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Intel plans gigabit Ethernet gear

The microprocessor kingpin will detail the role of next-generation gigabit Ethernet in current and future products.

The next stage in chip giant Intel's (INTC) strategy for the networking equipment market will roll out next week at a high-profile event in San Francisco.

Surprising no one who has watched the microprocessor kingpin's aggressive tactics in the Ethernet-based networking gear market, the company will detail the role of next-generation gigabit Ethernet in current and future products, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

Included in the rollout of ten new products and enhancements will be a new gigabit-based switch capable of providing limited routing functions, gigabit-speed uplinks for the company's dense 510T Ethernet-based switch, and server-based networking adapters, the sources said.

An Intel spokeswoman confirmed that the company would be demonstrating the Gigabit Ethernet products at the event as part of a larger rollout of equipment. No pricing information was available.

Gigabit Ethernet is the next version of classic Ethernet technology, the dominant means for connecting PCs and server machines to a network. A standard for the technology is currently in the final stages of approval, though a recent delay could postpone final ratification until early fall.

Underscoring the importance Intel is placing on gigabit-speed Ethernet within its networking division, the company will send Craig Barrett--current president and COO--to discuss the latest developments in the firm's plans.

"I think Intel's done a really good job," said one industry analyst who chose to remain anonymous. "They're a company to keep an eye on. They've made it clear they're very serious about networking."

Intel's revenue from shared hubs and local switches grew sharply year-over-year, according to the latest report released by the Dell'Oro Group, a market researcher. The firm sold $76 million worth of hub and local switch equipment in 1997, according to Dell'Oro, up from $19 million for all of 1996.

Those numbers do not necessarily reflect the total amount of revenue derived from networking products by Intel, but they do give some indication of the company's growth curve, given its focus on those markets.

It should be noted, however, that those numbers are dwarfed by the billion-dollar sales racked up by equipment veterans Cisco Systems, 3Com, Bay Networks, and Cabletron Systems for the year.

Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.