Setting its sights squarely on an emerging category of products for the data centre, Intel has unveiled a line of branded devices aimed at accelerating e-business traffic as it flows between the router and the server farm.
The Intel NetStructure line will include Web caching appliances, load balancing and traffic management equipment, and security authentication accelerators, as well as high-speed switching devices.
As Intel looks beyond desktops and servers to continue its phenomenal growth - 30 per cent through most of the 90s - the company's stated strategy is to expand its market well beyond chip making.
One analyst believes that the Intel name will make the chip maker a force to be reckoned with in these expanded markets.
But as it competes with the likes of Cisco in switches or NetAppliance's Web caching technology, Intel is unlikely to gain the 80 per cent market share it has on the desktop.
"It will take time to establish the Intel brand name in those new segments. The name is familiar to IT people, and that is a big head start," said Linley Gwenap, principal analyst at the US-based LinleyGroup.
As an initial step in that direction, Intel has announced the first seven products out of its Communications Products Group (CPG), formed four months ago.
"Our strategy for CPG is to focus on e-business and building block products for the edge, where the Internet meets the public switched telephone network," said John Miner, vice president of CPG.
At the Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs, Miner spoke of the need for products that accelerate e-business traffic. He cited a GartnerGroup study that stated if customers can't access a site in eight seconds they abandon it and go elsewhere.
The branded products fit under the umbrella of a much larger and ambitious strategy called Internet Exchange Architecture (IXA).
IXA is Intel's attempt to duplicate the success the chip giant had when it created the Intel x86 platform for desktops, according to Mark Christensen, Intel vice president and general manager of the Network Communications Group.