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Intel feels your pain

Intel will announce networking hardware designed to lessen the pain that businesses feel when upgrading their networks.

Intel's (INTC) networking strategy for businesses is to make it as painless as possible for administrators to upgrade their network.

Next week, the company will announce a new eight-port Express 10/100 Fast Ethernet switch, that includes autosensing features that let each port in the new switch move data at either 10 megabits per second or 100 megabits per second, depending on the topology of the network.

The thrust of the switch's flexibility plays into Intel's push to reduce the cost of ownership for business users through administration and easy upgrading. The new switch will likely last longer on a network because it can evolve to Fast Ethernet as users desire more bandwidth or applications necessitate it.

The switch is targeted at small to medium-sized networks that top out at less than 1,000 users. "That's where we're really focused on satifying the need to get more bandwidth down to the desktop," said Greg Wolfson, Intel's product line manager for switches.

And if only a portion of a LAN needs the increased performance of Fast Ethernet, that can be accomplished with a single new switch as well, with ports automatically offering both Ethernet and Fast Ethernet performance.

The Express 10/100 also includes two expansion slots for four additional ports. Intel has said support for Gigabit Ethernet and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM)--two high-speed technologies ideal for connecting multiple LANs or for graphics-intensive LANs--will arrive in the second half of this year. Redundant power supplies will also be available by the end of March to allow for maximum uptime.

The switch also includes management hardware that Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)-based software tools can take advantage of such as Remote Monitoring support for detailed performance data and Virtual LAN capabilities in every port, which allows an administrator to segment a network as needed.

The Express 10/100 Fast Ethernet switch costs $4,995. The two-port 10/100Base-TX expansion module is priced at $1,995. The two-port 100Base-FX expansion module is priced at $2,495. Both expansion modules will be available by the end of the month.