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Intel eyes corporate networks

The chip giant announces an alliance with Fore Systems to bring high-speed ATM to Intel's Ethernet-based switching devices.

Chip giant Intel is making a play for corporate networks.

The company announced an alliance with ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) specialist Fore Systems that will bring the high-speed technology to Intel's Ethernet-based switching devices. The deal brings low-end switches to Fore's product portfolio.

Intel primarily has focused on low-end networking equipment until now, trying to gain market share over competitors such as 3Com and Bay Networks.

Under terms of the deal, Fore will provide ATM technology so that Intel's Ethernet-based devices can tie into back-end ATM equipment in campus and enterprise network settings.

"It's part of a step-by-step process" to grow Intel's networking business, according to Frank Gill, executive vice president for the company's small business and networking group. "We're very complementary."

Intel, which has made a bet on next-generation Gigabit Ethernet technology, said the new ATM capability will not compete with the latest advancements in Ethernet. Mark Christensen, vice president of the company's small business and networking group, said gigabit-speed Ethernet largely will be used to connect large server system farms while ATM will provide a high-speed "backbone" for traffic to and from those computers.

"This is a long-term alliance and multiple products will be coming out as a result of it," Christensen added.

Fore already has in-house Ethernet technology it acquired from Alantec some time ago, but Fore's president and CEO Thomas Gill said Intel's devices will shore up the company's low-end and not compete with existing products.

As part of the agreement, the two firms will jointly develop, market, and sell products, according to the executives.

The first fruits of the partnership was announced by Fore, which will ship a new ES-2800 family of Ethernet-based switches that can handle 10-mbps and 100-mbps speeds. The new line essentially is a repackaged version of existing Intel products, according to executives.