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Madge directs traffic

The networking company may not be as confrontational as Ipsilon Networks or as well known as Cisco Systems, but it pursues a similar strategy to incorporate routing and switching functions in one box.

Madge Networks (MADGF) may not be as confrontational as Ipsilon Networks or as well known as Cisco Systems, but it has a similar strategy to incorporate routing and switching functions in one box.

Madge introduced a multilayer strategy that combines Internet Protocol (IP) switching and Novell's IPX protocol switching in one piece of silicon. This enables customers to gain the security enhancements of routing without the potential performance bottlenecks associated with a router, which essentially serves as a network traffic cop, checking all data flows at the network protocol level.

Madge's approach to IP switching, a hot topic in networking, is another enhancement for the company's MadgeOne architecture, which was introduced last year to integrate voice, video, and data over the same local area network "backbone," the pipe that interconnects multiple workgroups or LANs.

The first fruits of the new silicon chip is the 3LS switch, a new module for Madge's LANswitch hub. The new module supports routing and switching functions for Ethernet, Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) networks, and edge routing for asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) networks.

"It offers far higher performance at far lower cost and with far greater flexibility than router-centric approaches to LAN design, without sacrificing the control and management functions customarily provided by routers," said Martin Taylor, Madge's vice president of network architecture, in a prepared statement.

Where Madge differs from the solutions being offered by Cisco Systems and Ipsilon is that Madge retains routing functions within the silicon of the microprocessor while the proposals of the other two companies offer switching architectures that treat data as a constant stream. Madge retains the routing capabilities to zip each packet very quickly to its destination after first checking it. Thus, the Madge version of IP switching may be best implemented in a LAN environment and may not scale well in enterprise networks in large corporations.

A Token Ring module will be introduced in the second half of this year. A cell-based multilayer switch based on the emerging Multi-Protocol over ATM (MPOA) standard from the ATM Forum is also expected.

The 3LS module for the LANswitch hub is available immediately for $16,995.