In May, Intel will ship a new fiber-optic 100-mbps Ethernet switch and two 10-mbps Ethernet-based models, adding to its growing list of networking hardware for workgroups. A new line of low-end routers is scheduled to roll out in June.
The new Express 100FX switch, priced at $11,995, is targeted at campus-style layouts that can use the fiber-based link to extend the breadth of their switch to reach sites up to two kilometers away. The Express 100FX includes eight 100FX ports with two of those capable of supporting 10- or 100-mbps pipes.
The new switch also includes a layer 3 switching capability in its hardware and software that supports Routing Information Protocols (RIP), a feature that puts Intel in a crowded space of vendors offering switching for networks based on IP (Internet Protocol). Case Technology, now called Intel Denmark, has also provided Intel with 10 mbps switches even though Intel professes a love for high-speed 100 mbps and upcoming Gigabit Ethernet gear. The two switches offer a total of 25 ports, including a 10/100 mbps uplink, with room to expand to 36 ports.
"What they're doing is bulking up their workgroup portfolio," said Skip MacAskill, analyst for the Gartner Group. "They're trying to be as flexible as possible."
Intel will also enter the routing hardware market with four new models targeted at the low end of the market. The routers will support IP and IPX as well as ISDN, frame relay, and X.25.
(Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)