall.

ATLANTA--An effort to extend Ethernet to heavy-duty data tasks that's being spearheaded by gigabit-speed start-up Alteon Networks will be submitted to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as soon as this fall.

The move stems from a new thrust that will allow all devices that support Ethernet--the dominant means to connect PCs and server systems together on a network--to implement so-called Jumbo Frames, a technology that extends the size of frames that can be sent across a network. The new additions eliminate the need to have devices and systems specifically designed for Jumbo Frames-compatibility, according to the company.

The reason for the larger frame size? Because more data can fit into one frame--9,000 bytes compared to current 1,500-byte sizes--machines can benefit from higher throughput during data crunching and lower use of a central processor.

Alteon got a boost in July when Microsoft and Compaq Computer announced for Jumbo Frames technology. Here in Atlanta, Alteon and Microsoft are demonstrating near gigabit-speed performance when using the Jumbo Frames technology along with the Windows NT Workstation and Server operating system and Alteon's PC adapters and switches.

Silicon Graphics, IBM, and networking equipment provider XLNT have also joined the list of supporters.

An Alteon spokesman said the company hopes to offer the Jumbo Frames technology for consideration as a standard at the November meeting of the IEEE, though that effort could extend to the company's meeting in the first quarter of next year.

A driver that will allow machines running Linux has also been developed by Alteon in conjunction with the CERN, the largest practical physics research center in the world. The new driver is available immediately for use with Alteon's ACEnic PCI-based gigabit-speed server adapters.