Digital is claiming to be the first vendor to offer IP packet switching, the next generation of Internet Protocol (IP) switching.
The new technology has been made available via a free firmware upgrade to Digital's high-speed GIGAswitch/FDDI switching system.
In launching the technology, Digital said IP packet-switching deals are a further blow to network routers in the war between new-generation switches and LAN-based routers.
This is because IP packet switches are faster, less expensive, more manageable and more expandable than traditional network routers.
IP traffic is normally made up of variable-length transmissions. For example, when a Web page is downloaded over the Internet, the data arrives in segments of variable sizes. These are known as packets.
Late last year, a new technology called IP switching was introduced. This allows variable length IP packets to be converted to fixed-length network transmissions, which are called cells. They can then be distributed throughout a network using an ATM switch.
This allows for network transmission rates of 155Mbit/sec - much faster than any router.
The key to traditional IP switching is having an ATM switch at the core. This is different to IP-packet switching.
Many LANs use packet-based technology such as FDDI, Fast Ethernet and Ethernet. In most cases network managers have segmented these packet-switching LANs into subnets in an attempt to increase network performance.
However, routers have inherent time delays, and as a result can become a bottleneck for the network. They are also hard to manage, and can be very expensive. In addition, some network managers may not want to implement an ATM switch and surrounding infrastructure simply for the benefits of increased IP-traffic rates. They would prefer to leverage existing technology. This is where IP-packet switching comes in.
Digital's IP packet-switching solution is a free firmware upgrade that allows its high-performance GIGAswitch/FDDI to switch IP packets between and within local area network (LAN) subnets. Routers are no longer needed.
As a result they can be relocated to more useful areas like wide area network access and firewall security.
"Customers have been enthusiastic about advantages of IP switching on ATM, and those not ready to move to ATM want the same capabilities on their packet-based networks," said Greg Donovan, general manager, Digital's network product business for the South Pacific.
"A free upgrade to allow high-performance IP packet switching on the GIGAswitch/FDDI will be extremely popular," said Donovan.
The IP packet-switching firmware upgrade for the GIGAswitch/FDDI is free and will be shipping in March.
The cost of a basic GIGAswitch/FDDI (includes chassis, two-port linecard, power supply and IP packet-switching firmware) is $A39,767 (inc.tax).
Tel (02) 9561 5252 Fax (02) 9561 6000